The 4-21-15 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville

1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: March, 2015
2. Female Agents Are “Packing Heat”
3. Dealing With a Former (Now Unhappy) Buyer-Client
4. Tech Tips for Road Warriors!
5. THDA Promoting a New Option for Buyers
6. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS!
7. HOT LINE: Confidentiality After Closing?
8. HOT LINE: If the Binding Agreement Date Is Blank?
9. HOT LINE: Reliability of Square Footage?
10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

“Success has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It’s what you do for others….” — Danny Thomas

NOTE: If you’re reading this on a mobile device (iPhone, etc.), GO HERE for a mobile-friendly DIGEST.

1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: March, 2015

At its March meeting, the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) imposed significant fines ($500-$5,000) and additional penalties — including the revocation of several licenses — on seventeen (17) individuals for the following offenses:

Failure to diligently exercise reasonable skill and care in providing services to all parties (MULTIPLE)
Misleading, deceptive, or untruthful advertising (MULTIPLE)
Failure to disclose all pertinent details on the face of such offer or advertisement (MULTIPLE)
Failing to exercise adequate supervision over the activities of licensed affiliate (MULTIPLE)
Advertising violation by an affiliated licensee (MULTIPLE)
Engaging in unlicensed activity (MULTIPLE)
Failure to respond to a complaint filed with the Commission (MULTIPLE)
Improper, fraudulent or dishonest dealings
Failure to include the firm name and telephone number on each page of website
Failure to meet the terms of a consent order
Operating an unlicensed firm
Violation of advertising rules
Failure to notify Commission of a conviction within sixty (60) days of the conviction – T.C.A. 62-13-312(f)

NOTE: The (MULTIPLE) notation indicates that TREC punished more than one licensee for this infraction!

2. Female Agents Are “Packing Heat”

The TENNESSEAN newspaper published an article last week, sure to get the attention of female Realtors! Jessica Bliss’ article (“Guns hot sell for female real estate agents”) describes a trend among some female agents to learn how to defend themselves more effectively in case of an attack. In it, she profiles a Nashville-area Realtor who is taking her personal safety seriously!

While gun ownership is on the decline overall in America, those who do carry — including a growing contingent of female realty agents — increasingly cite personal safety as the reason. The murder of Realtor Beverly Carter last October in Arkansas was a wake-up call for MANY agents.

Each new report of violence against a practitioner on the job, however infrequent, serves as a reminder of how agents put themselves in potential danger each time they show a home to a stranger or host an open house alone. Besides getting licensed and trained to use firearms, women in real estate also are taking self-defense classes and changing some of their business practices in order to protect themselves.

To read the whole article, go HERE.

3. Dealing With a Former (Now Unhappy) Buyer-Client

Real estate agents are likely at some point to receive a call from a buyer they represented months ago, now frustrated with a problem that emerged after closing, like a recurring pool or roof leak. While some offices have implemented procedures to handle these calls, others don’t have them; at the very least, agents should inform their broker or office manager. In a new Realty Times article (“Dealing With the Subsequently Unhappy Buyer”), Realtor Bob Hunt offers several good tips you may find useful, including this tidbit:

“Whatever the problem is, don’t say you will take care of it or you will fix it. Those words can become very expensive. Offer to help, if you wish; but do not take responsibility.

There’s a lot of “meat” in his article, some of which you may agree with, but it’s worth thinking about. If you haven’t had to deal with an unhappy former client, you probably will do so at some point! To read Hunt’s advice, go HERE.

4. Tech Tips for Road Warriors!

The Nashville Business Journal recently published an article by Terry Brock (“3 indispensable technology tools for the road warrior”) that offers genuine help for busy Realtors!

In it, he shares three tools that he purchased and uses on a regular basis:

— a nifty portable keyboard that he can use with either an iPad, iPhone or other Bluetooth-supported device;
— a mobile device that allows you to transfer data (pictures, etc.) from an iPhone, using its own Wi-Fi connection, directly onto a USB flash drive, with some added capabilities that make it really useful; and
— a super-bright (and VERY inexpensive) flashlight that operates on a single AA battery.

All three devices are both quite affordable and, as noted above, well-suited to a busy Realtor’s toolkit!

To read more, go HERE.

5. THDA Promoting a New Option for Buyers

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA) has gone on the road to promote its new Great Choice program. Last week, they took the Great Choice tour to Dyersburg in partnership with the Dyersburg Board of REALTORS.

Ralph M. Perrey, executive director of THDA, assured local representatives that homeownership is more possible than generally thought. “There’s a lot of talk out there that it’s very difficult to get a mortgage loan,” said Perrey. “We have a lot of information at What you’ll find is an affordable rate on a 30-year fixed, no gimmick mortgage loan. We have downpayment and closing cost assistance and underwriting flexibility that we can offer as the state’s housing finance agency.”

“If you haven’t looked at THDA lately, you’ve missed a lot. In the last 18 months THDA has changed its mortgage product offerings, beefed up its downpayment and closing costs assistance, and been more proactive in consumer marketing and lender engagement,” said Perrey.

THDA is not a direct lender, it works through a statewide network of lenders including First Citizen’s National Bank, First State Bank, Security Bank, Mortgage Investors Group, and Regions. More detail about the range of THDA activities is found on

THDA has sales price and income limits and the majority of its mortgage loans go to first-time buyers. However, in 58 counties, the first-time limitation is waived. Eligible military homebuyers are offered a 1/2-point reduction in the mortgage interest rate. More information is available through lenders or at:

6. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS!

NOTE: Several GRI courses are coming up in May!

To see all UPCOMING GRI COURSES, go to:

There are 10 good reasons to earn YOUR GRI! Just go to:

You can ALSO begin work toward your GRI designation ONLINE! To find out how, go to:

For an overview of all UPCOMING COURSES, as well as links for more information or registration, go to:

7. HOT LINE: Confidentiality After Closing?

QUESTION: Does the licensee’s fiduciary obligation cover disclosing (or not disclosing) non-public information such as seller’s concessions in a closing, how much money in repairs a seller received, or whether the seller bought down points for the buyer, etc.?

ANSWER: Confidentiality survives the closing. Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-403 states that an agent has a duty to all parties to:

“(3) Maintain for each party to a transaction the confidentiality of any information obtained by a licensee prior to disclosure to all parties of a written agency or subagency agreement entered into by the licensee to represent either or both of the parties in a transaction. This duty of confidentiality extends to any information which the party would reasonably expect to be held in confidence, except for information which the party has authorized for disclosure, information required to be disclosed under this part, and information otherwise required to be disclosed pursuant to this chapter. This duty survives both the subsequent establishment of an agency relationship and the closing of the transaction.” — Tenn. Code Ann. 42-13-403(3).

Therefore, you must NOT disclose any confidential information (including the terms of the contract) unless you have written permission of the buyer (or in some cases, both parties) or a court order.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

8. HOT LINE: If the Binding Agreement Date Is Blank?

QUESTION: Does the Binding Agreement Date (BAD) have to be filled in to make an offer an officially binding contract?

ANSWER: We can only provide you with the intent of the TAR Forms Committee. The Forms Committee holds that a contract is executed and binding once the last offeror receives notice that their offer was accepted. Therefore, the fact that the BAD is not completed does not “kill” a contract. Furthermore, the BAD is typically completed by agents, not the parties to the contract.

The problem arises because, if the BAD is not completed, there is no way to calculate the deadlines within the contract as many of the deadlines are determined by the Binding Agreement Date. If it has not been filled in, the parties should see if they can agree as to the Binding Agreement Date. If not, then it will be a matter for the courts to determine as to what the Binding Agreement Date was.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

9. HOT LINE: Reliability of Square Footage?

QUESTION: With regard to the square footage of a property, we have always used tax records. How reliable is this method?

ANSWER: Square footage (or gross living area) is difficult to determine and is ripe for a misrepresentation claim. There are several acceptable ways in which to determine square footage. Additionally, if you have 3 different people determine square footage, you are likely to get three different answers. If the square footage included in the MLS is incorrect, the Realtor could be liable for negligent misrepresentation depending upon what he or she did to verify the information obtained and when the discrepancy is discovered (i.e. before contract entered into, or after closing).

We recommend that square footage be listed as an “approximate” amount and that a disclaimer be included noting that the amount of square footage is not guaranteed. We would also recommend either listing the square footage as what is listed on the tax records or as calculated by an appraiser and indicate the source. The important thing is that the information concerning square footage is disclosed so as to avoid misrepresentation. We would recommend going with either the tax records or from an appraisal. If you are including things such as a basement, pool house, etc., make sure that you state that the square footage includes these things.

[SOURCE: TAR’s Legal & Ethics Hot Line Attorneys]

10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

To check your CE credits on file with TREC, go to:

To go to the TAR website:

To access current and past TAR DIGESTS:

Follow TAR on Twitter at:

TAR’s LinkedIn page:

TAR’s page on Facebook:

To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line question:

For CE classroom courses around the state, go to:

For online CE courses, go to:

Tennessee Real Estate Commission: