The 12-1-15 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: October, 2015
2. Lessons for Success
3. The Renovation Dilemma
4. Cybercriminals Targeting Real Estate Transactions
5. If Someone Insults Your Profession…
6. Upcoming Courses & Events!
7. HOT LINE: Road Expansion Not Disclosed?
8. HOT LINE: Keys Taken Prior To Closing?
9. HOT LINE: Using a Non-Licensed Inspector?
10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

“Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t.” — Pete Seeger

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


1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: October, 2015

At its October meeting, the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) assessed significant fines (ranging from $1,000 to $3,000) and additional penalties on four (4) individuals for the following offenses:

Engaging in unlicensed activity (MULTIPLE)
Making a substantial and willful misrepresentation
Pursuing a flagrant course of misrepresentation
Accepting valuable commission from any person except the real estate broker with whom the licensee is affiliated
Employing or compensating unlicensed persons for performing acts regulated by TN’s License Law

For a reminder of what an unlicensed person or assistant CANNOT do, go HERE.

NOTE: The MULTIPLE notation means that more than one licensee was disciplined for this offense.


2. Lessons for Success

As we enter the holiday season and get ready for the New Year, many Realtors start thinking about changes to their business plans. What will you do to make 2016 better than 2015? What would it take to “raise the bar” and be the very best Realtor you could be — the best in your company, the best in your local market, the best in the state?

A recent Lifehack article by James Clear (“Lessons on Success and Deliberate Practice From Mozart, Picasso, and Kobe Bryant“) paints a vivid picture of what the people who master their goals and their professions do differently than the rest of us. The story of Kobe Bryant and his preparation for the 2012 Olympics, in particular, is well worth reading!

Spoiler alert: There is no easy or quick route to success! But this article packs a healthy dose of motivation!

To read it for yourself, go HERE.


3. The Renovation Dilemma

REALTOR.COM recently posted some very useful advice (“The Renovation Dilemma: What to Fix If You’re Selling“) for any of your sellers getting their properties ready to market. The article answers the question “What should I spend money on to upgrade?” and provides guidance on what projects might be better to avoid.

The author, Deborah Kearns, also includes estimated costs for various upgrade projects, and comments on which styles, colors, and materials are becoming more popular.

Above all, encourage your sellers to follow this advice at the beginning of her article: “Before you embark on a gut of your circa-1990 kitchen, consult with a Realtor and a general contractor about which renovations will yield the biggest return on investment. How much work you’ll need depends on your home’s value, your market, and the comps in your neighborhood.”

To read more, go HERE.


4. Cybercriminals Targeting Real Estate Transactions

One of the more newsworthy events at the 2015 NAR Annual Convention in San Diego was the Risk Management and License Law Forum, where panelists discussed growing threats to Realtors and their clients from cyber-attacks.

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Melanie Wyne, National Association of Realtors’ technology policy expert said that while we often hear in the news about large companies falling victim to hackers, small businesses, which often lack the vast technology and legal teams of larger businesses, actually account for the majority of attacks. “Small businesses need to pay just as much attention as large companies to possible cyber threats,” she said.

Darity Wesley, founder of the Lotus Law Center, said hackers are seeking personally identifiable information, data that could potentially identify a specific individual, such as credit card or bank account information, login credentials, employment details or a physical address, e-mail address, and phone or social security number.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, go HERE.

NOTE: NAR’s Center for Realtor Development has an online course (“Enhance Your Brand & Protect Your Clients with Data Privacy & Security“) accredited for 3 hours of CE in Tennessee! This may be a good time to investigate it.


5. If Someone Insults Your Profession…

If somebody says something unflattering about real estate agents, how do you respond? If it’s never happened to you YET, how would you respond?

A recent Business Journal article by Bryce Sanders (“What to do when someone insults your profession“) opens with the scenario that many Realtors may confront in the weeks ahead:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
It happens. As we approach the holiday season, you meet people at parties. They insult your profession. Other comments come from people who have had a bad experience and assume “you’re all the same.”

…Years ago, when I first met my wife’s extended family, I came across her uncle at a reunion. Upon learning that I was a financial advisor, he remarked, “How can you work in such an immoral profession?”
*** END QUOTE ***

His article isn’t specific to Realtors or real estate. In fact, he uses lawyers, travel agents, and others as examples, but his advice on how to respond to insulting comments is refreshingly practical.

To read more, go HERE.


6. Upcoming Courses & Events!

For an overview of all UPCOMING COURSES, as well as links for more information or registration, go to: http://tnrealtors.com/education/ ……and scroll down the page to see all upcoming courses!


7. HOT LINE: Road Expansion Not Disclosed?

QUESTION: I represented a buyer on a residential home. The buyer just received notice that the road in front of his property is expanding. Is this something I should have researched? The buyer feels I should have known this information prior to his closing on the property.

ANSWER: You are only obligated to disclose adverse facts of which you have actual notice or knowledge. Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-403(2), a real estate agent is required to “[d]isclose to each party to the transaction any adverse facts of which the licensee has actual notice or knowledge.”

Tennessee law defines an adverse fact as “conditions or occurrences generally recognized by competent licensees that have a negative impact on the value of the real estate, significantly reduce the structural integrity of improvements to real property or present a significant health risk to occupants of the property.” — Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-102(2) Therefore, if an agent has actual knowledge of an adverse fact, he must disclose it, particularly if the seller does not.

Furthermore, an agent has an obligation to all parties to “disclose to each party to the transaction timely and accurate information regarding market conditions that might affect such transaction only when such information is available through public records and when such information is requested by a party”. — Tenn. Code Ann. 62-13-403(5)

Therefore, you only have to disclose something of which you have actual knowledge. If you did not know about the issue, then you did not have to disclose it. You are only required to research issues which would affect market conditions if it is available in public records AND if the buyer requests the information.

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


8. HOT LINE: Keys Taken Prior To Closing?

QUESTION: We have had some incidents where the buyer and their agent do the final walk-thru a couple of days before the closing and when they leave, they are taking the keys to the property. The seller may need to get back into the home and this is causing a problem. How do we handle this situation?

ANSWER: This is a breach of both property rights and common courtesy.

Unless the seller has given permission for the buyer to obtain keys prior to closing, the buyer should only be given keys at the closing table or thereafter. If you are a buyer’s agent, you should ask the seller’s agent if you may take the keys at the final walk-through or if keys will be provided at closing. If you are a seller’s agent, you should advise the buyer or buyer’s agent at what time they will be provided with keys and whether they may take them at the final walk-through.

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


9. HOT LINE: Using a Non-Licensed Inspector?

QUESTION: We have a listing on a property and a buyer made an offer contingent upon an inspection. The electrical inspection was done by a non-licensed person (they had previously been licensed). The buyer is backing out of the contract due to the electrical inspection. Under the terms of the TAR contract, can a buyer use a non-licensed electrical inspector?

ANSWER: As always, the TAR Legal Hotline cannot provide a legal interpretation of any executed contract. We can only provide you with the Forms Committee’s intent of a blank, unexecuted purchase and sale agreement. Lines 238-242 state:

“However, nothing in this paragraph shall preclude Buyer from conducting any inspections on his/her own behalf, nor shall it preclude Buyer from retaining a qualified (and if required by law, licensed) professional to conduct inspections of particular systems or issues within such professional’s expertise or licensure, including but not limited to inspection of the heating/cooling systems, electrical systems, foundation, etc., so long as said professional is not in violation of Tenn. Code Ann. 62-6-301, et seq., as may be amended.”

Thus, the Committee intended that if a person is required to be licensed, then he must be licensed to perform that inspection.

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


10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

To check your own CE hours, go to: http://verify.tn.gov/default.aspx

Tennessee Real Estate Commission: http://tn.gov/commerce/section/real-estate-commission

To go to the TAR website: http://tnrealtors.com

To access current and past TAR DIGESTS: http://www.tardigest.com

Follow TAR on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/tnaor

TAR’s LinkedIn page: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=852077&trk=hb_side_g

TAR’s page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nashville-TN/Tennessee-Association-of-RealtorsR/15041383689

To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line question:†http://tnrealtors.com/technology-support/legal-ethics-hotline/

For CE classroom courses around the state, go to:†http://tnrealtors.com/education/

For online CE courses, go to:†http://tnrealtors.com/education/online-courses/