8-15-16 Vol.: 2016 Iss.: 30 • Randy Durham, 2016 President • Phil Newman, TAR Digest Editor
See who’s leading—and joining—the TN Real Estate Commission
Help for brokers transferring transactions to former agents
Are you in good shape on your home-office deduction?
Get tips for making your MLS photos even better
In the News
1. TREC: Chair, Vice Chair, New Member
2. Alert: Tax-Scam Robo Calls
NPR: Inventory Squeezing 1st-Timers 
Member Services
4. Home-Office Deduction: The Big Lie
5. TransactionDesk Tip for Brokers
6. RETI Webinar: Picture Perfection
Professional Development
7. Convention Line-up Adds FB, Google
Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Earnest/Trust Money—Part II
8. Using $ for a Different Transaction?

9. Check Payable to Closing Attorney?
10. Non-Licensee Holding Funds?
Key Links & Resources

**Register for Fall Convention!**


1. TREC: Chair, Vice Chair, New Member
Congratulations to John Griess of Knoxville, re-elected Chairman of the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC); to Austin McMullen of Nashville, elected Vice Chairman of the Commission; and to Rick Douglass of Bartlett, welcomed as the Commission’s newest member, all at last week’s TREC meeting. *Look for a profile article on Rick in next Monday’s edition of the TAR Digest.*

2. Alert: Tax-Scam Robo Calls

Even though it’s not officially “tax season,” here’s a timely word of caution for all of us: Nefarious robo-calls are on the rise by scammers leaving urgent requests for taxpayers to call back and settle their “tax bill” or risk legal action. In a new trend, scam artists are demanding bogus tax payments owed on iTunes and other gift cards. Other fake claims to watch for include:

— Demanding payment for a “Federal Student Tax”
— “Verifying” tax-return details over the phone
— Pretending to be from the tax-preparation industry
— Soliciting W-2 info from payroll and HR professionals

The IRS urges anyone receiving such a call to hang up immediately and report it at THIS LINK or by calling (800) 829-1040.

3. NPR: Inventory Squeezing 1st-Timers
This National Public Radio story (which aired on All Things Considered) examines the question, “Fewer Young People Buying Houses, But Why?” The upshot: ever-tightening inventory. There’s a Tennessee connection: the millennial interviewed for the story moved to Nashville a year ago. Also quoted, among other experts, is NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, saying that young people are squeezed from both sides…rents are increasing even faster than home prices…[and] city politicians aren’t making it easy for developers to build condominiums that would be good starter homes. “We are creating this divide because of the ongoing housing shortage,” Yun says. Read and/or listen to the whole story HERE.


4. Home-Office Deduction: The Big Lie
Taxbot, a TAR partner, tackles home-office deductions in its latest blog, “The Strange Lie You’ve Likely Heard About Claiming a Home Office Deduction”. Upshot: The myth is that claiming such a deduction increases your chances of an audit. The news isn’t so dire. Read all about it HERE.

5. TransactionDesk Tip for Brokers
We periodically share tips to help you navigate TransactionDesk, including step-by-step tutorials featuring our own Buzz Steele, RCE. This week (for Managing Brokers):

How to Transfer Transactions to a Former Agent

As a Managing Broker, you will receive transaction-transfer notifications when an agent leaves your firm for another. That agent’s transactions will automatically transfer to you, the Managing Broker. Now you can transfer any or all transactions back to the former agent. Using the new version of TransactionDesk, you’ll find this feature in the Broker Tools section. Please view the brief screencast HERE to see how it works.

NOTE: Agents, it is a good idea to talk to your Managing Broker prior to leaving the firm and negotiate which transactions you’ll take with you (if any). This is at the Managing Broker’s discretion.

6. Free RETI Webinar: Picture Perfection
Great pictures often sell a property. To help you get that stellar shot every time, the Real Estate Technology Institute (RETI), a TAR partner, will offer a FREE webinar at 3 p.m. EDT/2 p.m.CDT this Wednesday, Aug. 17: “Picture Perfect: MLS Photos #win or #fail,” led by listing-marketing expert Amy Smythe-Harris. Register HERE.

7. Convention Line-up Adds Facebook, Google
The stellar slate of guest speakers and presenters for our 2016 Fall Convention now includes key leaders from Facebook and Google sharing timely and practical tech insights. Experience the Great Blue and VentureIN with us Sept. 14, 15 and 16, at the Charleston (S.C.) Marriott.

Reserve your place HERE. View the entire CE/speaker schedule HEREAdvance registration ends on Sept. 1, so don’t delay!
Source: TAR Legal & Ethics Hot Line Counsel

Earnest/Trust Money—Part II
Last week we discussed disbursement of earnest and trust money. Being entrusted with these funds doesnot end (or begin) with disbursement. Other issues a REALTOR® may encounter when holding earnest/trust money include transferring funds from one transaction to another, to whom the disbursement check should be payable, and whether someone other than a real estate licensee may hold such funds.


8. Using $ for a Different Transaction?

QUESTION: I am a buyer’s agent and had a contract on a house. The deal didn’t work out, and we have an earnest-money release signed by both the buyer and seller. We have another property we are working on, and the buyer wishes to simply transfer the currently held earnest money to the new property. Is this legal?

ANSWER: Yes, this is possible. First, you should make certain that all of the documents have been properly drawn up demonstrating that the earnest / trust money from the initial transaction is to be distributed to the buyer. Next, you need to have the buyer instruct you, in writing, to retain the funds within your earnest-money account until they enter into another purchase and sale agreement, or until the end of the buyer’s representation agreement, or until instructed otherwise in writing by the buyer.

9. Check Payable to Closing Attorney?

QUESTION: I was at a recent closing where the closing attorney told me in the future to make earnest / trust money checks out to his law firm, instead of to the buyer. Is this permissible?

ANSWER: Generally speaking, it is advisable to have any check made payable to either the buyer or the seller. If the transaction is closing, then it would be permissible to make it payable to the closing attorney.

10. Non-Licensee Holding Funds?

QUESTION: I believe it is legal for a title company to hold earnest / trust money, but another agent does not agree. Which is correct?

ANSWER: There are no specific state statutes concerning who can hold this money. It can be held by a third party, or even by one of the parties to a transaction. That said, it is most common for a real estate agent, a title company, or an attorney to hold the funds. This is because there are statutes and rules governing each of those professionals that provide security to the parties and confidence that their money is safe. More real estate companies are moving toward having a title company or closing attorney hold the funds so that they do not bear this responsibility. If a Broker chooses to hold the earnest money, then they must follow TCA § 62-13-321, TCA § 62-13-312(b)(5), and TREC Rule 1260-2-.09.

To check your CE hours:verify.tn.gov/default.aspx
For CE and other courses around TN: tarnet.com/education/
For online CE courses: tarnet.com/education/?target=online-CE-courses/
To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line question: tarnet.com/technology-support/legal-ethics-hotline/
TREC: tn.gov/commerce/section/real-estate-commission
TAR website: tarnet.com
TAR on Twitter: twitter.com/tnaor
TAR on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/groups?gid=852077&trk=hb_side_g
TAR on Facebook: facebook.com/pages/Nashville-TN/Tennessee-Association-of-RealtorsR/15041383689


2016 TAR Fall Convention
Sept. 14, 15 and 16


**Advanced Registration Deadline Sept. 1**


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