10-24-16 Vol.: 2016 Iss.: 39 • Randy Durham, 2016 President • Phil Newman, TAR Digest Editor

TAR TAKEAWAYS
✔  How reliable is that square-footage calculation?
✔  Latest U.S. spending and saving trends may benefit you
✔  Get cybersavvy to protect your phone and computer 
✔  Save on TAXBOT, QuickBooks®, TurboTax®

CONTENTS

In the News
1. What New Condo Rules Mean for You
2. CyberSavvy: Six Quick Tips
3. Spending Less to Save More
Member Services
4. Get Mobile Tax Savings
5. Save on QuickBooks®, TurboTax®
6. RETI Webinar: Our Virtual Future
Professional Development
7. Code of Ethics: December Deadline
Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Calculating Square Footage
8. Semi-Finished Basement?
9. Room with No Heat or AC?
10. SF Lower on Appraisal?
Key Links & Resources

 

1. What New Condo Rules Mean for You
NAR will host a webinar Friday, Oct. 28, at 2 p.m. Eastern, to help REALTORS® understand HUD’s new rules that make it easier for buyers to get loans to buy condos and improve the process for condo projects to get FHA-certified. The rules take effect Nov. 1. Get more details HERE. Register for the webinar HERE.

2. CyberSavvy: Six Quick Tips
At the 2016 THDA Governor’s Housing Conference, title attorney Laura Perry and mortgage banker Gregg Murphy offered tips to help REALTORS® and lenders outsmart hackers and maintain secure information in cyberspace. We’re sharing some of their insights in the Digest. This week: Six Free Ways to Protect Yourself…

  1. Enable the firewall on your computer’s operating system. (Go HERE or HERE.)
  2. Don’t click on a link in any unsolicited/unfamiliar emails.
  3. Encrypt your laptop and lock up the “key” separate from your device.
  4. Change default passwords on your devices.
  5. Avoid listing your birthday/year, graduation year or other demographic details on your social-media profiles.
  6. Don’t answer surveys on social websites or the phone; some scammers are just trying to gather personal information to steal your identity.
3. Spending Less to Save More
A new Bankrate.com survey finds that “65% of Americans are limiting their monthly spending” while “millennials, burdened by student debt, say they need to save more. “Americans are finally limiting spending for a good purpose—to save money,” said Bankrate Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride. “This is the first time in four years that the top reason wasn’t stagnant income.” Read more HERE.
 

4. Get Mobile Tax Savings
Let TAXBOT, a TAR partner, help you maximize your commissions and benefit from the many business tax deductions available to you as an independent contractor and real estate licensee. TAXBOT’s mobile app makes it easy to track and manage business expenses, including mileage, using your laptop or phone. For extra motivation, the app keeps a running tally of potential savings you are accruing by documenting your deductible expenses. Get started HERE. Watch the latest TAXBOT HERE.

5. Save on QuickBooks®, TurboTax®
Speaking of taxes, NAR’s REALTOR Benefits® Program has partnered with Intuit, the global leader in financial-management software, to offer exclusive savings on Intuit’s QuickBooks® Self-Employed and TurboTax®. “The addition of Intuit to the REALTOR Benefits®Program allows NAR to provide our members with access and discounts to world-class financial-management software products that are well-suited to meet the unique needs of real estate professionals,” said NAR President Tom Salomone. Get the whole scoop HERE.

6. Free RETI Webinar: Our Virtual Future
Virtual and augmented reality is on the rise—quickly. To explore how VR will continue to affect our industry, the Real Estate Technology Institute (RETI), a TAR partner, will offer a FREE webinar at 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central Wed., Oct. 26: “Virtual Reality: Future of Real Estate”. Register HERE.

7. Code of Ethics: December Deadline
Reminder REALTORS® are required to complete at least 2 hours, 30 minutes of NAR-approved Code of Ethics instructional time within four-year cycles. The current four-year cycle will end Dec. 31, 2016. If you still need to fulfill your requirement, explore course options via TAR at THIS LINK.

Legal & Ethics Hot Line

Source: TAR Legal & Ethics Hot Line Counsel

Calculating Square Footage
Square footage (SF), or gross living area, is difficult to determine and is ripe for a misrepresentation claim. If you ask three different people to determine SF on a property, you’ll probably get three different answers. If the number included in the MLS is incorrect, the REALTOR® could be liable for negligent misrepresentation depending on what he or she did to verify the information, and when the discrepancy is discovered (i.e. before contract is entered or after closing). It is recommended that REALTORS® 1) list SF as “approximate” and add a disclaimer noting that the amount is not guaranteed; and 2) either list the SF as it is on the tax records or as calculated by an appraiser, and indicate the source. (Be sure the source is located where the public will see it.) This week’s Q&As address this important subject.

8. Semi-Finished Basement?
 
QUESTION: For square footage in the MLS, what determines whether a basement is considered a finished living area (i.e. central heat and air, but no floor covering or drywall, etc.)?
 
ANSWER: If the sellers wish to include the basement as part of the square footage, it is advisable to disclose that the square footage does include a basement. The important thing is that the information concerning square footage is disclosed to avoid misrepresentation. To do so, use either the tax records or the appraisal. As far as what constitutes “finished,” contact your codes department and/or local board for a definition in your area. However, since the floors have not been done, this basement would likely be considered semi-finished. It is critical to be as specific as possible in advertisements for the property.

9. Room with No Heat or AC?

QUESTION: There is an unheated and un-airconditioned “finished” room in a house I have listed. Can I include it in the square footage of the home?
 
ANSWER: If the sellers wish to include this room as part of the square footage, make sure it is fully disclosed in ALL advertisements that the room does not have heat or air. Remember, there must be FULL disclosure of this condition.

 

10. SF Lower on Appraisal?
 
QUESTION: I have a buyer with a contract on a property that was advertised at 3,900 square feet. When the appraisal was done, the square footage came back at 3,612. Does my buyer have a valid reason for backing out of the contract and receiving a return of earnest money?
 
ANSWER: The TAR Purchase and Sales Agreement does not have a contingency for square footage. This means there is not an automatic out for your buyer. However, if the buyer wishes to withdraw from the contract, they should contact their own attorney to discuss their options under the contract.

KEY LINKS & RESOURCES
To check your CE hoursverify.tn.gov/default.aspx
For CE and other courses around TN: tarnet.com/education/
For online CE coursestarnet.com/education/?target=online-CE-courses/
To ask a TAR Legal and Ethics Hot Line questiontarnet.com/technology-support/legal-ethics-hotline/
TREC: tn.gov/commerce/section/real-estate-commission
TAR website: tarnet.com
TAR on Twittertwitter.com/tnaor
TAR on LinkedInlinkedin.com/groups?gid=852077&trk=hb_side_g
TAR on Facebookfacebook.com/pages/Nashville-TN/Tennessee-Association-of-RealtorsR/15041383689

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