1. Listing Details: What’s Too Much? “Some agents think you shouldn’t share too much information about a listing until you’re able to speak to or meet in person, or else the prospect has no motivation to follow up with you.
However, you’re more likely to develop a relationship with someone if they perceive you as a valuable resource. One way to demonstrate your market knowledge is by providing complete property information IN ADDITION TO market context, such as your personal observations or a market report for the area.” (Source: NAR Today’s Buyer’s Rep, ABR®)
2. Overcoming Public-Speaking Blunders Even if we don’t often give formal presentations, we are always “presenting” ourselves to clients, leads and others. For a few helpful insights on what to do when communication goes awry—geared for speakers but applicable to everyday life—seethis Ragan.com blog. Cheat sheet to the five key tips:
Never lose your calm.
Humor is the best defense against an unplanned offense.
If an issue is serious and won’t be resolved quickly, keep your composure and let your audience know what is happening.
Work with the resources you have.
Never apologize for disruptions beyond your control.
*Reminder: TREC will hold its May session in Jackson on Thurs. 5/5. For the TREC calendar, click here.
3. TREC Stars: Diane Hills Our profiles of the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) continue with Diane Hills of Kingsport.
On her wedding day, Diane Hills slipped into the church basement with another man. But no, it wasn’t scandalous.
“I tell people I changed clothes down there with Robert E. Lee,” she says. Come again? “It’s true.” But no, Hills does not have a flux-capacitor-poweredDoLoreanin her garage calibrated to the1860s.
Hills—a Kingsport REALTOR®, broker with Southern Dwellings, and one of nine commissioners on the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC), appointed to a five-year term by Gov. Bill Haslam in July 2014—was married in her hometown of Lexington, Va., atWashington & Lee University’sLee Chapel, under which Lee is interred. Hence the one-liner.
“Growing up, I thought every city had a lot of history like we did,” says Hills of the Shenandoah Valley community that is home to both W&L and Virginia Military Institute (VMI), along with a trove of historic connections. “Several of my brothers were born in Stonewall Jackson’s house, because it used to be the hospital.”
One summer, Hills took a Chemistry class at VMI when it was still male-only. “They didn’t take women, but I applied and somehow they looked cross-eyed at the application and accepted me,” she says. “Gosh it was hard—not being the only female. That class.”
A Path to Real Estate Hills mainly attendedFerrum College, a small Methodist school outside Roanoke, where she studied pre-dental hygiene. Later, however, dabbling in local politics and relocating several times with her coal-industry husband fueled a career move into real estate.
“We had lived in West Virginia and Virginia on the outskirts of the coal fields,” she says. “I had sold our houses before, and I was deputy treasurer for the County of Lee. I sold our house there, and we moved to Kingsport.” When her children started school, Hills enrolled at East Tennessee State University. “ETSUhad a great real estate program; you could earn a certificate in one year. I took business law, real estate law, principles, property management—about seven courses. I really enjoyed it.”
As a TREC commissioner, Hills views real estate education as critical. “Speaking for myself, not for the entire commission, I think the standards should be higher,” she says. “I’m grandfathered, and I continue to take classes; it’s just important to me. One year I took 50 hours. Not everyone does that. Personally, I wish we didn’t have grandfathering.”
When “poorly written contracts” cross her desk, Hills says, it underscores the importance of education. “The good thing about practicing real estate is that you see it day to day. I think the standards will rise eventually, but I don’t know how long it will take.”
Change tends to proceed slowly at the state level, Hills has learned. “Fortunately, TAR is able to do things at a faster pace than we are at times. I’m glad [TREC] has a good relationship with TAR, because it has been helpful for [the commissioners] and for the licensees.”
Eye-opening TREC moments Hills says it’s “humbling” to see applicants appear before TREC who have prior convictions (felonies, theft, theft of property) and are seeking a new path. “It reminds you that we can all have a past,” she says. “The effect of seeing people trying to change their lives in another direction, how they’ve gotten to that point, has been the most surprising.”
With a blend of personalities on TREC, Hills tries to bring an ordered, problem-solving focus. “I’m not very artsy or creative. With me it’s like measuring a house. I look at it, I do it, and it all makes sense to me: an offer, a contract, the process. This group of commissioners all come from different walks of life, but we are engaged and take it seriously.”
Hills wants TAR members to know: If, during a break in a hearing, a licensee approaches two or more commissioners with a TREC-related question, Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act—a.k.a. the “Sunshine Law”—prevents them from answering, lest they appear to be conducting business in the shadows. “We take that very seriously,” she says. “When two of us are together, we have to be careful not to give the perception of speaking for the Commission. We might refer them to [Executive Director]Malcolm[Young] or step aside and separate ourselves. So if we don’t answer you, we’re not trying to be rude or evasive.”
Like mother, like daughter Hills is proud mom to two grown children, Patrick and Clarissa. The latter is a broker who works with Diane; the duo founded Southern Dwellings in 2013.
“She grew up going to TAR conventions,” Hills says of Clarissa. “In high school she could explain the process, how local associations work, how TAR and NAR function. We are the only mother and daughter who have both been presidents of our local association and REALTOR® of the Year” with the Northeast Tennessee Association of REALTORS® (NETAR).
Hills also is blessed with four grandchildren, born within 22 months and ranging in age from two-and-a-half to one. “They all came at once, and that’s the end of them!” she says. Her Portuguese water dog, Gigi, is another cherished family member.
Among other civic roles, Hills was a member of Kingsport’s zoning-appeals board before stepping down in light of her role with TREC. Community involvement is important to her as well, fromMeals on Wheelsto theAmerican Red Cross. “I love Meals on Wheels,” she says. “We take Gigi, we take the grandbabies with us, we enjoy serving that way.”
That is, when she’s not cavorting with Civil War generals in chapel basements.
We periodically share tips to help you navigate TransactionDesk, including step-by-step tutorials featuring our own Buzz Steele, RCE. This week: Learn to use the NEW TransactionDesk prior to 2017 conversion You’ve probably heard that a new version of TransactionDesk will officially release in 2017, most likely during the first quarter. You may have also noticed that you can access the NEW version and run it LIVE parallel to the current version (both Pro and Lite). If you’d like to get a jump on learning the NEW TransactionDesk, there are many video tutorials available. In this screencast, Buzz shows you where to access the vids and how to switch back and forth from the current to the NEW version.
5.ERMA: CE for Licensure Our real-life ERMA is back in thefourth installmentof her video series, reminding us of the CE and Code of Ethics training required for licensure. (Note: ERMA is still in the early stages of development, so we welcome any feedback after you’ve downloaded the app.) Watch the brief clip at this link.
6. Safety Tips + Free Webinar As part of its REALTOR® Safety Program, NAR is offering a free webinar at 1 p.m. CST on Wed., April 20, “Incorporating Safety Into Your Business”. To register, visitrealtor.org/safety. Among the tips NAR recommends for homeowners and agents:
Beware of Drop-In Buyers. As home buying warms up with the weather, be aware that not all agents, buyers and sellers are who they say they are. Strangers who stop by unannounced should be asked to make an appointment with a REALTOR®.
Weed Out Risk. Thieves can be bold—so if you’re doing yard work in front of your house, lock the back door and garage. If you’re working in the back yard, lock the front door and garage.
Taking a Spring Break?When you’re on vacation, suspend deliveries of newspapers, mail and other delivered items. Put timers on lights and a radio to give the appearance that you’re home.
7. What’s a ‘Call for Action’? Especially for newer members (but as a refresher for all): From time to time, when political leaders at the national, state and/or local levels are considering legislation that affects the real estate industry, you may receive a Call for Action. Simply by contacting your elected representative(s) through an e-mail or a phone call, you can ensure that your business remains strong. As a TAR member, you can ACT on REALTOR® Party Issues by staying connected to important real estate related issues and by answering Calls for Action that ask you to contact your elected officials on important legislative developments. For more details, visitTAR’s Vote. Act. Invest. pageorNAR’s Calls for Action page.
8. **Clarification: Broker / Two Companies?**
Editor’s note: In last Monday’s edition, the answer to the following question was correct (“No”), but the explanation provided was inadvertently transposed from a different hotline answer. Here is the corrected version of the question and answer:
QUESTION: Can a principle broker manage two separate companies located in two separate locations (i.e. be the principle broker at ABC Realty while also being the managing broker at XYZ Realty)?
ANSWER: No, a broker may not manage two companies located in two separate locations. TCA 62-13-209(g) states, “A principal broker may act as a principal broker for two (2) firms as long as both firms are in the same location. As used in this subsection (g), ‘the same location’ means that both firms are located at and use the same physical address.” (emphasis added)
9. ‘Don’ts’ for Unlicensed Employees?
QUESTION: What is an unlicensed assistant in our firm not allowed to do?
ANSWER: TREC has set forth that an unlicensed employee, assistant or secretary may not do any of the following:
1. Make cold calls by telephone or in person to potential listers or purchasers; 2. Show properties for sale and/or lease to prospective purchasers; 3. Host public open houses, licensee open houses, home show booths or fairs; 4. Answer questions concerning properties listed with the firm except information contained on the listing agreement as limited by the Principal Broker; 5. Prepare promotional material or advertising of properties for sale or lease without the approval of the Principal Broker; 6. Discuss or explain listings, offers, contracts, or other similar matters with persons outside the firm; 7. Be paid on the basis of real estate activity; such as percentage of commission, or any amount based on listings, sales, etc. 8. Act as a “go-between” with a seller and buyer such as when an offer is being negotiated. 9. Negotiate or agree to any commission split or referral fee on behalf of a licensee.
10. Disbursements & Active/Pending Status?
QUESTION: I had a seller’s contract with a closing agent that did not close because the seller discovered he did not have clean title. He met with an attorney to clear this up, but the attorney did not meet our deadlines. The buyer’s agent was holding earnest money. I received a request for release of earnest money because “due diligence was not met by seller’s agent.” That is not the case. If my seller signs this, is it an admission of (my) fault? Am I in violation by taking listing status from pending back to active since the title has not been resolved, although the seller is working on it? I have put it back in active and would of course tell any potential buyer we are working on a clean title.
ANSWER: If you and the seller are uncomfortable with the language on the form, you could complete a different disbursement form and change the language to mirror that which is contained in the Notification form in paragraph 17 (RF 656).Once the contract is dead (which would happen once the closing date has come and gone), then you are required to change the status back to active. However, either you or the seller must disclose this to potential buyers. This should be done in writing with the potential buyer signing off on it.