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The 1-20-15 Newsletter of the Tennessee Association of REALTORS
Editor: Pug Scoville


1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: Nov. – Dec., 2014
2. Adopting a Mobile Mindset
3. High Court: Owners Can Rescind Their Loans
4. Best Times To List a Home?
5. As Tax Season Approaches…
6. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS
7. HOT LINE: Do Both Docs Need to Be Signed?
8. HOT LINE: Keeping the Utilities On?
9. HOT LINE: Is a Signed Extension Required?
10. Check Your Own CE Hours, Etc.

“There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.” — Mark Twain

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


1. TREC Disciplinary Actions: Nov. – Dec., 2014

At its November & December meetings, the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC) imposed significant fines ($1,000-$3,000) and additional penalties — including revocation of one agent’s license — on eight (8) individuals for the following offenses:

Failure to be loyal to the interest of the client (MULTIPLE)
Failure to exercise adequate supervision over the activities of an affiliate broker (MULTIPLE)
Failure to diligently exercise reasonable skill and care in providing services to all parties to the transaction (MULTIPLE)
Failure to obey all lawful instructions of the client when the instructions are within the scope of the agency agreement between licensee and licensee’s client (MULTIPLE)
Failing within a reasonable time to account for or remit money coming into the licensee’s possession that belongs to others
Failure to timely account for trust fund deposits, and all other property received from any party to the transaction
Failure to disburse escrow money in a proper manner
Failure to obtain branch office firm license

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

In addition, the Commission suspended the licenses of eighteen (18) individuals!


2. Adopting a Mobile Mindset

A new article on Inman News (“Industry insiders predict 2015’s top 3 buyer trends“) contained some VERY interesting statistics:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
According to a joint study by Google and the National Association of Realtors, 89 percent of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their research. What’s more, nearly half of homebuyers use their mobile devices to get directions to the home they want to look at, and 45 percent use their mobile devices to request more information about a property they’re interested in.

“A mobile-first approach means so much more than just publishing a mobile-friendly version of your website,” says Tom Flanagan, vice president of technology at Alain Pinel Realtors. “Savvy buyers are seeking a mobile experience that provides real-time location-based data, has the ability to facilitate the entire transaction and, of course, is easy to use.”

If you’re not serving the mobile-first buyer with mobile friendly platforms that offer the robust search capabilities they expect in today’s market, you’re missing out on filling your sales funnel with active buyers.
*** END QUOTE ***

Pull out your smart phone right now and look at your own website(s). What do you see?

To read more, go HERE.


3. High Court: Owners Can Rescind Their Loans

As reported by Reuters News Service this past week:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled in favor of homeowners seeking to back out of mortgages when lenders are accused of failing to follow a federal “truth in lending” law.

On a 9-0 vote, the court handed a win to an Eagan, Minnesota couple, Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski, over the $611,000 loan they obtained in 2007 from Countrywide Home Loans Inc, now part of Bank of America Corp.

On the technical question before the justices, the court said homeowners need only write a letter to the lender, as the Jesinoskis did, and do not need to file a lawsuit in order to benefit from a provision of a federal law known as the Truth in Lending Act.

The law allows consumers to rescind a mortgage for up to three years after it was made if the lender does not notify them of various details about the loan including finance charges and interest rates.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, go HERE.

For NAR’s report on this ruling, see THIS.


4. Best Times To List a Home?

Of course, the short answer is “any time you can”!

But NAR took a more scientific approach and studied 2014 sales data to answer this question:

*** BEGIN QUOTE ***
Thursday and Friday are the most common days of the week when real estate professionals list a home for sale, according to 2014 existing-home sales data analyzed by the National Association of REALTORS. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday follow in popularity in that order. The least popular days to post a new listing are Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, the most popular months for new listings are in spring, with two-fifths of all new listings in 2014 coming on the market between March and June, according to NAR’s analysis.
*** END QUOTE ***

To read more, go HERE.


5. As Tax Season Approaches…

The New England Real Estate Journal posted a helpful article this past week with advice for Realtors at tax time. Small business owners, including real estate agents, have access to numerous tax deductions; but they often fail to take advantage of them.

Under IRS rules, deductible items are “ordinary and necessary” business expenses, which means that an item that is an expense of conducting their business and is not lavish generally is deductible. Fear of being audited, however, prompts many small business owners to avoid taking the home office deduction; but this tax break is legitimate, although the IRS will take action against filers who claim the deduction but are not entitled to it. To qualify for the deduction, they must use their home office as their principal place of business and use the space regularly and exclusively for business.

Another overlooked deduction is the one for start-up costs, including expenses once they open their doors for business, as well as research costs and mileage looking for locations. Accounting fees, bank fees, interest payments, self-employment taxes, health insurance premiums, carryover costs, computer equipment and other technology items, and online and cloud-based services with monthly charges also are deductible.

To read more: http://nerej.com/80250


6. Upcoming COURSES & EVENTS

Jan. 21: The NEW 2015-2016 TREC Core Course (6 hrs. CE) — TAR Office, Nashville. This new Core Course is updated with information affecting your business! For more information and/or to register, go HERE.

The complete 2015 Schedule of GRI courses is posted on the TAR website at: http://www.tarnet.com/education/gri/

You can ALSO begin work toward your GRI designation in 2015 ONLINE! To find out how, go to: http://www.tarnet.com/education/e-class-gri-information/

To see upcoming offerings of TREC CORE COURSES, ABR COURSES, etc., – at locations around the state – go to the TAR Calendar at: http://www.tarnet.com/meetings-and-events/calendar-of-events/


7. HOT LINE: Do Both Docs Need to Be Signed?

QUESTION: Is it absolutely necessary for the contract to be signed if the counteroffer has been signed?

ANSWER: No. As long as the counter offer is signed by both parties, the original offer does not have to be signed by both parties.

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


8. HOT LINE: Keeping the Utilities On?

QUESTION: Under the standard TAR contract, is the seller obligated to keep the utilities on from the date of the contract to closing?

ANSWER: The TAR Legal Hotline cannot interpret an executed contract. If the parties have a dispute concerning their legal rights under any executed contract, they will need to speak with their own legal counsel.

HOWEVER, we can advise you as to the Forms Committee’s intent of the blank TAR Purchase and Sale Agreement. The only discussion concerning utilities is in paragraph 8. Lines 233-235 state: “Seller shall cause all utility services and any pool, spa, and similar items to be operational so that Buyer may complete all inspections and tests under this Agreement.

In addition, the blank contract holds that the seller is responsible for maintaining the property until closing. Therefore, if damage occurs to the property due to lack of utilities, the seller would likely be responsible.

However, please note that there could be amendments and addenda (common with bank owned properties) which would override the language in the contract. If the parties to the contract have questions concerning the utilities or their responsibilities, they should seek their own legal counsel.

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


9. HOT LINE: Is a Signed Extension Required?

QUESTION: If a contract is written and the closing date is set, but something happens and it doesn’t close until a week later, is a signed extension required?

ANSWER: If the closing goes ahead and occurs, then an extension is not needed as both parties agreed to go forward and close. The problem arises when one of the parties does not play ball and the other attempts to enforce the contract.

Technically speaking, if the property does not close before the closing date, it is over at that moment. Depending upon the circumstances, the party who is ready and willing to close may have a legal cause of action against the non-closing party (e.g., no contingencies are in place which would forgive failure to close such as financing). However, if the financing were to come through in the next couple of days and the buyer wants to enforce the contract against the seller several days after the closing date and no extension was signed, the buyer will not legally have a claim because the buyer was unable to close on the closing date. In situations such as that, it is imperative that there be an extension signed by the seller, since that is the party against whom the contract is to be enforced.

Based on these legal theories, if the parties wish to extend the closing, the extension MUST be signed by both parties on or before the closing date. If one signs and the other does not, there are some arguments that the contract could be enforced against the party that has signed the extension. However, this is not always the case. Therefore, if you are in this situation, an attorney must always review the specific situation to advise as to whether the contract is still in force and against whom.

With the new numbering of the forms, the Closing Date/Possession Date Amendment can be found at RF 657 (for Residential) and CF 657 (for Commercial).

[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: http://verify.tn.gov

To go to the TAR website: http://www.tarnet.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://www.tarnet.com/services-support/legal-ethics-hotline/

For CE classroom courses around the state, go to: http://www.tarnet.com/education/realtor-courses/

For online CE courses, go to: http://www.tarnet.com/education/online-courses/

Tennessee Real Estate Commission: http://tn.gov/regboards/trec/


 

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