8-15-16 Vol.: 2016 Iss.: 30 • Randy Durham, 2016 President • Phil Newman, TAR Digest Editor

TAR TAKEAWAYS
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
 
CONTENTS
In the News
1. TREC: Chair, Vice Chair, New Member
2. Alert: Tax-Scam Robo Calls
3.
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!

Legal & Ethics Hot Line
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.

KEY LINKS & RESOURCES
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

 Watch the PREVIEW VIDEO
REGISTER HERE

**Advanced Registration Deadline Sept. 1**

#GreatBlue

Follow TAR on Twitter or Like our page on Facebook.

01-09-2017

1-9-17 Vol.: 2017 Iss.: 1 • Brian Copeland, 2017 President • Phil Newman, TAR Digest Editor

 
TAKEAWAYS:
  Register now for Spring Conference! (March 27 & 28)
  *A summary of changes to our 2017 Forms*
  Meet Jennifer Farrar, our new Political Affairs Coordinator
✔  Get practical insights on Closing Disclosures
 
CONTENTS
In the News
1. Register for Spring Conference!
2. Jennifer Farrar Joins Our Staff Team
3. Get Organized with These Great Apps
Member Services
4. **Forms Updates for 2017**
5. Learn the NEW TransactionDesk
6. RETI Webinar: Maximize LinkedIn
Professional Development
7. Meet Beth Z, ‘Your Nerdy Best Friend’
Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Closing Disclosures
8. Agent Purchase Title Ins. for Client?
9. Earnest $ Not on Closing Statement?
10. Get a Copy of Closing Statement?

1. Register for Spring Conference!
Registration is open for our 2017 Spring Conference, March 27 & 28 at Franklin Marriott Cool Springs. Visit HERE to register and to book your hotel room. This year’s event will feature 21 CE sessions in three concurrent tracks taught by nationally renowned speakers. The theme is “Press Play,” and the conference will feature the introduction of our new Tennessee REALTORS® name and brand. Save your spot today!

2. Jennifer Farrar Joins Our Staff Team
We are excited to welcome Jennifer Farrar (her last name sounds like “Fairer”) in the role of Political Affairs Coordinator. In this key position, Jennifer will help to advance our strategic priorities in governmental affairs, legislative advocacy, and member engagement in the important work of protecting the rights of property owners throughout Tennessee. Read more about Jennifer HERE

3. Get Organized
This blog from ‘Your Nerdy Best Friend’, Beth Z., spotlights 10 apps for organizing your life. Topics include Passwords, Contacts, Email, Photos, Medical, Travel, Family Schedules, and Finances. See our profile of Beth in item 7 below.

4. **Forms Updates for 2017**
All of our 2017 forms are available to members online. There are a number of updates to this year’s forms. To get up to speed, WATCH THIS VIDEO featuring Bobbie Noreen, Chair of our Residential Forms Committee, and download THIS PDF summary of the updates to accompany the video. The video also includes a timeline reference for you to skip ahead or back to certain forms (look under the video). In addition, the comprehensive changes file for ALL forms is available and listed on our “Forms on the Fly” page.

5. Learn the NEW TransactionDesk
Phase 2 in this critical transition is under way:
 

Now through MON., FEB. 27: Phase 2 — Users see a splash screen with information on the new system, links to webinars, etc. Users are automatically logged into the new system but can switch back to the old. **Use this time to learn the NEW TransactionDesk.**

 TUES., FEB. 28: Phase 3 — Only the new system will be available; the old system will be turned off!
 
NOTE: All data has been replicated in the new system, so there are no lost data, documents or forms. You don’t have to do anything—except start using the new system!

6. RETI Webinar: Maximize LinkedIn
LinkedIn can help to advance your business success. The Real Estate TechnologyInstitute (RETI), a TAR partner, will offer this FREE webinar at 3 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. CDT Wed., Jan. 11: “LinkedIn: 7 Power Tips for Business”, led by Juanita McDowell. Register HERE.

7. Meet Beth Z., ‘Your Nerdy Best Friend’

This week we begin spotlighting speakers for our Spring Conference, March 27 & 28. First up: Beth Z, ‘Your Nerdy Best Friend’.
 

Beth Z will lead three sessions at our conference: “How Do They Do That? Secret Tech Weapons for REALTORS®”, “A Day in the Life of a Nerdy REALTOR®”, and “Stump the Nerd”
.Although the only real trophy she ever won was for making perfect French fries at McDonald’s in high school, Beth Z has been featured on Best Speaker lists by Meetings & Conventions magazine and MeetingsNet. Since her first Commodore 64 computer, Beth has made a verb out of the word nerd. She helps computer users all over the country filter through thousands of apps, gadgets, widgets and doodads to find the perfect free and bargain technology tools for business and personal use through presentations and her books, including the latest, Nerd Know-How: The 27+ Best Apps for Work and How to use ‘Em, available on Amazon.com.”

Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Source: TAR Legal & Ethics Hot Line Counsel

Closing Disclosures
It is vital to remember that any money changing hands related to a real estate transaction must appear on the closing statement. Otherwise, the lender could raise allegations of misrepresentation and/or fraud. This week’s Q&As cover things to keep in mind for items that appear on closing statements and how REALTORS® can obtain a copy of the closing disclosure. 

8. Agent Purchase Title Insurance for Client?

Q: Can an agent purchase a Title Insurance policy for a client? If no, how does that differ from an agent purchasing a Home Warranty for a client?
 
A:
TREC does not permit agents to pay closing costs. The law states: “A real estate licensee shall not give or pay cash rebates, cash gifts or cash prizes in conjunction with any real estate transaction. As part of the Tennessee Real Estate Commission’s general rulemaking authority the commission may regulate the practices of real estate licensees in regard to gifts, prizes or rebates that are not otherwise prohibited by law.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-13-302(b) TREC has interpreted this law as prohibiting agents from paying closing costs for their clients.

So if these items are closing costs that appear on the closing statement, you cannot pay them. Title expenses are considered part of closing costs. (Even if this were permitted, a lender would likely have a problem with a third party paying a portion of the closing costs.)

By contrast, a home warranty is not considered a closing cost. Agents are permitted to purchase a home warranty for a client as a gift, so long as the agent follows the TREC gifts and prizes rule (see 1260-2-.33).

9. Earnest Money Not on Closing Statement?
 
Q: We are holding earnest money on a transaction, which has now closed. The closing attorney did not include the earnest money on the closing statement and now I need to refund it to the buyer. Do I need an Earnest Money Release signed by the parties?
 
A:
The disbursement of earnest money should have been reflected on the closing statement to show how the funds were actually allocated and that you have a confirming paper trail. The earnest money disbursement and mutual release of the Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA) form will not help in this circumstance, as the form alleviates parties from their responsibilities of the contract as well as disbursing earnest money. You would be wise to contact the closing attorney and ask how they wish for you to proceed, and also talk with the lender involved. Lenders take issue if anything is not included on the closing statement, as that could raise questions of misrepresentation and/or fraud.

10. Get a Copy of Closing Statement?

Q: With regard to privacy policies, can a REALTOR® obtain a copy of the closing statement without written consent from the buyer and seller?

A: Yes. Since the TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) took effect in October 2015, lenders have been refusing to share the closing disclosure with real estate professionals, citing potential privacy violations. However, an exception to Regulation P already allows lenders to distribute the disclosure to third parties, including real estate professionals.
 
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently acknowledged that sharing the closing disclosure with real estate professionals is already permitted under the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act. 12 C.F.R. §1016.14(b)(2)(iii) – exceptions to notice and opt out requirements for processing and servicing transactions. Restrictions on non-disclosure by financial institutions does not apply when the information is shared: “To provide a confirmation, statement, or other record of the transaction, or information on the status or value of the financial service or financial product to the consumer or the consumer’s agent or broker.”
 
According to the CFPB, the Closing Disclosure is a “record of the transaction,” and is informative to both the consumer credit and real estate portions of residential sales transactions. “Based on its understanding of the real estate settlement process, the CFPB understands that it is usual, appropriate, and accepted for creditors and settlement agents to provide the combined or separate closing disclosure as a confirmation, statement, or other record of the transaction, to consumers, sellers, and their agents, or information on the status or value of the financial service or financial product to their customers or their customers’ agents or brokers.” 

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

Follow TAR on Twitter or Like our page on Facebook.