01-23-2017

1-23-17 Vol.: 2017 Iss.: 3 • Brian Copeland, 2017 President • Phil Newman, TAR Digest Editor

TAKEAWAYS:
  Tips for helping clients (and yourself) de-clutter closets
  Try these 20 top apps for real estate
  Are your commission rates in line with antitrust laws?
 Earn 9 hours of CE in Cool Springs (March 27 & 28)
CONTENTS
In the News
1. Not-so-Tiny House Costs
2. What’s in Your Closet?
Member Services
3. ICYMI: 2017 Forms Updates
4. Countdown: 1 Month!
5. 20 Top Apps: Free Webinar 

Professional Development
6. Get Schooled on Land Consulting
7. ‘Press Play’ for 9 Hours of CE
Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Setting Commission Rates
8. Minimum Rate Within Firm?
9. Advertise a Commission Rate?
10. Publish Commission Splits?

Key Links & Resources

1. Not-so-Tiny House Costs
Tiny Houses continue to attract attention ranging from mild curiosity among TV viewers to serious downsizers who compress their lives into miniaturized, often mobile dwellings. Part of the appeal is saving $, but the price can add up, asTHIS realtor.com blog points out: “Typically, the cost to build a tiny home ranges from $20,000 for simple models to $140,000-plus for more complex luxury models. And that’s just the beginning.” Additional costs include appliances, décor, land, foundation, sanitation, transport, and more. Get the whole story HERE.

2. What’s in Your Closet?
January is a popular month for de-cluttering after the holidays. In THIS helpful article, Julie Ryan Evans offers ideas for clearing out closets by parting with extra or outdated goods, such as: store bags; towels, sheets, pillowcases; clothes you haven’t worn in a year; threadbare shoes; duds you’re waiting to fit and/or come back in style; wire coat hangers (no more!); promotional T-shirts; lonely socks; anything with a stain (ew!); and special-occasion items, and more. Read it HERE.

3. ICYMI: 2017 Forms Update
As a reminder, the many updates to our 2017 forms are explained in THIS VIDEO starring Bobbie Noreen, Residential Forms Committee Chair, and in THIS PDF that accompanies the video. The video includes a timeline reference to skip ahead or back to certain forms. Also, the comprehensive changes file for ALL forms is available on our “Forms on the Fly” page, and the NEW TransactionDesk includes many topic-based “How To” videos; go HERE for a brief screencast on how to use them.
 
4. Countdown: 1 Month!
Between now and the end of February, TransactionDesk is showing 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.** As of FEBRUARY 28, only the new system will be available; the old will be turned off! NOTE: All data has been replicated, so there are no lost data, documents or forms. You don’t have to do anything—except start using the new system!

5. Top 20 Apps: Free Webinar
With MILLIONS of apps, how to cut through the clutter and find the most helpful tools for your business? The Real Estate Technology Institute (RETI), a TAR partner, will offer a FREE webinar at 3 p.m. EDT/2 p.m. CDT Wed., Jan. 25: “The Top 20 Apps for Real Estate”, led by Craig Grant. Register HERE.

6. Get Schooled on Land Consulting
If becoming an Accredited Land Consultant (ALC) is on your list, here’s an opportunity to hear from top ALCs in a FREE webinar covering the most efficient path to fulfilling the ALC requirements and instruction on how to create your portfolio, presented by Brandon Rogillio, 2017 RLI President; Flo Sayre, 2017 ALC Designation Committee Chair; and George Clift, RLI Past President. All three will be available to answer questions. Register HERE.
 

7. Press Play’ for 9 Hours of CE
We continue to feature aspects of our Spring Conference, March 27 & 28. This week: an update on CE: We will offer 20 total hours of continuing education (pending TREC approval) in three concurrent tracks. This means you can earn up to 9 hours of CE as you select sessions from among the tracks. Go HERE to register at the Early Bird rate and to book your lodging.

Legal & Ethics Hot Line
Source: TAR Legal & Ethics Hot Line Counsel
Setting Commission Rates
The most important thing to remember when entering into agreements with clients is that commission rates are negotiable between the firm and the client. This week’s Q&As provide tips on how to avoid violating antitrust laws when setting commission rates.

8. Minimum Commission Rate Within Firm?

Q: With regard to antitrust laws, I want to put in the independent contractor agreements with my agents that our agents charge a minimum of 6% of the sales price. Is this considered price setting?
 
A:
It is strongly recommended that a REALTOR® have an attorney assist in drafting independent contractor agreements. That way, this and other issues are addressed properly to ensure compliance with the law and that the agents are in fact independent contractors, not employees. Remember that commissions are negotiable between the firm and the client. A principal broker would be within the law to set a minimum amount for the commission charged to clients within their firm. However, a lower commission could be set with the approval of the broker; this would alleviate any question of legality.

9. Advertise a Commission Rate?
 
Q: Can a licensee advertise what they will charge for commission compared to other licensees in the area?
 
A:
Agents are permitted to advertise what theywill charge for commissions, without violating antitrust laws. It gets more complicated and risky if they compare themselves with others. For that reason, an agent should not compare their rate to others nor include any reference to “most brokers” in advertisements, agreements, or discussions. Also, NAR recommends that REALTORS® not keep preprinted forms with commission rates on them, as this could be seen as a violation of antitrust laws. For additional information on RESPA, refer to NAR’s Anti-Trust Compliance Guide for Realtors® and Realtor-Associate®s, which contains a lot of great information, at www.realtor.org.

10. Publish Commission Splits?

Q: Can a broker/office publish their commission levels/splits that they pay agents, either on a website or via emails directed to REALTORS®?
 
A:
The NAR antitrust handbook does not prohibit the advertisement of a REALTOR®’s commission rate. It is recommended the REALTOR® follow these guidelines:

  1. The commission rate be based upon the cost of the services the agent provides, the value of these services to its clients, and competitive market conditions.
  2. The commission rate cannot be determined by agreement with, or recommendation or suggestion from, any person not a party to a listing agreement with the firm.
  3. The agent shall not participate in any discussion with any person affiliated with, or employed by, any other real estate firm concerning the commission rates charged by the agent’s firm, or any other real estate firm in the community.
  4. When soliciting a listing, no agent shall make any reference to a “prevailing” commission in the community, the “going rate,” or any other words or phrases which may suggest that commission rates are uniform or standard in the marketing area.

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