Membership Renewals are PAST DUE!!
SentriLock and Membership Shut Offs Next Wednesday, Feb 1
SentriLock access to properties will be turned off and PGCAR, MAR and NAR REALTOR® membership will be terminated for all non-paid REALTOR® members as of February 1, 2012.
Renew by midnight Tuesday, January 31 at www.pgcar.com.
- Click here
- Log in
- Pay and receive an itemized receipt for your
2011 - 2012 PGCAR, MAR and NAR membership renewals.
Brokers and non-paid Agents - Membership renewals were due October 1. On non-paid dues invoices, a late fee was added after November 30, 2011, and reinstatement fees were added after January 10, 2012. You must pay all outstanding REALTOR® dues by January 31st, or remove all unpaid agents from Office rosters. If dues remain unpaid on February 1st, the entire office will be suspended.
Thanks to the majority of members who renewed on time!
MAR LEGISLATIVE DAY - This Wednesday, January 25
All REALTORS® from across Maryland and their guests are invited to attend the FREE Legislative Day Program beginning at 3:30 pm this Wednesday. Please arrive at 3 pm for registration and check-in so you will not miss any of the program. The entire General Assembly has been invited, as well as elected and appointed state officials. The afternoon features guest speakers and briefings of top issues affecting REALTORS® for 2012, including important legislation of the 2012 Maryland General Assembly Session (which opened January 11 and adjourns April 9).
A reception immediately follows the program, starting at 6 pm. Cost of the reception is $15 and includes hors d'oeuvres. Parking for the day is free with a validated MAR coupon which will be provided to you upon check-in.
Meet your local legislators and show our REALTOR® strength.
Join us this Wednesday to start off the 2012 Legislative Session right!
RSVP online for the Legislative Day Program and Reception >
New and Improved PGAtlas.com - Demonstration This Wednesday, January 25
The Planning Department will provide a demonstration of the new and improved PGAtlas.com
this Wednesday, January 25 from 10 am to 12 noon in the Council Hearing Room, First Floor, County Administration Building, 14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
, Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772.
The focus of the demonstration will be on the updates. Everyone is welcome to attend. Experienced PGAtlas users will learn how to navigate the new version, and beginners will get the chance to familiarize themselves with the application. Formal training will be offered at a later date.
Users will have access to the new website this Tuesday, January 24. The existing PGAtlas will be available until February 8.
RPR® Overview Webinar - This Friday, January 27, 10 - 11 am
Give Us an Hour and We'll Give You Over a Million Reasons to Use Realtors Property Resources® (RPR®)!!
Did you know that RPR® allows you to:
So join us this Friday, January 27, 10 am - 11 am
- Look up 147 million public property records in a single location?
- Search for properties in your own MLS using value retention heat maps, flood maps and even school zones?
- Have a whole new world of research and valuation tools at your fingertips?
, for a special RPR®
education opportunity and in just an hour, you'll leave armed with a brand new toolbox that will prepare you to anticipate and answer the most discerning client's property questions in a snap.
Space is limited so reserve your Webinar seat today >
FREE for Rookie REALTOR® members!!
Next Thursday, February 2
Real Estate Tax Issues
6 - 7:30 pm at PGCAR
Be prepared for taxes by learning from the expert. The seminar includes a large measure of tax information that will also help your clients.
Details & Registration >
Learn More, Earn More in 2012
PGCAR is offering GRI Series 100, 200, and 300.
Sign up now!
Luxury Home Marketing Designation - Training That Sets the Standard
Learn what wealthy buyers and sellers say are the "real secrets" to
capturing their business and delivering outstanding service!
Class Dates: March 22 - 23, 8:30 am - 5:00 pm
Earns 2 CRS Elective Units • Lunch Provided Both Days
Required for Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS)
Sponsored by the Women's Council of REALTORS®
Discover how to:
- Reach more affluent prospects
- Increase your average price
- List and sell more luxury homes
- Deliver outstanding service to affluent buyers and sellers
- Set yourself apart as a luxury home expert
- Grow your business and increase your income
This intensive two-day CLHMS training course sets the standard for luxury sales training
in the industry, and the required training for the coveted CLHMS designation.
Expanded Online CE Offerings Class Schedule:
Available When YOU Are!
PGCAR is excited to announce that we have expanded our online class offerings to include seven surrounding states in which to easily renew your Real Estate license (DC, DE, PA, WV, VA, NC and SC).
Taking CE courses online is both flexible and affordable. Signing up through PGCAR makes the process even easier because we've put all of the information in one place - offering the best curriculum, 24/7 access, great customer service, and ongoing support. Let us be your one-stop-shop for all of your online CE needs!
For more information on CE registration, curriculum and requirements for MD or any of the other states, go to the www.pgcar.com Real Estate Classes page, then look for the Online Real Estate Education banner on the left-hand side of the page.
Mark your Calendars!!
Tuesday, May 1
Cinco de Mayo RPAC Fundraiser @ La Fountaine Bleu
6 pm - 10 pm
Details and Registration >
Last Chance on Freddie Mac Incentives - ENDS JANUARY 31
Up to 3% Buyer's Closing Cost plus $1,000 Selling Agent Bonus Offer
Freddie Mac is offering a Winter Sales Promotion on offers submitted by owner-occupant purchasers between November 15, 2011 and January 31, 2012 with escrow closed by March 15, 2012.
See this and other incentives at www.homesteps.com >
Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) - Free 3 CEU Training
Learn how to utilize the Community Development Administration's MMP for your customers. CDA has interest rates
starting at 3.5% with no points! Downpayment assistance of $5,000 is still available, plus matching closing cost programs. Register early for the CDA workshop being held Tuesday, February 14 or Wednesday, March 14 from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Details and registration >
- Buy Suitland Initiative - Civic Employees and Incomes up to 120% AMI are eligible. Details >
- Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB Atlanta) - 2 new programs - The first offers up to $15,000 towards a foreclosure purchase. The second offers up to $7,500 to homebuyers earning up to 80% AMI and buying within NSP targeted areas in MD or DC. These two programs do NOT require you to be a first-time homebuyer.
Consumer information page > Details & webinars for REALTORS® >
- My HOME - provides up to 5% of the home sale price in Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance to County Homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last 3 years. See details at www.pgcar.com or the County website. Even more details in Members Only >
- Centex Offers Additional Savings to My HOME Program - The My HOME program has established a relationship with Centex Homes. Your homebuyer can buy a Centex Home in the Victory Promenade development (behind FED EX Field) with My HOME funds and get seller assistance too. They have units that are standing and ready within 30 days. For more information or to schedule a time to view these homes, please call (301) 350-5875 or email Jennifer Eaddy.
- American Dream Downpayment Assistance (ADDI) - up to $10,000 to County Homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last 3 years. Details >
- The Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) offered through the state's Community Development Administration (CDA) has announced 2 loan products for distressed properties. All MMP products have low, fixed interest rates and some offer matching funds. These 2 new products will assist in revitalizing communities burdened with foreclosed and rundown properties.
The Acquisition / Rehabilitation Mortgage Program helps purchase a single-family home as a primary residence and obtain funds for needed repairs and renovations.
The Homeward Bound Program offers eligible buyers of foreclosed or short sale property a lower rate mortgage.
Program Details >
Most of these programs can be used in combination. Information on these and other homebuyer savings are available at pgcar.com. Sales agents - please study up and stay familiar with current homebuyer incentives, and send links to your contacts from these public information pages. For more My HOME program details, members can login to pgcar.com Members Only.
Short Sale Policy Revisions - Mandatory Changes Now Effective
Freddie Mac has amended its short sale affidavit policy, effective as of January 1, 2012. The purpose of the affidavit is to prevent fraud by requiring the buyer, the seller, the real estate brokers, the escrow/closing agent, and any transaction facilitator to make various certifications (including that the short sale is an arm's length transaction and the buyer will not resell within 120 days unless there are substantial improvements).
NAR advises members to make sure that any short sale affidavit they sign is an updated form. If presented with an old form, members should request that the servicer update the form before signing, to avoid potential liability issues.
Energy Star Tax Free Weekend!!
Saturday, February 18 - Monday, February 20
A tax-free, three-day weekend during which the sales tax will not be charged on the sale of any Energy Star Product listed below, or solar water heater.
Energy Star Product means an air conditioner, clothes washer or dryer, furnace, heat pump, standard size refrigerator, compact fluorescent light bulb, dehumidifier, or programmable thermostat that has been designated as meeting or exceeding the applicable Energy Star Efficiency requirements developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Also, remember to mark your calendars for Shop Maryland, August 14 - August 20, where qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less will be exempt from the Maryland 6% sales tax (accessory items are not included).
Optimism Builds in Housing Market
With all of the stormy weather the real estate market has had over the past few years, it may look like we're finally going to be able to see that silver lining. Recent studies are starting to show that the market is on the mend and moving in a positive direction.
Here are a few of the predictions for the coming year:
- Existing home sales are expected to increase by 12% this year.
- New-home starts (builds) are expected to increase by 37%, and new-home sales by an amazing 74%.
- Housing stocks are on the rebound.
- Mortgage rates are at record lows and consumer confidence is on the rise.
Read the entire Daily Real Estate News article >
2012 Legislative Preview
Property Tax Reform
The Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post have both published articles noting disparities in property tax liabilities between nearly identical properties. Much of the disparity results from the Homestead Property Tax Credit which caps the amount of new assessed value subject to property taxes. A prominent member of the House of Delegates tax writing committee has indicated he is studying the property tax system and plans to offer legislation in 2012.
Earlier this year, Governor O'Malley convened a Foreclosure Task Force. Government, industry and non profit representatives participated in the meetings and MAR expects legislative proposals to follow. The most likely reform affecting REALTORS® could be an expansion of the safe harbor for licensed real estate agents who assist clients applying for short sale approvals. It also appears likely that the existing requirement for mediation prior to foreclosure could be expanded to provide for an earlier mediation option.
Sustainable Growth and Septic Systems
Last year, MAR along with other groups vigorously opposed legislation that would have prohibited septic systems in new major subdivisions. That legislation was never voted on, and instead the Governor agreed to form the "The Task Force on Sustainable Growth and Wastewater Disposal." That group met regularly during the summer and fall and finalized its recommendations in November and December. Among the many recommendations that may result are further restrictions and/or requirements for new and existing septic systems, means-testing for septic grants, and increased fees paid into the Bay Restoration Fund to help pay for wastewater treatment plant upgrades and septic grants. MAR continue to oppose the prohibition of septic systems in new subdivisions because of its harmful impact on growth and housing affordability.
While the Task Force on Sustainable Growth will have clear growth impacts, the State of Maryland - through the Department of Planning - is pursuing development goals for counties to meet in order to receive state funding. Though PlanMaryland is intended to redirect growth rather than stop growth, MAR is concerned that it will not have that effect. MAR has submitted input advocating that local planning decisions remain with local governments rather than the state. Although many of PlanMaryland's goals do not require legislation to be enacted, several bills addressing PlanMaryland elements will be introduced this winter.
The State of Maryland will wrestle with a nearly $1 billion deficit when drafting a new budget this session. While the federal government helped bail out the state in prior years, that well is now dry. Over the summer, legislators had briefings regarding the expansion of the state sales tax to certain services (real estate was not mentioned) as well as the issue of taxing internet sales. MAR expects a sales tax expansion bill to be introduced in the coming session. It is also clear that the Legislature will consider an increase in the gasoline tax too.
This summer a great deal of time was spent deciding whether the State of Maryland should place new lead paint requirements on home sellers. One idea discussed included mandatory lead dust tests of all pre-1978 properties.
In addition to the work of this group, the Maryland Court of Appeals overthrew a portion of the current Maryland lead paint program for rental properties. Although the court permitted the registration part of the law to stand, it ruled that the liability cap for property owners violated the Maryland Declaration of Rights. Now property owners and property managers who have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in the last 15 years to make properties safe, face unlimited liability if a child registers a high blood lead level in their property. MAR and a number of groups will be working with the Legislature this winter to address this unsustainable liability.
The Court of Appeals poked the General Assembly in the eye again, ruling another one of their legislative enactments unconstitutional. This time the court found that the law abolishing a ground rent that was not registered with the state an unconstitutional taking of property. As a result, there is now no penalty for failing to register a ground rent. The Ground Rent registry was one of the most important provisions of the ground rent reform passed by the General Assembly because it gave everyone involved in real estate sales clear information regarding the ownership status of the property. Proper titling and disclosure require some kind of mandatory registration, and MAR will seeking a solution to this.
Transfer Taxes on Foreclosed Properties
As if real estate owned (REO) property wasn't hard enough to sell, the government sponsored entities (GSEs) have taken the position that as quasi governmental entities they cannot be taxed when selling foreclosed property they own. County governments deal with this problem in different ways. Some counties require the buyer of the GSE property to pay ALL of the transfer tax and recordation fees. Other counties require the buyer to pay only half of those charges and forgive the rest. MAR and the land title industry in Maryland will be seeking legislation to require one rule that buyers only pay half of these taxes rather than picking up the seller's half as well.
Market Sen$e: 30-Year Fixed-rate Mortgage Matches All-time Record Low
Last week's average mortgage rates changed little from the week ending January 12, when new all-time record lows were reported in all four reported categories. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) did drop slightly to a new record low, marking the seventh consecutive week below 4%. Recent economic reports have been mixed. Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac Chief Economist noted, "Retail sales edged up only 0.1% in December 2011, but the Reuters/University of Michigan sentiment index continued to climb in January to its highest reading since February 2011." In home construction, "builder confidence continued to climb for the fourth consecutive month in January to the highest level since June 2007."
Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending January 19, 2012:
- The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.88 percent, down from 3.89 percent a week ago.
- The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.17 percent, up from 3.16 percent.
- The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 2.82 percent, the same as previous week.
- The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.74 percent, down from 2.76 percent.
Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey >>
Prince George's Ends Year with Strong Monthly Sales Gains —
2011 Contract and Settlement Statistics Show Gains over 2010
The number of settlements increased from November 2011 to December 2011 in the single family market ( +13.6% ) and the condo / co-op market ( +13.8% ). Contract signings decreased slightly for single family homes, from 848 in November to 836 in December, a 1.4% decrease. Contract signings for condo / co-op homes improved from 116 in November to 131 in December, a dramatic 15.5% increase.
Year-to-date contracts and settlements have all improved from 2010.
Visit www.pgcar.com/stats for detailed statistics.
December Existing-Home Sales Continue Uptrend
Existing-home sales rose for the third consecutive month, up 5% in December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.61 million, up from a downwardly revised 4.39 million in November. December 2011 existing-home sales are 3.6% higher than the 4.45 million-unit level in December 2010. For all of 2011, existing-home sales rose 1.7% to 4.26 million from 4.19 million in 2010.
Total housing inventory at the end of December dropped 9.2% to 2.38 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.2-month supply at the current sales pace, down from a 7.2-month supply in November. Available inventory has trended down since setting a record of 4.04 million in July 2007, and is at the lowest level since March 2005 when there were 2.30 million homes on the market.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said these are early signs of what may be a sustained recovery. "The pattern of home sales in recent months demonstrates a market in recovery," he said. "Record low mortgage interest rates, job growth and bargain home prices are giving more consumers the confidence they need to enter the market. The inventory supply suggests many markets will see prices stabilize or grow moderately in the near future."
First-time buyers purchased 31% of homes in December. Investors purchased 21%.
Contract failures were reported by 33% of NAR members in December, unchanged from November; they were 9% in December 2010. Contract cancellations are caused largely by declined mortgage applications and failures in loan underwriting from appraised values coming in below the negotiated price.
More details at www.realtor.org >
Consumer Tip: How to Better Manage Credit and Improve Your Credit Score
In the past few REALTOR® Connection issues, we explained how to check your credit score every four months for FREE and gave you tips on what affects your credit score and how that score is determined.
Now that you are armed with that information, let's talk about ways to better manage and improve that score. Here are six ways to manage home-related spending that will get your credit score moving as close to EXCELLENT as possible.
- Postpone that refinance until your credit score is between the good-to-excellent margin. The lower the credit score, the higher the interest rate.
- Pay all of your bills on time. Be especially diligent in paying your mortgage on time. We learned in the prior issue that payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score. Credit score agencies tend to lower your score by even more points for late mortgage payments.
- Try to avoid getting a second mortgage or HELOC because 30% of your score is based on what you owe to creditors. If you do have a second mortgage or HELOC, try to pay it down so that less than 70% of the maximum credit available to you is used.
- Be aware that a late payment on your home could also increase your insurance rates. Insurers become cautious of people who appear to be 'strapped for cash' and who could potentially file a false claim.
- Pay all utility bills and property taxes on time. Utility companies may assign your delinquent account to a collection agency, and late payment of property taxes may cause a lien to be placed on your property - both could appear on your credit report.
- If refinancing, do not take out too much equity. Your credit score may be affected because the amount you owe will increase.
For more useful tips, go to www.houselogic.com.
Sales Coach: 5 Groups You Need to be Contacting
The majority of homebuyers and sellers say they would definitely use their real estate agent again or recommend that person to others. Yet only a very small percent actually do use that person. Why is there such a discrepancy? The main reason is lack of communication.
To keep your business network flowing with repeat customers and referrals, here are the five groups you should communicate with on a monthly basis, and a few ideas to keep the lines of communication open.
||You've already built credibility with them, so turn them into repeat clients by keeping in touch. Send a thank you after the sale, or a copy of their closing statement to help them prepare their taxes. Past clients are your best resource for new referrals.
||Be patient, yet consistent by keeping them informed, with tips on buying/selling a home, real estate in their area, or information related to their personal interests.
|Sphere of Influence:
||Almost half of referrals come from friends, neighbors or relatives, so it is extremely important to maintain consistent communication. Providing information on what's going on in the real estate market, tips on refinancing, or how to build home equity are a great way to keep you at the top of their list.
||One way to develop new leads is to create an area consisting of a certain geographical location, such as a subdivision. Then make contact with the residents so your name is the first that pops into their head.
|Local Business Owners:
||Provide them with a newsletter containing real estate data (both residential and commercial), then update them with current data. As fellow businesspeople, they'll appreciate the follow up.
|| Steady Communication Builds Great Relationships!
For more useful information >
Earn All MD and DC Required CEU at PGCAR
All classes are held at PGCAR offices, just off the Route 202 / Landover Road exit of I-495. Find our NEW association office at 9200 Basil Court, Suite 400, Largo, MD 20774. There's plenty of parking.
IRS 2012 Standard Mileage Rates
As of January 1, 2012, the standard mileage rates used to calculate deductible costs of operating a car (and vans, pickups or panel trucks) are:
- 55.5 cents per mile for business miles driven
- 23 cents per mile for medical or moving expenses
- 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
The rate for business miles driven is unchanged from the mid-year adjustment that became effective on July 1, 2011. The medical and moving rate has been reduced by 0.5 cents per mile.
Additional information on standard mileage rates is available from www.IRS.gov or your tax specialist.
Time at Which Modification to Offer of Subagency
is Communicated is a Determining Factor
REALTOR® A listed Seller X's home and filed the listing with the MLS. The property data sheet indicated the compensation REALTOR® A was offering to the other Participants if they were successful in finding a buyer for Seller X's home.
During the next few weeks, REALTOR® A authorized several Participants of the Multiple Listing Service, including REALTOR® C, to show Seller X's home to potential buyers. Although several showings were made, no offers to purchase were forthcoming. REALTOR® A and Seller X, in discussing possible means of making the property more salable, agreed to reduce the listed price. REALTOR® A also agreed to lower his commission. REALTOR® A changed his compensation offer in the MLS and then called the MLS Participants who had shown Seller X's property to advise them that he was modifying his offer of compensation to cooperating brokers. Upon receiving the call, REALTOR® C responded that he was working with Prospect Z who appeared to be very interested in purchasing the property and who would probably make an offer to purchase in the next day or two. REALTOR® C indicated that he would expect to receive the compensation that had been published originally in the MLS and not the reduced amount now being offered to him, since he had already shown the property to Prospect Z and expected an offer to purchase would be made shortly. REALTOR® A responded that since Prospect Z had not signed an offer to purchase and no offer had been submitted, the modified offer of compensation would be applicable.
The following day, REALTOR® C wrote an offer to purchase for Prospect Z. The offer was submitted to the Seller by REALTOR® A and was accepted. At the closing, REALTOR® A gave REALTOR® C a check for services in an amount reflecting the modified offer communicated to REALTOR® C by phone. REALTOR® C refused to accept the check indicating that he felt REALTOR® A's actions were in violation of the Code of Ethics. REALTOR® C filed a complaint with the Board's Grievance Committee alleging violation of Articles 2 and 3 on the part of REALTOR® A citing Standard of Practice 3-2 in support of the charge.
During the hearing, REALTOR® C stated that REALTOR® A's modification of the compensation constituted a misrepresentation through concealment of pertinent facts since he had not provided REALTOR® C with specific written notification of the modification prior to the time REALTOR® C began his efforts to interest the purchaser in the listed property. REALTOR® A defended his actions by indicating that timely notice of the modification of compensation offered had been provided to REALTOR® C by telephone prior to REALTOR® C submitting a signed offer to purchase. REALTOR® A also indicated that his modified offer of compensation had been bulletined to all Participants, including REALTOR® C, through the MLS in accordance with Standard of Practice 3-2 prior to the time that REALTOR® C had submitted the signed offer to purchase. REALTOR® A also commented that had REALTOR® C submitted the signed offer to purchase prior to REALTOR® A communicating the modified offer, then REALTOR® A would have willingly paid the amount originally offered.
Based on your understanding of the Code of Ethics Articles 2 and 3, how do you think the Professional Standards Panel ruled?
Find out here >>
Free Hands-On MRIS Tools Training at PGCAR
PGCAR hosts free MRIS hands-on training sessions each month. The January and February sessions are:
Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
MRIS 101: Kick Off Your Career with MRIS. Get in the Real Estate game faster with this introduction to all of the various products and topics available with your MRIS subscription.
Tomorrow, Tuesday, January 24
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
MATRIX 101: The Need-to-Knows of Matrix. Settings, searches, contacts, emails - this is the best place to learn about the multiple functions Matrix offers.
Tuesday, February 14
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
XactSite 101: Introduction. Not sure where to start with your newly purchased XactSite? Learn to set up your website using photo and logo upload, domain set up, and search engine optimization basics.
Tuesday, February 14
1:30 pm - 4:30 pm
MATRIX 201: Customize Matrix. Personalize your Matrix to create easier navigation, advance your skills, and work more efficiently and productively.
Visit www.mris.com/training for details and registration. Advance registration with MRIS is required.
REALTORS® Federal Credit Union
Why Join REALTORS®
24/7 credit union designed for your unique needs as a REALTOR®
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Join Online > It only takes 15 minutes!