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January 7, 2014


    I n   t h i s   i s s u e . . .
 
Events
  • Non-Renewed Membership?
        $100 Reinstatement Fee Added 5 PM TODAY
  • Short Sale Certification Course
        - at PGCAR Next Thursday
  • Lobby Day is January 14
  • Real Estate Tax Issues - January 13
  • FREE Lunch and Learn - January 14
  • 30 Under 30 Applications Due January 15
  • 5K Fun Walk/Run is Saturday, April 12

    Homeownership Matters
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Loan Limits
  • Homebuyer Incentives in Prince George's County
  • Consumer Tip: Fragrant Plants:
        - A Breath of Fresh Air
  •  
    The Industry Insider
  • 2014 Standard Mileage Rates
  • Postal Stamps on the Rise Again
  • PGCAR and WCR Membership Applications
  • Earn Your MD and DC CEU at PGCAR
  • Inclement Weather / Snow Policy
  • Remember! Enjoy Savings on CEU at PGCAR!
  • GRI Series 100 Coming in April
  • Market Sen$e: Fixed Mortgage Rates
        Increase in the New Year
  • County Settlements Look Up, Up
        Up in December
  • Sales Coach: How to Help a Client
        with Buyer's Remorse
  • 2014 Code of Ethics Changes
  • Free Hands-On MRIS Training
  • REALTORS® FCU Can Help You Get Ahead
  • SentriLock Lockbox Sale
  •  
     
    Non-Renewed Memberships Have Now Expired!
    Renew Today to Avoid Loss of Benefits
    Dues for the October 1, 2013 - September 30, 2014 membership year were due October 1, 2013.

    A $100 reinstatement fee will be added
    to non-paid dues invoices
    at 5 pm TODAY, January 7, 2014.

    Renew now at www.pgcar.com and skip the reinstatement fee >

    Please don't wait any longer to pay your dues renewal - you'll lose REALTOR® membership benefits, including SentriLock key privileges, your MRIS discount, and ZipForms!

    Take just a few moments to renew your membership right now: just use the secure, easy online dues renewal at www.pgcar.com.
    1. Click here
    2. Log in
    3. Pay and receive an itemized receipt for your
      2013 - 2014 PGCAR, MAR and NAR membership renewals.


     

    Earn the Maryland Short Sale Certification
    Next Thursday at PGCAR


    Next Thursday, January 16 from 9 am - 3 pm
    Only $195 through Jan. 14 / $225 after Jan. 14

    On July 1, the MARS Act became effective in Maryland, and ALL real estate licensees involved in short sales MUST COMPLY with the Act.

    How do you know if you're in compliance?
    How do you protect yourself and avoid penalties of up to $5,000 and/or imprisonment?

    (Yes, you read that right!)

    PGCAR is here to help! Our one-day program, The New Maryland Short Sale Certification, will give you the knowledge you need to successfully navigate short sales while staying compliant with the new regulations.

    Register Today at www.pgcar.com >


     

    MAR REALTOR® Lobby Day is Next Tuesday, January 14th
    Register by Tomorrow, January 8th!



    Mark your calendar now and register by this Wednesday, January 8th, to join us on Tuesday, January 14th for MAR REALTOR® Lobby Day.

    The event begins at 10 am at The Governor Calvert House in Annapolis with a continental breakfast, where we'll hear an overview of MAR's legislative agenda and remarks by Maryland State leadership. We will then progress to House and Senate offices to lobby for homeowner and REALTOR® issues with legislators and their staff.

    Take advantage of this excellent opportunity to speak up about issues important to our industry!

    Register at www.mdrealtor.org >

    Know who your Legislators are! Check out the Guide to Prince George's County Government >


     

    FHA Mortgage Limits Decrease For 2014 -- And Other Mortgage Changes
    Prince George's County FHA Mortgage Limit Decreasing from $729,750 to $625,500


    FHA loan limits are decreasing for 2014. For Prince George's and other counties at the maximum allowable loan limits for the country, the maximum declined from $729,750 to $625,500. A few good articles which summarize this and other 2014 changes, and a NAR letter to FHFA's then-Acting Director DeMarco providing details of the issues, are linked below. (Note: The Senate voted December 11 to confirm Representative Mel Watt (D-NC) as the new Director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency.)


     

    2014 Standard Mileage Rates
    Effective January 1, 2014


    As of January 1, 2014, the standard mileage rates used to calculate the deductible costs of operating an automobile for business, charitable, medical or moving purposes have changed to:
    • 56 cents per mile for business miles driven
    • 23.5 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
    The business, medical, and moving expense rates are one-half cent less than the 2013 rates. The charitable rate is based on statute. Taxpayers have the option of calculating the actual costs of using their vehicle rather than using the standard mileage rates. A taxpayer may not use the business standard mileage rate for a vehicle after using any depreciation method under the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) or after claiming a Section 179 deduction for that vehicle. In addition, the business standard mileage rate cannot be used for more than four vehicles used simultaneously.

    For more information, please visit www.irs.gov or see a tax advisor.


     

    Real Estate Tax Issues
    Learn From the Expert and Earn 1.5 MD Elective CEU


    REALTOR Safety Month Be well prepared for taxes: learn from the recognized expert in taxes for the real estate professional! This class includes a large measure of tax information that REALTORS® can use for their clients, too.

    Next Monday, January 13
    1:30 - 3:00 pm at PGCAR
    Instructor: Linda de Marlor
    Register at www.pgcar.com >

     

    FREE Lunch and Learn:
    REALTORS® Federal Credit Union Benefits


    FREE Lunch and Learn Next Tuesday, January 14
    11:30 am - 1:00 pm at PGCAR

    FREE for PGCAR Members.
    Just RSVP ~ So we can have lunch ready for you >

    Enjoy a FREE Lunch! And best of all, learn about the many benefits available to you through the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union. It's too good to be kept a secret! Come discover why people who switch to credit unions love them so much. The RFCU is even better, because it's designed especially for REALTORS®!

    RSVP today at www.pgcar.com.
    We'll see you there!


     

    30 Under 30 Applications Due Next Wednesday, January 15!


    Are you 29 or younger and having a phenomenal year? NOW is the time to apply for international recognition as one of 2014's 30 Under 30. REALTOR® Magazine will announce and showcase this year's rising young stars in the real estate industry in the June 2014 issue.

    The application deadline is looming fast: NEXT Wednesday, January 15, 2014. Apply now, and don't forget to ask for recommendations in support of your selection.

    30 Under 30 Web Site >      30 Under 30 FAQ and Contest Rules >


     
    1. My HOME / My HOME II Program
      Up to 5% or $20,000 in Homebuyer Incentives!
      Program offers up to 5% of sale price (through My HOME) of a primary residence anywhere in Prince George's County; up to $20,000 (through My HOME II) within targeted zip codes. Program details >
    2. College Park Live Smart Program
      Up to $5,000 in Homebuyer Incentives!
      College Park's program highlights affordability and convenient location to encourage home sales in the community, offering up to $5,000 in incentives to home buyers. Program details >
    3. Homebuyer Savings for City of Laurel
      Buyers of foreclosed homes receive tax credits. The program offers a five-year descending City tax credit of up to $3,500 for buyers purchasing their primary residence within Laurel City limits.
      Program Details >
    4. $30 Million Targeted Areas Initiative for All Homebuyers
      First-Time Homebuyers Can Gain Same Benefits in ANY Prince George's County Area

      Reduced interest rates starting at 2.875% (APR 3.675%) for qualified homebuyers purchasing a new primary residence. Program Details >
    5. Buy Suitland Initiative
      $40,000 Maximum in Downpayment & Closing Cost Savings!
      Up to 5% of home purchase price to first-time homebuyers or those who haven't owned within the last 3 years; Up to 7% for local civic employees. Program Details >   Revised Buy Suitland Flyer >
    6. Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta (FHLB Atlanta)
      Up to $15,000 toward a foreclosure purchase; Up to $7,500 toward the purchase of a property located in area approved for NSP funds. Program Details >
    7. American Dream Downpayment Initiative (ADDI)
      Up to $10,000 to County homebuyers who have not owned a home within the last 3 years.
      Program Details >
    8. Freddie Mac HomeSteps SmartBuySM
      Offers up to $500 for purchase of a home warranty.
      Home listings and incentive details >   Sign up for homesteps.com buyer leads >

    Most of these programs can be used in combination. Information on these and other homebuyer savings are available at pgcar.com.


     

    Cost of Postal Stamps Increases January 26


    Stamp The cost of first-class postage stamps will increase from 46 cents to 49 cents on January 26.
    To lock-in at current prices, you can buy "Forever" stamps now.

    The U.S. Postal Service sells stamps online at www.usps.com.
    Details >



     

    Consumer Tip: Fragrant Plants
    A Breath of Fresh Air


    Fragrant Plants In wintertime, when temperatures drop and cold winds blow, we keep our houses locked up tight to preserve heat. Being all cooped up can lead to stale air, though, or at least not the freshness that comes from breezes blowing through open windows (hurry up, spring!).

    Help is on its way!
    You can freshen up the air in your tightly-sealed home with one or more of the following aromatic plants:
    • Geranium: There are many scented varieties, such as apple, chocolate mint, rose, and orange.
       
    • Anise hyssop: This plant carries the scent of licorice.
       
    • Basil: Basil has a lovely, distinctive scent of its own, but also comes in varieties like lemon or cinnamon.
       
    • Mint: The fresh scent of this plant is great for the kitchen or bath.
       
    • Rosemary: A favorite herb of many cooks, this will enliven both the air in your kitchen and the flavor of many of your recipes.
       
    • Lavender: The small purple flowers are beautiful, and the scent of lavender is known for its calming effect.
       
    For more information on these plants and on improving the air quality in your home, please visit Houselogic.com.


     
     

    PGCAR and WCR Membership Applications for 2014
    New Agents? Looking for a PGCAR or Local WCR Membership Application?


    Download the New 2014 PGCAR Membership Application from www.pgcar.com >
    Women's Council of REALTORS® Prince George's Chapter Membership Application >


     
     

    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 association office at 9200 Basil Court, Suite 400, Largo, MD 20774. There's plenty of parking!


    This Wednesday, January 8
    Navigate Today's Home Loan Options
    3 MD Elective CEU
    Pat Miller 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    Next Monday, January 13
    Real Estate Tax Issues
    1.5 MD Elective CEU
    Linda de Marlor 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Next Thursday, January 16
    Maryland Short Sale Certification
    3 MD Elective CEU
    Jill Pogach Michaels 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

    Wednesday, January 22
    MREC Agency-Residential
    3 MD Required or Elective CEU
    Fredericka Lloyd 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    Reverse Mortgages
    1.5 MD Elective CEU
    Eric Rittmeyer 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Friday, January 24
    MD Legislative Update
    3 MD Required Legislative Update CEU;
    3 DC Elective CEU
    Don Martin 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
    MD Fair Housing
    1.5 MD Required Fair Housing CEU;
    1.5 DC Elective CEU
    Don Martin 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

    Wednesday, January 29
    MD Code of Ethics
    3 MD Required Ethics CEU;
    3 DC Elective CE
    Don Martin 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    Tuesday, February 4
    MREC Required Supervision
    3 MD Required or Elective CEU
    Larry Hudson 9:30 am - 12:30 pm

    Wednesday, February 5
    DC Fair Housing & Predatory Lending
    3 DC Required Fair Housing CEU
    Jackie Talpa 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm

    Wednesday, April 9
    GRI 100 Series
    - Full Series of 5 Classes Begins

    MD CEU - 16.5 hours total
    various 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

    Complete CEU Schedule >


    PGCAR Store

     

    INCLEMENT WEATHER / SNOW POLICY:
    SNOW POLICY: PGCAR classes will be conducted as scheduled unless the Prince George's County Government offices are closed. If you are registered for a class and it is cancelled, your registration fee will be returned or transferred to a future class.

    Please be safe and use your best judgment with regards to driving. If unable to attend due to weather, please e-mail Scott Miller or call Scott at 301-306-7961 and you will not be charged. If you will not be attending class, please indicate whether you would like to reschedule or if you would like a refund.

    PGCAR committee meetings: If Prince George's County Public Schools are CLOSED, all PGCAR committee meetings will be cancelled. If Prince George's County Public Schools are on a delayed schedule, committee meetings will be held as scheduled.

    PGCAR offices will be open unless the Prince George's County Government is closed.


     

    MARK YOUR CALENDARS


    The annual David Maclin Memorial Scholarship Fundraiser 5K Fun Walk/Run is Saturday, April 12th, 2014.
    Stay tuned for more information as the date approaches.


     

    Remember! Enjoy Savings on CEU at PGCAR!


    Maryland and DC real estate CEU is on sale at PGCAR PGCAR Members and REALTORS® - Enjoy steep discounts on ALL classes held at PGCAR!

    Register for ANY 3 CE class for $18 early bird, $33 regular.
    Register for ANY 1.5 CE class for $11 early bird, $26 regular.

    Hurry to www.pgcar.com/real-estate-ceu today >
     
     

     
     

    Learn More, Earn More in 2014


    PGCAR is offering GRI Series 100 in April.
    The dates for this 5-day series are April 9, 11, 17, 23 and 25.

    Also earn 3 MD Ethics hours, 3 MD Fair Housing hours and 10.5 MD elective hours.

    Sign up now!

     
     

    Market Sen$e: Fixed Mortgage Rates Look Up with the New Year


    Freddie Mac released results last Thursday, January 2, with fixed mortgage rates rising slightly with the advent of 2014.

    The Vice President and Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, Frank Nothaft, indicated that mortgage rates began the year higher due to stronger economic signals.

    "The pending home sales index inched up 0.2 percent in November, after five consecutive months of decline," noted Nothaft. "The Conference Board reported that confidence among consumers rose in December and the S&P/Case-Shiller® 20-city composite house price index [PDF] rose 13.6 percent over the 12-months ending in October 2013."

    Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending January 2, 2014:

    • The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.53%, up from 4.48%.
    • The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.55%, up from 3.52%.
    • The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 3.05%, up from 3.00%.
    • The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56%, same as last week.
    Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey >

    Like us on Facebook to see monthly Prince George's County home sales and weekly mortgage reports as soon as they are released!

     

    PRINCE GEORGE'S HOME SETTLEMENTS INCREASE IN DECEMBER

    facebook logo Increase is a bit of an understatement for December settlements. Prince George's County single family homes experienced a 24.1% increase in settlements compared with November 2013. Condo and co-op homes experienced a 14.9% increase in settlements compared with November 2013.

    While new contracts showed a month-to-month decrease from November to December 2013, the annual rate of closures (settlements) saw year-to-date improvements from December 2012 to December 2013 of 1.2% in single family homes and a phenomenal 11.3% in the condo and co-op homes market.

    Visit www.pgcar.com/stats for more details. And don't forget to like PGCAR on Facebook to see monthly statistics first!

    Also, check out these articles about the national real estate market from REALTOR.org:
    Pending Home Sales Edge Up in November
    Existing-Home Sales Decline in November, but Strong Price Gains Continue
    NAR Praises Positive Federal Housing Administration Actuarial Review

     
     

    Sales Coach: How to Help a Client with Buyer's Remorse

    Home Sales Coach If you've been selling real estate for a while, chances are you've seen cases of buyer's remorse. When your client is having second thoughts about purchasing a property, what do you do? First, consider that your client may be fearful of:
    • Change
    • Commitment
    • Making a bad choice
    • Being fooled
    • The unknown
    Keeping these fears in mind, try the following to help your client make the right decision:
    1. Educate Your Client. Let them know how common it is to second-guess a major decision like this, and ask them to weigh their fears against their reasons for wanting to purchase the property. Often, reasons win over fears.
       
    2. Remind Them Of Consequences. You hopefully informed your client of their contractual obligations when they first signed. Remind them now of what backing out will mean, and helpfully discuss their reservations, showing them how safeguards are built into the process to protect them.
       
    3. Hearken Back to Better Times. Help the client reconnect with why they wanted to purchase the property.
       
    4. Avoid Snap Decisions. Negative stress rarely leads to sound judgment. Have the customer spend some time thinking, so that rational thoughts and not emotions lead to the decision.
    We all can get cold feet about big decisions. Thoughtfully helping your client work through fears will help them make the right choice - which, granted, could be cancelling the purchase - but you'll gain their respect (and probably loyalty) for your integrity. That's just good business.

    For more information about helping your clients through doubt, visit Realtor.org >.

     
     

    2014 Changes to the Code of Ethics

    Changes to the Code which are approved at the NAR Annual Convention become effective on January 1 of each year. For your easy reference we have posted the January 1, 2014 changes here, and online, so that you can stay up to date. Revised and added text is noted in italics. Strikeouts indicate deletions.

    Revised Standard of Practice 3-2
    To be effective, a Any change in compensation offered for cooperative services must be communicated to the other REALTOR® prior to the time that REALTOR® submits an offer to purchase/lease the property. After a REALTOR® has submitted an offer to purchase or lease property, the listing broker may not attempt to unilaterally modify the offered compensation with respect to that cooperative transaction. (Amended 1/10) (Amended 1/14)

    Revised Article 10
    REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation, or gender identity. REALTORS® shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/11) (Amended 1/14)

    REALTORS®, in their real estate employment practices, shall not discriminate against any person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Amended 1/11) (Amended 1/14)

    Revised Standard of Practice 10-3
    REALTORS® shall not print, display or circulate any statement or advertisement with respect to selling or renting of a property that indicates any preference, limitations or discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, or sexual orientation, or gender identity. (Adopted 1/94, Renumbered 1/05 and 1/06, Amended 1/11 Amended 1/14)

    Revised Standard of Practice 11-1
    When REALTORS® prepare opinions of real property value or price they must:

    1. be knowledgeable about the type of property being valued,
    2. have access to the information and resources necessary to formulate an accurate opinion, and
    3. be familiar with the area where the subject property is located
    unless lack of any of these is disclosed to the party requesting the opinion in advance. When an opinion of value or price is prepared, other than in pursuit of a listing or to assist a potential purchaser in formulating a purchase offer, such opinions the opinion shall include the following unless the party requesting the opinion requires a specific type of report or different data set:
    1. identification of the subject property
    2. date prepared
    3. defined value or price
    4. limiting conditions, including statements of purpose(s) and intended user(s)
    5. any present or contemplated interest, including the possibility of representing the seller/landlord or buyers/tenants
    6. basis for the opinion, including applicable market data
    7. if the opinion is not an appraisal, a statement to that effect (Amended 1/10)
    8. disclosure of whether and when a physical inspection of the property's exterior was conducted
    9. disclosure of whether and when a physical inspection of the property's interior was conducted
    10. disclosure of whether the REALTOR® has any conflicts of interest (Amended 1/14)

    Please take the time to review the entire 2014 REALTOR® Code of Ethics >

    We'll return to our Tour of the Code of Ethics in the next REALTOR® Connection.
    Wishing you an enjoyable and ethical 2014!


     

    FREE HANDS-ON MRIS TRAINING AT PGCAR
    Upcoming Dates & Courses


    Tuesday, January 21 @ 9:30 am
    MATRIX 301: Success with Stats

    Tuesday, January 21 @ 1:00 pm
    MRIS 301: What's New & What's Coming

    MRIS reports that agents who take advantage of their FREE workshops, also tend to seldom receive complaints and fines for misuse of the MLS. Visit www.mris.com/training for details and registration. Advance registration with MRIS is required.

     
     
     

    REALTORS® Federal Credit Union - It's for You!


    Why Join REALTORS® FCU?
    It's the 24/7 credit union designed for your unique needs as a REALTOR®!

    Open 24/7!
    FREE ATMs Nationwide
    FREE Checking w/ FREE debit card
    Scan check deposits using your computer
    Transfer funds between financial institutions online
    Flexible lending that understands a REALTOR®'s income
    Earnings go back to benefit YOU and your fellow REALTORS®

    Join Online >>   It only takes 15 minutes!

     

    SentriLock Lockbox sale expires soon!  Get yours today!

    Pay only $65 each (plus tax) for up to 9 lockboxes; order larger numbers and enjoy even
    greater discounts! Power paddles are also discounted to $55 for a limited time. To take
    advantage of these great prices, please contact Shirley at the Association office.
     

    Prince George's County Association of REALTORS®
    9200 Basil Court :  Suite 400 : Largo, MD 20774
    Phone 301-306-7900  :  Fax 301-306-8273  :  www.pgcar.com  :  ©2013 PGCAR

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