|PGCAR Offices Closed Today, January 20th
Reminder: In honor of today's Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the PGCAR offices are closed. We'll resume normal hours tomorrow morning, January 21, and will be happy to serve you!
$100 Reinstatement Fee Now Required
for Renewing Members with Unpaid Dues
A $100 reinstatement fee is now added to unpaid accounts.
Don't let your unpaid dues continue to affect your business. Renew right now using the secure, easy online dues renewal at www.pgcar.com.
- Click here
- Log in
- Pay and receive an itemized receipt for your
2013 - 2014 PGCAR, MAR and NAR membership renewals.
Please pay your 2013 - 2014 dues to retain SentriLock key privileges, your MRIS discount, ZipForms and other REALTOR® membership benefits.
|David Maclin Memorial Scholarship
Scholarship Applications Due February 28th
|Do You Know a Prince George's County Public High School Senior:
Graduating with a 2.0 or better GPA?
Already making a difference in the community?
Please have them complete an application for the 2014 David Maclin Memorial Scholarship. Winners will receive a $2,500 scholarship to be used toward further education in any community college, university, or trade school.
Please also share Scholarship Application Forms with educators you know. You may enable someone who hasn't received the materials to share this opportunity with their class, and make an important difference in the life of a student who wouldn't have heard of it without your involvement.
Scholarship Letter • Scholarship Application • Permission Slip
David Maclin Memorial Scholarship Fund
Third Annual 5K Fun Walk/Run - Saturday, April 12
|SAVE THE DATE:
||Saturday, April 12
(RAIN OR SHINE)
Stay tuned for details!
New Certification Helps REALTORS® Serve Relocating Military Families
Coming to PGCAR February 12!
Military Relocation Professional (MRP) Certification
Wednesday, February 12
9 am - 4:30 pm at PGCAR
$150 through February 8; $175 after
Also approved for 6 MD Elective CEU
The MRP is a new certification from NAR's Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, to help real estate professionals better meet the unique needs of relocating military members and their families.
The Military Relocation Professional Certification is available to practitioners who complete a one-day course and two one-hour webinars that detail housing solutions, timetables, military background, and ways to help service members. The one-day course is also an approved elective for REBAC's Accredited Buyers Representative designation.
"Home ownership is an important part of the fabric of America, and having a stable home environment is vital when men and women of the military are called away to serve their country," says 2013 NAR President Gary Thomas. "Working with a REALTOR® who understands specific needs and timetables related to military service will help make their transfers easier, faster, and less stressful. The Military Relocation Professional Certification will help REALTORS® hone their knowledge and skills for working with veterans and active duty military buyers and sellers to ensure that home ownership remains affordable and accessible to them."
Visit the MRP website >
Register today >
Cost of Postal Stamps Increases This Sunday, January 26
Are "thank you" notes or other personal letters in your marketing plans for this year? The cost of first-class postage stamps will increase from 46 cents to 49 cents this Sunday, January 26. To lock-in at current prices, you can buy "Forever" stamps now. This week is also a good time to find nice stationary and cards at great discounts at local stores and malls.
The U.S. Postal Service sells stamps online at www.usps.com.
The Role of Real Estate in Maryland's Economy
A study of real estate-related activities in Maryland released November 2013, demonstrates that Maryland's real estate industry directly and secondarily supports nearly 464,000 jobs in Maryland, approximately $28.7 billion in associated employee compensation (includes value of benefits), and $71 billion in output.
The real estate industry also directly generated $887 million for the State of Maryland in individual income taxes and $7.3 billion in local government real estate-related tax revenues. The industry now supports roughly three-fifths of local government general fund revenues, significantly higher than the 49.2 percent of the 2011 report.
In other words, despite representing 20 percent of statewide output, the industry supplies approximately 60 percent of local government general fund revenues. Any economic or tax policies considered in Maryland should carefully evaluate the potential effects on the real estate industry engine that so powerfully affects the state's fiscal health at all levels.
Above is but a brief synopsis of key conclusions. Click here for this very informative report >
New Ability-to-Repay Mortgage Rule Now Effective;
FHFA Decides to Delay Fannie, Freddie Fee Increases
The Ability-to-Repay rule and Qualified Mortgage standards went into effect Friday, January 10. The new criteria are meant to provide consumer protections against irresponsible lending that ends up financially harming the homebuyer and the economy, while preserving needed access to mortgage credit. Qualified Mortgages cannot be made to a borrower with a debt-to-income ratio greater than 43 percent, cannot require interest-only payments, and cannot negatively amortize or require more than 3 percent in fees and points. Read more >
Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mel Watt has decided to delay increases in guarantee fees on loans purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In a September 2013 letter, NAR called on FHFA to refrain from changing its fee structure until completing an analysis to determine the effectiveness of its fee pricing policy at bringing private enterprise back into the market.
Other mortgage news:
2014 REALTORS® Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice
The 2014 Code of Ethics is now available at www.pgcar.com, with a few updates from the 2013 Annual NAR Conference. REALTOR® members are bound to the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice in fulfilling their duties to clients and customers, to the public, and to other REALTORS®. Our Code of Ethics is one of the many factors setting us apart, and allows the public to have high confidence that the REALTOR® they hire will protect and promote their interests. REALTORS® pledge to that. See Article 1.
Please take this opportunity to review the recent updates to the Code of Ethics, and the entire Code of Ethics. It's good business!
2014 Standard Mileage Rates
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:
The business, medical, and moving expense rates are one-half cent less than the 2013 rates. For more information, please visit www.irs.gov or see a tax advisor.
- 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
- 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 >
- 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 >
- 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 >
- $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 >
- 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 >
- 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 >
- 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 >
- 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.
TAX-FREE ITEMS - Presidents' Day Weekend in Maryland!
Tax Free Weekend on Energy Star Products — February 15 - 17
Share the news with your homebuyers! Marylanders mark your calendars: the weekend of Saturday, February 15 through Monday, February 17 (Presidents' Day) will be a tax-free three-day weekend during which the sales and use tax will not apply to the sale of solar water heaters and selected Energy Star Products.
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. For more information on Energy Star items, click here >
Also, remember to mark your calendars for Shop Maryland, August 10 - August 16, where qualifying apparel and footwear $100 or less will be exempt from the Maryland 6% sales tax (accessory items are not included).
Have a Heart this February – Give Life!
REALTOR® Blood Drive
on Wednesday, February 19
Please mark your calendars now, and join us at the PGCAR offices between 9 am and 2:30 pm on Wednesday, February 19, to donate blood to the American Red Cross. Encourage your entire office to show up! Family and friends are all welcome!
Blood donors save lives.
Thank You for Participating in MAR REALTOR® Lobby Day
Many thanks to those of you who joined us in Annapolis last Tuesday, January 14, to meet our Maryland State legislators and their staff and discuss real estate issues with them. It's important that they know we're involved and interested. Your voice matters!
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!
Consumer Tip: Up on the Rooftop
Must Snow be Removed after Significant Snowfall?
This winter has shaped up to be a whopper (though, to be fair, the whole year has been extraordinary, hasn't it?). Many areas of the country have already "enjoyed" - to use the term loosely - a higher-than-average snowfall, and the arrival of spring is not even close.
With significant snow, one question on homeowners' minds is, "Do I need to do anything about all this snow on my roof?" We've all heard tales of roofs collapsing under heavy weight, and no one wants to become another tale. So how do you know what to do?
Consider the following when wondering about snow on your roof:
- Wet snow is heavier than dry; 6 inches of wet snow is comparable to about 38 inches of the fluffy variety.
- Building codes require that roofs are built to handle the heaviest snows for our area, so for the most part, you should be safe.
- If you notice your interior doors begin to stick, it could be that the house's structure is affected by the weight on the roof. This is most likely to occur in homes that have undergone un-permitted renovations (where load-bearing walls were improperly removed).
- Don't get up on the ladder if you decide removal is necessary; the average cost of $250 - $500 for professional snow removal is a bargain compared with hospital/medical bills (or worse!) that you could incur in an accident.
- For a one-story or bungalow home where the roof is low and you might reach from the ground, roof rakes or roof snow "razors" are a DIY option.
You certainly want to protect the investment of your home, but if you do have a heavy snowfall, be sure to take proper precautions and heed warnings.
For more information on rooftop snow and evaluating what to do about it, 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!
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.
Remember! Enjoy Savings on CEU 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, $26 regular.
Hurry to www.pgcar.com/real-estate-ceu today >
Market Sen$e: Fixed Mortgage Rates Take a Dip
Freddie Mac released results last Thursday, January 16, showing a decline in fixed mortgage rates.
The Vice President and Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, Frank Nothaft, indicated that the downward movement is a response to signs that the economic recovery is weakening.
"The economy added 74,000 jobs in December, less than the market consensus forecast," Nothaft stated. "Retail sales [PDF] rose 0.2 percent in December, which was nearly half of November's 0.4 percent increase. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent which was the lowest since October 2008."
Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending January 16, 2014:
Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey >
- The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.41%, down from 4.51%.
- The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.45%, down from 3.56%.
- The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 3.10%, down from 3.15%.
- The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.56%, same as last week.
Like us on Facebook to see monthly Prince George's County home sales and weekly mortgage reports as soon as they are released!
Sales Coach: Sticks and Stones...
The Words You Use Can Make or Break Your Sales
When you're talking with clients - either existing or potential - or even with colleagues, it's important that you help them feel confident in your abilities as a REALTOR®. Bear in mind that the words you choose can inadvertently undermine your message, and leave others questioning your professionalism or integrity. Be thoughtful about word selection to ensure that you're conveying the message you want.
Beware these 7 phrases that should be avoided:
Careful word choice will become second-nature after a bit of practice, and it just might pay off in the end through greater confidence and increased referrals from happy clients.
- "Here's the problem"
- Instead of a problem, call it a challenge or an opportunity.
- "I'll try"
- "I will" is better, even if you're saying what steps you'll take, but not promising the outcome.
- This term sounds as if you're making an excuse. Use "and" in its place.
- "You should"
- Encourage, rather than command, by using something like "Let's try", "Perhaps you could", or "If we".
- "You have to"
- Saying "You can" instead helps clients feel that they're in control.
- "It's not my fault"
- It doesn't matter who's to blame. This is your chance to shine by helping to fix it.
- "No problem"
- This can come off wrong, despite how well you mean it. Opt rather for "You're welcome" or "It's my pleasure", which are both polite and positive.
For more information on thoughtful phrasing, visit visit Realtor.org >.
Case #11-11: REALTOR®'s Obligation to Disclose
Present or Contemplated Interest
Owner A was considering refinancing a property. Client B, a lender, ordered an appraisal from REALTOR® C. The appraisal report was completed and later Owner A decided to sell the property instead of refinancing it. Owner A contacted REALTOR® C who listed the property. An offer was made that was accepted by Owner A.
At the loan application, the prospective purchaser told the lender, Client B, that a recent appraisal on the property had been done for Client B. When the lender became aware that the listing broker was also the appraiser, the lender filed a complaint with the Board of REALTORS® alleging that REALTOR® C had not disclosed her "present or contemplated interest" in the property as required by Article 11, as interpreted by Standard of Practice 11-1. The complaint was referred by the Grievance Committee for hearing before a panel of the Board's Professional Standards Committee.
At the hearing, a written statement from Owner A containing all the facts above was entered into evidence. REALTOR® C stated that the appraisal had been completed in accordance with Standard of Practice 11-1 and it was only after Owner A decided to sell, rather than refinance, that there were any discussions about REALTOR® C representing the owner in the sale of the property.
REALTOR® C stated that the owner had been appreciative of the time that she had spent discussing the subject's neighborhood and existing market conditions, and that the owner had decided that he wanted someone really knowledgeable to represent him in the sale of his property.
Based on your understanding of Article 11, what do you think the hearing panel concluded? Click here to find out >
FREE HANDS-ON MRIS TRAINING AT PGCAR
Tomorrow at PGCAR
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.
Why Join REALTORS® FCU?
- Here's One Reason!
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.