The PGCAR offices will be closed this Thursday and Friday, November 28 and 29, in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday. We hope you find much to be thankful for this year, and we wish you a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!
We urge you to contact your Senators and Congressional Representative in support of the "Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act." This bipartisan and bicameral act will allow additional time for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Congress to review and consider disputed aspects of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) reauthorization (known as the Biggert-Waters law) that could undermine some real estate transactions.
Annual Legislative Breakfast a Success, Thanks to You!
PGCAR is grateful to all members who joined us at the Annual Legislative Breakfast last Thursday, November 21. The event was informative and inspiring, and we are proud to have shown our distinguished guests and speakers that our membership is politically active.
THANK YOU for being interested and involved!
MAR REGULATION NEWS: SHORT SALE ASSISTANCE
AND THE MARYLAND MARS ACT
by Mark Feinroth, Esq.
MAR Director of Regulatory Affairs
In the last issue, I discussed the revised short sale guidance issued by the Maryland Real Estate Commission (MREC) which outlined the actions licensees may and may not take to facilitate the process of obtaining a lender's third party approval. This article addresses the Federal and Maryland laws that allow for more extensive assistance to short sellers provided by mortgage assistance relief service (MARS) providers.
MARS providers are regulated by the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Board (CFPB) and the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation (CFR). Licensed Maryland real estate agents and brokers may elect to be "MARS" providers in addition to their work providing real estate brokerage services, but MARS activities carry regulatory burdens beyond those imposed by MREC. REALTORS® undertaking MARS activities should remember that such actions could produce exposure to liability that is most likely not covered by a real estate broker or agent's professional liability insurance.
Under the Maryland MARS Act, adopted earlier this year, mortgage assistance relief services are defined as a service, plan, or program that is represented to help homeowners prevent or postpone foreclosure, or assist in getting other kinds of mortgage assistance such as a loan modification, collection forebearance, short sale, deed-in-lieu of foreclosure or extension of time to cure a default. The Maryland CFR guidance for MARS providers is on the DLLR website.
The CFPB rule was originally promulgated by the Federal Trade Commission. The CFPB adopted both the regulation and the FTC guidance which can be found here. While there is no license or registration required under MARS to provide mortgage assistance relief services, REALTORS® should not underestimate the complexity of these state and federal regulations. The REALTOR® organization does not offer training or forms to practice in this field because the MREC has taken the position that any activity beyond communicating with a lender on behalf of a short seller is outside the scope of the Maryland real estate license. Similarly, most professional liability insurance carried by REALTORS® excludes coverage for activities outside the scope of the insured's real estate license. REALTORS® should therefore carefully consider whether they have or need insurance coverage for MARS activities.
The main point of the MARS regulation is that it is illegal to charge an upfront fee for mortgage assistance services. If you are considering offering MARS service, remember that a customer or client must agree in writing to a written offer of mortgage relief from the customer's lender, and services must be provided before you may collect any money from a client. There are also several consumer disclosures required by the law and regulation. Customers must be told upfront the total cost of the MARS service, that they can stop using your service at any time, that you are not affiliated with the government or the lender and that the lender might not agree to change the terms of their mortgage.
These are only two of the major points of the MARS law and regulation. While REALTORS® may offer mortgage relief services, we strongly advise a careful review of the practice guidelines issued by the CFPB and CFR beforehand.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted from Mark Feinroth. "Short Sale Assistance and the Maryland MARS Act." Maryland REALTOR® November 2013: pp 24 - 25. Print.
My HOME Program Re-Opens to Applications
Over $8 Million in Funding Gained for the Next Three Years!
My HOME provides deferred payment loans to cover up to 5% of a home's purchase price, for down payment and closing costs assistance, for income eligible homebuyers who haven't owned a home in the past 3 years. If the purchaser remains in the home, using it as their primary residence for 10 or more years, the complete amount of the My HOME loan is forgiven.
Reminder: The My HOME Program is NOT just for low income! Applicants at or below 80% of the area median income may qualify. For example, single-person homebuyers at or below $60,200 annual income (or $90,150 for homes within targeted zip codes) can apply; 3-person households at or below $77,400 (or $115,900 within targeted zip codes) can apply.
My HOME II Also Available in Targeted Zip Codes
Details on the My HOME / My HOME II program are at www.pgcar.com and will be made available at the Redevelopment Authority's My HOME Program website. You may call the Redevelopment Authority at 301.883.7323 with any questions and for further program details.
Crayons and Supplies for Elementary School Children
An elementary school class that participates in the annual poster contest, doesn't even have the money for crayons this year. Most of us can't imagine children without crayons. If they don't have crayons, what else don't they have?
Please help a small bit, to impact at least this classroom in a BIG way! Please drop off new boxes of crayons at the PGCAR office, or donate at www.pgcar.com/crayons to buy crayons and other supplies for these precious children. They're our future!
THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, GIVE THE GIFT OF LIFE!
When you donate blood, you save lives!
American Red Cross Blood Drive
Thursday, December 19
9 am to 2:30 pm at the PGCAR office.
Family and friends are all welcome!
BLOOD DONORS SAVE LIVES!
If you haven't seen the Prince George's Community Television coverage on our October blood drive, check out the October 10 video on their Facebook page! You can view the entire segment or skip ahead to minute 4:40.
- 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.
Consumer Tip: Find Extra Space in Your Home
Rid Your House of Unwanted Items
The holidays are upon us, and you're probably trying to figure out how to make extra room in the house for your family to gather, for the Christmas tree and its trimmings, for the new widescreen T.V., or for guests. The best way to clear space is to get rid of unwanted items, and we're here with tips to help you do just that.
Try the following to help you reclaim space in your house:
With such a selection of resources for ridding your home of clutter, you'll have all kinds of space for whatever you might need.
- Sort items that are cluttering your home: donations, returns, reusables, rubbish, and items that can be sold.
- Find out where to take hazardous waste and cast-offs; earth911.com and iRecycle, its free app, are great resources for the question, "Where do I go with this?"
- Best Buy accepts old appliances, computers, cameras, and television sets for recycling.
- Newer tech toys and gadgets - cell phones, tablets, and computers in working condition - can be sold to gazelle.com.
- Create an account (free!) at Catalogchoice.org to stop (or greatly reduce) Junk mail.
- Toys and outgrown clothing (the kids' and yours) can be consigned or sold outright to stores like Once Upon a Child or Plato's Closet.
- If you have books you don't want, sell them to a secondhand bookstore or Cash4books.net, or try Discoverbooks.com, where they can be redistributed, resold, or recycled.
- Local animal shelters or shelters for the poor and homeless will gratefully accept donations of old linens, towels, blankets, cleaning supplies, and more. Check with your local shelter(s) to learn their top needs.
- Web sites such as eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, and Krrb.com can help you trade, sell, or donate still-usable items.
- Charity thrift shops will take your donations, and you'll likely be able to take a tax deduction in return. TheThriftShopper.com can help you locate local charitable organizations' shops.
For more information on these tips and other ideas for home organization, please visit Houselogic.com.
PGCAR Has Gone Social
Now you can network and get news, tips and other information helpful in cultivating your business by joining PGCAR's Facebook and Twitter pages. Haven't liked us at www.facebook.com/pgcar yet? Go ahead and join in at our original Facebook location, plus the all-new www.facebook.com/pgcar.ypn and Twitter pages!
Find out the latest trends in the real estate market, and socialize with other REALTORS® that can give you insight. Do you have information you want to share? Tweet it or share it on PGCAR's other social websites.
Now you're able to meet other members, as well as additional friends of PGCAR.
Don't wait, connect today.
PGCAR and WCR Membership Applications
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
Is your Maryland License expiring by December 31, 2013? MREC Agency-Residential is required! Earn your required 3 CEU in this topic on December 27 (or take it as an elective).
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: Slight Decline in Fixed Mortgage Rates Following Two-Week Rise
Last Thursday, November 21, results released by Freddie Mac showed fixed mortgage rates moving back down after two weeks of increases.
Frank Nothaft, Freddie Mac's Vice President and Chief Economist, attributed the fall in fixed mortgage rates to weaker growth in manufacturing and a dip in overall inflation rates. "Industrial production slipped by 0.1 percent in October, below the market consensus forecast of a 0.2 percent gain," said Nothaft. "The consumer price index also unexpectedly fell during the month. On an annual basis, consumer prices are up 1 percent, the smallest increase since October 2009."
Freddie Mac reports the following averages for the week ending November 21, 2013:
Freddie Mac's Weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey >
- The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.22%, down from 4.35%.
- The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.27%, down from 3.35%.
- The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM averaged 2.95%, down from 3.01%.
- The 1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.61%, 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!
PRINCE GEORGE'S HOME LISTINGS, CONTRACTS & SETTLEMENTS RISE IN OCTOBER
Homes sales data for Prince George's County single family homes shows an amazing increase from September to October 2013 in both contracts and settlements: contracts increased 8.25% month-to-month, and settlements increased 8.73% month-to-month. There was also a 5.8% increase in listings compared with October 2012, and inventory increased very slightly from September 2013.
Condo and co-op housing showed an increase of 13.7% in listings in October 2013 compared with October 2012, with a decline of 0.6% year-to-date in contracts, yet a 16.4% increase year-to-date in settlements.
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:
Clients' Cash Deposits Can Delay Closing
Lenders Loosen Down Payment Requirements
Weak Household Formation Hampers Recovery
Sales Coach: Do You Have These 8 Attributes That Contribute to Credibility?
Success in the real estate profession often hinges on credibility; an agent who can't gain the respect or trust of prospects is likely to have difficulty in securing clients.
The following are qualities that will help to ensure your clients' confidence:
Statistically, a majority of top real estate performers have been shown to possess these traits; therefore, it may be worth your while to work on one or more of them and see what happens. For additional helpful information on these attributes, click here.
- Enthusiasm - Showing that you're happy about what you do will help clients believe in your abilities.
- Curiosity - Gathering a lot of information up front will enable you to determine how to best serve your clients.
- Empathy - The ability to relate to and understand your clients will put them at ease; caring goes a long way in establishing rapport.
- Focus - Set SMART goals: make them specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and tangible.
- Innovation - Thinking creatively can help you to catch the attention of clients or prospects, help a client to see potential in a buying decision, and even set your listings apart from the crowd.
- Amiability - Genuine friendliness (not pushiness or crocodile smiles) will help people feel comfortable with you.
- Versatility - Adapt your behavior to each client's personality, based on the four basic styles: Driver, Expressive, Amiable, and Analytical.
- Perseverance - Even top-performing salespeople suffer setbacks, but resilience is what gets them to the next success.
Case #7-1: Acceptance of Compensation from Buyer and Seller
Buyer A engaged REALTOR® B to locate a small commercial property. Buyer A explained his exact specifications indicating that he did not wish to compromise. They agreed that if REALTOR® B could locate such a property within Buyer A's price range, he - the buyer - would pay a finder's fee to REALTOR® B.
Two weeks later, REALTOR® B called Buyer A to advise that Seller C had just listed a property with him that met all of Buyer A's specifications except that the listed price was a bit higher than Buyer A wanted to pay. Buyer A inspected the property and liked it, but said he would adhere to his original price range. REALTOR® B called Buyer A three days later to say that Seller C had agreed to sell at Buyer A's price. The sale was made and REALTOR® B collected a commission from Seller C and a finder's fee from Buyer A which was not disclosed to Seller C, REALTOR® B's client.
Several weeks later, Seller C learned about the finder's fee that REALTOR® B had collected from Buyer A and filed a complaint with the Board of REALTOR® charging REALTOR® B with duplicity and unprofessional conduct. The complaint specified that when REALTOR® B had presented Buyer A's offer at less than the listed price, he, the seller, was reluctant to accept it, but REALTOR® B had convinced him that the offer was a fair one and not likely to be improved upon in the current market; and that REALTOR® B had dwelt at length on certain disadvantageous features of the property in an attempt to promote acceptance of the offer. The complaint charged that REALTOR® B had actually been the agent of the buyer while holding himself out as the agent of the seller. Further, Seller C asserted that REALTOR® B had never mentioned that he was representing the buyer or intended to be compensated by the buyer.
At the hearing, REALTOR® B's defense was that he had served both buyer and seller faithfully; that he had not accepted Seller C's listing until after he had agreed to assist Buyer A in locating a property; and that in his judgment the listed price was excessive and the price actually paid was a fair price.
Based on your understanding of Article 7, what do you think the hearing panel concluded?
Click here to find out >
FREE HANDS-ON MRIS TRAINING AT PGCAR
Upcoming Dates & Courses
Tuesday, December 17 @ 10:00 am
MATRIX 102: CMA's, Present Listings with Confidence
Tuesday, December 17 @ 12:30 pm
MRIS 102: Simple Solutions to Use Public Records
Tuesday, December 17 @ 2:30 pm
MRIS 103: Everything Maps
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® FCU Can Help You Get Ahead
Real estate is a competitive field; you need to distinguish yourself from the crowd. The best way to gain the esteem of clients and colleagues is to be knowledgeable, and REALTORS® Federal Credit Union is here to help!
With rates as low as 7.00% APR, you can use the REALTORS® FCU Professional Development Line of Credit toward continuing education, state licensing requirements, conference fees, annual dues, NAR designation and certification courses, and more.
If you haven't yet joined the REALTORS® FCU, just www.realtorsfcu.org, click on the Membership tab, and see what's in store for you!
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.