TransactionDesk Tips & Fabulous Features

I like to think of myself as cautiously optimistic when faced with forced change and that was my mindset as I started using TransactionDesk. Now, having used the new platform for several months, I am thrilled with the change and want to share with you how this new forms software is going to make you a better agent!

  • Customization – Set it up once and TransactionDesk and AuthentiSign will brand your value with every electronic signature you send or email you compose from the platform. What better way to softly remind your clients that you love referrals or show off those hard-earned designations and communicate your level of professionalism. Branding banners, in a world where us REALTORS have to know our value proposition, is a win.
  • The Wizard – It really could not be easier with MLS connectivity and the Create Transaction Widget. Our time is valuable, and this part of the platform allows us to accurately input information and then never have to type it again. Say hello to auto-population on our forms and enjoy saving some time.
  • Templates, Contacts and Layouts – Accurate contract writing just got easier. Never forget a form again because you use the Templates feature and if there is something you put on a form every time you only need to type it in there once. Check the box when setting up your transaction contacts in the Wizard for “add to address book” and you will be able to just select that contact going forward and watch it auto-populate into your forms. Layout some signature, initial blocks or check boxes once (like check boxes on the Buyer Attachment to the Residential Purchase Contract) and then apply that layout in AuthentiSign in the future. How nice to only have to drag and drop those 8 check boxes one more time, save the layout and just apply it next time you need it!
  • Print Drivers – “Did you just get commission instructions emailed to you?” Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just drop that directly into AuthentiSign for your broker to sign so that you can be notified when the task is completed.  YOU CAN! Just install the print drivers and then you can print email conversations, attachments or files right from your computer or cloud into the Docbox or AuthentiSign. This feature is not available to Mac users, but you can still achieve these things by using the transaction email link that is provided by TransactionDesk for every file.
  • Risk Management – If you use the full capabilities of the Wizard and input transaction dates then you can set up Tasks that will automatically email you a daily list of things you need to be on top of….like the end of an inspection period. Think of it as an interactive critical date list that makes you work smarter not harder.

There are so many fabulous features in TransactionDesk. Know that you won’t hurt it, go in there and play around. Set up some “test” transactions and run through the software. Tap into their handy help videos to learn and implement one new thing a week that will make you a better agent. Finally, take some classes, one class is not enough to maximize this AAR Realtor benefit because there is so much to learn, use and enjoy.

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Arizona REALTORS® gather in in Marana for Major Investor Event

Arizona REALTORS® gather in in Marana for Major Investor Event

The Tucson Association of REALTORS® (TAR) drew a crowd for their Major Investor event last week hosted by Nikki and Bruce Halle at their home in Marana.

Over 50 guests attended, and 10 REALTORS® became Major Investors on the spot, with a few more expected in the next week or so. Major Investors are REALTOR® Members and Affiliate Members who invest $1,000 within a year to the Arizona REALTOR® Party to help protect the real estate industry, their clients, and property owners. Each year the Arizona REALTOR® Party saves REALTORS® across the state thousands of dollars by advocating on their behalf at every level of government.

Just this last year, a single bill in Arizona would’ve required every REALTOR® to provide a DNA sample to the state and pay $250 to have it processed and retained. The Arizona REALTOR® Party stepped in and ensured the bill would not impact REALTORS® in any way by amending the legislation to exclude REALTORS® from the bill. And that was just one of the 1,318 bills introduced in the state legislature this year alone, with 177 directly impacting the real estate industry. It’s thanks to REALTORS® who invest, especially the Major Investors, who make this protection and advocacy possible.

Prior to last week’s event, TAR already had the most Major Investors in the state with 32, and they will continue to maintain their top spot with 42! The REALTORS® and professionals in Tucson understand the importance of protecting their business from harmful regulations from City Hall to Congress. TAR has worked hard to create a strong culture of engagement and investment and the results are paying off.

If you’d like to help protect your industry, you can invest here.

100 percent of your investment goes directly to advocacy and helping make it possible for your local association, the Arizona REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS® to represent your interests in government.

Your association leaders and volunteers will be meeting Sept. 4th in Phoenix to improve their advocacy skills to better represent you, but they can’t do their best without your support.

If you ever have questions about the Arizona REALTOR® Party, contact the REALTOR® Party Director Charles Siler at charles@aaronline.com.

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How to Effortlessly Save for a New Phoenix, Arizona Home

…even while you’re still renting.

If you’re renting your current home and have your eye on making a home purchase in the near or distant future you might be worried that it can’t be done. The good news is that there are some effortless ways to grow your home savings with a little bit of set up and a touch of discipline.

1) Know your goal.

The best place to start is knowing how much cash you’ll need and by when. Typically, you should aim to save 5-20 percent of your planned Arizona home purchase price to qualify for a traditional 30-year mortgage. This amount might seem overwhelming at first but, when you break it down into annual, monthly, then weekly goals, it’ll start to feel much more manageable.

Defining your timeframe goals will help to better understand what would be required of your saving habits on a regular basis. Once you’ve figured out how much you’d need to save each week, you may wish to re-evaluate your time goals to reflect a more relaxed saving schedule if the first iteration feels too aggressive.

2) Pay Down Credit Card Debt.

If you’re carrying any consumer credit card debt, try to reduce that first before focusing on saving. When you attack your high-interest credit debt, you’re moving towards a higher credit score which will improve your chances of getting a mortgage– debt is a considerable factor lenders use to qualify you for a loan. Your higher credit score can even result in better mortgage interest rates!
Note: This may result in a smaller difference between mortgage payments after a smaller down payment than what you may initially be planning for, so plan carefully if you’re hoping to increase your budget!

Once your debt is paid off, you’ll not only have a lot more money available in your budget to set aside for a down payment, but you’re ultimately decreasing the cost of paying off your debt in the long-run.

3) Use a budgeting app.

Many free budgeting apps rake through your bank accounts and online credit card statements to track your spending for you. Once you have a good understanding of how much you’re spending, assess what could be cut back and set a maximum budget for each category. Then, plug in your target monthly savings amount for your newest budget item – a new Phoenix, Arizona home!


4) Lower your biggest living expense.

Saving for a down payment on a home is going to be tricky if you’re living in a high rent district. Consider finding a smaller rental in Phoenix, Arizona, living with friends or family, or taking in a roommate to lower your biggest monthly payment — your rent.

5) Automate.

The easiest way to save money is to make it automatic — take savings right out of your paycheck so you never even see it before it goes into your savings account. If you can’t see it, you can’t spend it! Alternatively, you can set up an automatic deduction to transfer a weekly amount from your bank account into a savings account. Your savings isn’t the only thing you should automate – to save money on potential late fees, automate all your bill payments.

6) Stay positive.

Frame your down payment goal as an exciting thing to look forward to rather than a chore. This helps to avoid stress as you approach dealing with financing your new home; you’ll also find that saving money will start to feel less like a fixation on money you don’t have and more on the wonderful home you will have in the future! Don’t forget to budget for a small treat every now and then to reward yourself and keep things feeling upbeat. You may even find that you’re so excited by saving that you use some of your flexible spending funds to save extra money for the month!

7) Make more money.

If the majority of your income is already tied up in expenditures that can’t be cut from your budget, consider taking on some side jobs. Look around your home for things you’re no longer using and arrange to sell them. You can also use one of your personal strengths, like writing or painting, to start a viable side hustle and get paid for your skills; all of this extra money can go directly to your home savings goal.

8) Make accessing your savings inconvenient.

It’s easy to see something you want and find a way to rationalize dipping into your savings. Take the willpower out of the decision by making your savings difficult to access. Put the savings in an account that doesn’t have an ATM card linked to it, or use a bank that requires you to make withdrawals in person.

Keep in mind these tips as you begin saving to buy your Phoenix, Arizona dream home. Also remember that you can always seek out help from your local real estate pro to give you an overview of the Arizona real estate market and to find a lender or financial coach to help you get started on the right foot.

TransactionDesk Maintenance – August 9, 2019, from 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m.

ATTENTION: MAINTENANCE WINDOW

TransactionDesk will be performing scheduled maintenance on August 9, 2019, from 11:00 p.m. until 3:00 a.m.. During this time, you may not be able to access your TransactionDesk and Authentisign platforms.

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Generation Z is here, are we prepared for the next generation of homebuyer?

Ahhh millennials…  The generation seemingly known for avocado toast, selfies and participation awards.  Joking aside, it seems like we know all we need (or want) to know about this trend-setting generation.

But what do we know about Generation Z? What can Arizona REALTORS expect from nearly 26% of the U.S. population?  They’re more than just emojis, YouTube and Doritos.  How are they different from Gen Y? From floppy disks to flip phones, lets take a quick look at the next generation of potential homebuyers.

Depending on who you ask, GenZers were born somewhere from the mid-1990s to 2011.  That means they were the first generation to grow up with the internet being a daily part of their lives.  In fact, it’s been reported that more than 90% have a digital presence.  As the oldest among this generation begin to enter the workforce, are they looking to purchase a home? What’s their financial situation and attitude towards working with a realtor?

According to a recent study by Homes.com:

87% expect to buy their own house before 35.

With nearly 90% of Gen Z optimistic about the future, they are more likely to aggressively pursue entrepreneurial opportunities and affordable housing markets.  Add in the likelihood of several sources of income from a new-style “gig economy,” connecting with this new customer will be different than the more skeptical millennial homebuyer.

They want to make enough money to afford a home but saving for a down payment is secondary.

21% of Gen Z is confident their parents will help them out with a down payment towards a home.  While its been reported that new workers are better off than they were a decade ago, the increasing costs of owning a home concerns Gen Z more than saving for the down payment.

Gen Z buyers want real estate agents who understand what they want and the local market.

Not exactly shocking news, but Gen Z wants to work with realtors who understand what they want and the local market.  Connecting their needs with the neighborhood will resonate with every client and Gen Z isn’t much different.

90% plan to work with an agent.

Even in a world of increasing ibuyers, nine out of ten GenZers anticipate working with a real estate agent.  Jokingly referred to as having learned how to swipe before learning how to speak, successful realtors understand this group is more heavily reliant on technology than any other generation before them.

Proximity to work #1 on list of desired criteria.

Multiple studies have shown that Generation Z is more interested in the distance to their job than settling in a preferred neighborhood.  In fact, according to the study, 71% said proximity to work was their primary concern with distance to friends/family (52%) and crime (46%) falling a distant 2nd and 3rd behind.

Gen Z has higher expectations than millennials and they are big on individuality.  They’re accustomed to engaging and efficient technology and have grown up expecting businesses to adapt to their specific needs and aspirations.  They are seeking NextGen housing, open to fixer-uppers, buy a home even though they have a student loan, and will compromise on many things as long as they cut costs.

As a realtor, communicating with this group needs to be personal, digital and unique to the individual.  Understanding this generation’s trends, technologies and expectations will help us stay ahead of the curve when connecting with the next group of homebuyers.

Do you change your marketing approach depending on the age of a potential buyer?

Yes

No

 

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Best Tucson neighborhoods for single people

When moving as a single person, there are some things you should consider when choosing the perfect neighborhood. Young, single people have different priorities, compared to the families or couples. They need to find a neighborhood that fits their lifestyle, work, and free time activities. Therefore, we arranged the best Tucson neighborhoods for single people so it’s much easier to find the perfect one for you.

When looking to move in Tucson if you are single, there are some factors to consider. Here’s what to look for:

  • affordable housing – in most cases, single people don’t want to spend a lot of money on rent. Therefore, affordable housing is one of the most important factors. Experienced Arizona realtors will help you find the perfect home just for you.
  • rich nightlife – single people enjoy going out and do it much often than couples or families. Therefore, the best Tucson neighborhoods for single people should include a lot of good restaurants, bars, and cafes.
  • job opportunities – people that are single are more likely to switch jobs, so it’s great if a neighborhood is close to some great companies.

Here’s the list of the neighborhoods you should definitely pay attention to if you are moving as a single person. They are amazing Tucson choices you can’t make a mistake with.

Sam Hughes is a neighborhood that offers houses of different price ranges and has a very diverse population. Since it is close to the University of Arizona, the population of this neighborhood includes a lot of students, professors, but also young professionals, artists, and lawyers. Another thing that attracts single people is the proximity to the Downtown.

Armory Park is a part of downtown, which includes a lot of interesting architectural spots. Since it has an interesting architectural style, it is a very attractive neighborhood. There are a couple of great restaurants in the area, as well as other places to go out and spend your free time.

One of the elite parts of the city, Catalina Foothills is favorite among young professionals. Its population includes a lot of single and successful people, which is great if you are moving to Tucson as a single person. However, it is more on the expensive side, so if you can spend a bit more on the housing – Catalina Foothills is the way to go.

Dove Mountain is one of the modern and popular Tucson areas. It’s attractive and it’s located a bit outside of Tucson. You can find one of the best golf courses there, so if you like that sport, you’ll love it here.

The moving process can get a bit complicated if you are not experienced and you’ve never lived in Tucson before. Therefore, experienced local professionals are the way to go. Try looking for interstate moving team in Arizona that will make the whole relocation quick and easy, and handle your items with care. Furthermore, be sure to stay organized and make moving plans beforehand, so you can have a smooth move.

No neighborhood is perfect. Decide what are the most important criteria for you and try to choose a neighborhood based on that. It’s most important to find a place you’ll feel safe and happy with, so you can enjoy your single life there.

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How To Maximize Space In A Tiny Home

Inevitably when you’re watching one of those tiny house reality shows (we know you know which ones we’re talking about, HGTV!), a buyer who’s looking at a tiny house says something along the lines of, “Well, there isn’t much space/storage room, is there?”

That’s a given when it comes to a tiny house. The clue is in the name, after all — a tiny house just isn’t going to have a lot of room, especially for storage space, and especially for the little extras that can make your house feel bigger.

But thanks to modern design, there are a lot of ways you can maximize space in a tiny home without sacrificing any of the attributes that make it attractive — or tiny. 

Invest in lots of windows …

One of the best ways to make any room feel bigger is by lighting it up, wall to wall, corner to corner. This is usually easiest to do by adding windows, which can be especially effective when placed high up toward the ceiling in a tiny house, leaving room on the walls.

More windows do take up space, of course, but if living somewhere that feels light and airy is important to you, then windows are the very best way to accomplish that goal.

… Or floor-to-ceiling shelving

Of course, you’ll want to think strategically about your tiny house’s layout because with every decision you make to add something, you’ll probably be forgoing something else you might like. So instead of a lofty window, maybe you’d rather install a wall of shelving where you can stash books, plates, clothes, whatever you want to stash.

Put shelves or hooks on your doors

Doors that swing open and shut aren’t always the best idea in a tiny house (more on other options below), but if you really love that aesthetic, then you can still maximize space by adding some storage options to those doors. Hooks can work on either side of the door, and shelves can be a good option for the side of the door that swings away from the room (so you don’t end up smashing the shelves on a wall). They can be a storage spot for bags or coats or whatever you might have needed in a coat closet in a larger home.

Use space outside

Especially if the weather is mostly nice where you live, investing in a big deck or porch where you can eat, set the kids up with homework, or just settle down and read can make living in your tiny home much more, well, livable. Some tiny homes even have an outdoor cooking space for grilling or baking outside, but if you don’t want to go that far, seating for several people and maybe a hammock can go a long way toward making you feel like your house is richer in square footage than it actually is.

Let there be skylights

When your wall space is already taken, one excellent way to add light to a space without adding windows is through skylights. After all, you probably aren’t going to hang shelving from a sloped roof; it’s real estate that you can’t really do much with except for let in some light, so if you feel like windows just aren’t cutting it, consider installing a skylight or two.

Lose the walls entirely …

Open spaces tend to look bigger than walled-off spaces — consider the trend of having a kitchen/dining/living room space that flows into each other; it makes all three areas feel more spacious than they really are. Even though walls only take up inches in reality, they seem to have a disproportionate effect psychologically.

A totally open tiny house might not be feasible for you, and there are definitely other options if you have to have walls or room dividers of some kind. But if you can, open up as much space as possible to give yourself the illusion of a bigger room.

… Or use lots of sliding doors or curtains

If you must have divided space, hanging curtains or installing sliding doors can be an excellent alternative to a wall, which takes up more room than either one. Plus, with a curtain or sliding door, you can keep the space open when you want to feel like your tiny house has more square footage than it really does, then draw the curtains or slide the door shut when privacy is more important than airiness and space.

Add a loft

Most tiny homes don’t have room for two full stories, but a common solution to the issue of space is found in lofted beds or bedrooms. A loft in a tiny house can often accommodate a queen-sized or even king-sized mattress, and when you’re asleep, it doesn’t matter if your body is physically close to the ceiling; you won’t notice at all. Some people even sleep better in a space that feels cozier and more enclosed, once they get used to it.

If you can add a loft to your tiny house and use it for a bedroom or storage space, you’ll be freeing up that much more floor space and giving your place a little boost in terms of feeling bigger than it is.

Turn under-stair space into awesome storage

Not all tiny homes have stairs, but for those that do, there’s usually some lucrative storage space to be found underneath the stairs. You could do like the bigger houses do and use an under-stair closet, but you can also get really creative in a tiny home: Maybe you can create small cubbies with drawers or baskets under the stairs, or perhaps that space will be where you put your bookshelves. Whatever you do, don’t neglect that prime real estate under the stairs — it’s not just for pre-Hogwarts Harry Potter anymore.

Use mirrors wisely

Wall space is usually at a premium in a tiny house, but one very intelligent way to use that space is with mirrors, even if they’re serving as a backdrop to a shelf. While windows are one of the best ways to let more light in, mirrors reflect and bounce back the light that’s there, plus they can make your tiny home feel twice as big when they’re placed correctly.

In a tiny house, a wall mirror probably makes more sense than a floor mirror. You can find or get mirrors cut that exactly fit your wall and reflect the entire house back at you — don’t be surprised if you feel like you’re living in a mansion once they’re installed.

Don’t be afraid to max out one room (but make it your favorite)

People like tiny houses because they’re drawn to the minimalist lifestyle, naturally. But most of us also have a “favorite” room in the house, one where we spend most of our time and energy, where we feel like we’re at our very best. Perhaps it’s the kitchen, or maybe you’re more of a bedroom dweller, or it could be the dining room where your kids sit and do their homework.

Whatever the case, don’t hesitate to go all-out with one room in your tiny house. This really should be just one room, and maybe it’s a space that you can take partially or mostly outside, like the living room or dining room. Once you take any tendencies toward maxing out one room beyond that one room, you’ll find your tiny house really won’t support it … but there’s no harm in giving yourself one room where you feel like you aren’t making any sacrifices of comfort for space.

Don’t box in your storage

Optical illusions are a fabulous way to make your tiny house feel bigger. Even though you might not actually be saving space, using doorless cabinets is one way to help maximize the space in your kitchen (especially if you hang a mirror behind those plates or appliances). On a similar note, using a hanging rod for a closet instead of building an actual closet with a door does actually save space while also making the room appear bigger because you can see around the “closet” to the walls. 

Small appliances can slide in and out on drawers

The kitchen is one place where many people in tiny houses end up making a lot of sacrifices. Storing small appliances can feel especially like a burden, but there are some interesting solutions by way of sliding drawers that let you slide out an appliance when you’re using it and tuck it back away and out of sight when you’re finished. Toaster ovens, coffee machines, and other items you use every day but don’t have the counter space to keep out and ready can still be turned on quickly and put to good use before you slide them back home.

Consider a breakfast bar

Instead of a dining area inside, one nice solution for tiny homes is to build a breakfast bar that connects to your kitchen counter. It’s just a little bit of extra space, but having somewhere to sit and drink your coffee or tea while getting ready for the day — or winding down with a beer or glass of wine at night — can make all the difference in making a place feel like “home.”

Put lights under shelves

Natural light is all well and good when the sun is out, but when it’s hiding or down for the night, you might need to boost the light in your tiny home using artificial means like actual light bulbs. Not all light fixtures are maximized for tiny home use, but you can often find some good places to put light when you look underneath shelves, drawers, kitchen cabinets, and other storage spaces. You can get some nice, bright lights for relatively cheap and save yourself the headache of figuring out what kind of lamp will be small yet powerful enough to suit your needs.

Look underneath for storage

Another time when it pays to “look underneath” is when you’re seeking out storage space. You might be pleasantly surprised by how much storage is available in your tiny house when you can think creatively about it. Can you hang some baskets underneath your sink to hold cleaning supplies? Could you add drawers under your bed or sofa where you can keep extra blankets, bedding, or clothes? Some creative tiny-house enthusiasts are even able to find storage space underneath bathtubs — so crawl around for a little while and see whether you can identify any storage opportunities that you’ve been quite literally overlooking.

Murphy beds are back…

If you haven’t lofted your bed, then a murphy bed — a bed that folds out from a wall — can be another excellent option for a tiny house. Many areas offer specialists who can make custom murphy beds that look like a desk or a table when they’re folded up, then unfold into a spacious and comfortable bed when it’s time to sleep. This way you can make your bedroom multitask as a dining room or study area, only getting out your bed (which, let’s face it, is probably one of the biggest items of furniture most of us own) when it’s time to use it.

…And fold-out desks and tables are in

Beds aren’t the only items of furniture to get the fold-out treatment. Fold-out tables and desks can work very nicely in tiny homes with limited space, and they work exactly like it sounds: You fold them out when you’re ready to use them, then tuck them away when you’re all finished until you need them again.

By being conscious of the space you’re using in your tiny home and doing your best to help every square foot multitask depending on the time of day, you’ll find that you have a lot more room than you thought you would in the tiny home of your dreams.

Do-Not-Call Registry Frequently Asked Questions

It has been widely publicized that a class action lawsuit has been filed against a large national brokerage for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and related regulations. According to the lawsuit, the brokerage continuously called the named Plaintiff to market its services in violation of the National Do-Not-Call provisions of the TCPA.

Because many REALTORS® engage in the business practice of “cold-calling” prospects, the Arizona REALTORS® has received questions from members seeking to comply with the law. Below is a collection of some of the questions that have been posed.

Q1. What is the National Do-Not-Call Registry?

A1. The registry is a compiled list of phone numbers from consumers who have registered their preference to limit the telemarketing calls they receive. Telemarketers are prohibited from calling registered phone numbers unless certain criteria are met.

Q2. Where can REALTORS® go to search the National Do-Not-Call Registry?

A2. A telemarketer can receive access to the database by registering on the FTC’s website. Once registration is complete, the telemarketer will receive a unique identification/account number. Five area codes will be provided at no charge and additional ones will cost $54 per area code, up to a maximum annual fee of $14,850 for access to the entire National Do-Not-Call Registry.

Q3. If a brokerage registers for access to the National Do-Not-Call Registry, can the brokerage share its identification/account number with its agents?

A3. Yes. A brokerage can share with its agents the company’s identification/account number, thereby allowing agents within the same brokerage the ability to access the registry using the same account.

Q4. Does placing one’s phone number on the National Do-Not-Call Registry stop all unsolicited calls?

A4. No. Telemarketers are permitted to contact individuals on the National Do-Not-Call Registry if the parties have an “established business relationship.” Relationships that meet this exception include: (i) consumers who have purchased, rented, or leased goods or services from the caller or engaged in a financial transaction with the caller within the 18 months immediately preceding the date of the telemarketing call; and (ii) consumers who inquire about or apply for a product or service offered by the specific caller within three months immediately preceding the date of the telemarketing call. However, if the recipient of the call instructs the telemarketer not to call them again, future contact cannot be made. Other types of calls that are permitted include political calls, charitable calls, debt collection calls, and surveys.

Q5. Are robocalls legal?

A5. A robocall is a phone call that plays a recorded message. In October 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) eliminated the established business relationship exception as applied to prerecorded telemarketing calls. As such, any robocall that is selling a product or service is illegal unless the recipient has given the caller written permission to contact them in that manner.

Q6. Does the TCPA allow REALTORS® to call a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) seller in their capacity as a buyer’s representative who believes that their client may be interested in purchasing the FSBO property?

A6. Yes. Even if the FSBO seller is registered on the National Do-Not-Call Registry, the REALTOR® can call the seller because the call is not placed for the purpose of soliciting business from the seller. Therefore, provided that the call is limited to discussing their client’s interest in the property, the call can be made.

Q7. Does the TCPA allow REALTORS® to call a FSBO seller in an effort to secure the listing?

A7. A call of this nature is placed in an attempt by the REALTOR® to market their services. Unless an “established business relationship” exists, the law prohibits the REALTOR® from initiating a call of this nature if the seller is registered on the National Do-Not-Call Registry. The same is true for calls a REALTOR® may place to an expired listing.

Q8. Can REALTORS® obtain phone numbers from lead generation companies and rely on the established business relationship shared between the consumer and the lead generation company?

A8. Telephone calls from telemarketers to phone numbers provided by lead generators generally do not fall within the established business relationship exception because, while the consumer may have a relationship with the lead generator, they do not have an established business relationship with the REALTOR® who purchased the leads. Unless the consumer inquired into the services of a specified REALTOR® or brokerage, or the lead generator made disclosures that would alert the consumer that they should expect telemarketing calls from the REALTOR® as a result of their communications with the lead generator, the REALTOR® cannot claim that they have a relationship with the consumer.

Q9. Can REALTORS® trust that lead generation companies will not provide them with phone numbers registered on the National Do-Not-Call Registry?

A9. Unfortunately, lead generators responsible for “call verified,” “permission-based,” or “opt-in” leads often fail to remove numbers listed on the National Do-Not-Call Registry. In several enforcement actions, businesses that made telephone calls to consumers on the registry after acquiring the consumer’s name from a lead generator ultimately paid civil penalties to settle charges that their calls violated the TCPA. To be safe, before using a list obtained from a lead generator, REALTORS® should access the National Do-Not-Call Registry and remove from the list all registered phone numbers.

If you are unsure of how any of the aforementioned laws and regulations impact your telemarketing activities, it is recommended that you consult with your attorney before taking any action.

Scott M. Drucker, Esq., a licensed Arizona attorney, is General Counsel & Assistant CEO for the Arizona REALTORS® serving as the primary legal advisor to the association. This article is of a general nature and reflects only the opinions of the author at the time it was drafted. It is not intended as definitive legal advice and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.

 

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Independent Contractor or Employee?  Part II

Independent Contractor or Employee?  Part II

How to Structure Broker Relationship with Agents and Staff

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Benjamin Franklin, The Way to Wealth: Ben Franklin on Money and Success

This is the second of three articles on how to properly classify agents and assistants as independent contractors or employees; we learned in the first that to comply with ADRE rules and maintain agents’ independent contractor status, a broker must supervise and control where required, but stop there.  Maintain too much control and the agent you assumed was an independent contractor may be your employee.

This short quiz tests your knowledge on what constitutes a proper independent contractor relationship between a broker and an agent or staff; the answers provide tools to improve your policies and avoid mistakes:

  1. A real estate agent is an independent contractor if there is a written independent   contractor agreement that details the broker’s appropriate — not excessive — amount of control over the agent.

True     _____              False _____

  1. It is best to let an agent have control over whether the agent will receive paid for office space, administrative services, sales leads, and training in order to maintain the agent’s independent contractor status.

True     _____              False _____

  1. Non-real estate agent assistants and staff can be independent contractors or employees depending on how their work is structured.

True     _____              False _____

 

Let’s see how you did:

No. 1 is false.  Even if a broker has the “perfect” independent contractor agreement which details the right amount of control over its agents, the agents may still be deemed employees if in practice the broker exercises more control.  For example, some brokers have policies outside their independent contractor agreements which require agents to follow certain practices and procedures (e.g. attending training and meetings; reporting; reimbursements; etc.).   While any one practice may not convert the agent to an employee, the more control the broker exerts the more likely the agent will be found to be an employee.  To be sure, if your agency is sued or audited, the plaintiff’s lawyer and IRS agent will look for every fact (aspect of control) to support their case

No. 2 is false.  Regardless of who decides, when a broker provides paid for office space, administrative services, sales leads, and training to an agent, it is more likely that the agent we be deemed to be an employee.

In 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals decided a case where an agent’s car crossed the center line and struck another vehicle as the agent was returning home from a sales appointment; the other driver died (as did the agent).  The other driver’s surviving spouse sued the broker on the basis that it was the agent’s employer.  In deciding that the agent was not the broker’s employee, the court noted that the agent:

was not required to keep specific hours, attend sales meetings, or meet any sales quotas, and although [the broker] provided optional office space, administrative services, sales leads, and training, [the agent] was charged a monthly fee for these services. There is no dispute that [the agent] chose the territory where he worked, created his own advertisements, prospected for clients, drove his own car, worked from his home office, worked purely for commission, and set up his own appointments.

Read here for more information on why the court ruled that the agent was not an employee.     http://hrlawinsider.com/on-the-cutting-edge-new-arizona-case-addresses-company-liability-for-the-torts-of-independent-contractors/

No. 3 is true.  Non-real estate agent assistants and staff can be independent contractors or employees depending on how their work is structured.  Here are factors that courts and the IRS review when deciding the issue:

  • Does the company have the right to control when, where and how the worker performs the job.
  • Does the work require a high level of skill or expertise.
  • Does the employer furnish the tools, materials and equipment for the job.
  • Is the work performed on the employer’s premises.
  • Is there a continuing relationship between the worker and the employer.
  • Does the business have the right to assign additional projects to the worker.
  • Does the business set the hours of work and the duration of the job.
  • Is the worker paid by the hour, week, or month rather than the agreed cost of performing a particular job.
  • Does the worker hire and pay assistants.
  • Is the work performed by the worker part of the regular business of the company.
  • Is the worker engaged in his/her own distinct occupation or business.
  • Does the company provide the worker with benefits such as insurance, leave or workers’ compensation.
  • Is the worker considered an employee of the company for tax purposes (i.e., the company withholds federal, state and Social Security taxes).
  • Can the company discharge the worker.
  • Do the worker and the company believe that they are creating an employer-employee relationship.

Apply these factors to your brokerage and/or other business.  Be sure the answers align with how you have classified your agents and other workers.  And remember, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin

 

Bourque Law Firm, P.C. is focused on helping businesses, human resource professionals, and individuals succeed. Art Bourque is an AV rated attorney who has been practicing employment law, commercial litigation, and tort litigation for 27 years. A Dean’s List member each semester of law school and moot court winner for best oral argument in his law class, Mr. Bourque has continued to excel as a professional with a simple formula: working hard.

http://bourquelaw.com/Attorneys.html

The post Independent Contractor or Employee?  Part II appeared first on Arizona REALTOR® Voice.

How Has The Real Estate Landscape Changed In The Past 10 Years?

In 2008, the real estate landscape was on the brink of a monumental change. The Great Recession officially started in December 2007, and the housing industry was on the front lines of the longest economic slump since World War II. Homeowners who had bought at the peak of the housing bubble found themselves underwater on their loans, owing more than their homes were worth on the market, and those risky loans partnered with a rash of foreclosures caused upheaval on the secondary mortgage market, tanking investors and banks left and right.

Today, as home prices have risen back up to pre-crisis levels, the question on a lot of minds is, “What’s changed since 2008?” Economic recessions happen regularly, and it’s natural to wonder when the next one will rear its head and what it will mean for housing when it does. The changes that have happened in the decade since the Great Recession have also reshaped the housing industry in many ways. Here are 11 ways the housing industry has changed in the past decade, and what it means for homeowners, buyers, sellers, and renters.

The economy — and employment — is stronger

One reason why the Great Recession was so acute is because despite the wide availability of mortgage loans at the time, the economy as a whole and employment in particular were not all that strong. The unemployment rate, which measures the rate of people who want to be employed against the rate of people who are employed, was 5% in December 2007. That might not sound all that high, but it means that one in every 20 people who wanted a job couldn’t get one. By October 2009, the unemployment rate was 10%.

Today, the unemployment rate is hovering around 4.0% or just below. That might not seem like a huge difference from 5%, but it represents hundreds of thousands more actual jobs. When unemployment goes down, wages go up because employers have to compete harder for qualified workers. Wages haven’t historically grown as quickly as home prices, which has made it more difficult to buy a home. And wages still have a ways to go to catch up with home prices, but the fact that we’re currently seeing an upward trend in both employment and wage growth is a promising sign for the economy as a whole.

The economy is never invulnerable to a recession, but the more jobs (and better-paid) jobs that are available to workers, the better shape everyone is in — especially consumers, whose behavior can often dictate whether an economy soars or crashes. When consumers have jobs, they’re more willing to spend money.

Mortgage rates are lower now (but they’re moving back up)

After a decade of mortgage rates in the 3% and 4% ranges, it’s no wonder that rates higher than 5.0% feel unnatural, but the annual average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rate in 2008 was 6.03%. A higher mortgage rate means borrowers will spend more money for the same loan amount over time, so a higher mortgage rate usually means that buyers have less money to spend on the sales price of the home, so it’s always a good idea to shop around when looking at home loans and heavily weigh the rate you’re being offered.

Mortgage rates have stayed in the 4% range throughout 2018, so they’re still relatively close to historic lows, but they’ve been steadily creeping up all year, and many economists predict that we aren’t too far from rates in the 5% range and that we will be continuing to see rates rise as 2019 arrives. This could mean that sellers are going to have to shoot for a lower price range than they hoped when they do decide to move up, or that buyers need to budget more carefully, so it’s always smart to pay attention to rates and talk to a mortgage broker if you’re thinking about entering the housing market.

Institutional rental investors are more widespread

When the wave of foreclosures hit the country, a lot of single-family homes were left vacant. It was a prime opportunity for institutional rental investors to buy up rental homes at good prices, which many of those investors proceeded to do at fast paces. After fixing the homes up, these investors were able to rent them out for a profit, and as the housing market recovered and rental prices began to rise, this investment became even more lucrative.

This prevalence of institutional investors and their more widespread ownership of entry-level housing stock has also contributed to other issues, like the fact that there are too few houses on the market to meet demand.

There’s much (much!) less inventory

One reason why home prices have grown across the country is because there are simply not enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand. Not only did the recession stall housing development, but increased regulations, more expensive labor, and more expensive building materials all have helped form an environment where developers can have difficulty making a profit for entry-level and even mid-level housing. Some developers were not able to weather the recession at all, while others who did survive pivoted to building luxury, high-end homes and apartments in order to be sure they’d make a profit on their investment.

The lack of housing inventory has also shortened the amount of time that many homes are on the market, leading to some environments where homes in desirable locations are sold very quickly and even sparking bidding wars in some cases.

… But it’s easier than ever to find a home to buy

Although there are too few homes for sale, if you’re a buyer, it’s never been easier to find a home for sale. There’s no need to find an agent so you can look through listings; instead, you can just pull up the browser on your phone — or a home search app — and look at homes for sale on Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and many other platforms. In this age of the internet, many listing agents invest in separate web pages for each individual listing, so you can also find all the same details by just punching in an interesting address on Google.

That said, if you don’t make it to the open house (if there even is an open house), then your opportunity to walk through the place to see it for yourself will still require talking to an agent. 

Regulations make it more challenging to secure a mortgage

After the recession, several pieces of legislation were passed that were designed to tighten up loan standards and make it more difficult to issue loans to buyers without substantial proof of income, assets, and debts. Anyone who’s bought a home or applied for a mortgage in the past decade will understand what this means in practice: Submitting years of past tax returns, months of bank statements, pay stubs and other proof of income, itemizations of debts, summaries of any savings and assets — the list seems never-ending.

As the economy got back on its feet and lenders began dealing with these new standards, they became much more cautious about mortgage loans. This is a good thing insofar as preventing another housing crash, but it hasn’t felt great for buyers whose credit or lack of a down payment has prevented them from securing a mortgage loan with good terms.

Real estate appraisers are now required to be independent

Another repercussion of the recession and the new regulations that followed is a change in how real estate appraisers work. Previously, appraisers would be hired directly by a mortgage broker, real estate agent, or somebody else with a vested interest in seeing the house appraised at a certain value. Maybe the mortgage broker or agent’s commission was on the line, and those deal participants would sometimes have an opportunity to “nudge” the appraiser to come up with something favorable to them.

One of the new regulations states that appraisers must be independent and that no other participants in the real estate sale, from either side, should have any influence over the appraiser and the appraiser’s decision. 

Crowdfunded down payments are a thing

Because mortgage loans are more difficult to secure, the down payment has become an increasingly important part of the mortgage process for buyers. But as prices have gone up on homes across the country, being able to save up 20% or more of a home’s total purchase price has become difficult to downright impossible in many markets.

Crowdfunded down payments are one solution. This is a way for buyers to increase their down payment and investors to park some of their money in an appreciating asset, the house. In exchange for money toward the down payment, crowdfunding investors accept a portion of the equity in the home; when the seller gets ready to move on or wants to buy out the investor, the investor will receive their share of the home’s value.

Agents get reviewed

The internet has caused one other big change in real estate during the past decade: There are reviews for everything online, from home inspectors to real estate agents. In the past, most buyers had to rely on referrals, Google, or even something called the Yellow Pages when they needed to talk to someone about their real estate needs, but you didn’t always know what you were getting into.

Like everyone else on the internet who does business, agents get reviewed now, too. You can see firsthand how agents handle disgruntled clients and what their most loyal business associates have to say about them.

Consumers have more options when it comes to buying and selling

Not only can buyers find homes for sale online, but we’ve even reached a point in our internet evolution when, in certain cities, sellers can sell their house to a company like Opendoor and now even Zillow. Buyers in those cities can also buy homes from these internet-based companies. And both buyers and sellers have a lot more options when it comes to working with a real estate agent, including teams, agents who offer small commissions or flat fees, and many others.

Some of these new avenues work very well for the buyers and sellers who use them, but like for-sale-by-owner, it doesn’t work for everybody. People have different needs and desires, and this is perhaps especially true when it comes to their homes; even if only because no piece of land is exactly like another, no house is exactly like any other house. There will always be people who don’t have time to do it themselves, or who want to make sure they’re getting the maximum possible return on their investment, or who want a high level of service and one-on-one connection with their agents. As the space becomes more competitive, the best agents will rise to the top, and a real estate agent should be able to explain exactly what you’ll be losing if you go with an alternate option.

Buyers and sellers know more (and less) than they used to

Not only is the internet providing more details about individual homes than ever before, but there has also been a wave of home-improvement and home sales shows sweeping reality television, encompassing everything from luxury real estate sales to fix-and-flip investment. As a result, people are both more educated and more ignorant about real estate than they used to be.

Take those search portals, for example. They don’t always carry the most up-to-date information in every market, which is most frequently updated on the MLS. The home data on those portals also isn’t always accurate, and the value estimates and rental estimates can be way off, too.

And reality television, of course, is definitely not representative of reality itself. It’s streamlined and edited for drama and narrative tension, so often both the good and bad of a deal can be wildly exaggerated.

If you haven’t bought a house in the past ten years, then maybe you didn’t realize how much things have changed. How will you know if the time is right to dive back into the housing market? Talk to a local real estate expert about your own situation and household before you start bidding on homes online — it could save you time, money, and energy.