Archive for August, 2010

Brokers’ input requested on agency law recommendations

In the early 1990s, VAR was instrumental in passing an overhaul of Virginia’s real estate agency law and regulation. In light of changing business practices since that time, VAR leadership has been asked to consider recommendations for possible updates to Virginia’s license law during the 2011 General Assembly Session.  There are three general recommendations under consideration:

  1. Requiring that all brokerage relationships be in writing
  2. Requiring disclosure explaining clearly what specific services the licensee and can and cannot provide parties in disclosed dual agency situations
  3. Eliminating the current seller disclosure (disclaimer) form and replace it with a general disclosure directing buyers to a DPOR-maintained website listing all disclosures

These recommendations are outlined in much more detail in a report prepared by VAR volunteers, which will be discussed in a town hall meeting at the REal Show, VAR’s Convention & Expo. This may be your only opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations before VAR leadership makes a decision in early October on whether or not to move forward with the recommendations. VAR leadership hasn’t determined whether or not to recommend pursuing these potential changes to Virginia’s license law: Your feedback will help them decide.

If you want to be a part of these important discussions about the future of Virginia’s agency laws, please plan to attend the Agency and Professionalism Town Hall Forum: Saturday, October 2, 2010 at 8 a.m. in the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Register now to reserve your spot at this session and all the other great events happening at the REal Show, VAR’s Convention & Expo 2010.

New Commonwealth hitting mailboxes

imageIf you haven’t already, you should be receiving your next issue of Commonwealth in the next day or so. Check out our cover story on the state of Virginia’s housing markets, and our feature on healthcare reform – why it’s good for Realtors®. Not to mention the usual suspects: Legal Lines, Life Lessons, Forms Factor, and a whole lot more.

Existing-home sales plummet, big time

According to NAR, sales of previously occupied homes fell more than 27 percent from June to July, the largest month-to-month drop on record. And they dropped to the lowest level in 15 years, more than 25 percent below their July 2009 level.Click here to read the full story at Realtor.org

Fastest (and slowest) short sale servicers

Lenders are taking heat from buyers, sellers and Realtors® for the length of time and complexity involved in going through a short sale. You’ve probably got your hunches about which banks are the worst to deal with and which ones take the most time to complete a transaction. Well, HousingWire magazine recently published a list ranking selected major mortgage servicers by how quickly they conduct short sales. Here’s the scoreboard:

  • Quickest: GMAC, averaging about 6 months per transaction
  • 2nd fastest: CitiMortgage, about 7.5 months per transaction
  • 3rd place: Wells Fargo, roughly 8 months per transaction
  • Last: Countrywide (Bank of America) at 13 months per transaction

Any surprises?

VAR partners with REALTORS® Federal Credit Union

VAR is now an official partner of the REALTORS® Federal Credit Union. REALTORS® FCU is a not-for-profit credit union. And because credit unions are member-owned, earnings accrue to benefit members–not stockholders.

REALTORS® Federal Credit Union Now Offers:

  • Highly Competitive Interest & Dividend Rates on Certificate Investments
  • Traditional & Money Market Savings
  • Free eChecking with MasterCard Debit Card with access to Surcharge-Free ATM Transactions at Thousands of CO-OP Network & CU24 Network ATMs
  • Free myBranch Services Including: myAccounts Online, Online Statements, Deposits, Transfers, Bill Pay and more!
  • Personal Loans & Credit Lines
  • New & Used Vehicle, Boat & RV Loans
  • Home Loan Financing
  • Business Savings & Money Market Accounts

RFCU logoIn support of our partnership, the Virginia Association of REALTORS® will keep you informed of all the benefits REALTORS® FCU has to offer. REALTORS® FCU is new, but is quickly growing! Coming soon are exciting products and services including; additional Business Services, retirement products and more! Visit REALTORSFCU.ORG and subscribe to myNews emails to receive updates on the credit union.

Not a member?  Not a problem!  All REALTORS® and their immediate family members are eligible for lifetime membership. Visit REALTORSFCU.ORG to learn more and join online! Don’t forget to enter promotional code VA11 to give Virginia Association of REALTORS® credit for their referral! We look forward to serving you.

Two VAR standard forms updated

Thanks to your feedback, we have enlarged the font size in the fillable fields of the Residential Lease (form 200) and Residential Contract of Purchase (form 600) forms.  The revised forms are now available for download in the VAR Forms Center.  The font size is the only change made to the forms.  No changes were made to the pagination or substantive content.

Join the Forms Center to be the first to know about changes to VAR’s standard forms.

Buena Vista may lose city hall to repo man

The country’s dire financial straits extend beyond homeowners, as one Virginia city’s officials are learning. In the go-go days of 2004 and 2005, the city of Buena Vista in the Shenandoah Valley borrowed $9 million to build and refinance a city golf course. On the refinance application, they offered up two public buildings as collateral: the Buena Vista city hall and its police station.

Now, the bills are coming due and the city can’t afford to make payments, making it quite possible that the financier, ACA Financial Guaranty Corp., will exercise its right to seize the buildings.

“They put up City Hall to finance the golf course,” says Bonnie France, a lawyer for ACA. “It’s collateral, so they could lose it. I’ve worked in public finance for 30 years and never seen this happen.”

Buena Vista isn’t alone.  Harrisburg, the state capital of Pennsylvania, is considering filing for bankruptcy, and Central Falls, R.I. turned its finances over to a receiver when it couldn’t repay its obligations.

Read more at WSJ.com.

VAR member among NAR’s 2010 Good Neighbor Award finalists

If you see Hampton Roads Realtor® James Arnhold out and about, be sure to give him a pat on the back and a hearty atta-boy: He was just named a finalist in NAR’s 2010 Good Neighbor Awards

From Realtor® Magazine:

Arnhold has supported EQUI-KIDS Therapeutic Riding Program, an organization that offers therapy to people with mental and physical disabilities, since 2002, when he and his partner donated 92 acres of land for its move and expansion. He supervised the facility’s construction, including an indoor horse-riding arena to allow therapy year-round. He has also headed the Capital Campaign and raised more than $3 million for the organization. Currently, 70 students a week work with the horses to improve self-confidence, fine motor skills, balance, concentration, and social skills.

Thanks for making us proud, James.

VREB to begin random inspections

In its Summer 2010 newsletter, released today, the Virginia Real Estate Board announced that it has authorized DPOR’s Compliance and Investigations Division (CID) to begin random inspections of real estate firms in Virginia (see page 6). 

While the primary purpose of the inspections is to check the status of escrow funds being held, verify licenses, and make sure financial records are in order, inspectors will also take the opportunity to make sure the firm is complying with all regulations.

The inspections will include review of a firm’s policy and procedures manual, availability of training and determination of appropriate supervision practices.

The inspections will likely begin in November, according to VREB, which has yet to finalize its policies and procedures for the inspections.

Just in case, VREB suggests that “[t]his is also a good time to conduct a thorough internal review of your firm’s supervision practices, firm policy and procedures manual, availability of training, licenses, escrow accounts and record keeping practices.”

Not sure you’re in compliance? VAR can help. Check out our members-only Broker Center for starters, where you’ll find links to our Broker Toolkit, Virginia Real Estate Broker Field Guide, and information about the Virginia Managers Council, all of which will help you be ready for a random inspection, should you find a CID agent at your doorstep come November.

 

Invest in yourself: Volunteer with VAR today

At its core, VAR is its members. And while most of our 30,000 members didn’t join VAR just to be a volunteer, the services we deliver are only as good as the member expertise Realtor® leaders provide in their state and local associations. We simply wouldn’t be effective without our volunteers — hundreds of committee members, directors, liaisons, officers, and others just like you.

Now’s your chance to be a part of the process. VAR is seeking volunteers for the 2011 membership year. Click here to complete your member expertise profile and be considered for a VAR committee appointment.

VAR is your organization. Working on a VAR committee is one way to make it even more so. 

  • It’s how you get your ideas heard (and we know you’ve got some). 
  • It’s how to flex your expertise (we know you have some of that, too). 
  • And you’re bound to learn a bunch of new things along the way. 

Ready to get started? Good! Fill out your member expertise profile today.