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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Photoshop can enhance a listing image, but it can also help you cross the line into making unethical changes. Know how far you can go, and what guidelines will keep you on the right side of the Code.

This WorkSmart Kit covers the general rules for using image editing software to improve your listing photos. What can you change, what can't you, and what should you be thinking about?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

In this edition of Legal Hotline Q&A, Blake answers talks about sellers asking buyers to sign blank lead-paint or Residential Property Disclosure form. Should a listing agent ever allow this? Should a buyer's agent?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Virginia Real Estate Awards

Do you know someone who deserves some recognition? Someone who’s gone above and beyond the call?

Now’s the time to help those people shine. It’s time to nominate someone (or several someones) for the 2014 Virginia Real Estate Awards.

These recognize outstanding leadership, accomplishments, and professionalism in our industry — recipients will be recognized in a ceremony during the 2014 Real Show (and throughout the year after that).

Help us recognize the best in the business by nominating your colleagues (or even yourself).

You have until August 1, 2014 at 11:59 PM to submit any nominations. They’re being accepted for…

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has fined Alabama’s largest real estate firm — RealtySouth — half a million dollars for violating RESPA. Specifically, investigators found the firm was illegally directing clients to a title company that is owned by the same company as RealtySouth. It didn’t disclose this fact to clients, and it didn’t make it clear they could choose a different title company.

What’s notable is that the violation occurred not because of some rogue agent, but because of RealtySouth’s pre-printed purchase contracts.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Realtors working on a short sale with a client whose mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae can now potentially speed the approval process. The company has expanded its HomePath for Short Sales website, which it describes as “a communication tool created to help real estate professionals efficiently complete short sales and resolve challenges directly with Fannie Mae.”

The changes allow agents to contact Fannie Mae sooner in the short sale process to hopefully nip any problems in the bud. That includes request list price guidance, viewing the status of submitted cases, and — being rolled out over the next few months — negotiating and receiving first-lien approval on a short sale.

Monday, June 2, 2014

In its latest Pending Home Sales Index, NAR found that pending sales (which are under contract but have not yet closed) were down 0.6 percent in the South, “and are 6.4 percent below year ago levels.”

Further, according to Realtor magazine, “NAR is projecting existing-home sales to be lower this year than last. NAR is projecting existing sales to fall below the nearly 5.1 million they were in 2013.”

Monday, June 2, 2014
In the May edition of its Commercial Real Estate Outlook, NAR reports – based on data from Real Capital Analytics (RCA) and its own surveys — that the nation’s commercial sector showed across-the-board improvement in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Sales of lower priced properties (below $2.5M), increased 11 percent from the first quarter of 2013
  • Sales of major properties (over $2.5M) were up 15 percent
  • Sales of individual properties 
Monday, June 2, 2014

Housing and education are tightly connected — think of how the quality of a community’s schools affects property values … and your sales. That means we need to think about housing and education policy as inexorably intertwined. In short, successful students mean successful communities — and successful Realtors need to understand the issues involved. Join VAR, Housing Virginia, and the VCU Center for Urban and Regional Development for an important statewide conference on this very topic: Connecting the Dots Between Where Kids Live and Where They Learn.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sale prices are following their typical spring trajectory, increasing more quickly as we approach summer. The median sale price this April was 3% higher than in April 2013. This modest year over year change is evidence that home prices are stable, and have recovered from the recession. Days on the market fell to an average of 81 days in April, 3.8% higher than April 2013. Days on the market fell to record lows last spring as prices increased very rapidly, likely because inventory did not keep up with demand. Slower price increases and a more typical average number of days on the market indicate that inventory and demand are in sync this spring.