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Education-Professional Designations

July 15, 2011 10:31 pm
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EDUCATION/SCHOLARSHIPS COMMITTEE

Mission Statement

To offer educational opportunities that will encourage our members to continue to build their knowledge and expertise for their professional development. To provide financial assistance for academic and community service to students pursuing higher education.

Mortgage Calculator

July 13, 2011 2:25 pm
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Regulating Real Estate Professionals

June 13, 2011 5:26 pm
posted by admin

 

If you have ever bought or sold real estate, you have undoubtedly employed the services of a real estate agent to guide and assist you through the process. Consumers are often uncertain who regulates real estate professionals.
Many real estate professionals are subject to two sets of rules. First, each jurisdiction has a governmental agency, typically referred to as the real estate commission, charged with the authority to issue licenses to real estate professionals and enforce related state laws and regulations. Additionally, many real estate professionals, after obtaining a license, choose to become members of a REALTOR® association, whose mission is to promote the profitability and success of its members. Those licensees agree to abide by a strict Code of Ethics, and the local REALTOR® association is responsible for assuring that members adhere to the Code.

Real Estate Commissions
Each jurisdiction has a real estate commission whose primary mission is to protect the public from unqualified real estate practitioners. As such, the real estate commission has the authority to implement and enforce real estate licensing laws. In keeping with this authority, the real estate commission serves various important functions, including:

  • Authority to Issue a license, and monitor real estate activities.
  • Establish requirements for maintenance of a real estate license, such as continuing education.
  • Conduct investigations into alleged violations of jurisdiction licensing laws and regulations based on complaints filed by the public or on the real estate commission’s own motion.
  • Perform routine audits of trust accounts.
  • Enforce licensing laws and take disciplinary action against licensees who have been found in violation,including revoking their ability to practice licensed real estate activities in a respective jurisdiction.

Members of the public who suspect a real estate licensee has violated the licensing laws can direct their complaint to the real estate commission of the respective jurisdiction, which will then review the allegations and determine what action, if any, is appropriate for the jurisdiction to pursue.
REALTOR® Associations

Membership in a REALTOR® association is entirely voluntary, but carries with it the responsibility for each REALTOR® member to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics. Real estate professionals join their local REALTOR® association and, as part of their membership, they automatically become members of both the state REALTOR® association, and the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The NAR Code of Ethics, which establishes a public and private standard of behavior for REALTOR® members when dealing with the public and other real estate professionals, is enforced at the local level through the local REALTOR® association. It is therefore the function and authority of the local REALTOR® association to:

  • Conduct hearings into alleged violations of the NAR Code of Ethics.
  • Take disciplinary action against a REALTOR® member, which can include the ordering of fines or revocation of a real estate professional’s membership in the REALTOR® association.

Similar to filing a complaint with the state real estate association, members of the public can also contact their local REALTOR® association and file a complaint where they suspect a violation of the Code of Ethics has occurred. It is important to understand, however, that a REALTOR® association does not have any authority over a real estate professional’s license, as this is the exclusive jurisdiction of the respective real estate commission. REALTOR® associations only discipline REALTOR® members for violations of the NAR Code of Ethics. For all other alleged wrong doing, consumers should contact the respective real estate commission or consult with an attorney.
In conclusion, real estate professionals are held to high standards under which they must conduct their business. The real estate commission enforces its license laws, while members of a REALTOR® association must agree to follow the NAR Code of Ethics. If a real estate professional fails to adhere to these standards, appropriate action can be taken.

This article was written by the National Association of REALTORS®, in collaboration with the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials.

Find a REALTOR Member

June 10, 2011 4:25 pm
posted by admin

 

Find a REALTOR Office

4:21 pm
posted by admin

 

Fair Housing

June 4, 2011 3:32 pm
posted by admin

 

 

Basic Facts about the Federal Fair Housing Act

Following is an overview of the Act and more information is available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at this link –https://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/index.cfm

What Housing Is Covered?

The Fair Housing Act covers most housing. In some circumstances, the Act exempts owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family housing sold or rented without the use of a broker, and housing operated by organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

What Is Prohibited?

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

Licensee should ask themselves the following questions:

Has my customer/client set the limits?  Have I offered a variety of choices? Let the buyer determine their preferred geographic location.  Licensees should not take it upon themselves to search out properties to show based on the race, religion, color, etc. of the neighborhood surrounding a possible showing.

Have I provided “equal professional service” to everyone? Don’t treat one buyer differently from another.

Does my advertising reflect improper preferences? The list of terms to avoid in advertising includes Executive, Exclusive, Newlyweds, Retirees, Private, Stable. As a basic rule: Describe the property, but don’t describe the people you think are right for it. And never use religious or ethnic landmarks. Advertising, whether words and/or photographs, must convey the impression that the property is available to all people regardless of protected status.

In Mortgage Lending: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap (disability):

  • Refuse to make a mortgage loan
  • Refuse to provide information regarding loans
  • Impose different terms or conditions on a loan, such as different interest rates, points, or fees
  • Discriminate in appraising property
  • Refuse to purchase a loan or
  • Set different terms or conditions for purchasing a loan.

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

Additional Protection if You Have a Disability

If you or someone associated with you:

  • Have a physical or mental disability (including hearing, mobility and visual impairments, chronic alcoholism, chronic mental illness, AIDS, AIDS Related Complex and mental retardation) that substantially limits one or more major life activities
  • Have a record of such a disability or
  • Are regarded as having such a disability

Your landlord may not:

  • Refuse to let you make reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
  • Refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.

Example: A building with a “no pets” policy must allow a visually impaired tenant to keep a guide dog.

Example: An apartment complex that offers tenants ample, unassigned parking must honor a request from a mobility-impaired tenant for a reserved space near her apartment if necessary to assure that she can have access to her apartment.

However, housing need not be made available to a person who is a direct threat to the health or safety of others or who currently uses illegal drugs.


Requirements for New Buildings

In buildings that are ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, and have an elevator and four or more units:

  • Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with disabilities
  • Doors and hallways must be wide enough for wheelchairs
  • All units must have:
  • An accessible route into and through the unit
  • Accessible light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other environmental controls
  • Reinforced bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars and
  • Kitchens and bathrooms that can be used by people in wheelchairs.

If a building with four or more units has no elevator and will be ready for first occupancy after March 13, 1991, these standards apply to ground floor units.

These requirements for new buildings do not replace any more stringent standards in State or local law.


Housing Opportunities for Families

Unless a building or community qualifies as housing for older persons, it may not discriminate based on familial status. That is, it may not discriminate against families in which one or more children under 18 live with:

  • A parent
  • A person who has legal custody of the child or children or
  • The designee of the parent or legal custodian, with the parent or custodian’s written permission.

Familial status protection also applies to pregnant women and anyone securing legal custody of a child under 18.

Exemption: Housing for older persons is exempt from the prohibition against familial status discrimination if:

  • The HUD Secretary has determined that it is specifically designed for and occupied by elderly persons under a Federal, State or local government program or
  • It is occupied solely by persons who are 62 or older or
  • It houses at least one person who is 55 or older in at least 80 percent of the occupied units, and adheres to a policy that demonstrates an intent to house persons who are 55 or older.

Who Pays What

3:01 pm
posted by admin

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The SELLER can generally be expected to pay for:

Real Estate commission
Document preparation fee for Deed
Documentary transfer tax
Any city Transfer/Conveyance Tax (according to contract)
Payoff of all loans in seller’s name
Interest accrued to lender being paid off,  Reconveyance Fees and any Prepayment Fees
Termite Inspection (according to contract)
Repairs resulting from inspections (according to contract)
Home Warranty (according to contract)
Any judgments, tax liens, etc., against seller
Tax proration (for any taxes unpaid at time of transfer of title)
Any unpaid Homeowners’ Dues
Recording charges to clear after documents of record against seller
Any bonds or assessments (according to contract)
Any and all delinquent taxes
Notary Fees
Escrow Fee (or one half – according to contract)
Title Insurance Premium for Owner’s Policy

 

The BUYER can generally be expected to pay for:

Title Insurance Premium for Lender’s Policy
Escrow Fee (or one half – according to contract)
Document preparation (if applicable)
Notary Fees
Recording charges for all documents in buyers names
Termite Inspection (according to contract)
Tax proration (from date of acquisition)
Homeowners’ transfer fee
All new loan charges (except those required by lender for seller to pay)
Interest on new loan from date of funding to 30 days prior to first payment date
Pro- rated property taxes
Inspection Fees (roofing, property inspection, geological, and in rural areas; septic tank and well inspections)
Home Warranty (according to contract)
City Transfer/Conveyance Tax (according to contract)
Fire Insurance Premium for first year

 

Moving Checklist

2:58 pm
posted by admin

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You know that your are moving and you have begun looking for your home –  you need to start putting a plan in place.  These tasks need to be planned ahead of time.  Everyone likes to move on the weekend or holiday, so make sure you will have a moving company or rental truck lined up to move out of your present home.

8 Weeks Before You Move 

If you are using a professional mover, get estimates in writing from moving companies.  Discuss costs, packing, loading, delivery and the claims procedure with your mover.
If you are moving yourself, get estimates from truck rental companies.
Be SURE you reserve in advance.
Draw a floor plan of your new home and make notes of where you want your furniture placed.
Use up food in your freezer
Remember you can’t move flammable household cleaning products, etc.

 

6 Weeks Before You Move 

Inventory all of your possessions now.  Determine what can be donated for a tax deduction, sold or given to a family member.
Gather important records such as medical, lawyers, accountants, insurance, car/boat, camper registration, veterinarians, etc. to hand carry to your new home.
Transfer your children’s school records.
Make sure you understand the tax-deductible moving expenses (call your accountant), and set-up record keeping for these expenses.


4 Weeks Before You Move

Will you need storage for a short term near your old or new residence?  Make these arrangements now.
Do you need to have a garage sale?
If you are moving yourself, figure out how many boxes you will need.  Many of the moving companies have web sites with calculators that can help you determine that number.  Many truck rental companies have boxes for sale.

 

3 Weeks Before You Move

Gather packing materials including: furniture pads, newspapers, hand truck/dolly, scissors, utility knife, packing tape, bubble wrap, felt tip markers, and, of course, boxes.
Begin packing things that you don’t need everyday.
Call the utilities in your new community to arrange a start date and the utility companies in your present location to arrange a stop date.
Do you need to make travel/hotel reservations?


2 Weeks Before You Move

Transfer your bank accounts to a branch in your new location and make sure that you transfer or cancel any direct deposits or automatic payment arrangements on your current bank accounts.
Make arrangements for pets — ask the vet how to make them more comfortable before, during and after the move.
Transfer all medical prescriptions to pharmacy in new location.


1 Week Before You Move

Defrost your refrigerator and freezer.
Arrange for cash, a certified check, or money order ready to pay the mover on delivery day.
Pack valuables and legal documents to go with you not on the truck.
Pack clothes, toiletries, prescriptions, emergency numbers and family members phone numbers to be kept with you.
Pack the “Emergency Kit”  including:  Coffee/tea  maker and supplies, coffee cups, paper plates, plastic utensils, soft drinks, water, snacks, soap,  bath towels, trash bags, scissors, utility knife, toilet paper, shelf liner, pencils and paper, masking tape, and toiletries kit.


Moving Day

Pack your pillows, bedding, etc. in the top dresser drawer so you know where the linens are and you don’t have to look through boxes.
Make a list of every item loaded.
Before you sign, read the Bill of Loading.  Keep it in a safe place until you receive all your goods.  You will need the Bill of Loading until after the charges are paid and any claims settled.
Make sure to turn off all utilities.
Make arrangements with your agent to leave the keys and garage door opener(s) inside the house.
Lock all doors and windows.


Delivery Day

Vigilance is important at this point — Check off all boxes and items as they come off the truck.  Examine everything.
Install new locks.
Make sure utilities are hooked up.
Put out “comfort toys” for the children and pets.
Congratulations, your new life is just beginning.

 

 

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No doubt you’ve thought of how nice it would be not to write a rent check every month, but have you done the math? Nothing can make you feel more secure than owning your own house, unless buying a home will create financial problems of its own. Here’s a discussion of the most important financial costs associated with home buying to stack up against your monthly rent check.
Instead of the standard deduction on your income tax return, most homeowners itemize their deductions, allowing them to deduct the following (and save on taxes): home mortgage interest, property real estate taxes, state income taxes, gifts to charity, medical and dental expenses over 7.5% of your income, personal property taxes, and most moving expenses.
Figure your monthly payments if you were to buy. Compare your monthly rent to a calculation of the following: purchase price and down payment of your home, your annual income (and debt!), property tax rate, home insurance rate, interest rate and length of loan. For best results, contact a home-buying specialist.

Other costs
Expect other costs to homeowning. Along with your monthly mortgage and down payment, there’s property tax and homeowners insurance premiums, and fees known as “closing costs.” These include everything from a credit check to “points”- interest paid up-front in return for a lower interest rate. Others: title insurance fee, survey charge, attorney/escrow fees, and loan origination. So do your research!

Long-term equity
No discussion of home ownership is complete without considering the long-term benefits of owning. What your house will be worth when you sell depends on the state of your mortgage and the housing market, in particular. Consult with real estate professionals, read up, and do your math to get a realistic sense of your future home value.

Lifestyle and mobility
Mobility is part of renting. Freedom to take the next job or move for a relationship is easy to come by when you rent a home. And when you do move, there’s often more choice of specific location, and price, when you seek rental housing. Want an apartment near a park in western Philadelphia? You may find an easier time looking to rent than buy.

Many renters say they love knowing they’re not tied down – and don’t have to assume financial responsibility for their living space. This is of course a big difference from home ownership: who does the work.

Who does the work
While you don’t receive the joys of making a place truly “your own,” you do have limited costs in renting. Landlords are responsible for general upkeep and safety, allowing you to focus on the fine points. Homeowning, in contrast, puts you in the driver’s seat. You shoulder the expenses and reap the rewards of home improvement – both great and small. Think about whether you want to put in additional time and money.

Choices, choices
Whether you decide to take the step of home ownership is a personal choice with its own ups and downs. Hopefully we’ve helped dust off the magic ball a bit; what you see in your future is up to you!