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.
Regulating Real Estate Professionals
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.
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.
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
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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|
|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)|
|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|
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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
|6 Weeks Before You Move
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.|
|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.|
|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.|