Update to MNAR's MARS Memorandum
by: Brad J. Boyd, Esq.
MNAR Legal Counsel
Thomsen, Nybeck PA
The application of the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services ("MARS") Rule to real estate agents and brokers has changed effective July 15, 2011. On July 15th the Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") issued a press release, which identifies a key change to its MARS Rule; the FTC will "forbear from enforcing most provisions of its MARS Rule against real estate brokers and their agents who assist financially distressed consumers in obtaining short sales from their lenders or servicers." http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/07/mars.shtm
On June 6, 2011 the Minnesota Association of REALTORS® ("MNAR") released a memorandum regarding the MARS Rule, video podcasts, and additionally released two disclosure forms for the benefit of members attempting to comply with the MARS disclosure requirements. At the time, the MNAR was drawing upon information from the National Association of REALTORS® ("NAR") and discussions between NAR and the FTC, that the rule was being enforced broadly. This broad enforcement meant that real estate agents listing a short sale home for sale would be considered "MARS Providers" and would need to comply with the entirety of the MARS Rule.
As of July 15th, the FTC indicates that forbearance from parts of the rule is available to real estate professionals who: 1) are licensed and in good standing under state licensing requirements; 2) comply with state laws governing the practices of real estate professionals; and 3) assist or attempt to assist consumers in obtaining short sales in the course of securing the sales of their homes. The stay exempts real estate professionals who meet these requirements from the obligation to make disclosures, and from the ban on collecting advance fees. These professionals, however, remain subject to the Rule's ban on misrepresentations relating to any material aspect of the MARS services provided by the real estate professional (as found in 16 C.F.R. 322.3(b)). Please note, this is not a repeal of the MARS Rule, or an exemption for real estate agents in all transactions.
Since forbearance is being offered in the limited scope identified in the FTC's enforcement policy statement (http://www.ftc.gov/os/2011/07/110714marsrealestatepolicy.pdf), those who are engaged in MARS services who are unsure of whether or not they must comply with the MARS rule should discuss this issue with their own legal counsel.
For now, the good news is that listing agents who assist sellers with short sale transactions, provided they meet the conditions stated in the FTC's policy statement regarding forbearance, are currently "carved out" from the disclosure obligations and some other burdens of the MARS Rule. While the MNAR's MARS disclosure forms remain available, they will not need to be used as broadly as was previously necessary.
Review the full FTC Press Release here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/07/mars.shtm
Review the FTC's statement here: http://www.ftc.gov/os/2011/07/110714marsrealestatepolicy.pdf
2011 Legislative Update Now Available to Download
See what bills your MNAR Lobbyists were pursuing this past legislative session. Learn about which bills passed that will affect your real estate business. Some of these bills include green acres, broker price opinions, exclusive agreements, common interest communities, and concrete burial recordation.
You can download the 2011 Legislative Update at www.mnrealtor.com/2011LegislativeUpdate
Pending Promise in Minnesota Home Sales
After a few years of dire housing news as a result of the nation's recession, some promising signs are beginning to emerge. June pending home sales increased a solid 41.2% compared to the same month a year earlier.
"This is wonderful news for the future," said Russ Portele, MNAR President. "Pending sales are a key indicator of the direction the housing market is moving," he said.
In June, 8,240 properties had purchase agreements written on them compared to 5,836 in June 2010. This was the highest number of pending home sales since April of 2010, when the federal tax credit was expiring. Year to date, pending transactions are less than 1% below the YTD figure from 2010 and slightly behind 2009.
"We're not out of the woods yet, but at least we can see the end of the forest," Portele said. Beyond an increase in pending sales, the Housing Affordability Index (HAI) indicates that home buyers at the median sate income have a large number of homes available for purchase.
All of the numbers weren't as positive. The median value for a home selling in June dropped 9.3% to $145,000 and number of days it takes to sell a listed property increased 11.8% to 124 days. These numbers are expected to improve once the distressed inventory of homes is removed from the market. In many areas the home data is being impacted by the unusual inventory levels of distressed properties.
Download the June 2011 Minnesota Housing Report at www.mnrealtor.com/HousingReport/Jun11
Special Fall Continuing Education
"2011 New Forms Changes - What Goes in the Blanks and Why"
MN DOC Required "Residential Leasing Module"
Forms: Things are changing!!! During the past year, over 50 changes were made to existing forms and six new forms were released! Our new forms course will examine both new and revised forms that are frequently used in real estate transactions and will address the contract issues that can crop up in day-to-day business. New disclosure forms have been developed to comply with recently approved MARS rules and new a disclosure for buyer relationships with REO companies.
Required Residential Leasing: During the current licensing cycle, July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, every Minnesota real estate licensee will be required to take a special 3.75 hour continuing education course module on residential leasing. Continuing education credits will be provided only if the licensee successfully passes an examination at the end of the class. If a licensee fails to successfully pass the examination by June 30, 2012, his or her real estate license will become inactive. We have five extremely qualified instructors who are ready to navigate you through the residential leasing process.
We're offering a combination of these classes on the following dates on a first come, first serve basis. Each class is 3.75 hours and has been approved for real estate continuing education credit. Seating is limited at each location and we encourage you to go to our website to register today! The cost is $65 for the full day (7.5 hours) or $35 for half day (3.75 hours).
Thursday, August 11th @ Earle Brown Heritage Center, Brooklyn Park
8:30am - 12:15pm: 2011 Forms - Instructor: Lynn Leegard
1:15pm - 5:00pm: Leasing - Instructors: John Anderson & Lynn Leegard
Thursday, August 25th @ Prom Center, St. Paul
8:30am - 12:15pm: 2011 Forms - Instructor: Wayne Gilbert
1:15pm - 5:00pm: Leasing - Instructors: Brad Boyd & Don Smith
Thursday, September 8th @ Sheraton Hotel, Bloomington
8:30am - 12:15pm: 2011 Forms - Instructor: Lynn Leegard
1:15pm - 5:00pm: Leasing - Instructors: Brad Boyd & Wayne Gilbert
NOTE: These classes will be offered again throughout the fall and winter through local associations at various locations and more information will be available from your local association in the near future.
MNAR Seeks Committee Members
For Board of Directors, Executive, Finance, Forms, Governmental Affairs, Nominating and Professional Standards Committees
Are you interested in becoming involved in your State Association? Below you will find out how you can apply. All applications must be received by August 31, 2011.
Board of Directors: If you are interested in serving on the MNAR Board of Directors, you can be appointed through your Local Association. Our new fiscal year 2012 Board will be seated in October. Please contact your Local Association President or Board Office to find out the local process for these appointments.
Executive Committee: This Committee meets approximately four times per year and all members of the Executive Committee automatically serve on the MNAR Board of Directors. Appointments will be made by the Board of Directors at the October meeting, with the term to commence immediately upon election. Apply here.
Finance Committee: This Committee sets the yearly budget and oversees its implementation. It meets one time a year in early May. Apply here.
Forms Committee: This Committee meets approximately 8 times a year. You can apply here.
Governmental Affairs Committee: This Committee meets approximately 5 times a year. Apply here.
Nominating Committee: The Committee meets twice a year to approve candidates for the positions of Treasurer and President-Elect plus the MNAR representatives to the NAR Board of Directors. Apply here.
Professional Standards Committee: The objective of this Committee is to promote honesty, integrity, fairness and competence and to resolve controversies on the basis of informed judgment of one's peers. Applicants must be a REALTOR® member for a minimum of three years and must attend a MNAR training program in December or January. Apply here.
2011 REALTOR® of the Year
MNAR is seeking candidates for the 2011 REALTOR® of the Year award.
The MNAR REALTOR® of the Year will be announced at the MNAR Leadership Reception in October. The winner will receive $1,000 to offset expenses to attend the NAR Convention in Anaheim, where NAR will recognize our recipient along with REALTORS® of the Year from other states.
You can submit as many candidates as you feel are qualified. The MNAR Management Team may also submit candidates. The criterion for the MNAR REALTOR® of the Year heavily stresses State Association involvement over the last 12 months. Therefore, if you expect your nominee(s) to receive strong consideration for the MNAR REALTOR® of the Year, he/she should be able to document State Association involvement.
You can nominate someone here. The deadline for applications is August 31, 2011.
Honoring Political Involvement
With all of the time constraints placed upon us in today's busy world, finding time to become politically active in order to benefit your industry is very honorable. That was the genesis and inspiration behind the Ed Anderson Political Achievement Award. An award designed to honor Minnesota REALTORS® who have contributed time, knowledge and resources to the preservation of the real estate industry.
If you know of a Minnesota REALTOR® who is active in politics and works to better the industry through their involvement, please submit an application on their behalf so they can be considered for the 2011 Ed Anderson Award. You can nominate someone here. Applications are due August 31, 2011.
We want...YOUR...most interesting listings...again!
If you currently have a listing that has some interesting quality about it, we want to hear from you! Maybe, the listing is an architectural masterpiece or perhaps a local celebrity used to live in it. Could it be the smallest or largest house you've ever seen? We want to hear from you!
Through our sponsorship withBringMeTheNews.com, we will once again run a "Featured Home" of the week. These homes should have some quality that would make them fun and interesting to view. Our partners at BringMeTheNews will accept your submissions and decide which homes will be placed on their website. We would like to received submissions from throughout the state.
To make a submission, please firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, city, a picture of the home, and a description of what makes the listing interesting!
Then visit BringMeTheNews.com to see what homes are featured!
Home Improvement & Design Expo
Would you like tickets to this fall's Home Improvement & Design Expo to give to your clients, friends and family? If so, please contact Kristan Waltz at email@example.com with your contact information, mailing address and the number of tickets you'd like. Choose from two locations:
October 22-23, 2011 - 10am-5pm both days @ the Minneapolis Convention Center
October 29, 2011 - 10am-5pm @ the National Sports Center in Blaine