I attended the California Association of REALTORS® business meetings last week in Indian Wells. While it is hard to summarize three and a half days of meetings in a brief post, here are a few of the highlights:
- The California Residential Purchase Agreement (RPA) is getting a face lift. The revised RPA and related forms will be released some time in April. CAR’s website will soon have the final version of the revised form that includes 44 changes from the current RPA. The most recent draft can be found here. I expect there will be a lot of education events available to get members up to speed with all of these changes.
- Coming Soon Marketing – A motion was brought to the MLS committee to prohibit the pre-marketing of homes – the MLS committee could not come to an agreement and instead created a task force to study this issue further with input of Professional Standards and the REO task force.
- CalREDD – Working demonstrations were held highlighting the new CalREDD Statewide MLS platform. Several small associations have gone online line with the system. It appears that virtually all of the associations that are scheduled to switch over to the CalREDD system are small associations. While CalREDD was mentioned quite a bit, it did not seem to stir a lot of excitement.
- Short Sales - CAR has several groups looking at ways of introducing legislation that might help standardize the short sale process for lenders. Agents should be aware there are a number of scams focused around short sales. One potential scam is called settlement sale. A settlement sale happens when an investor buys a home from a short sale seller and then “flips” it to a new buyer placing it in contract with the new buyer even before taking title to the property. Another big problem stems from second lien holders who have a long list of ways to squeeze more money from the transaction. Many of these requests put the agents, seller and buyers at risk for committing fraud. General rule of thumb is avoid doing anything outside of escrow and make sure all closing costs are documented on the HUD-1.
- Zipforms – Winforms recently changed their name to Zipforms. One new feature is ePUBS- an electronic way to deliver disclosures like the Combined Hazards Book directly to the buyer. ePUBS makes it easy to print only the signature pages of the disclosures and is a way to help reduce the use of paper in the real estate transaction.
- REALTOR® Action Fund Opt Over – One change that will likely be finalized during the CAR meetings in June is a mandatory $49 assessment starting with 2011 dues. Currently members have the option if they will contribute to the REALTOR® Action Fund anywhere from $49 to $197 on up to several thousand dollars for major donors. Starting in 2011 the fee will become mandatory and all members will have the option of their “assessment” applied to the REALTOR® Action Fund or “opt over” to an alternative account.
- CAR is launching a new designation responding to the current distressed market – REO Buyer’s Specialist.
- RPR – This is a national database of properties that is being put together by NAR. The Realtor’s Property Resources site is still under development but they do have a blog and were at the meetings to demonstrate the website.
Many more topics were covered at the meetings. Typically meetings start at 7:00 or 8:00 am each morning and run through 6:00 pm or later each night. I’m looking forward to the June meetings in Sacramento and Legislative Day where REALTORS® meet with their local State Senators and Assembly members to discuss issues that effect home ownership, protect property rights and the ability of REALTORS® to do business.