Proposed TREC Changes to Contract Require Earnest Money to Be Delivered in 3 Days

With a list of proposed TREC contract changes up for discussion, have you ever wondered how TREC decides when to change the promulgated forms? Typically, the forms are revised every other year following the Texas Legislative Session. TREC’s Broker Lawyer Committee meets first, and their proposed changes are discussed at the August TREC Commission meeting. If the commission approves the proposed changes, they are posted to the Texas Register and open for public comment – this is where we stand now.

If you are a Texas Realtor, now is your opportunity to have a voice in the process. The Broker-Lawyer Committee depends on your comments to assist them in their decisions regarding form additions and changes. This year there are several important changes to the contract forms and some new addendums for you to consider.

One of the most significant changes to the contract forms, including the One to Four Family Contract, is a requirement by TREC that the earnest money is deposited with the escrow agent within three days. Currently, the rule reads “The earnest money must be deposited by the close of business of the second working day after execution of the contract by the principals.” At the meeting on August 7th, one of TREC’s commissioners expressed concern that this change could be problematic since the new language refers to calendar days, not business days. Title companies are closed on weekends and national holidays. If you have a contract that is executed on a Thursday evening, the deadline for the earnest money deposit will be Sunday at midnight. That gives the Realtor one day on Friday to get the earnest money to the title company. This scenario is compounded when there’s a holiday adjacent to a weekend (e.g. Labor Day Monday) when title companies are likely to be closed for three calendar days in a row. This provision will likely require the most significant adjustments in day-to-day business practices of all the changes being considered.

Other notable changes under consideration include: creating separate receipt sections for the contract, earnest money and any additional earnest money; changes to the language regarding termination in paragraph 6D (One to Four Family); and changes to paragraph 20 (One to Four Family) regarding FIRPTA. The supporting documents for the August 7th TREC Commission meeting included marked-up versions of the contract forms, and they can be viewed HERE.

TREC is also considering adding two new addendums to its library of available forms. Realtors will probably be most excited about the Addendum Concerning the Right to Terminate due to Lender’s Appraisal. The other new addendum that may be added is the Addendum for Authorizing Hydrostatic Testing.

Independence Title offers a solution, should the 3-day rule earnest money deadline be approved. We are able to accept earnest money electronically through the Zoccam app using the camera on your or your buyer’s smart phone. If you need instructions on how to download and use Zoccam, you can find a step-by-step guide on our website. If you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact your Independence Title business development representative.

The Broker Lawyer Committee would like your feedback about these or other changes and additions under consideration. You may submit your comments and/or concerns via email to general.counsel@trec.texas.gov on or before Monday, September 25, 2017.

New Statistics Tools for Austin!

Does the word “statistics” intimidate you? Not only is it a hard word to say, but statistics themselves can often be confusing. As you know, in the world of real estate it’s important to differentiate yourself from the competition, and market statistics could very well be the factor that separates you from the rest. That’s why we at Independence Title are very excited to offer you two new statistics tools!

Our first tool is a new class called Stats in a Flash. In this class, we’ll take the dread out of statistics and have you creating your own custom stats in no time. We’ll define common terminology and show you where to locate statistics, how to create your own, and when to use them in your business. If you want to take your marketing to the next level, or if you just need data to support your negotiations, this class is for you!

The next tool is our new MLS Statistics module, now available for members of the Austin MLS. Our new stats feature a wealth of information on specific zip codes and MLS areas for Central Texas to both increase your expertise in your market and help you and your clients make better home-buying and home-selling decisions. You can find average and median prices, appreciation over time, months of inventory, days on market, sales and new listings by price range, and much, much more. This is a password-protected site (a requirement of our data license agreement with the board). Agents will get an updated password monthly from their business development rep.

You can use the menu to search by individual months or specific zip codes and MLS areas, or just click on “Full Reports” to view and/or download full monthly reports by zip code or MLS area. At the bottom of each PDF, there are buttons to quickly email, print, or download. (Because we may only offer these statistics to members of the Austin MLS, we are unable to provide a link to share on social media.) The full report by MLS area features heat maps showing the hottest areas by growing numbers of sales, median price appreciation, and inventory.

We’re so thrilled to be able to offer these resources to you! If you are interested in our class, Stats in a Flash, contact your Independence Title Business Development Rep or check out our Upcoming Events. And watch your email for a link and password to our new online stats module!

The State of the Austin Luxury Market

The Austin real estate market has exploded in recent years, and the luxury market has been no exception. In times of economic trouble, home sales plummet and our industry takes a major hit. However, the luxury home market is usually the last sector of housing to feel the effects of a downturn and the first to recover when things start improving. Austin’s luxury market has been no exception. After years of booming population growth and rising home prices, how is the Austin luxury market doing now?

Defining Luxury

What do we mean when we say “luxury,” in terms of the real estate market? There’s no universal standard or checklist. If I could invent one, it would definitely require items like:
• 20-foot-high security wall with minor celebrities serving as armed guards
• Marble from the dismantled monuments of past monarchies
• Diamond-encrusted bidet (squirting Evian water only, of course)
• Enough square footage that you never have to see your own family

Unfortunately, I don’t get to invent the criteria for luxury real estate, so I’ll have to rely on the wisdom of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, founded in 2003 by one of my real estate heroes, Laurie Moore-Moore.  For the Institute’s members to be able to earn the prestigious Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist designation, they must show (among other things) that they sell in the top 10% pricing of their local market or above $500,000, whichever is greater. This makes a lot of sense—it “flattens” the country’s various markets by creating a standard threshold that allows us to compare them. A million-dollar home in Manhattan means something very different than a million-dollar home in Westlake, after all.

The Luxury Standard in Austin

Using the top 10% rule, here’s the minimum price a home in Austin would need to sell for over the last five years to be considered “luxury” by this standard.

Year Greater Austin* Austin Only**

*All areas covered by ABOR’s MLS

**Austin, Bee Cave, Lakeway, Rollingwood, The Hills, Volente, and West Lake Hills

How is the Luxury Market in Austin?

For this section, we’ll stick with Austin only in our figures since it’s hard to define a true luxury market using the entire greater Austin area.

The average days on market in 2012 for luxury homes was 83, which then fell to 71 in 2013 and 63 in 2014. Since then, however, they’ve taken significantly longer on average to sell. 2015 was 74 days on market (a 17% increase) and then up to 78 days in 2016 (a 5% increase). Here in 2017, things have gotten a little better and we’re down to 76 average days on market so far, but this statistic doesn’t carry a lot of weight. We haven’t had to go through the winter yet, which will probably drag the days on market back up. We won’t know for sure until next year, but for now, at least, it’s safe to say we’re no worse off than in 2016.

Why are luxury homes staying on the market longer in recent years? There are a variety of factors that may be playing into it. One obvious answer is the price increase—Austin has seen incredible increases in average and median sales prices year-over-year for the last five years. It’s often better to look at the median sales price increase in order to avoid the up-and-down swings that can come from averages, but even the median has increased at least 6% a year since 2012.

Year Median Price YOY Increase

Note: This summarizes for Austin Only as defined above, all price ranges.

As the upper 10% of the market moves higher and higher along with the rest of the market, fewer buyers are able to afford them and the homes sit on the market for longer. There has also been an increase in luxury inventory, which increases competition. 2016 saw on average about a 14% increase in luxury listings over 2015. Other factors can be theorized but not easily proven. Some possibilities include market saturation (the net migration of wealthy residents has slowed down somewhat), unrealistic expectations (sellers of luxury homes believe their homes will sell for more than they will or are willing to wait longer for a better offer), or buyers’ fear of an overvalued market (thinking that Austin may have topped out or is in a bubble and luxury buyers may not get a return on their investment). This list is by no means exhaustive.

We also have to account for the limitations of MLS data—many luxury homes are sold off-market (so-called “pocket listings”), often to protect the privacy of their sellers. My rough estimate is that somewhere around 5% of million-dollar homes sold since 2016 were sold outside of the MLS. That’s not an insignificant number, especially considering that pocket listings may be listed at above-average prices even by luxury standards.

The Million-Dollar Standard

Do you think the 10% standard is far too generous?  This section is for you.

Here I’ll compare nothing but million-dollar homes and we’ll widen the area to all of the greater Austin MLS. Though it makes apples-to-apples comparisons a bit more difficult (a million dollars today buys less home than it did in 2012), it does help show what’s happening at a certain level of luxury. By this standard, things are going very well for central Texas. Below is a chart showing how many $1,000,000+ homes have sold per year over the last five years. The redder column shows 2016’s total in the same range as 2017 so far (January – July) so you can see just how much these sales are up since last year.

That’s a 34% increase over 2016 so far this year, which is exceeded only by the incredible leap we had back in 2013 (a 51% increase in sales from 2012). For days on market, the story is the same as the top 10%–homes simply aren’t selling as quickly. 2014 was the fastest selling at an average of 87 days, then shot up to 100 days for 2015 and 2016, and is now at about 97 days for 2017 so far. However, this is still much better than the years 2008 – 2012 when the average days on market for million-dollar homes was almost always in the neighborhood of 135 days.

The average price of a million-dollar home has also increased since last year, meaning we’re seeing higher prices in general but also more $2,000,000 and above homes. We’ve already sold 108 2M+ homes just through July in 2017, compared to 116 of those sales in ALL of 2016, and we’re well on track to shatter the last record of 128 2M+ sales set in 2015. Move the threshold up to 3,000,000 and we’ve already had 37 sales, one ahead of the record of 36 3M+ sales set in 2015…and we’ve still got five months left to go.

Are luxury agents lowering their prices to get these homes to sell faster? The data says no, at least not very often. The close-to-list-price ratio for million-dollar homes has been hovering around 95% since 2013 and is currently up to 96% in 2017 so far, so most listings are getting close to what they asked for (always a sign of a robust market).

Conclusion

Austin’s luxury market is strong—prices keep going up, homes are selling for close to what they list for, and more mega-luxury homes are selling than ever before. The only caveat is homes are taking longer to sell, but for the patient luxury agent, the payday will still be just as good when their homes finally close.

What Is CodeNEXT?

Have you heard of CodeNEXT yet?  If not, this is a topic that could have an impact on the real estate market and you will want to gain knowledge on the topic.  CodeNEXT is the new City of Austin plan to update the current Land Development Code.  The land code consists of how a piece of land can be used, including what can be built, where it can be built and how improvements can or cannot be built in the city.  Mayor Steve Adler says “The CodeNEXT process will help us manage our explosive growth while preserving what makes Austin special. We have to act and need to begin now – and this map is where we start.”

The current Land Development Code was created in the 1980s and is somewhat difficult to decipher.  In 2009 Austinites began to rethink the current code and what works for our growing and ever changing city.   Since then the City of Austin has been working on proposing the new Land Development Code.  The CodeNEXT initial draft release happened on February 1, 2017.  The City is now in the process of several open house events and hopes to finalize CodeNEXT early 2018.

If you are interested in more information on CodeNEXT click here.

 

*Information for this post gathered from The City of Austin and The Austin Chronicle

Protect Your Money, and Your Dreams!

Are you dreaming of buying your first home? Or maybe you are dreaming of selling your current house so you can move to your dream home, or realize some other life goal? Look out, because there are well-organized criminals intent on making that dream impossible for you. They insinuate themselves into your real estate transaction and turn it upside down, often by means of a simple email. These people are cybercriminals committing wire fraud, a virtual mugging when you move your money in a real estate transaction by wire transfer.

Cybercriminals hack into email accounts and send false wiring instructions, and before you know it, your money is headed to the wrong bank, many times out of state and even in another country.

In an article from the Chicago Tribune, several scenarios of wire fraud are mentioned involving hundreds of thousands of consumer dollars. This article was written in March of 2016, and since then the attempts of wire fraud have increased exponentially. The perpetrators are becoming craftier and more sophisticated each day, able to mimic the tone and content of a legitimate communication between you and your Realtor, bank, or title company.

You may be asking yourself, “How do I protect my dream?” At Independence Title, we have initiated several procedures to protect against wire fraud. Our closing teams have been thoroughly trained on what to look for and how to guard against these egregious attempts to hijack real estate transactions. Here are some things that you can do to protect yourself:

Buyers Should Verify Wiring Instructions Via Phone: To ensure you have the correct wiring instructions when you are sending money to Independence Title, please call our branch office using the phone numbers found on our website: www.independencetitle.com. Do this every time you wire funds, even if emailed instructions seem to come from a well-known and trusted source.
Sellers Should Bring Wiring Instructions to The Closing: When we are sending money to you, please bring your wiring instructions to our office in person. If you decide to change your instructions from what you have first provided, expect us to request that you appear in person at our office to sign off on the change.
Buyers & Sellers Should Change Your Email Passwords Frequently: Increasing your email security is a great way to help prevent wire fraud. Please change your email passwords frequently and if your platform offers two-step authentication, be sure and take advantage of this security feature.

Again, when working with Independence Title on a real estate transaction, you’re protected by encrypted email systems and well-trained employees, but your best protection is to verify information about money transfers strictly by telephone, using a confirmed phone number, or in person. We look forward to working together with you to protect your money, your investment goals, and your dreams!

Utilizing the Stats Tab in Matrix

Do you love the monthly statistics Independence Title sends out but are constantly wishing you could have more narrow, specific statistics to use in your personal marketing?  Maybe you want to show a Seller the average list price compared to the average sales price specifically in his subdivision?  Or maybe you want to go even further and narrow down that statistic to his subdivision AND homes with a pool?!

A popular question the Independence Title Education Team gets is about generating customized statistics.  The most common thought is that agents don’t have access and they must get it from us.  Did you know you can run a very specific, targeted statistic right in your very own Matrix account?

Below, we’ve put together a quick video walking you through how to pull targeted stats in Matrix.  We’ve also listed out step by step instructions as well.  This is a great tool to utilize for listing appointments, newsletters, farming, etc.  Go ahead, get creative!  Want some help brainstorming?  Call your local business development rep, we love that kind of stuff!

Here are the step by step instructions on how to pull customized stats in Matrix:

  • Click the STATS tab at the top of your Matrix homepage
  • Select the CUSTOMIZE tab on the left
  • Select the time frame you want to view
  • Select the first statistic you would like
  • Optional:  Click on Advanced Options at the bottom
  • Select the optional secondary statistic you would like
  • Select how you want the statistics grouped (See screen shot below for example.)
  • In the middle of the page enter the criteria you are searching.  (You can add additional fields at the bottom to find anything (similar to a search on Matrix — OR you can do a map search and draw a polygon.  You would click on the bolded MAP SEARCH at the top of the search page. )
  • Hit GENERATE on the left once you’ve put in all your criteria
  • You can view by chart or data (tabs at the top right of the chart)
  • VOILA!

Introducing A New Member to the Education Team!

Spring is in full bloom here in Texas, as is the real estate market!  Our Education Team is busy educating Realtors on the most important information and topics in the industry.  The demand for our classes has prompted the expansion of our team.  We are excited to announce our new trainer, Kaitlyn Mandry, who be training in the DFW market.

Kaitlyn Mandry has a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Development. Her expertise in adult learning and curriculum development will help our education team continually improve their creation of engaging content for our clients. Kaitlyn is passionate about people and training facilitation, so her transition into the world of real estate was a natural fit.

New Document Upload in Matrix

lifetime (1)Do you have questions about the new Document Upload in Matrix??  You’re not alone! The good news is, the Education Team at Independence Title is here to help you with the New Transaction Desk System. The document upload portion of the program is the only piece that you are required to use so we want to make sure you are an expert on uploading your documents. We put together this short demonstration video below that should help answer your questions.  Keep in mind, we also have a 1hr. CE course titled Translating Transaction Desk if you want to go beyond the simple document upload.

 

3 Key Elements to the Over 65 Property Tax Exemption

Over 65 Property Tax Exemption (6)One of our favorite classes to present is Property Tax Chat. It’s not the most exhilarating topic on the Independence Title class menu. However, agents end up enjoying it and walk away with the valuable knowledge to add to their arsenal of information. In our class, the exemption that gets the most attention is the over 65 exemption.

There are three key elements to this exemption:
1. A reduction in value before the various rates are applied
2. Quarterly tax payments accepted
3. The Independent School District (ISD) tax amount is frozen

With the first element, the reduction in value will not affect the market value, only the taxable value. Also, keep in mind not all taxing entities will use the reduced value to calculate the taxes owed.

The second element is an option for the homeowner to make partial payments throughout the year. The flexibility of a payment plan can be helpful for seniors on a fixed budget.

The third element is where it gets a bit sticky but hang with me. The dollar figure you pay for the ISD portion of the tax bill at the time you turn 65, will be the annual amount due for the remainder of the time you own and occupy the property. That’s pretty straightforward, and it’s an incredible savings!

It gets tricky when the homeowner wants to transfer the exemption to another property. Let’s walk through a scenario. Let’s say your client is in their 70’s with the over 65 exemption in place on their current home. Now they want to live life to the fullest and buy their dream home. Once they purchase the new home and request a transfer of the exemption, the tax office will look at the percentage they’ve been saving on the school taxes to apply to the new home. Ok, are you saying to yourself, um what?! Let’s break down the math. The property that they sold had an ISD tax amount of $5000 without any exemptions, but when they turned 65 and placed the exemption on the property, the ISD taxes were only $2500 and froze at that amount. They’ve been saving 50 percent. Now let’s look at how that savings will affect the new home. The new homes ISD taxes are $8000 without any exemptions. Once the over 65 percentage gets transferred, they will only pay $4000, for the ISD portion of the taxes. Only the percentage is transferred not the dollar amount. Clear as mud? For more information on exemption and the tax cycle, talk with your business development representative about attending our Property Tax Chat class.

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Closing Costs….Who’s Responsible?

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Every agent knows the excitement of clients purchasing a new home or clients finally selling their house. Then your clients ask you “What am I responsible for paying for at my closing?”  It can be difficult to explain everything that goes into closing costs so we created a new marketing piece called “Closing Costs…Who’s Responsible?”  This piece helps show clients which party is responsible for the different closing costs.  Click here to view the piece and if you would like copies contact your Independence Title Business Development Representative.

New Classes for Abby Vasek!

abby-header-4Over the past year we at Independence Title have had the pleasure of working with Abby Vasek as an outside instructor. She is a delightful trainer that brings enthusiasm and joy into every class that she teaches. Recently Abby has been busy creating new classes to help teach Realtors more about the world of design. She has three brand new classes that are all worth 1 hour CE credit.

Effective Advertising Language for Listings | 1 HR CE | Course #31113
In this class you will learn to expand your knowledge, creativity and vocabulary real estate agents use to advertise their property listings. This interactive writing class will help you to not only hone in on marketing language but explore a communication style that allows each listing to get maximum exposure.

Styles of Architecture for Real Estate Agents | 1 HR CE | Course #31114
How fluent are you in architecture language? In this class you will learn about the many types and styles of architecture. There will be a major emphasis on architecture vocabulary so you can better describe the qualities of the homes you list. You will also gain the knowledge and confidence to speak with authority about building techniques, features and styles.

Styles of Design & Current Building Materials | 1 HR CE | Course #31112
The objective of this class is to help you improve your knowledge and vocabulary about current interior design styles and trends in building materials. This class will allow you to better showcase the homes you list and infuse value in areas of these listings by bringing attention to special design treatments or unique building materials. In this class you will gain the potential to elevate the level of language and service an agent can provide!

Contact your ITC Business Development Representative to book any of these classes with Abby!

My Assistant Can’t Do What?

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The quarterly TREC meeting was held on August 15, 2016 and there was no discussion about changes to the current advertising rules as suspected.  Instead the commission focused on changes that could affect your assistant’s job description.  The proposed changes to TREC Rule 535.4 would impact the showing of properties by assistants who are unlicensed, and would eliminate the ability for an unlicensed assistant to hold an open house.

In order to create rules around unlicensed assistants showing properties, the committee proposed to include the following language in the definition of a “showing.” “Causing or permitting property to be seen by a prospective buyer or tenant, unlocking or providing access onto or into the property or hosting an open house at the property.” -TREC.  According to the proposed changes all of the actions in the definition of “showing” must be performed by a licensed broker or agent.  Of course like most rules there are exceptions.  Unlicensed assistants can show vacant property.  Vacant property being defined as the only thing left behind will convey with the sale.   If the property meets the definition of vacant and an unlicensed assistant is going to show the property, you must obtain written consent from the owner as well as the buyer/tenant prior to the showing.  You may also allow an unlicensed person to have unescorted access to a vacant property if the owner has given written consent.  Click Here to find out what language to include in these documents and to read the full version of the potential changes.

The final change that could affect unlicensed assistants’ job duties is to TREC Rule 535.5, License Not Required.  This change would remove the language that allows unlicensed individuals to hold an open house.  This would mean that only people with an active Real Estate license can hold open houses. Click Here to learn more.

The next meeting of the commission will be held on November 14th at 10:00am.  It is unclear if the proposed changes to TREC Rule 535.4 and the addition of TREC Rule 535.5 will be brought to a vote, and when they will become effective if passed, but updates will be posted as soon as they become available.  Staying on top of changing TREC Rules is always important for your business, and we encourage you to read more on the TREC website to determine how these changes will affect your business.  If you would like to make any comments to TREC on this or any of the proposed rule changes  email general.counsel@trec.texas.gov.

The Education Team at Independence Title has a mission to stay current on everything Real Estate.  We hope by bringing you information via our blog, you can stay on top of your fast paced and ever changing industry.

Meet Our New Outside Instructor!

pat

The education team at Independence Title is thrilled to announce Pat Patton as a new outside instructor! Pat has been a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Texas since 1975. He holds Pat-4929_72dpiundergraduate degrees in Marketing and Management from The University of Texas and a Master’s degree with distinction in International Marketing from the University of Greenwich in London. He has expertise in account creation, design, development, and management. Pat also has a passion for education and even teaches Graduate Level courses in his spare time. Pat’s background as a REALTOR and educator are great assets the education team and enables him to train from his first-hand experience.

Pat will be teaching Broker Responsibility and Legal Update I and II for Independence Title. If you are interested in booking a class with Pat please contact your Business Development Representative.

Legal Update I (4 HRS CE | Course #29622)  This mandatory TREC certified course covers the legal aspects of conducting real estate business.

Legal Update II (4 HRS CE | Course #29623)  This mandatory TREC certified course covers the legislative changes that affect the Real Estate community from the 2015 state legislature.

Broker Responsibility (6 HRS CE | Course #27767)  This mandatory TREC certified course covers the regulatory aspects of the management, operation and supervision of a real estate brokerage firm in Texas. Brokers as well as Sales Agents are welcome to attend!

Contact your business development rep today to schedule one of these classes!

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Top Three Reasons to Complete Paragraph 21

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Paragraph 21. NOTICES is often not completed upon execution of the final contract. We’ve heard many different reasons for leaving it blank over the years. A strong contender is the agent simply doesn’t readily have the information at the time of the offer. Some agents choose to list their own address, email, and phone number. Other agents even fear listing their client’s information. The One to Four Family Residential Contract states that all communication from one party to the other must be in writing and are effective when emailed, mailed, hand delivered, or faxed to the contact info listed in the blanks of paragraph 21.

Here are the top 3 reasons you should complete this very important paragraph of the contract.

1. In today’s real estate world we must adhere to the regulations of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) . Due to this, lenders will require an address for the buyer(s) and seller(s) on every Closing Disclosure (CD). The completion of this information allows lenders to remain compliant with TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure (TRID) guidelines. It can delay lender approval and delivery of the document if this information is not completed timely.

2. As stated in the contract, Paragraph 21 is where notices are sent to the parties during the contract to close timeline. Here at Independence Title Company we offer to forward many items on behalf of the agents and/or the seller, per the contract. We cannot do that without the contact information. Some examples may include the survey, HOA resale package, restrictions, title commitment, and ordering the Home Warranty .

3. Time sensitive action is required in most provisions of the contract. Listing yourself as the point of contact can cause a delay in the delivery of items and/or increase your liability to your client.

If you are hesitant to put buyers’ and sellers’ contact information in Paragraph 21, as long as you’re using the contact information to provide notice to the other party you’re not soliciting another agent’s client. However, we do offer an alternative if not listing contact info is important to you or your company. We provide a Buyers/Sellers Information sheet with the receipted contract. This information sheet is not shared and is kept in our secure file. The completed form can be mailed, emailed or faxed back to us. For further information, please reach out to your Escrow Team or your Business Development Representative.

Have You Updated IndependenceTitleAgent?

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Have you ever tried to explain a Seller’s Net Sheet to someone and their native language is Vietnamese? Or have you ever had trouble comparing multiple offers IndependenceTitleAgent can help! IndependenceTitleAgent is a closing cost app that will help you calculate closing costs, run Seller Net Sheets and Buyer Quick Estimates, and so much more!

IndependenceTitleAgent has added new features in its most recent update! Below are the features you can start using today:

Languages: IndependenceTitleAgent has added 6 new languages to the app: Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, and Arabic. The new languages can be applied to all printouts and marketing pieces. To change the language, simply select the language icon at the top of the preview screen.
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Multiple Offer Comparison Enhancements: Comparing multiple offers can be confusing and time consuming. Instead of creating a spreadsheet, have the app do the comparing for you! Before the update, you could compare up to 3 offers but now you can compare up to 12 offers!

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New Printout Styles: Every client that you work with is different. Some may be visual learners while others may just want a list of data. There are many new printout styles to choose from when sending customized reports to your clients. After generating a report, simply swipe left to see the different styles.

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Closing Date Default: Instead of choosing a closing date every time you run a quick estimate or seller’s net sheet, simply choose a default of 30, 60, or 90 days out and it will automatically default to that every time.

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Contact your ITC Business Development Representative for more information about IndependenceTitleAgent!

To Download click below!

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The Ultimate App!!

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How much will my monthly payment be? How much do I need to bring to the closing table? How much will I net at closing? If you are a Realtor you probably hear these questions every day from your buyers and sellers.

What if you could answer your clients’ questions within seconds with one user-friendly app?

IndependenceTitleAgent is THE APP that will make your life easier and impress your clients! Generate Buyer Quick Estimates, Seller Net Sheets, access Rent vs. Buy and Net-to-Sell calculators, and more . . . from your smartphone, tablet, or desktop!

Follow the steps below to download IndependenceTitleAgent and be on your way to real estate greatness!

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Be sure to attend “The Ultimate App” class or contact your Independence Title Business Development Rep for more information.  You can also download the desktop version at www.independenceagent.com.

To download click below!Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.09.52 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-24 at 8.11.31 AM

In Praise of Texas Title Insurance

Kara McGregor, Sr. Vice President of Business Development, Independence Title

Advocates for the deregulation of Texas title insurance don’t fully understand the product, or the ways in which the industry in Texas is exemplary.

In the U.S., for a one-time fee a title insurance policy protects property owners from losing their homes due to claims against their title to the property or old debt against the property. Texas title companies pay millions in claims every year. The policy is a one-time purchase to reduce the risk of financial losses, making it more like a financial service product than other types of insurance. Furthermore, unlike property, casualty and auto insurance, which have seen premiums rise steadily over the past 25 years, title premiums in Texas have dropped 15%.

Homeowners can rest easy about the integrity of their Texas title policy as to what it covers and what it doesn’t, and as to the rates they are paying for all the coverages and closing services provided by title companies. Texas offers one of the most transparent and complete set of coverages in the nation, with consistent rates applied evenly to all purchasers, residential and commercial alike. Homeowners in other states have to pay attorneys many times our rates to ensure the same coverages that are built into Texas title policies.  Furthermore, other states may have lower premiums in a few cases, but the premium is a small portion of the cost of closing a real estate transaction.  Texas closing costs are highly competitive when you compare all fees that title companies charge.

Other states with varying degrees of deregulation in their title industries are looking at Texas as a potential model to better protect consumers.  We have built an industry with integrity and transparency, and it is in the best interest of Texas homeowners that we continue to uphold the rules and regulations that make Texas a safe and welcoming environment for consumers and businesses alike.  Not only is our system not broken, it is a shining example of best practices in consumer protections.

Instagram for Real Estate

instagram for real estate

Did you know that Facebook purchased Instagram for $715 million 4 years ago? That’s right, almost a BILLION DOLLARS! At that time Instagram only employed 12 people. Needless to say, a lot has changed in the last 4 years, especially when it comes to Instagram’s popularity as well as overall marketing via social media.

We want you to be equipped in the new wave of marketing, which is why Instagram should be part of your daily routine. You can’t use the excuse of “I don’t have time” with Instagram. It takes less than 1 minute to take a picture, tag it, caption it and post to Instagram.

In our 1-hour CE class “Instagram for Real Estate”, we will show you how to do just that. In addition, we’ll cover hashtags, discuss proper Instagram etiquette and provide reasons along with supporting evidence as to why you should be using Instagram for Real Estate now.

Want more information? Check out these facts below about Instagram.

Why-Brands-Should-Embrace-Instagram-Instead-of-Facebook-INFOGRAPHIC-by-selfstartr