Utilizing a CRM for Your Business

The top two sources of business for Realtors are referrals and past clients.  With that being said, our question to you:  How are you keeping up with your past clients??  Many real estate agents still use Excel spreadsheets or a simple contact manager (like the one in Outlook or Gmail) to manage their database of past clients, because they think of their database is just a list of names and numbers.  What they don’t realize is that they are missing out on the power of automating the processes and developing and maintaining relationships with the people in their database!  Having a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a way to keep up with your past contacts.  It’s an organized way to document activity with each client so you can easily follow up with them and build relationships.

In our class, CRM 101, we discuss the basics of a CRM, the types of information you should gather as well as the value a CRM process can add to your business.  A common question the Independence Title Education team gets is: “Which CRM is the best?”  While we can’t give a solid recommendation on just one because it truly does depend on the type of business you have, we have put together our “Top 8” below from our research.

A CRM is something that takes time.  Unfortunately, time is something a lot of us don’t have.  The good news is that selecting a CRM platform which suits your individual needs is probably the most time-consuming part of the process!

Still need help deciding?  Thanks to EasyAgentPro, we found this nifty little tool to help you decide.  Take this short quiz and it’ll point you in the right direction.  Also, Three Questions to Ask Before Selecting your CRM.

There are so many ways a CRM system can help you manage your database.  The key to getting the most out of a CRM is to be disciplined about using it.  Every time you speak with a contact, enter notes about what you discussed and schedule your next contact.  Every time you generate a lead, assign them to a follow-up plan.  Over time, you’ll find that your relationships are stronger, your pipeline is fuller, and your business is growing and changing.

(A lot of this research was taken from the Facebook group Lab Coat Agents, if you don’t follow, you should!  It’s a great place to get tips, tricks and insight from agents across the globe.)

[DFW] Spring into Education! New Classes Available.

The Independence Title Education Team has been working hard on developing new and improved classes for you!  See a list below of all the brand new classes we are offering this Spring.  Please also check out our menus for all classes offered by the Education Team.  To schedule one of these great classes in your office, contact your local business development representative.  You may also join us at any of our public classes.

  • Power of Personality – Every buyer, seller, and Realtor have a different and distinct personality. In this class, we will walk you through how to determine a person’s personality style. You will discover how to assess different personality types and ultimately learn to communicate with and market to all types of people effectively.
  • Facebook for Real Estate – New to Facebook or struggling with managing it? Join us to learn the difference between a personal profile and business page; learn tips and tricks on managing the two separately or just utilizing your personal profile. We will talk about controlling privacy settings, sharing engaging content, empowering your brand, and truly connecting with current and prospective clients.
  • Facebook: Beyond the Basics – What is your main goal for Facebook? Get leads? Market your listings? Engage with clients? If you answered yes to those questions and already know the basics of Facebook, then this class is for you! In this hour, you will learn how to set up Facebook Ads, understand the importance of a landing page, use Facebook live to increase exposure on certain topics, and learn tips and tricks that will help you engage with your Facebook community.
  • Instagram: Beyond the Basics – Due to Instagram’s visual nature, more and more Realtors are using it to build and promote their real estate brand. In this advanced class, we will discuss recent updates and new tools such as Instagram Live. We will identify a target audience and unveil clever ways to engage with them. We will also go over hashtags and real estate branding tips. Lastly, we will look at ways to connect with your followers and promote your listings via Instagram Ads.
  • Principles of a Smart Transaction – This class highlights the major benchmarks in a real estate transaction. Starting with helpful things to collect at a listing appointment, to reviewing commonly overlooked sections of the contract, breaking down the basics of understanding a title commitment, and concluding with other contract to close tips. This course is just what any agent needs to execute a smart transaction.
  • Real Estate in a Snap – Most Realtors have heard of Snapchat; however, many aren’t aware that it has higher engagement than any social network on the planet! Snapchat’s instant, visual nature allows Realtors to send content to potential clients and customers in a fast, fun, and creative way. In this class, we’ll start with the basics of Snapchat, then teach you how to engage and interact with your followers in an authentic way
  • Translating Transaction Desk – Do you ever feel like implementing new technology into your business is like learning a foreign language? Well, leave it to us to translate Transaction Desk for you. This class will cover all the dierent aspects of Instanet Transaction Desk. You will learn how to use the platform as a one-stop-shop for managing documents and transactions.

[SAN ANTONIO] Spring into Education! New Classes Available.

The Independence Title Education Team has been working hard on developing new and improved classes for you!  See a list below of all the brand new classes we are offering this Spring.  Please also check out our menus for all classes offered by the Education Team.  To schedule one of these great classes in your office, contact your local business development representative.  You may also join us at any of our public classes.

  • Power of Personality – Every buyer, seller, and Realtor have a different and distinct personality. In this class, we will walk you through how to determine a person’s personality style. You will discover how to assess different personality types and ultimately learn to communicate with and market to all types of people effectively.
  • Facebook for Real Estate – New to Facebook or struggling with managing it? Join us to learn the difference between a personal profile and business page; learn tips and tricks on managing the two separately or just utilizing your personal profile. We will talk about controlling privacy settings, sharing engaging content, empowering your brand, and truly connecting with current and prospective clients.
  • Facebook: Beyond the Basics – What is your main goal for Facebook? Get leads? Market your listings? Engage with clients? If you answered yes to those questions and already know the basics of Facebook, then this class is for you! In this hour, you will learn how to set up Facebook Ads, understand the importance of a landing page, use Facebook live to increase exposure on certain topics, and learn tips and tricks that will help you engage with your Facebook community.
  • Instagram: Beyond the Basics – Due to Instagram’s visual nature, more and more Realtors are using it to build and promote their real estate brand. In this advanced class, we will discuss recent updates and new tools such as Instagram Live. We will identify a target audience and unveil clever ways to engage with them. We will also go over hashtags and real estate branding tips. Lastly, we will look at ways to connect with your followers and promote your listings via Instagram Ads.
  • Principles of a Smart Transaction – This class highlights the major benchmarks in a real estate transaction. Starting with helpful things to collect at a listing appointment, to reviewing commonly overlooked sections of the contract, breaking down the basics of understanding a title commitment, and concluding with other contract to close tips. This course is just what any agent needs to execute a smart transaction.
  • Real Estate in a Snap – Most Realtors have heard of Snapchat; however, many aren’t aware that it has higher engagement than any social network on the planet! Snapchat’s instant, visual nature allows Realtors to send content to potential clients and customers in a fast, fun, and creative way. In this class, we’ll start with the basics of Snapchat, then teach you how to engage and interact with your followers in an authentic way.

[AUSTIN] Spring into Education! New Classes Available.

The Independence Title Education Team has been working hard on developing new and improved classes for you!  See a list below of all the brand new classes we are offering this Spring.  Please also check out our menus for all classes offered by the Education Team.  To schedule one of these great classes in your office, contact your local business development representative.  You may also join us at any of our public classes.

  • Power of Personality – Every buyer, seller, and Realtor have a different and distinct personality. In this class, we will walk you through how to determine a person’s personality style. You will discover how to assess different personality types and ultimately learn to communicate with and market to all types of people effectively.
  • Facebook for Real Estate – New to Facebook or struggling with managing it? Join us to learn the difference between a personal profile and business page; learn tips and tricks on managing the two separately or just utilizing your personal profile. We will talk about controlling privacy settings, sharing engaging content, empowering your brand, and truly connecting with current and prospective clients.
  • Facebook: Beyond the Basics – What is your main goal for Facebook? Get leads? Market your listings? Engage with clients? If you answered yes to those questions and already know the basics of Facebook, then this class is for you! In this hour, you will learn how to set up Facebook Ads, understand the importance of a landing page, use Facebook live to increase exposure on certain topics, and learn tips and tricks that will help you engage with your Facebook community.
  • Instagram: Beyond the Basics – Due to Instagram’s visual nature, more and more Realtors are using it to build and promote their real estate brand. In this advanced class, we will discuss recent updates and new tools such as Instagram Live. We will identify a target audience and unveil clever ways to engage with them. We will also go over hashtags and real estate branding tips. Lastly, we will look at ways to connect with your followers and promote your listings via Instagram Ads.
  • ITC University – ITC University is designed to provide essential knowledge to a brand new assistant, closing coordinator, or newly licensed agent. The group will meet on Wednesdays from 10-3 for 4 weeks. We will define basic real estate terminology and lingo, learn those perplexing acronyms everyone uses, and study commonly used TAR forms. We will touch on all the major software platforms including, Zipform Plus, DocuSign, Matrix, Realist, and Supra. We will also explain and examine the Title Commitment, Closing forms, and a Contract to Close Checklist. Our University will have you or your team proficient by the end of the 4-week course.
  • Principles of a Smart Transaction – This class highlights the major benchmarks in a real estate transaction. Starting with helpful things to collect at a listing appointment, to reviewing commonly overlooked sections of the contract, breaking down the basics of understanding a title commitment, and concluding with other contract to close tips. This course is just what any agent needs to execute a smart transaction.
  • Real Estate in a Snap – Most Realtors have heard of Snapchat; however, many aren’t aware that it has higher engagement than any social network on the planet! Snapchat’s instant, visual nature allows Realtors to send content to potential clients and customers in a fast, fun, and creative way. In this class, we’ll start with the basics of Snapchat, then teach you how to engage and interact with your followers in an authentic way
  • Time-Saving Tips for Realtors Do you wish your days could be more productive? Do you feel overwhelmed when trying to complete daily tasks? In this class, we will look at a day in the life of a Realtor and give you some “life hacks for real estate”. You will also learn ways to make your business more productive, more effi’cient, and hopefully more fun!
  • Translating Transaction Desk – Do you ever feel like implementing new technology into your business is like learning a foreign language? Well, leave it to us to translate Transaction Desk for you. This class will cover all the dierent aspects of Instanet Transaction Desk. You will learn how to use the platform as a one-stop-shop for managing documents and transactions.
  • Matrix on the Go with goMLS – The goMLS Austin mobile application not only lets you search the MLS and access showing instructions on the go, it allows ABOR members and their customers to work together and remotely share information throughout the home buying and selling process. In this class, you will learn different features of the app such as automatic agent branding, accessing MLS data, and sharing information on listings with clients via your cell phone!

Top 10 Google Chrome Extensions

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One of our favorite groups on Facebook is Tech Support for Real Estate.  This group allows you to post technical questions concerning the real estate industry letting others chime in on a solution or with their opinion.  Lately, a common question has been “What Chrome extensions can you not live without?”

ConfusedWhat is a Chrome extension you may ask?
Extensions are small software programs that
can modify and enhance the functionality
of the Chrome Browser and Gmail.

If you are a Chrome (& Gmail) user and haven’t surfed around on the Chrome Web Store, do it! Although… there are so many options, it can be a little overwhelming. Because of that, the Independence Title Education Team has decided to put together a list of our own Chrome extensions that we think you can’t live without.  Most of them have to do with real estate, others are just because it makes life easier.  Between open houses, following up with your client database and focusing on your marketing efforts (not to mention your personal life), it’s no surprise that your time is stretched thin.  Why not utilize a few of these?

  1.  DocuSign
    We love showing our Realtors this one!  No more saving the PDF to your computer, going to DocuSign and uploading the document.  You can send documents for signature directly from Gmail, Google Drive, and the Chrome browser.  (Download Here)
  2. Buffer
    No more copy/paste to social media!  Click the Buffer button on any website to quickly tweet or add as a Facebook or LinkedIn update. You can even schedule your future tweets and Facebook updates easier than ever before with Buffer. With each update posted, it will also give you analytics about clicks, retweets, mentions, shares, likes and more.  (Download Here)
  3. Wunderlist
    Love to-do lists or maybe you have sticky notes all over your desk? Whether you’re sharing a grocery list with a loved one, working on a project, or planning a vacation, Wunderlist makes it easy to share your lists and collaborate with everyone in your life. Wunderlist instantly syncs between your phone, tablet and computer, so you can access your lists from anywhere.  (Download Here)
  4. Grammarly
    Grammarly makes sure everything you type is easy to read, effective, and mistake-free. Adding Grammarly to Chrome means that your spelling and grammar will be vetted on Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and nearly everywhere else you write on the web.  (Download Here)
  5. Folio
    Folio helps busy real estate agents organize and manage their transactions right from their email inbox. When you connect Folio to your email inbox, Folio analyzes your inbox for keywords and phrases that identify that an email thread is about a transaction. It then automatically categorizes the emails, files, and contacts related to each transaction.  (Download Here)
  6. Wisestamp
    Want your latest tweet or maybe your latest post to show on your email signature “live?”  WiseStamp enables you to share your social profiles and promote information you care about in every email you send.  (Download Here)
  7. MixMax
    Ever wanted to track an email to see if it gets opened?  Or maybe hit “snooze” on an email so you don’t forget to respond later?  This extension is a must in the real estate business!  It allows you to reach out more effectively to prospects, clients, and customers with these essential features:  track opens, clicks, and downloads, schedule meetings and plan events, write faster with templates, snooze and set reminders, send later, embed polls and surveys and much more!  (Download Here)
  8. Boomerang
    Maybe you don’t want all the bells and whistles of MixMax and just want to be able to schedule emails to send at a later time?  Boomerang allows you to schedule messages to be sent or returned at a later date. Write a message now, send it whenever, even if you’re not online. Track messages to make sure you hear back, and schedule reminders right inside Gmail.  (Download Here)
  9. Honey
    Alright, so this one isn’t exactly real estate related but we can’t help but share.  Have you ever shopped online and know you have a coupon somewhere but can’t find it?  Click on the Honey button during checkout and Honey will automatically apply known coupon codes to your shopping cart!  It’s basically free money!  (Download Here)
  10. Awesome Screenshot
    Want to send a screenshot but all of what you want to send isn’t shown on the screen?  Or maybe you want to send a screenshot but want to blur out certain things or add text or shapes?  Awesome Screenshot allows you to capture all or part of any web page, add annotations, comments, blur sensitive info, and share with one-click uploads.  (Download Here)

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.

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

New Additions to Our Education Team!

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School will soon be out for summer, but Independence Title’s classes are still in session!  We are continuing to grow our education resources and have added two new members to our team,  Sandy Lambright and Kaema Roberson, who bring a wealth of experience to support our clients and staff.


SandyLambright_SQ-0a4d20a7f9d53edf269f6d0f544a22c9Sandy Lambright
has over 16 years of experience in the residential real estate industry along with a degree in information technology.  She has used this expertise assisting some of Austin’s top agents in leveraging real estate technology platforms to grow their business, and more recently traveling the world selling luxury homes.  Originally from East Texas, she’s an experienced blogger with a mastery of social media, and will help keep our team at Independence Title and our clients on the cutting edge.

 


KaemaRoberson_SQ-ce9efd2d4bda5d6fbe41d7f9331c41d7Kaema Roberson
is an experienced real estate broker from Lubbock, where she led a successful team of Realtors for 10 years. She moved to Austin in 2010 and started on the ground floor in the title business, earning a promotion to escrow officer. Her background as a closer is invaluable to our education team, and enables her to train our staff and educate our clients on the nuts and bolts of how transactions come together.

Both Sandy and Kaema are dedicated instructors who enjoy helping people have “lightbulb moments.”  Independence Title’s Vice President of Education, Marjorie Tinnell, says they are a good match of skills and personality for our vibrant team.

“Our goal at Independence has always been to bring the best resources possible to our clients, and our very best resource is our people.  We are thrilled to have Sandy and Kaema join our team, and use their experience to help our clients find meaningful business solutions,” said Tinnell.

For more information on Independence Title’s education team and classes, visit our Education Page. If you’re interested in finding more customized learning opportunities, talk to your Independence Title Business Development Representative.

How can TRID Regulations affect your commissions?

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It is important to remember that the new closing disclosure forms, created by the CFPB, are federal loan forms and these promulgated forms are used in all 50 states.  This allows for consistency when consumers are buying or selling real estate.  Since each state has their own set of regulations, regarding real estate, they may have their own disclosures that will need to be executed at closing in addition to the federal forms.  In Texas, the Texas Department of Insurance created the Texas Disclosure (Form T-64) to adhere to Texas regulations.

The Texas Disclosure:

  • Explains and breaks out simultaneous title policy premium rates.
  • Itemizes title company fees and recording fees if combined on CD.
  • Specifies all agents receiving a portion of the commission.
  • Allows the consumer/seller to authorize the title company to fund and disburse.

Per the Texas Department of Insurance, anyone that receives funds from a real estate transaction must be disclosed at closing.  The Texas Disclosure does allow all the payees on the Commission Disbursement Authorization (DA) to be listed on the disclosure. This section of the document is on the page that is signed by the consumer and seller at closing, unlike page 2 of the 2010 HUD. If the title company does not have an agent’s DA prior to the consumer or seller executing this document, one check will be cut at funding directly to their broker. This will have no affect the other agent in the transaction as long as their DA is received in a timely manner.

How are you going to see your figures for closing?

TridTalk11

As we near the end of 2015 I think we should focus on one detail of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulations, which is the American Land Title Association (ALTA) Settlement Statement. For most residential transactions the ALTA Settlement Statement is a Realtor’s new best friend. This form is quickly becoming the golden ticket among title companies as a solution for navigating new privacy rules that limit which closing documents can be shared from a real estate transaction.

New lending practices mandated by the CFPB, effective Oct. 3rd, in conjunction with existing privacy laws, prevent title companies from sharing the Borrower’s Closing Disclosure with the seller or with Realtors. The Closing Disclosure, or “CD,” combines the HUD-1 and Truth in Lending form and is prepared in most cases by the lender. There are promulgated authorizations from TREC (last paragraph of the new Third Party Financing Addendum) and TAR (“Authorization to Furnish TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosures”), but it is unknown if lenders’ compliance departments will accept these authorizations. The Closing Disclosure contains non-public information like the term of the loan, interest rate, payment amount, and so forth.

The ALTA Settlement Statement shows all fees from the contract and the Closing Disclosure It also allows Realtors to confirm that all provisions of the contract have been honored and all agreements between parties are satisfied, without specific authorizations for the lender to release the Borrower’s CD. The ALTA form does not contain non-public information, and can be shared with all parties. Most importantly, Realtors requesting a preliminary closing statement will likely be receiving the fees on the ALTA Settlement Statement.

If your title company is unaware of this solution, feel free to refer them to the “ALTA Combined Settlement Statement”.

For more information, visit the Independence Title Blog, and our Austin Education page.

Should you have coffee with your lender?

TridTalk11

CFPB & TRID regulations are now upon us! As of October 3rd any loan applications submitted will fall under TRID (TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures) regulations. If you have a lender that you refer business to Independence Title Co encourages you to have coffee or lunch with them to find out how your lender will be conducting business with the new rules & regulations.

Over the last 10 months we have spoken with numerous loan officers, processors, attorneys, and compliance departments and each lender may interpret TRID regulations differently from one another. Here is a list of questions to get the conversation started with your favorite lender.
Q: Who prepares your Closing Disclosure?
ITC Perspective:
• Most lenders are taking on this responsibility
• They are responsible for the accuracy of the Closing Disclosure
• They are also responsible for adhering to the strict timeline for delivery
Q: How will you deliver the Closing Disclosure to the consumer?
ITC Perspective:
Delivery method can impact closing date
• USPS mail may require up to 7 days
• Overnight delivery may require up to 4 days
• Hand delivery or electronic delivery may require 3 days
Q: Do you require a signature on the Closing Disclosure to start the 3-day review period?
ITC Perspective:
• It is not in the regulations that the consumer must sign the Closing Disclosure
• Lenders may or may not want a signed copy returned
Q: Can I get a copy of the Closing Disclosure from the lender?
ITC Perspective:
• The regulations state that the Closing Disclosure to the consumer
• The Texas Association of Realtors created an Authorization Form for consumers to give authorization for their Realtor to receive a copy of the Closing Disclosure
• Some lenders may not accept this form but they might have a similar form to allow the Realtor to receive copies of the disclosures
Q: What is your contract to close turn around time?
ITC Perspective:
• Most lending professionals agree that a 45 day turn around time is realistic
• By early 2016 we might see a 30 day contract to close timeline
Q: Tell me about your pre-qualification/pre-approval process?
ITC Perspective:
• Prior to the CFPB there was a regulation in regards to pre-qualification/pre-approval process in existence but it was mostly overlooked
• The rule stated that a lender cannot require upfront documentation prior to a bone-a-fide loan application
• With CFPB audits right around the corner some lenders may be changing their pre-approval process
• Consumers may voluntarily provide upfront documentation for pre-approval
• See our Consumer’s Guide Brochure

For more information on CFPB check out our related blog post

Our Online Calculators ready for the New Regulations

No more late night negotiations!

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The TREC One to Four Family Contract and other TREC contract forms have been revised and are available on the TREC website. While many of the changes are insignificant, such as changing the word facsimile to fax, there are some important changes worth noting

Negotiating during the option period of the One to Four Family Contract can be a stressful time for both REALTORS and principals. Adding to this stress is the fact that the last day of the option period expires at midnight. This resulted in some late-night negotiations with amendments being executed and emailed past what most would consider regular working hours. Many REALTORS will be excited to see that in paragraph 23 of the contract the option period will now expire at 5:00 pm on the last day.

Another significant change to the One to Four Family Contract is the revision of the financing terms found on page 1. In the previous edition of the contract, paragraph 4 outlined what type of financing the borrower would obtain for the purchase with more specific information found in the Third Party Financing Addendum. Now, there will be a simple checkbox on page 1 to indicate what type of Financing Addendum will be attached.

In order for the numbering of the paragraphs to remain the same the Broker/Lawyer Committee of TREC decided to replace paragraph 4 with licensee disclosure. This gives REALTORS the opportunity to disclose any relationship they may have with the principals involved in the transaction.

For those REALTORS that have transactions where the property adjoins a fluctuating body of water, they will be glad to see the addition of paragraph 6(E)10 on page 4. For the past several months TREC has advised REALTORS to write this language in special provisions of the One to Four Family Contract and now it is a part of the promulgated form.

These are just a few of the changes that were approved by the state on November 2nd. REALTORS may start using the new forms immediately and they should be available in ZipForms soon. The mandatory use date for all of the new forms is January 1st, 2016.

To see all of the changes to the forms you may read the materials from the TREC meeting held on November 2nd. The form changes start on page 79 of this document. For your convenience here are links to red-lined versions of the One to Four Family Contract and the Third Party Financing Addendum.

ABoR.com | Extreme Makeover

You may have noticed the Austin Board of REALTORS website got a makeover recently.

Austin Board of Realtor's Website

The changes offer a more intuitive experience while surfing the site, but change is always a little difficult so they’ve made it easy to quickly access some of the most important areas of the site. Notice this?
Abor_site_tips

When you click View Site Tips, you get (you guessed it) site tips!

2_Home_Page

There is one tip you can’t see on this screen, and that’s what happens when someone searches using the Find a Member button.

FindMember

You’ll still be able to search with partial information…

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and see a list of agent names and phone numbers.

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However, to see more information, like an email address, click Details. You’ll then be redirected to the Realtor.com profile for that agent.

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So if you haven’t logged in to claim your free profile on Realtor.com, or haven’t logged into the site in a while, now is the time! Be sure your contact information is up to date, and if you haven’t already, include a cover and profile image as well.

| Log-in to Realtor.com as an agent |

Realtor.com has recently updated its website as well, it seems much more user-friendly with several easy ways to include recommendations and reviews from past clients and other industry professionals.

Lastly, if you can’t locate something on the new ABoR site, remember to use that search bar at the top!

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Hopefully these tips will help you make an easier transition to using the new site. Remember, go set up your Realtor.com profile today!

New Regulations Are Around The Corner

Are you unsure how to best prepare your clients for closing in light of the new rules set out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau(CFPB)? We’ve got you covered!

Below are seven tips to help you and your client prepare for the changes effective October 3rd, 2015.

  1. Encourage your buyer to remit financial documents to the lender voluntarily for pre-approval
  2. When considering an offer on a listing that includes a pre-approval letter, confirm the following with the lender:
    1. pre-approval was based on more than a credit score
    2. proper verification documents were obtained
  3. Set realistic expectations with your clients regarding the timeline to close and emphasize items now required earlier in the closing process such as the buyer’s choice for the home warranty company
  4. When writing a contract or considering multiple offers, confirm a realistic closing time-frame with the lender.
  5. Become familiar with the new closing documents; Independence Title will be utilizing the following documents for TRID transactions:
    1. Borrower’s Closing Disclosure
    2. Seller’s Closing Disclosure
    3. ALTA Settlement Statement
    4. Texas Disclosure
  6. To ensure proper commission disbursements due to the new Texas Disclosure, remit your disbursement authorization form to the title company well in advance of closing
  7. Mark your calendar to keep track of the closing disclosure timelines for each transaction

 You’re not alone in preparing for the new regulations, we’re ready at Independence Title! 

Below are seven ways we’ve worked to ensure continued smooth closings for your clients.  We have:

  1. the largest education & training department in our industry in Central Texas
  2. taught over one thousand classes on the new regulations and implementation to the REALTOR and lender community
  3. updated our online calculators to comply with CFPB and TRID regulations and provide accurate estimates 
  4. completed software updates to our closing systems that integrate with lender portals allowing for back and forth communication of fees, documents and instructions
  5. trained all Escrow staff to prepare and are ready for your next transaction
  6. proudly become the first title company to implement a Best Practice Policy Guide to comply with CFPB requirements
  7. continued to provide resources for the real estate and lending community to communicate with clients such as A Consumer’s Guide to Buying or Selling After October, 3, 2015 and Why You Need Title Insurance

 

Keep Calm Independence TItle

Our Online Calculators are Ready for the New Regulations

As many of you now know the implementation date for the new TILA RESPA Integrated Disclosures (TRID) regulations set out by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is October 3rd. Most residential transactions with a loan applications dated on or after October 3rd, 2015 will be affected by these new regulations. This summer we released a brochure, The Consumer’s Guide to Buying or Selling After October 3rd, to aid in your conversations with clients.

If your clients have bought or sold a home in the past, the new forms will look different so even seasoned buyers and sellers may have questions. One change on the forms is how title insurance is disclosed; the loan policy will be disclosed as if it’s the only policy being purchased (called single issue) and the owner’s title policy is marked as an optional purchase on most literature from the CFPB. We’ve prepared a brochure for your clients, Why You Need Title Insurance to help them understand what they’re paying for.

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We pride ourselves on providing some of the best online tools in the real estate community, and our calculators are no exception. If you need to know the title insurance premium; how much a seller may net from the sale of property; how much a list price needs to be in order to net a certain amount; or the closing costs and estimated payments on a particular loan, you can plug in some numbers and receive an instant estimate. To keep these figures accurate and assist with the process of gathering fees for the new disclosures we’ve been working hard with developers to update the calculators. Below are the updates you’ll find available:

Our Premium Calculator calculates the promulgated rate set by the Texas Department of Insurance of the Owner’s Title Policy, Lender’s Policy and endorsements. The update now shows the cost difference between a Loan Policy being issued alone (single issue) and  an Owners Title Policy and Loan Title Policy being issued at the same time in one fee (called simultaneous issue).

Premium Calculators: Austin | DFW | Houston | San Antonio

The Loan Estimate Worksheet is completely revamped for the new CFPB Loan Disclosure. This calculator provides lenders with all the fees needed to complete their loan estimate including:

  • title insurance premiums
  • recording fees
  • courier fees
  • escrow/closing fees
  • tax certificate fees

The Loan Estimate Worksheet prints to a PDF revealing exactly where the fees need to appear on the loan estimate.

Loan Estimate Worksheets: Austin | DFW | Houston | San Antonio

In addition to updating our calculators, preparing educational literature on these changes, and updating our software systems we have created and taught over one thousand classes to the real estate community. Our goal is to be a resource to the real estate community during this transition, if you haven’t attended one of our classes contact a Business Development Representative today.

Do You have Survey-a-phobia?

Anyone working in this industry for a few years has a scary survey story or two to tell. I heard one recently from a local REALTOR; she had what you might call a “challenging client,” who needed a good deal.  They finally found a house and although the contract negotiations were very tough, the buyer’s agent prevailed! During the contract negotiations she assumed the existing survey was acceptable.  Unfortunately during negotiations regarding the inspection, the title company had to reject the survey. Instead of paying for a new survey, those buyer’s have opted out. 

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We all see surveys on almost every transaction we close, but do you know what all the little marks and symbols mean?  Do you have survey-a-phobia?

They didn’t teach us to read a survey in real estate school.  Most of us learn it as we go, or unfortunately generally when a survey problem arises.

Most lenders require a land survey before lending money on any type of real estate transaction. A survey provides an overhead view of the property and reflects all the structures built on the property, any and all easements, building setback line requirements, and boundary/property lines.  A survey can be used in many situations outside of buying and selling a home. Any time you plan to dig on your property it’s important to know where the underground easements are! If you’re building a fence, the survey will tell you the exact locations of your boundary lines. Having a survey can often end a dispute with a neighbor about the property line.

Wouldn’t it be nice, as a REALTOR, to know the ins and outs of a survey, and have the confidence to tell your clients their survey contains the key items needed for closing approval? We have good news; You can! We now offer a new MCE approved class called “Surveys at a Glance.”  In the class you’ll learn the different types of surveys and how they function.  You’ll also receive a survey checklist and the ability to recognize key items within the survey. Contact a Business Development Representative today to find out about our next class or schedule one for your office.

Have you Utilized YouTube?

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1.8 Million Words

That’s the value of one minute of video, according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research.

Have you incorporated video in your marketing efforts yet? If you haven’t, what stands in your way?

Of course, YouTube is likely the first website that comes to mind when we hear “viral videos.” Many people likely think of music videos, funny animal videos or the discovery of Justin Bieber; YouTube is much more than that, though.

Do you know YouTube has become the second largest search engine in the world behind Google? Do you also know just how big a boost your search engine optimization gets from having videos on YouTube? If you’re ready to learn more or are already convinced and ready to market your brand on YouTube, contact a Business Development Representative to book our new class, Utilizing YouTube, and discover the exciting features of a YouTube Channel and how to boost your business!