Posts belonging to Category Communications



Legal Update: Emails Can Get You Into Trouble

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

It is a crime to tape record a conversation in Florida without the permission of the other person involved. It is not a crime to share an email that is sent with no expectation of privacy. But when the contents of the email may constitute a crime, that communication may put you in jail and get a million dollar judgment against you. 

This is the case with antitrust. Some people, even after decades of education and reformed practices in real estate, think there is a minimum commission for REALTORS® to charge. Some think that there is a “standard” split. Some think that the Board of REALTORS® or the MLS corporation suggests commission amounts or commission splits. Some think it is okay to call for a boycott of other real estate professionals. None of that is true. Any REALTOR® who promotes that picture is facing civil and criminal penalties. 

If you do not like the offer of compensation related to a listing, do not work it. Spend your efforts on tasks that will award you better, if that is your choice. 

But it is illegal for you to call for a boycott of that brokerage that offers you less than that which you somehow think is “standard.” There is no standard. 

There was a time when lawyers had a minimum fee schedule, for certain tasks. It was generally put out by the local Bar associations. That was illegal price fixing and stopped. 

Now there is news that some currency traders conspired to set the value of certain currency or matters related to that. If proven true and that it violated the antitrust laws, those individuals may be jailed and fined, and their companies may be fined and subject to a large judgment, which is automatically tripled. 

And when a REALTOR® emails or speaks antitrust comments, he or she puts at risk every other REALTOR®. The actions of one REALTOR®, when viewed as in concert with other REALTORS®, may get all of them sued, and the Board put in harm’s way. 

It is undisputed that the Tallahassee Board of REALTORS®, CATRS, Florida REALTORS® and NAR are intolerant of any hint at price fixing, split fixing, boycotting, or other conduct that might be anti-competitive and may be illegal under antitrust laws. 

So, repeat after me:

  • There is no standard commission.
  • There is no minimum commission.
  • There is no standard split of commission.
  • There is no boycotting because of compensation issues.
  • And every REALTOR® is free to work or not work on any listing, for the compensation offered. 

If you have any questions, visit NAR’s website for more details.

Joe R. Boyd
TBR Legal Counsel
Board Certified Real Estate Attorney
Boyd & DuRant, P.L.

Public Relations

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

2015 PR Budget: How did we spend your money?

One of the main goals of the Communications Committee is to inform the public of the value we REALTORS® bring to the transactions that we are entrusted with and to inform the public of the many ways that we contribute to the local community (both on and off the job).

In order to do that, we have chosen a variety of messages that will air in a variety of venues and media:

  • We have commercials running in the 56 FSU baseball games. We are also featured as a sponsor with messages like “FSU Baseball is brought you in part by…The Tallahassee Board of REALTORS®. Find out what a REALTOR® can do for you at TBRnet.org” and “Today’s Starting Line-Ups are brought to you by the Tallahassee Board of REALTORS®. Starting the process of buying or selling a home? Find out what a REALTOR® can do for you at TBRnet.org.”
  • We are also sponsors of FAMU Football, with two commercials in each game.
  • WTXL is hosting the Jimbo Fisher Call In Show and we are fortunate enough to be featured as a sponsor of this popular program, which runs on Wednesdays from 7 – 8 p.m.
  • WTXL also features TBR as a “Dedicated to You” sponsor that involves a schedule of public service announcements, a web presence, and production of video spots.
  • Century Link Prism Media is another avenue that we are using to get our message out to the public. One of their most popular areas of programming is Nascar. Our commercials will run in many different time periods and programs.
  • We have also signed an agreement with WFSU public radio for a combination of morning drive time (Morning Edition and All Things Considered) messages combined with messages airing on WFSU TV in popular shows such as Antiques Roadshow and/or NewsHour, Nova, Nature, Masterpiece Classic.
  • Lastly, the local station FOX49 has an “In the News” package, where our ads will appear during their weekday morning news, daily News at Ten, and FOX News Sunday.

With this schedule of programming we are able to offer our message to the majority of the public with enough frequency that they will actually hear what we have to say. There is something for everyone—sports fans, university students, faculty and alumni, Nascar enthusiasts, news and information, and entertaining programming. As REALTORS® we serve the whole community.   We feel that with this schedule of sponsorships, public service announcements, and commercial messages we are making the most of the budget to reach the entire community with your message.   

Georgia Turner
2014 Communications Committee Chairman
Coldwell Banker Hartung & Noblin

NAR Board OKs Mandatory Core Association Standards

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Editor’s Note: This is information taken from NAR Communications. The good news for the Tallahassee Board of REALTORS® is we meet or exceed all the Core Standards.

In a sweeping move to improve the professionalism of associations of REALTORS® across the country and the level of service they provide to members, the NAR Board of Directors passed a set of mandatory standards that touch on every aspect of association operations.

“This is an issue of professionalism in our industry,” said Andrea Bushnell, chair of the Organizational Alignment Presidential Advisory Group (PAG), which drafted the standards. “We want to ensure unity within—and the long-term viability of— the 100-year-old REALTOR® organization. All three levels of the organization must thrive together as a true and strong association, rather than acting as group of independent but federated organizations.”

Specifically, the country’s approximately 1,400 state, local, and territorial associations have to meet standards in six areas: 1) Code of Ethics education and enforcement; 2) advocacy; 3) consumer outreach; 4) organizational unification; 5) technology; and 6) financial solvency. Among other things, under the new standards, associations must:

  • Provide Code of Ethics training
  • Participate in Calls for Action
  • Make an effort to collect fair-share contributions to the REALTORS® Political Action Committee, or write a check to cover the fair share
  • Promote the value proposition of using a REALTOR®
  • Maintain a strategic or business plan
  • Maintain a website with links to other levels of the association
  • Meet minimum financial performance

Read more:

President’s Message, April 2014

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

We are having a busy spring at TBR! 

Great American REALTOR® Day. Our CEO, Steven Louchheim; DVP, Debbie Kirkland; president-elect, Mariela Santurri; past-president, Bert Bevis; other TBR members, including Joy Woodruff; and I attended the Florida REALTORS® Meet & Greet with Governor Scott at the Governor’s Mansion. Governor Scott reinforced his support of Florida REALTORS®’ continued efforts to improve the state’s economy. He also mentioned how much he valued the Florida REALTORS®’ friendship and John Sebree keeping him informed of pertinent public policy issues. 

Each year, Great American REALTOR® Day provides an opportunity for delegation of TBR members to visit the Capital to talk to our legislators about REALTOR® Party issues. This year, we had meetings scheduled with Senator Bill Montford and representatives Alan Williams and Michele Rehwinkle Vasilinda.

As most of you know, we are advocates for our clients’ private property rights, as well as protecting the means of making a living for our REALTORS® and business partners. Some of the key issues this year include:

1. Taxes on commercial leases. This tax on Florida businesses is a deterrent to those looking to relocate to our state.

2. The Sadowski Fund. We have been paying into this fund with every closed transaction, specifically to help first-time homebuyers and other real estate buyers, and this fund has been raided by the State of Florida as a general revenue source. We are trying to either discontinue this fee or have it be used for its intended purpose. [Note: As of this writing, the Florida Senate has approved full funding for the Sadowski fund ($275 million). We are now waiting for the House to act on this issue.]

3. Clean water. We are trying to enforce laws to protect our waterways and ensure all communities have clean water. 

Springtime Tallahassee. TBR had our first professionally decorated float in the Springtime Tallahassee parade! While the weather started out raining (and threatening more bad weather), by the time the parade kicked off and started down the route, the skies opened up and the sun came shining through! Thanks again to the hard-working Communications Committee for bringing it all together. 

Habitat for Humanity. Our TBR/FSU Habitat Build is coming along nicely; we have had groups of 15 to 20 REALTORS® and affiliate business partners each Build Day. We’re looking forward to the dedication ceremony—stay tuned to eBoard Briefs for the announcement, and make plans to join us in presenting this beautiful new home to a happy new homeowner. 

#CTF2014. Our annual CATRS Tech Forum will be coming up May 8. You do not want to miss this opportunity—the event sold out last year! In addition to the latest tech tips and news, we’ll have over10 exhibitors—from cell phones and electronics, to Paragon MLS and REALTORS® Property Resource—and they are sure to have some fantastic door prizes for attendees. 

Professional Development. If you don’t already have your REP pass, we have so many great classes coming up that you may want to get it! April classes include one on home inspections, and an informative look at what it takes to make the leap from salesperson to broker. 

Another REP class is of interest to appraisers—the Florida Appraisers State Law Update on April 18. And we’re offering two other courses required for appraisers, with great tuition rates for TBR members: the USPAP National Update course on April 17 and Appraiser Supervisor/Trainee class on April 18. 

Interested in designation courses? At Home with Diversity on May 1 provides seven hours continuing education credit, and can be credited towards several real estate designations: ABR, CIPS, CRS, PMN, AHWD, RSPS. And after taking the class, participants can apply to NAR to receive the AHWD certification. 

Jeffrey D. Doxsee, Sr.
2014 TBR President
Capital Property Consultants

President’s Message, March 2014

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

First of all, let me thank all of you who sponsored and/or attended our Annual TBR Awards & Officer Induction Ceremony at the Turnbull Center on February 27. Your support of our 2013 leadership and accomplishments, and of our 2014 goals—of your Association—is phenomenal. The enthusiasm, camaraderie, typical fun and friendly nature of our local REALTORS® never ceases to amaze me! Judging from the 2013production awards, I think we all can agree that after six long years, the real estate market is finally back!

Habitat. As you know, we are using all of TBR’s resources to promote charity and community events that our local REALTORS® are involved in. Our January spotlighted charity was Habitat for Humanity; chairman Sarah Kosturko and the Community Affairs Committee were able to raise all of the money for a half Habitat Build. We are in the process of building this home for a deserving family in Callen Woods, and can use YOUR help actually working to build this home! Remaining build days are March 14, March 28, and April 4. Register online to help, or call Sarah at 850-445-8760 for availability of open days for you to swing a hammer (make sure you have your safety goggles on!).

RPAC. Please don’t forget that your business’s profitability and viability is dependent on our REALTOR® Party advocating on our behalf. We really need everyone to pull their weight and at least donate $15—your “fair share”—to RPAC. Obviously we hope everyone participates more, with a $99 annual donation or maybe even as a Major Investor, but at least donate the minimum to have your participation count. Great American REALTOR® Day is coming up on March 19—let’s all go downtown to the Capitol and explain our REALTOR® Party issues to our legislators. We will be having our REALTOR® Block Party that evening on Adams Street; hope to see you there.

Springtime Tallahassee Parade. We are participating in the Springtime Tallahassee Parade again this year, although this year we are going to have a real, professional float! Please come out and support YOUR Association on Saturday, March 29 on North Monroe Street, as “REALTORS® Rally N Tally”! Thank you for all you do!

Jeffrey D. Doxsee, Sr.
2014 TBR President
Capital Property Consultants

Congrats to Our Contest Winner

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Congratulations to the winner of our November Tallahassee REALTOR® eZine contest, Barbara Fletcher (Fletcher & Company Realty). Barbara won a $50 Trader Joe’s gift card for submitting the correct answer: number of closed sales in 2011 (2,178) and 2012 (2,396). First, she found out about the contest by reading the November eZine articles, and then she found the answer by logging in to the TBR Member Login, and scrolling to “TBR Information > Market Statistics compiled by Florida REALTORS®.” Be sure to read our eZine articles so you don’t miss your chance to win—you never know when one will appear!

President’s Message, August 2013

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Annual convention. This week, TBR members will be joining REALTORS® from across Florida at Florida REALTORS®’ annual convention and trade show. Your Board leadership and several TBR staff members will attend and report back on various state committee meetings, updates, and education sessions with the latest news on our state association and industry.

RPAC. TBR has a participation goal of 29% percent of members contributing at the “fair share” amount of at least $15 or more. We’re just 43 members shy of the goal. A $15 contribution (the cost of lunch!) is a valuable investment in—and commitment to—your profession.

Habitat. We’re off to a great start toward our Habitat goal—to build a family’s home in Spring 2014. Pledge forms are available online and at the TBR office; consider donating a portion from each closing or a one-time donation. Affiliate members can pledge as well based on quotes, jobs, etc. Stay tuned for a family “fun”-draiser this November 9th and a plant sale currently in the planning stages.

Back to school. In the “back to school” rush this month, don’t neglect your own professional development. August is NAR Designation Month, and you can register at the “early bird” rates for two CRS referral classes we’re hosting at TBR in September. If your license renews in September, we have CE classes at TBR and online CE, for your convenience. And get up to speed on technology that you can use in your business with introductory and intermediate classes in Excel and Twitter.

Marketing opportunity for TBR members. Our latest member benefit is the exclusive opportunity to market your listings on a new weekly television program offered by TBR, Impact Visual Media, and WCTV: the Real Estate Weekend Showcase.

CRMC Open House. Capital Regional Medical Center is hosting a special Open House for REALTORS® on August 20th, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. They’ll give you an overview of services and details of their “New Mover’s” marketing campaign.

Frank A. McClean
2013 TBR President
Community Property Management, Inc.

Public Relations Campaign: Your TBR Dues at Work

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

There probably is not a charity, nor non-profit, in Tallahassee that doesn’t receive support from a Tallahassee REALTOR®. We tend to be generous with our time, as well as our monetary support. But in addition to individual efforts to give and even to promote ourselves, did you know that TBR also supports and promotes REALTORS® as professionals through its annual public relations campaign?

The Communications Committee at its March meeting approved the media buy for 2013 to give us more exposure to the public, to promote REALTORS® and Affiliates as the experts in our fields. Our media schedule for this year includes the following:

  1. Clear Channel to support FSU baseball from February through June on their radio schedule;
  2. Fox 49 will run TBR ads during the morning news, Daily Buzz, and Fox 49 News at Ten in August and September—to  include hurricane season and the  beginning of the school year to ensure greater viewer exposure;
  3. NPR WFSU radio during drive-time hours in May and June;
  4. Comcast Spotlight TBR-branded commercials, which will air in April, May, and June, targeting programs with higher viewer ratings;
  5. WTXL 27 “first week of the month” commercial package in August and September; and
  6. Cumulus Radio will feature ads during FAMU’s seven football games.

Our public relations campaign is designed to encourage the public to use professional REALTORS® when buying, selling or leasing real property. This is just another way that YOUR Board of REALTORS® is using your dues to promote you!

Ann Cleare
Capital Property Consultants

But Is It Spam?

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Adding to the clutter in your Inbox:

  • Several emails from TBR REALTORS® about new listings and/or open houses
  • An email from a member office welcoming a new agent
  • Emails from TBR announcing a socials/events/classes
  • An email from TBR informing you about a county commission meeting
  • And TBR’s weekly eBoard Briefs newsletter.

Whew! That’s a lot of email in the course of one week, generated from your TBR membership. But is it spam?

If you’re reading this (and you’re a TBR member), you’re a REALTOR® or an Affiliate. You’ve likely become a member for at least one or maybe a variety of reasons—which are benefits exclusive to TBR members:

(1) Networking;

(2) Marketing;

(3) MLS;

(4) Education;

(5) Advocacy

…etc.

As a TBR member, you’ve paid yearly dues for these membership benefits. You’ve paid for access to other members—networking opportunities and contact lists—that the public cannot receive. You’ve paid for access to TBR’s MLS (if you’re a REALTOR® member), and for education and advocacy—and to be kept informed about any changes or updates to any of these services as they happen.    

My point? Each of the emails mentioned in the first paragraph falls under the “membership benefits” categories listed in the second:

  • Several emails from TBR REALTORS® about new listings and/or open houses = Networking. Marketing. MLS.
  • An email from a member office welcoming a new agent = Networking. Marketing.
  • Emails from TBR announcing socials/events/classes = Networking. Education.
  • An email from TBR informing you about a county commission meeting = Advocacy.
  • And TBR’s weekly eBoard Briefs newsletter = Networking. Marketing. MLS. Education. Advocacy.

TBR strives to provide you with great member benefits and opportunities, and to keep you informed—that’s why we exist as an association, and why you joined! We respect your time and certainly understand if you don’t want to be included on the TBR roster that’s distributed to other members, and if you want to unsubscribe from TBR communications like advocacy messages and eBoard Briefs. But I urge you to reconsider. Sure, your Inbox can get pretty cluttered. I love my BlackBerry because I can “delete” before I ever sit at my desktop, so it’s not so overwhelming once I sit down to work. “Delete” is an option, short of “unsubscribe,” that’s easy for me to take advantage of—but I won’t miss messages that are important to me.

So I’ve tried to explain the why’s of what we do—including sending out email blasts and rosters. If you unsubscribe from a TBR list, or ask to be removed from the roster, we honor your request. We do try to limit the messages we send to you from the association, beyond the weekly eBoard Briefs newsletter. When we send an email from TBR, the subject line will always reflect what’s in the message—so you can easily see if it pertains to you; if not, “delete.” After all, we don’t want to bother you or for the message to get lost in your Inbox (but we do want to keep you informed—a delicate balance, I can assure you).

Members, if you use the TBR roster to send out emails, and someone asks to be removed from your list, honor their request—it’s the law (CAN-SPAM) and common courtesy (the Golden Rule). When you do send out emails, clearly identify your message in the subject line, thoughtfully consider your email marketing strategy, and limit the amount of emails you’re sending so as not to dilute your message (or annoy others to the point that they unsubscribe).

I’d like to hear what you think about mass email communications from members and association: Is it spam?

Susan

Why All the Fuss About Being a REALTOR®?

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

A couple of days ago a REALTOR® was telling me a story and kept referring to a broker as a “REALTOR® that was not a member of TBR.” Of course there are plenty of REALTORS® that are not members of TBR (about 1.1 million); but I had the feeling that this person was not a REALTOR®. I checked it out and sure enough he is a broker in Florida, but not a REALTOR®. That is an important distinction to me. Not all real estate licensees are REALTORS®. REALTORS® adhere to a code of ethics as promulgated by the National Association of REALTORS®. The Marks are collective membership marks which serve to identify members of the National Association and distinguish them from non-members.

Knowing the trademark rules is vital to keeping the term REALTOR® specific to members and not letting it become a generic term of a licensee. Check out this short video from NAR that will further explain. For comprehensive guidelines on using the term REALTOR®:

It is in everyone’s best interest to protect and preserve the REALTOR® trademarks; make sure you do your part by keeping your use in compliance, assisting others, and reporting use by non-members to the Tallahassee Board of REALTORS®.

Steven