Beth L Peerce
Dear C.A.R. Member, A new year, and with it, new beginnings and new opportunities. I’m looking forward to meeting the challenges that invariably present themselves as the new year gets underway. One of the challenges I know many of you have been dealing with is working with short sale transactions, and I promised last month to keep you informed on C.A.R.’s efforts to address your concerns. First, just last week I, and other C.A.R. officers, met with officials at Bank of America to ask for their commitment in streamlining and improving their short sale process. The bank has agreed to meet with our Distressed Properties task force in the very near future to discuss ways to ensure a smoother short sales process. We’ll also be meeting with the other major lenders over the next several weeks and will share any outcome with you. Additionally, C.A.R. recently sent letters to officials at the U.S. Treasury Dept., Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency requesting immediate changes to the HAFA program and recommending solutions so the program can succeed. The letter attracted the attention of the banking trade American Banker, which ran an article last Thursday noting C.A.R.’s concerns about the dearth of HAFA short sale closures. The article is sure to be noticed by the lenders and servicers who greatly need to make immediate changes. Read the letter to industry regulators. We will continue to remain vigilant in the area of short sales, so stay tuned for further updates. Speaking of HAFA, in late December, the Treasury Dept. issued an update to the HAFA program, which, the Treasury Dept. says, will increase the number of eligible borrowers who may participate in the program and should expedite approvals. Among the updates include changes to real estate brokerage commissions, monthly gross income, vacant property, and release of subordinate liens. See complete details. With the new year, comes new laws and DRE rules and regulations. The DRE issued new requirements for continuing education (CE) courses, effective Jan. 1, 2011, to improve the standards for all CE course providers. Some of these updates will impact how REALTORS® take and test for CE-credited courses. See a summary of the new requirements. A number of new laws went into effect Jan. 1, 2011. Among those are: — SB 183, which requires the installation of a carbon monoxide (CO) detector in dwelling units (existing single-family homes by July 1, 2011, and other existing residential units by January 1, 2013), added a CO detector check-off to the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS), eliminated separate disclosure forms for Smoke Detector and Water Heater Strapping by including those disclosures in the TDS, and required a section on carbon monoxide be added to the Environmental Hazards Booklet. C.A.R. has worked with the Department of Toxic Substances Control to develop a section on carbon monoxide hazards for an updated edition of the Environmental Hazards Booklet, which will be available February 2011. The addition of carbon monoxide to this booklet will ensure REALTORS® and sellers satisfy their disclosure obligations and entitles them to a liability shield. — SB 931, which requires lenders holding the first deed of trust for a dwelling of 1-4 units to accept an agreed upon short sale payment as full payment for the outstanding balance of the loan. The bill does not apply this deficiency protection to junior notes secured by the real property. The related C.A.R. – sponsored SB 1178 (Corbett) was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. See details of these and other new laws. Members can also contact the Legal Hotline at (213) 739-8282 and (213) 739-8350 (for designated REALTORS®, broker/owners, and office managers) from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for any questions. The new year also brings new, free member benefits such as zipVault™, an online filing cabinet REALTORS® can use to store unlimited transactional documents for up to five years within a zipForm® 6 Professional account. zipVault™ enables you to upload documents and deliver documents via web, e-mail, fax or by scanning the documents directly to a specific transaction. In addition to zipVault™, California REALTORS® also have free access to zipLogix Digital Ink™, which works seamlessly with zipForm® 6 accounts and enables users to send clients real estate forms that require signatures, and eliminate the cost and time of printing, faxing, and traveling to get paper copies signed. An upgraded version of the zipLogix Digital Ink™ software, which will include the ability to sign non- zipForm® 6 documents will be available in the near future. Learn more about zipLogix Digital Ink™, and view a schedule of upcoming webinars. Learn more about zipVault™, and view a schedule of upcoming webinars. If you work with Spanish-speaking clients, you’ll like the new Spanish language user interface for zipForm® 6 just released last week. zipForm® 6 software users now have the ability to change the user interface language from English to Spanish just by toggling between the two. Both zipForm® 6 Professional and zipForm® 6 Standard feature the Spanish language option, allowing you to have a higher sense of transparency with your Spanish-speaking clients and help them better understand the software interface. Finally, your Leadership Team will continue our outreach efforts this year. We hope to visit with as many of you as possible at your local association or place of business. But whatever the venue, whether in person or online, you have my best wishes as we begin the new year together. Sincerely, Beth L. Peerce 2011 President CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®