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Texas House Bill 2385

Texas House Bill 2385 Addresses “Required Use”

by CCAR’s REALTOR®/Lender Committee

REALTORS® can make a difference in the current legislative session by eliminating a practice in our industry that regularly harms consumers. Texas House Bill 2385 addresses what is known to regulators as “required use.”

“Required use” is widely used by volume or national builders to require the use of their mortgage and title companies. Here is how it works:

Your client goes to a new home build site and enters into a contract to purchase land and build a home. During your client’s build, the builder of the home offers an incentive of $15,000 towards kitchen upgrades (various incentives can be used), so long as the client agrees via contract to use the choice or owned lender or title company of the home builder. Later, when it is getting close to finalizing the mortgage and title issues, the client must use the lender or title company that they signed to use through the incentive, regardless if the actual market rate at this time is much less. At this stage, the incentive becomes a penalty, as the client must pay the $15,000 if the client decides to use a better market rate from a lender or title company that is not the choice or owned lender/title company.

Although the “required use” issue is viewed as a Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) violation, neither the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) nor the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has had the resources to redress.

There is a history of Texans asking for “required use” oversight and enforcement at the state level. Legislation in the same spirit of HB 2385 was sponsored in the past, but was withdrawn because in March 2009, HUD indicated that the Department would begin to enforce the “required use” provisions nationally. Unfortunately, a lawsuit dissuaded HUD from moving forward in enforcing the provisions (see National Association of Home Builders, et al. v. Shaun Donovan, et al., Civ. Action No. 08CV1324, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division). Today, CFPB oversees the “required use” provisions. Like HUD, CFPB has not taken any action to enforce.

Numbers don’t lie: Choice or owned title and lenders capture approximately 80% of their perspective mortgage and title business. In comparison, REALTOR® in-house mortgage companies struggle to capture 15% of their perspective business because there is no incentive penalty. HB 2385 helps ensure consumers have a choice in their mortgage or title business, up until they close without a penalty.

Examples of “required use” and the consumer:

  • A buyer was offered a $22,000 discount on the price of a home for using an affiliated lender, but the interest rate offered by the lender was 0.5% higher than the market rate and the origination fee charged by the affiliated lender was higher.
  • A buyer would be required to make a higher earnest money deposit and would lose a $2,000 “closing incentive” if the buyer did not use the builder’s affiliated lender.
  • A $3,000 incentive is promised on the purchase price and $6,000 towards closing costs, if the buyer used the affiliated lender, which charged an interest rate that was 1% higher than the market rate and carried additional fees.

How can you make a difference? The REALTOR®/Lender Committee is encouraging you to contact your State Representative and Senator to ask them to support House Bill 2385.

As always, if you have a question or comment about anything related to lending, please contact us at [email protected]

REALTOR® social media tools

3 Tools Every REALTOR® Should Use to Increase Sales

 Janet DeBusk Hensley
Knoxville, TN REALTOR® Janet DeBusk Hensley’s website highlights elements that make her a top contender, including her experience, client testimonials, and finance tools to assist buyers and sellers.

Nowadays, it is simply not enough to just be a good REALTOR®. In order to garner more customers and more sales, it is imperative you stay at the forefront of the real estate industry. In order to do so, utilizing technology is vital. Here are three tools that can help you elevate your REALTOR® game and break away from your competitors.

1. ESTABLISH A SOLID WEB PRESENCE. You’re probably saying to yourself, “I already have a web presence.” Yes, you are listed on your realty company’s website with other members. Yes, your properties are listed in the MLS database. Go past the obvious. As a REALTOR®, you are your own brand. Buyers and sellers who choose you, do so because they trust you will guide them as they undertake the most important financial decision of their lives. More than likely, they researched several REALTORS® and asked their friends for referrals before they selected you. Having your own website puts the focus solely on you and the properties you represent. It provides you with an opportunity to toot your own horn and flex your realty muscles. In addition, if your site utilizes search engine optimization, the more likely it is for people to find you and access your website due to its increased visibility and ranking.

Houston-based Jamele Mason has over 3,500 followers on his Instagram page. In addition to eye-catching photography, Mason includes his handle in case others repost his images.

2. BECOME MORE SOCIAL AND VISUAL WITH INSTAGRAM. “There is definitely a movement to use more technology in real estate,” said Steve Haid, CCAR Chief Operating Officer. “There are apps for almost everything.” As social media apps ramp up to an all-time high with no signs of slowing down, more REALTORS® are going where people are. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and yes, even Snapchat, have millions of users. For the visual-minded individual, there is no better format than Instagram. Using Instagram has its advantages. It allows you to instantly communicate with interested parties and analyze your reach. During an open house, you can tease potential buyers with short, digestible videos of the property. You can highlight features that may be easily overlooked, like that impeccable crown molding, backyard landscaping, or picturesque bay window. There are, however, several things to be wary of. Always keep your personal account separate from your professional account. A good camera phone or one of the latest crops of point-and-shoot cameras will do. If interested parties can imagine themselves living in the house, even before they set-up an appointment, you are a step closer to it being sold.

drone3. TAKE IT TO ANOTHER LEVEL. Drones aren’t just for hobbyists. Once limited to commercial real estate photography, residential REALTORS® are seeking the aide of professionals to capture high-definition aerial photographs and videos from different, often times hard-to-capture angles. Prospective buyers can gleam a lot of information from drone photography and videos. They can view the entire property and the land it sits on and they can view the neighborhood and nearby amenities, among other benefits. It is important to note that according to the Federal Aviation Administration, all unmanned aircraft (including drones) must be registered or the individual will be heavily fined.

The Salary Needed to Afford a Home in the USA

The Salary Needed to Afford a Home in the USA

Buying a home is one of life’s biggest commitments.

Tight inventory and an industry currently in favor of the seller makes educated decision making a true necessity. To avoid getting into a debt-filled situation, please check out the minimum salary needed to afford a home in the US’s most popular cities.

The Minimum Salary You Need to Buy a Home, in 27 Cities
via www.twocents.lifehacker.com
Everyone’s situation is different. It is important to be informed before you make a huge life decision. Please check out the link below for more detailed info and an interactive map.
north texas home sales

North Texas Home Sales Dip in July for the First Time in Two Years

Has Dallas-Fort Worth’s hot housing market finally hit the ceiling?

via Dallas Morning News:

North Texas home sales were down by 2 percent in July from 2015 levels. It was the first year-over-year dip in preowned home sales in almost two years.

And pending sales for August indicate another slight drop in sales may be in the works.

The decline in sales last month didn’t put cool prices.

The median price of single-family homes sold by North Texas real estate agents was up 9 percent from July 2015, according to data from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University and the North Texas Real Estate Information Systems.

Even with the easing of sales, North Texas home purchases remain at near record levels.

During the first seven months of 2016, real estate agents have sold 58,865 single-family homes in the almost two dozen counties included in the month numbers. Year-to-date home sales in North Texas are up 6 percent from last year’s record.

And median home sales prices so far in 2016 are 9 percent higher than in the first seven months of last year.

With home supplies remaining tight – especially houses priced below $200,000 – buyers are having a harder time finding properties they can afford.

“I wouldn’t be surprised that with the higher house prices consumers are experiencing some sticker shock,” said Ted Wilson with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies Inc. “As prices continue to rise, they can’t keep on going like this without some pushback from buyers.

Pending but not completed home sales numbers are down 6% from 2015. Should we expect August’s home sales to also be off from 2015 levels? Stay tuned!

10 Trailblazing Apps for Realtors

Do you ever feel overwhelmed with technology? Things are always changing. The minute you understand one detail the rules change, a new disruptor enters the world and you are outdated. The struggle is real.

As realtors, it is important to not get frustrated and keep moving forward. You want to have established tools that will benefit you and allow you to grow in an increasingly global world. We have scoured the digital landscape and come up with 10 apps we will feel are both easy to use and able to keep you on the pulse of consumers’ radar.

  1. Instagram

Never forget that real estate is a VISUAL medium. Potential buyers want to SEE what their options are. They also want to be able to trust that their realtor has a personality or brand that is consistent with industry standards. Instagram is a mobile app that allows you to share both photos and videos. This content can be posted to Instagram and linked to any other social media you may have (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr). Instagram is a perfect way to list homes which are available for sale or rent. Never turn down a free opportunity and direct source to our consumers!

Available on:  Android, iOS

Price: Free


  1. Google Maps

Are you good with directions? Most people are not. Save your clients and yourself some time and download Google Maps. The app is a great resource when visiting potential properties. The last thing a client needs is for you to show up late or say you were lost. Google Maps will guide you to your destination without hassle or insult. Simply plug in your intended address and put the pedal to the metal!

Available on: Web, Android, iOS, Windows Phone

Price: Free

Google Maps

  1. Mortgage Calculator

It can be difficult to understand the repayment requirements a mortgage will require. Mortgage Calculator is here to help us all out! The online app has the ability to tell you what your monthly or bi-weekly mortgage payments will be based on the parameters you set. Also, your future payoff date is readily available!

Available on: Web

Price: Free

Mortgage Calculator

  1. Zillow

Zillow is an incredible tool used for property search. The app offers a great review of the real estate market and available properties. MLS numbers are included in many listings in order to make your search easier. The app also offers a mortgage calculator and property estimates.

Available on: Web, Android, iOS

Price: Free


  1. Cam Scanner

Why wait until you are back at your office? Cam Scanner allows you the fortune of being able to scan documents directly from your mobile phone. On the go!

Available on: iOS and Android


  1. Sitegeist

What do you want to know? Sitegeist can tell you! The app provides details about your surrounding area including average age of residents, political contributions, average temperature, commuting trends, and popular nearby places. These may be just the facts your client needs in order to make an informed decision.

Available on: iOS and Android

Price: Free


UPDATE: Sitegiest has been retired as of Fall 2015. ?

  1. Dotloop

This app allows you to upload documents and pre-assign spaces that require signatures from your clients. Once you send the client your document, they create an account, verifies their identity, and is guided through the document – without missing any key areas that need to be filled in or signed. Signatures are e-verified and all date is encrypted and secure. Imagine how this could simplify the relationship between you and your clients!

Available on: Web, iOS

Price: Starting at $30/month


  1. Lastpass

Remembering all of your passwords can be an immense frustration. Lastpass is here to save the day. The app saves time by allowing you to access and manage passwords wherever you are, and syncs those passwords between your devices. LastPass also can be installed as an extension to web browsers.

Available on: Android, iOS

Price: Free


  1. Roomscan Pro

Do you have a need for custom floorplans? By simply holding your phone up against each wall, Roomscan Pro will draw floorplans to scale for you. The app claims to be accurate to within half a foot. That is pretty good! If you need to be more accurate, you have an option to manually add their your own measurements, doors and windows.

Available on: iOS

Price: Free


  1. BombBomb

Video is no longer the future, it is the present reality. Bombbomb makes it possible to send email in video format. No attachments. You have more chance of your emails being opened and responded to if a person sees an email message than the standard text. Give it a try!

Available on: Android, iOS

Price: Requires a subscription, but you can give the service a try using their 2 week trial.


Remember: Work smarter not harder. Apps are made to simply your daily life!