Category Archives: arkansas realtors association

Arkansas Housing Market Holding Firm for Year

The Arkansas REALTORS® Association reported today that Arkansas home sales saw a slight slowdown in February after seeing a 13 percent increase in the number of Arkansas homes sold in January 2011 as compared with the same period last year.  According to today’s report, Arkansas home sales saw an almost 6% decrease sold in February as compared with the same month last year while the average price of homes sold in the 42 county area covered by the report experienced an increase of more than 1.5 percent to $136,300.

The following is a link to the full report in Excel format http://dl.dropbox.com/u/12295076/February2011%20Housing_FINAL.xls

The National Association of Realtors® reported on March 21 that existing home sales in the South fell 10.2 percent and that the median home price in the South was $134,600.  The following is a link to the full news release from NAR: http://www.realtor.org/press_room/news_releases/2011/03/feb_decline

“As is typical for the first quarter of any year, Arkansas home sales are sluggish,” said Amy Glover Bryant, Director of Communications for the Association.  “However, for the year to date the report reflects increases, though small, in the areas of units sold, home values and average home prices.  We see this as an encouraging sign when you take in to consideration that during the same period last year the federal government was rolling out the first-time home buyer tax credit.  In short, we are holding our own.”

A number of Arkansas counties experienced strong gains in the number of homes sold in February 2011 including Faulkner, Arkansas and Boone which saw 42 percent, 80 percent and 31 percent increases in the number of homes sold, respectively.

Representatives of the Arkansas Realtors® Association will be available throughout today to discuss the Arkansas numbers.  To set up an interview,
please contact Amy Glover Bryant, Director of Communications at 501.225.2020 or at 501.786.9415.  

As always, please keep in mind that this is an approximation of the Arkansas housing market based on the information provided to the Association at the
time of the report’s distribution.  Data is provided by REALTORS® reporting through participating multiple listing services in Arkansas and while deemed
reliable is not guaranteed.

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AG Dustin McDaniel Identifies Top Consumer Complaints

In conjunction with National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel announced today the 10 most common complaints fielded by his office’s Consumer Protection Division last year.

McDaniel’s Consumer Protection Division handled more than 10,000 total complaints from concerned Arkansas consumers in 2010. Atop the list were grievances about automobile transactions, followed by complaints regarding debt collection agencies.

“Our office deals every day with a wide variety of calls and complaints about disputes involving business practices, or sometimes, just out-and-out scams,” McDaniel said. “It’s important to me that consumers know we are here to help them navigate through any potential pitfalls in their consumer transactions. We will also investigate any improper activity.”

The Top 10 most common consumer complaints last year, by category, were:

Automobiles

Debt collection services

Check-cashing and payday-lending services

Cable TV and satellite services

Home and business telephone services

Home improvement, repair and construction

Cellular phone services

Mortgages Credit and credit repair services

Internet services and Internet auction sites

McDaniel said the majority of automobile dealers are reputable, but automobile-transaction complaints are perennially the most common reported to the Consumer Protection Division. Such complaints often involve “yo-yo” sales practices, where a consumer drives home a car to find out at a later date the actual details of the sale – usually the tactic involves a higher financing cost for the car than the cost originally quoted.

Other automobile complaints involve pressure to buy high-priced add-on services like gap insurance, credit-life and extended warranties; and misrepresentations about the condition of the automobile, such as its salvage history.

Debt collectors often raise the ire of consumers through harassing tactics, attempts to collect old, time-barred debt, or by seeking add-on fees. Sometimes, the debt collectors misidentify the party from whom they are seeking money.

“These types of complaints are the same issues we’ve seen for years and will continue to see across the country,” McDaniel said. “The best way to avoid these common problems is for consumers to be well-informed and know their rights.”

To that end, Arkansans may call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (501) 682-2341 or (800) 482-8982; or visit the Attorney General’s website, www.arkansasag.gov.

National Consumer Protection Week is observed each year in an effort to promote awareness of consumer rights and help consumers make better-informed decisions. For more information about the observance, visit http://www.ncpw.gov. Tuesday, McDaniel will announce the Top 5 scams investigated by his office in 2010.

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House to House: Renting? Know Your Responsibilities

A friend’s recent experience in trying to rent a house he owned brought to mind the possible lack of information that some renters may have in regard to their responsibilities as renters who are paying for the right to enjoy someone else’s property.

No one wants to see someone evicted, but unfortunately, that action is sometimes the end result when renters do not live up to their responsibilities. The agreement between landlord and tenant will control the tenant’s responsibilities, so make sure that as a renter, you are clear on what is expected in regard to your individual situation.

To help landlords and tenants, the Arkansas Realtors Association; the law firm of Quattlebaum, Grooms, Tull and Burrow PLLC; the Institute of Real Estate Management; and the Arkansas Real Estate Commission worked together to develop the Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook. The handbook was prepared to help both tenants and landlords understand their responsibilities, as well as rights. While a diligent attempt was been made to ensure that the information is accurate, no guarantee of accuracy is provided, and the handbook does not purport to cover all possible situations or problems. These materials are provided for educational purposes and should not be received as legal opinions for pending or future legal matters.

Here are a few common requirements of renters/tenants that the handbook brings to light:

• Pay all of your rent on time. If you think the landlord is being unfair, or the rented property is in poor condition, discuss these matters with your landlord. Most disputes between a landlord and a tenant can be resolved if the rent has been paid.

• Take “good care” of the property you are renting. It is, after all, the landlord’s property, and you are paying for the use of it. When you move out of the property, it must be in the same condition as it was when you moved in, except for normal wear and tear.

• Let your landlord know when you are going to be out of town or away for a period of time. If possible, let them know how to contact you. If they notice you are gone but haven’t been informed ahead of time, they may think you have abandoned the property.

• Comply with local board-of-health rules and the landlord’s rules and regulations for tenants.

• Keep the property clean.

• Inform the landlord, in writing, of needed repairs as soon as you discover that a repair is necessary.

• Be considerate of other tenants and neighbors. They have the same rights that you do.

• Abide by all the terms of your lease or rental agreement. For example, if the lease or rental agreement says “no pets,” then you may not have pets.

• Except as permitted by law, you should not increase the number of occupants specified in the lease or rental agreement without the written permission of the owner.

• Give the landlord written notice before you move out. Normally, you should provide the landlord notice a number of days prior to moving out which is equal to the cycle that you pay rent, unless more time (which the law requires to be reasonable) is specified in your lease or rental agreement. For example, if you pay rent once a month, then provide notice to your landlord of an intention to move one month prior to the date you are moving.

• Take all precautions that you deem necessary to ensure the safety of people and personal property in and around the property. Safety is not the responsibility of the landlord, and you should not expect the landlord to make repairs or take precautions to make rented property (or areas around rented property) safe. You may wish to consider insurance for all personal property you place on the property.

To print out a copy of the Arkansas Landlord/Tenant Handbook, visit http://arkansasrealtors.net/images/landlordtenanthandbook.pdf  or contact the Arkansas Realtors Association at Questions@ArkansasRealtors.com.

House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors Association.   For more information about the ARA, visit www.ArkansasRealtors.com.

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House to House: What Do You Mean the Sellers Took it With Them?

 This week’s House to House column is written by special guest columnist Gary Isom, Executive Director Arkansas Real Estate Commission.  Gary can be reached at Gary.Isom@Arkansas.gov

The closing is over and the buyers just walked into their new house with excitement and anticipation. Then to their surprise, they discover that special item they thought was included in the sale is missing.

With technological advancements changing the way real estate is marketed, buyers to a transaction have often seen and reviewed much more information about a property than in years past. Maybe they saw an advertisement for the property or a copy of the MLS sheet. Whatever the source of information, the Arkansas Real Estate Commission is seeing more complaints filed about what was or wasn’t supposed to be included in the sale.

The investigative interview occasionally goes something like this. The buyer complainants say their agent told them that if the multiple listing service or an advertisement stated that a particular item was included in the sale, it must be included regardless of whether it’s stated in the sales contract. Consequently, when the complainant doesn’t get that specific item stated in the multiple listing service or advertisement, the complainant holds the listing agent and seller totally responsible, contending that their agent did nothing wrong by telling them the information did not need to be included in the sales contract or the addenda attached thereto. Remember, many sales contracts state something to the effect that the sales contract contains the entire understanding and agreement between Buyer and Seller.

It’s a common occurrence with complaints filed with the Real Estate Commission for the complaining party to fault the agent on the opposite side of the transaction as opposed to their own agent, whose responsibility it is to protect the complainant’s interest as they would their own. Parties to a transaction often know their agent well and don’t want to get them in trouble. It’s much easier to hold the other agent accountable. This still seems especially true with buyers. Buyers and many agents who represent buyers just have not made the leap over to accepting that an agent representing the buyer has the same level of commitment to the buyer as the listing agent does to their seller.

When regulation 10.10(a) states that “… a licensee, for the protection of the public and of all parties with whom the licensee deals, shall see that the exact agreement of the parties regarding real estate is in writing” it is generally referring to the sales contract and the addenda attached thereto. Whether the content of the multiple list service or any advertising is binding upon the parties or agents who supplied the information is for the courts to decide. However, if an agent to a transaction knows that their buyer client wants a specific item included as part of the sale, that agent and the buyers themselves should make sure that information is included in the sales contract or the addenda attached thereto so that it is documented that both parties agreed to it.

Especially in a market as we have now in which sellers are accepting less than listing price and buyers are requiring the sellers to make substantial concessions at the closing table, it’s not uncommon for the sellers to change their mind about leaving items they originally intended to let go with the property. When the buyer finds out after closing that the sellers took that coveted item with them, they are often going to file a complaint.

From the commission’s perspective, the buyer would have a stronger case against their own the agent because the buyer’s agent has the higher degree of responsibility to the buyer as a client than does the listing agent when the buyer is only a customer to the listing agent. Of course, when dual agency occurs where both sides of the transaction are in the same firm, both agents have a fiduciary obligation to both parties. In this situation, the Principal Broker and both agents licensed under him or her must look out for both party’s interest in somewhat of a limited capacity with regard to confidential information. However, items that do or do not convey with the property would not usually be considered confidential information so both agents and their Principal Broker would have an obligation to see that all agreements are reduced to writing.

Avoid disappoint or a complaint by writing it down and getting all parties to agree to it. Don’t depend upon separate advertising or listing information to be binding upon the parties to the transaction. ♦♦♦ House to House is distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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Preview of Arkansas Housing Stats for December 2010

The Arkansas Realtors Association will release complete stats for 42 counties in Arkansas tomorrow.  However, here is a sneak peak in to some of the Central Arkansas numbers for December 2010.

County Units Sold Dec ’10 Units Sold Dec ’09 % Change Avg Price Dec ’10 Avg Price Dec ’09 % Change
Clay  3 5 400.00% $45,300 $90,200 -49.78%
Cleburne  31 16 93.75% $187,006 $164,228 13.87%
Conway  7 5 40.00% $84,700 $94,890 -10.74%
Faulkner  85 77 10.39% $154,251 $156,149 -1.22%
Grant  11 11 0.00% $119,547 $113,354 5.46%
Greene  30 22 36.36% $98,903 $84,602 16.90%
Hot Spring  8 10 -20.00% $73,562 $72,190 1.90%
Izard  4 3 33.33% $62,000 $119,666 -48.19%
Jefferson  32 36 -11.11% $95,432 $103,573 -7.86%
Lonoke  60 86 -30.23% $136,257 $140,989 -3.36%
Perry  3 7 -57.14% $101,333 $160,500 -36.86%
Polk  10 17 -41.18% $87,700 $112,411 -21.98%
Pulaski  290 291 -0.34% $168,931 $169,802 -0.51%
Saline  122 123 -0.81% $160,576 $156,214 2.79%
Sharp  2 1 100.00% $33,500 $41,000 -18.29%
Van Buren  4 10 -60.00% $106,500 $85,240 24.94%
White  51 50 2.00% $137,268 $150,337 -8.69%
Totals 753 770 -2.21% 150,385 150,248 0.09%

 

DISCLAIMER: THIS INFORMATION IS DEEMED RELIABLE, BUT NOT GUARANTEED, AND          
IS PROVIDED EXCLUSIVELY FOR CONSUMER’S PERSONAL, NON-COMMERCIAL USE AND          
MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN TO IDENTIFY PROSPECTIVE          
PROPERTIES CONSUMERS MAY BE INTERESTED IN PURCHASING. UNDER NO          
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY          
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE DECISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,          
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.          
CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD THE INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN BE RELIED UPON BY          
ANY PERSON IN MAKING A PURCHASE DECISION, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO,          
INFORMATION PRECEDED WITH THE WORD OR ABBREVIATION DENOTING APPROXIMATE.          
           
Copyright 2011 Arkansas Realtors® Association.          

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House to House: Portable Generator Safety Guidelines

Arkansas’s recent winter weather event likely caused some Arkansans to pull out and gas up their portable electric generators.  The men in my house were actually rooting for the electricity to go out so that they’d have a reason to utilize the one they received for Christmas.

 While portable generators are useful during temporary power outages, it is important to remember that they can also be hazardous.

“Home emergency generators can provide a great level of convenience during natural disasters, like an ice storm,” said Doug White, vice president of systems services for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. “However, if used improperly a generator can injure the homeowner and the cooperative line crews working to restore electrical service. Appliances can also be damaged.”

 If a portable electric generator is connected to the main electrical supply coming into the house, the electrical generator could feed back into the electric cooperative’s system and electrocute workers who are repairing the electrical lines, according to White.

Doug White, vice president of systems services for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas

White said that to avoid back-feeding of electricity into utility systems, a homeowner should have a qualified, licensed electrician install a double-pole, double-throw transfer switch between the generator and utility power in compliance with all state and local electrical codes. (A minimum of 10-gauge wiring must be used.)

 “In addition to protecting linemen by insuring proper wiring, a homeowner should carefully calculate wattage requirements to prevent overloading and damage to appliances and the generator,” he said.

White asked that homeowners notify their local electric cooperative when they purchase a standby generator so the electric cooperative can be aware of your location.

Homeowners can also suffer electrocution if the generator is being operated in wet conditions.  If you must use a generator when it is wet outside, protect it from moisture by operating it under an open, canopy-like structure on a dry surface where water cannot reach it or puddle under it.  It is also important to make sure your hands are dry before touching the generator.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, generators also pose a risk of death or injury due to carbon monoxide poisoning.  The CPSC recommends the following safety tips to avoid CO poisoning while using generators:

  • Never use a generator inside homes, garages, crawlspaces, sheds or similar areas, even when using fans or opening doors and windows for ventilation.  Deadly levels of CO can quickly build up in these areas and can linger for hours, even after the generator has shut off.
  • Follow the instructions that come with your generator.  Locate the unit outdoors and far from doors, windows and vents that could allow CO to come indoors.
  • Install battery-operated CO alarms or plug-in CO alarms with battery back up in your home, according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Last, but certainly not least, never store fuel for your generator in your home.  Gasoline, propane, kerosene and other flammable liquids should be stored outside of living areas in properly-labeled, non-glass safety containers.  Homeowners will also want to remember to turn off the generator and let it cool down before refueling so as not to risk gasoline igniting on hot engine parts.  Remember, no matter what the time of year, you should never store flammable liquids near fuel-burning appliances such as a natural gas water heater. 

House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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House to House: Arkansas Realtors® Review 2010, Look Toward a New Year

Andy Meyers says home ownership didn’t create the foreclosure crisis – Wall Street greed and irresponsible lending practices did.

Many consumers last year were hit with conflicting messages about the real estate market and the value of home ownership. As 2011 begins, Arkansas Realtors® remain actively engaged in advocating public policies that encourage responsible, sustainable home ownership well into the future.

 The Arkansas Realtors® Association describes 2010 as one of real estate contrasts. Over the past 12 months, many consumers took advantage of historic buying opportunities as home sales and prices gradually stabilized. Meanwhile, the country continued to face economic challenges, leading others to question the value of owning a home.

 During the first half of 2010, the extended $8,000 first-time home buyer tax credit and expanded $6,500 tax credit for repeat buyers helped encourage sales and stabilize prices. Home buyers also took advantage of historic affordability levels with rock-bottom interest rates.

 Affordability conditions saved the 2010 home buyer thousands of dollars a year.  Buyers with fixed-rate mortgages will save money every year they are living in their home. This is truly an example of how home ownership builds wealth over the long term.

 According to the current National Association of Realtors®’ Housing Affordability Index, a median-income family with a down payment of 20 percent has 184.2 percent of the income required to purchase a median-priced home.

 While many consumers became home owners in 2010, others faced the possibility of losing their home to foreclosure. Partly in response to rising foreclosure rates, some questioned whether the government should be encouraging home ownership through federal programs and tax incentives. 

 “Home ownership didn’t create the foreclosure crisis – Wall Street greed and irresponsible lending practices did,” said Andy Meyers, President of the Arkansas Realtors® Association.  “Home ownership benefits individuals and families, as well as strengthens our communities. Owning a home is one of the best ways to build long-term wealth and provides many social benefits such as reduced crime rates, improved childhood education and increased stability.”

 In general, however, consumers have remained passionate about home ownership. According to a 2010 Bankrate.com survey, 90 percent of respondents said they had no regrets about buying their current home. A survey released by Fannie Mae in December 2010 found that most Americans – both those who currently own their homes and those who rent – strongly aspire to own a home and to maintain home ownership.

 “Consumers are passionate about owning a home, which underscores how important home ownership is in America,” said Meyers.  “As we begin 2011, Realtors® remain committed to ensuring the dream of home ownership is available to anyone who is able and willing to assume the responsibilities of owning a home.”

♦♦♦

House to House is written by Amy Glover Bryant, APR and distributed weekly by the Arkansas Realtors® Association.

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