This Texas Association of REALTORS® Member Blog has moved

Effective today, this blog has moved to the all-new and been renamed “Advice for Texas REALTORS®.” Visit its new location. The same relevant content will continue at the blog’s new location with the same posting frequency.

If you currently get email notifications when a post is added to this blog, you will continue to get those notifications from the blog’s new location. You don’t need to do anything.

If you don’t get email notifications but would like to receive them from the new blog, sign up here.

We’ve also added a new “Advice for Consumers” blog, where you can find great content to share with your prospects and clients. You can sign up for email notifications from that blog as well.

Thank you for reading and sharing the content on this blog, and please continue to do so on

Bookmark your brand-new site right now

You’ve heard about it for weeks, and now it’s time to check it out for yourself: the new is now live. The first thing you’ll want to do when you visit is add it to your bookmarks. Here are five reasons why:

It’s easy to find what you need. Navigate the new with ease through distinct toolbars that will direct you to everything from legal tools to member benefits to association business. Or, take advantage of the search box that uses Google technology. You can find everything on the site with it: information for consumers, magazine articles, Texas REALTOR® profiles, property listings, legal FAQs, and more. Since it’s powered by Google, the search function will continue to get better.

There’s less logging in. Want to take a quick look at the latest Texas REALTOR® magazine? Or do you want to show your clients the Code of Ethics you follow? It’s easier than ever before because there’s no log in required to access these and many other areas of the new It’s clear to see when you’ll need to log in, too: the padlock symbol specifies the member-only sections.

It’s accessible from anywhere. Texas REALTORS® are mobile, and so is the new The new site offers a mobile-friendly design that makes using it on your smartphone or tablet as seamless as if you were on a desktop.

Everything you need is in one place. is your one-stop location for TAR tools and advice, but it’s also the place to share information with consumers about buying, selling, and leasing real estate in Texas. The For Buyers, Sellers, & Renters section of is where you can find consumer columns to share with prospects and clients. And sharing across all of your social media is simple with the sharing toolbar or ShareThis link on every consumer article. It’s also where consumers can search for Texas REALTORS® and find properties.

It’s just for you. The new was designed with you in mind. It’s the only place you’ll need to go if you want fast access to zipForm, quick links to legal tools, the latest news in real estate, consumer information worth sharing, research about your industry, and so much more.

Take the new for a test drive today and find out firsthand why it’s the newest site you’ll want to keep bookmarked.

Use these new TAR forms starting Jan. 1

The Texas Association of REALTORS® updated several of its existing forms and created a few new ones, all of which take effect Jan. 1, 2014. The list of revised residential, property management, and farm and ranch forms includes the following commonly used forms:

  • Residential Real Estate Listing Agreement, Exclusive Right to Sell (TAR 1101)
  • Seller’s Disclosure Notice (TAR 1406)
  • Residential Buyer/Tenant Representation Agreement (TAR 1501)
  • Residential Lease (TAR 2001)

You’ll see all of the new and revised forms on zipForm and starting Jan. 1. In the mean time, visit the Forms section of to view a summary of the changes and redline versions of the forms that indicate where changes have been made.

Are you following the rules for selling your own home?

One of my agents wants to sell her own home without listing the property with our firm or any other firm and doesn’t plan to advertise the property through the MLS. What disclosure must she make about her status as a real estate agent?

Section 535.144 of the TREC rules requires that your agent inform any buyer that she is a licensed real estate salesperson acting on her own behalf. She can do this either with a disclosure in the contract of sale or in any other writing given prior to entering into any contract of sale. There are similar requirements in Article 4 of the Code of Ethics and Standard of Practice 4-1. In addition, Standard of Practice 12-6 provides that REALTORS®, when advertising unlisted real property for sale in which they have an ownership interest, shall disclose their status as both owners and REALTORS® or real estate licensees.

All of these disclosure requirements are intended to ensure the public is informed of an agent’s license status when buying real estate from the licensee and to avoid claims that a real estate licensee was using his or her undisclosed license status and expertise to take advantage of a member of the public. Note that similar rules apply when licensees intend to acquire property on their own behalf.

Visit the Legal FAQs section of for more answers to your legal questions.

Easy ways to build your brand’s reputation online

Are your brand’s social media profiles boosting your business as much as they could be? Done right, social media profiles can bring your business higher visibility online and help you boost your online reputation. Here are four ways to start:

Fill out your profile completely and professionally. Have you ever done a Google search for your name and saw your Twitter profile pop up as one of the top results? Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles tend to rank highly in web searches. Don’t waste an opportunity to broadcast your brand by leaving your profile information blank. For example, use your Twitter bio to tell people if you specialize in helping first-time buyers in your community, or if you are such a great stager that your clients make quick sales.

Write posts using words people search with. If your profiles are open, search engines may pull up specific tweets or posts that you make based on their content. For instance, if you post information about native landscaping tips for your town, someone searching “native landscaping tips for Your Town” could come across your tweet and start to follow you as a resource.

Stay focused in your posts. And don’t put out boring, offensive, or off-topic content. If your specialty is working with families, share content that’s relevant and appealing to those consumers, like tweets with tips on helping kids deal with a move, or organizational ideas for large families on your Pinterest boards.

Don’t let your profiles go dormant. You don’t have to make posts every hour, but you should have a general plan for how frequently you will post content to your social media profiles. A few times a week is usually sufficient. Remember, profiles that have no recent posts get buried in a web search.

Why your tax deductions may not stand up to an audit

“Real estate professionals make two mistakes when it comes to tax planning: they either don’t take deductions they qualify for, or they take deductions without documentation,” said Sandy Botkin, CPA, attorney, and former IRS trainer during his recent webinar “Tax planning: The gift that keeps on giving.”

The webinar, sponsored by TAR Benefits Partner TaxBot, explained how you can save thousands of dollars—and protect yourself from an audit—just by improving how you track your expenses.

Why it’s important to have documentation for your deductions
“You are 700% more likely to be audited if you’re self-employed,” Botkin says. But having documentation to back up your claims will make the auditing process smoother. Keeping mileage logs, receipts, and notes is your insurance against an audit.

Isn’t it enough to just show your credit card or bank statements?
No. Credit card or bank statements do not have enough information to stand up to an audit. You still have to prove that all of your deductions were business-related. If you plan to deduct an expense, Botkin recommends keeping your own log of who you were with, what you discussed, when and where you met, and how much you paid.

Where to get an easy-to-use expense tracker
TaxBot, an IRS-compliant expense-tracking tool for smartphones and tablets, is a simple way to keep track of information the IRS requires. Texas REALTORS® receive a 50% discount on the service, which includes GPS mileage-tracking capability, bank account integration, and lets you snap photos of your receipts. Visit to get started.

If you want to learn more about how to deduct specific work-related expenses like gifts or mileage, click here to watch Botkin’s one-hour webinar for free.

What property managers did 3,500 times in 2013

Despite being more than 24 minutes long, “An explanation of the TAR Residential Lease” was the most-watched video on the Texas REALTORS® YouTube channel this year with more than 3,500 views.

This detailed video offers a paragraph-by-paragraph breakdown of the TAR Residential Lease that can help you explain the document to your clients.

Click here to watch the video on TAR’s YouTube channel.


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