Help your clients find the right tenant

Do your clients need to rent a property fast? Help them out by using TransUnion’s SmartMove, a TAR Benefits Partner.

This online system provides a quick leasing recommendation on prospective tenants. There’s no fee to sign up, and you only pay as you use it.

Get a criminal report and credit-based leasing recommendation for $25. Upgrade to a full viewable credit report and eviction report for $35. (The cost of this service can always be paid by the prospective tenant.)

Visit SmartMove’s website to get started.

And TAR members can save $10 off SmartMove’s services by using a one-time discount code that changes each month. Here are the codes for the rest of 2017:

Month Discount code
September TXREALTORS97
November TXREALTORS117
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How to show neighborhood demand

When your clients or prospects are interested in tracking a neighborhood’s activity, the RPR Market Activity report is an ideal option. First, it’s flexible and can be generated for any geography, even areas drawn using the RPR map. And the report itself includes changes in a local real estate market based on listing information and MLS data. The Market Activity report can include active, pending, sold, expired, distressed, new for lease, and recently leased properties, as well as recent price changes and upcoming open houses for a period of up to six months.

The steps below show one way to create a report. For this example, we are interested in showcasing New, Pending, and Recently Sold Listings, as well as Price Changes. We will only include single family residences, and will include the previous three months of activity.

Market Activity How-To

  1. Visit RPR at
  2. From the search box, select Market Activity
  3. Type the area name: City, ZIP or Neighborhood name.
  4. Choose Show: Changes in the Last 3 Months
  5. Select Advanced
  6. Now deselect all property types except Single Family Residence
  7. Choose Search

Drawing Custom Area Using Maps

  1. Confirm that you have the Map View open
  2. Using the map navigation, zoom and pan to clearly show the subject neighborhood
  3. Above the map in Map Tool, select the Polygon tool
  4. Now click on the map to drop points for your shape. When you connect the last point, a prompt to save or search appears

TIP: If you’ll be running this report regularly, save the shape to recall later.

  1. Choose Search
  2. Now choose Create a Report

Generating the Market Activity Report

  1. Select Market Activity Report
  2. Select More Details
  3. Confirm the report elements
  4. Personalize your report
  5. Choose a delivery method: Download or Email

Watch this video to learn more about creating these reports.

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Difficult life events don’t have to mean high insurance premiums for clients

Someone who just experienced a death in the family or similar hardship might not have insurance rates and coverage top of mind. But Texas requires insurance companies that use credit scoring to grant exceptions for such negative life events.

Negative life events include the following, although insurance companies may also consider other events:

  • catastrophic injury or illness
  • death of a spouse, child, or parent
  • temporary loss of employment
  • divorce
  • identify theft.

If a client or someone you know has suffered a negative life event, let them know how to request an insurance credit score exception from their home or auto insurance provider.

The affected person must send to the insurance company a written request that includes any necessary documentation. After the insurance company receives the request, it may only consider credit information not affected by the event or it must assign a neutral credit score, according to the Texas Department of Insurance. Find more information at

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Who should be the point of contact for notices?

Whose contact information should be written in Paragraph 21 of TREC contracts to receive notices?

There isn’t one correct answer to that question. However, you could consider using the buyers’ and sellers’ contact information.

Why? Because time is of the essence in almost all of the notice provisions in TREC contracts, meaning they require action before a strict deadline. Having an agent as the point of contact to receive notices for his or her client could create delays that may result in the party losing a time-sensitive option or right provided in the contract, such as the buyer’s requirement to waive their contingency after the seller accepts a backup contract under the Addendum For Sale Of Other Property By Buyer (TAR 1908, TREC 10-6).

You might be reluctant to use the buyers’ and sellers’ contact info because you think direct contact with the other party is forbidden. However, as long as you’re using the contact information to provide notice to the other party, you’re not crossing the boundary of soliciting another agent’s client.

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When it’s 100 degrees outside, flaunt your listing’s excellent energy audit

Have you seen more listings of properties with energy-efficient features? Proof of these features’ effectiveness is more influential than briefly mentioning them in the MLS. That’s where an energy audit comes in.

Homeowners all over Texas have access to professionals who can conduct an energy audit on a property, often in conjunction with a city’s utility company to help the owner qualify for rebates or save money on monthly bills. Other cities, such as Austin, have a city ordinance requiring sellers to obtain an energy audit if their property meets certain conditions.

An energy audit entails checking the efficiency various parts of a home, such as its attic insulation, windows, and HVAC system. Depending on what the audit involves, the cost can range from $100 to $400. The Texas Office of Public Utility Counsel has a comprehensive guide you can share with your clients about the process and other ways they can increase the energy efficiency of their home.

Once the audit is conducted, homeowners get a clearer picture of upgrades they can make to improve efficiency and what’s working well already. Sometimes, this may expose issues that a seller would want to disclose to a potential buyer. However, any ways the property is a proven haven from the heat will be a distinctive detail that’ll help your sales this summer.

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Why you should write emails like your mom is reading them

Your email is not private. Messages can be hacked through phishing attacks or forwarded along without your knowledge or consent.

Write your emails as if your entire conversation is public and will be read by your broker, clients, other agents—even your mother.

Follow these simple rules for keeping your email professional:

  • Use a professional email address.
  • Include a clear subject line.
  • Use a professional salutation.
  • Always read emails more than once before responding.
  • Avoid humor, as it doesn’t always translate well in email.
  • Don’t use “reply to all” unless it’s necessary.
  • Do not forward information without checking with the original sender.
  • Always proofread your message, reading it aloud if necessary.
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16 ideas for your content marketing

Promoting your expertise with shareable content relevant to real estate or your community is a great marketing technique. But where do you get ideas for your newsletter, blog, and social media posts?

Here are 16 topics to get you started. Write the ones you can, and look online for content to share for the rest.

  • Staging and decorating tips
  • Local market statistics
  • Types of mortgages
  • Common seller mistakes
  • Common buyer mistakes
  • Basics of home inspections
  • Explanation of title insurance
  • Resources for new residents (e.g., contact information for the electric and gas companies)
  • What to expect at closing
  • Simple repairs that will give sellers the best return
  • Tips from a local company about how to maintain HVAC systems
  • The difference between a REALTOR® and a license holder
  • Interesting historical facts about your city
  • Restaurant and business openings in the area
  • Upcoming events in your community (e.g., high school sports and farmers markets)
  • School information from the local district (e.g., first and last days of school)
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