April 13th, 2011 5:16 PM by Cookie Hooper
Those of us who choose to live the life of a Short Sale Listing Agent are constantly plagued with the task of deciphering and living by new governmental regulations. There seems to be a general panic about MARS regulations (Mortgage Assistance Relief Services) and extremely little information about it. We hear tidbits about complying with this cumbersome new law, and due to the darkness that seems to shroud MARS, the panic is multiplied.
Let's see if we can shed some light on MARS. Here are the major MARS compliance points:
· Disclosure- Mortgage Relief Companies and Individuals must disclose key information to consumers to protect them from being misled and to help them make better informed purchasing decisions. The Rule covers Real Estate Agents who promote their services as a way to help consumers to avoid foreclosure. The Rule doesn't cover Real Estate Agents who only provide services to help people in buying or selling homes- like listing homes for sale, showing homes, or finding homes that meet buyers' needs, even if they deal with short-sale listings. Be careful to provide the proper disclosures if you are marketing yourself as a foreclosure avoidance expert or counselor.
· Advanced Fee Ban- Under this provision, Mortgage relief companies and individuals are banned from collecting an up-front fee for their services. Only attorneys who have met certain guidelines are exempt from this ban. So, don't collect any retainers or up-front fees. That's easy enough.
· Performance Representations- The Rule prohibits Mortgage Relief Companies and Individuals from making and false or misleading claims about their services. They must have reliable evidence to back up any claims they make about their services. No puffery or misleading. Again, easy enough.
· Recordkeeping- Keep copies of ads, sales records, and written communications with customers for 24 months. But we already do that, right?
It seems to me that if we are being honest and ethical, MARS has little to fear. HOWEVER, many states have not yet provided Realtors with the proper forms and disclosures even though certain disclosures have been required since January, 2011. The FTC has provided sample language for disclosures that meet the requirement of the MARS Rule.
Cookie Hooper and her team at True Blue Realty help Sellers, Buyers, Renters and Homeowners in Arvada, Brighton, Broomfield, Lafayette, Northglenn, Superior, Thornton, Westminster, Wheatridge, and other surrounding cities in the Northern Denver Metro Area in Colorado. For immediate assistance, go to www.TBRHomes.com or call 720-279-9871