The Texas REALTOR® Advantage by forrests


									The Texas REALTOR Advantage

Your 2009 guide to member benefits > Benefits & Tools

“Just what, exactly, do I get for my dues?” How many times have you heard this from other REALTORS®? Perhaps you’ve even wondered yourself. Think about what your membership in the Texas Association of REALTORS® means to you … Legislative advocacy saves you hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars a year that you’d otherwise have to pay to practice real estate in Texas. Legal information, forms, and tools help you reduce your liability, avoiding costly problems. And many of them are free! Education and networking give you increased knowledge and opportunities to grow and prosper in the business. Benefits partners give you special discounts on a variety of products and services, precisely because you are a member. Free stuff is available from your association, from great content you can use on your Web site to insights about Texas consumers. Looking through this booklet, you’ll see how valuable your membership can be. How much you take advantage of these benefits, though, is up to you.

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Your benefits and services
A strong voice in government
If you make a living from the sale of real estate in Texas, you are affected by decisions made at the Capitol. Our efforts have helped pass legislation beneficial to real estate professionals and defeat legislation that would’ve cost you more money to run your business. In November 2007, we supported a constitutional amendment to exempt your personal vehicle from advalorem taxation, saving you $600 or more per year. As an association, we work just as hard to protect the interests of private-property owners–your clients and customers. For example, we continue to oppose all efforts to weaken the strong consumer protections that we originally put into Texas’ home equity lending law back in 1997. These protections have helped Texans avoid the high foreclosure rates of other states. Your association also makes a difference at the local level through a statewide issues mobilization program, so issues affecting REALTORS® somewhere in Texas today won’t become problems you must face tomorrow. In 2008, Austin REALTORS® tapped into this program to help avert mandatory energy-efficiency retrofits to all homes at the point of sale, preventing a costly precedent for Texas real estate markets. trust accounts. You can reach the hotline Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 800/873-9155. Online legal reference publications are also available to help you reduce your liability, stay updated on the legal issues surrounding the latest technology, and develop or fine-tune your office policies. Titles include the REALTOR® Reference Manual, an indispensable guide to real estate forms, rules, and laws in Texas; Internet Policy Manual, information you need to develop sound policies regarding your Web presence, e-mail use, agent Web sites, and more; and Legal Article Book and Legal Case Book, articles and important case summaries covering topics from advertising to tax issues. Members can download free PDF versions of all these legal reference publications from In addition, model office policies regarding tenant-selection criteria, privacy regulations, and do-not-call, e-mail, and fax rules also are available as free downloads from the Legal section of, as well as an extensive compilation of members’ frequently asked questions (FAQs)–and the answers–concerning real-world legal matters in real estate.

Legal tools for you
Members enjoy free access to the Texas Association of REALTORS® Legal Hotline. It is your link to an attorney who can provide information on real estate law and related matters. A wide range of topics are addressed, including questions regarding agency, brokerage, closings, license law, listing, regulations, titles, and

Professional development
To be successful in real estate, you’ve got to invest in yourself. Texas REALTORS® University makes it easier to realize a return on your investment. We offer a wide range of courses approved for MCE credit. Looking to broaden your horizons? Then go for your Graduate REALTOR® Institute (GRI) designation. Want an edge that will help you market your services and expertise to first-time homebuyers? Earn your Texas Affordable Housing Specialist certification. Need training for your office? We offer Quick Start sales training, for both new and veteran agents. Need MCE in a hurry? We also have dozens of MCE-approved courses that you can take online through

Networking with others
The annual Texas REALTORS® Convention lets you choose from among many different MCE sessions and the industry’s top speakers, learn about the latest industry trends and political developments, and see the newest products and services in the Trade Expo–all while making new friends and expanding your referral network. The Texas REALTORS® Convention, held in September in a different location every year, offers superior value in your ongoing professional development. You may even decide to take the family and write off part of your trip as a business expense! Throughout the year, you can also take advantage of other association events, including the annual Winter Meeting in February in Austin, regional meetings, and other gatherings.

Contracts, forms, and forms software
We’ve created and compiled a large library of forms, contracts, and addenda specific to Texas real estate transactions. As a member, you can access all up-to-date forms and contracts from Even better, download and use ZipForm and ZipFormOnline, the forms-management software that gives you the ultimate flexibility to work with forms on your computer or on the Internet. You can even e-mail contracts to clients. Speed up the process by sharing data between all documents related to the same transaction–simply fill out one form and the information is automatically shared with all of the forms required to complete a transaction. If you have Spanish-speaking clients, you will want copies of Spanish translations of forms and contracts. You can download them for free from the Forms pages in the Legal section of > Benefits & Tools

Discount programs
You can save additional money by taking advantage of one or more of the programs listed here. Because we’re always adding value to your membership, you’ll want to check the Benefits & Tools section of frequently for the latest offers and details. Peace of mind New for 2009, our partnership with New Benefits gives Texas REALTORS® extremely deep discounts on great services such as LifeLock identity-theft protection, TeleDoc phone-a-doctor, emergency roadside assistance, and more. Mobile phones and service Wirefly is the leading online retailer of mobile phones. Visit, plug in your ZIP code on the Wirefly page, and comparison-shop service plans in your area. Choose the mobile phone you’ve always wanted, at the best price, and even receive rebates on your purchase. Recordkeeping and business management Paychex offers member companies a full range of payroll, tax reporting, 401(k) recordkeeping, and other administrative services and solutions at a 15% discount. Clothing Save 20% off regular prices on all clothing, from business suits to casual wear, at more than 300 retail locations of Jos. A. Bank. Your 20% member discount with Jos. A. Bank also applies to Internet and catalog orders. Lodging Save 15% at any of 5,000 Choice Hotels properties worldwide. Save 15% at all La Quinta Inns & Suites nationwide. Save 15%-20% on dozens of name-brand properties managed by Tharaldson Lodging nationwide, including select locations of Courtyard, Comfort, Sleep, Hampton, Fairfield, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Econo Lodge. Car rentals Enterprise Rent-A-Car is a preferred auto rental company for Texas REALTORS® because Enterprise puts you first in price and service. They’ll even pick you up.

Appliances and home furnishings Members of the Texas Association of REALTORS® can save big on items like high-definition televisions, refrigerators, freezers, washers, dryers, dishwashers, stoves, gas grills, lawn mowers, and many others through Sears Commercial. You may purchase these items for yourself, or extend the discount to clients. Internet marketing From iHOUSE REALTOR® Web sites, IDXPro Branded MLS Search Solution, Spotlight Single Property Web sites, ConnecTel Real Estate Listing Hotlines and more, iHouse Web Solutions is the one-stop shop for Texas REALTORS® to create or boost your online business.

Texas REALTOR® members, members’ employees, local association staff, and the family members of all three groups are eligible for term life insurance offered by Ins/Mark of America. Dental and vision Selected Benefits offers more than 30 plans including dental, vision, prescription, chiropractic, and hearing coverages–with no waiting periods on any procedures. Ins/Mark of America offers dental and vision plans to members, members’ employees, local association staff, and the family members of all three groups. Association Benefits has a variety of coverage options for Texas REALTORS®, including dental and vision plans. E&O REO Advisors represents several major errors and omissions providers for the real estate marketplace, and its Texas-based agents have decades of experience helping Texas REALTORS® with their E&O coverage needs. Pearl Insurance has been serving the real estate community since 1950 and is one of the nation’s leading providers of E&O insurance. Association members can enjoy an A+ A.M. Bestrated E&O program, and a variety of life and health products that include major medical, dental, term life, level term life, AD&D, and short-term medical. Disability Group rates for disability benefits are available to Texas REALTORS® through Association Benefits. Association Benefits also offers a variety of medical insurance options for members, their families, and employees–as well as other insurance products. Homeowners insurance Selected Benefits offers homeowners insurance to Texas Association of REALTORS® members and members’ families. Selected Benefits works with only those carriers rated A or higher by A.M. Best.

Insurance programs
Health and medical The National Association of REALTORS® is working with Congress to pass legislation enabling association-sponsored group health insurance for REALTORS®. In the meantime, your state association has a number of options for you: Ins/Mark of America offers affordable insurance to our members, members’ employees, local association staff, and the family members of all three groups. Selected Benefits offers a full range of permanent and temporary health insurance, health savings accounts (HSAs), and other insurance products. Selected Benefits specializes in tailoring products and services to best suit Texas REALTORS®’ needs. Association Benefits offers a variety of health and medical insurance options for members, their families, and employees. Nicholas Hill Benefit Group provides members and their families with comprehensive, affordable health insurance protection. You can be approved in as little as 24 hours. Life Selected Benefits offers term and universal life insurance and other plans. > Benefits & Tools

Free stuff
Take advantage of all the free stuff you’re entitled to as a member of the Texas Association of REALTORS®. Here’s a sneak peak at just some of the things your annual dues covers: Texas REALTOR® magazine helps you succeed in the real world. You get 10 issues of this award-winning publication a year, and each one is packed with the latest legal, technology, and marketing information. Audio podcasts keep you up to date with quick info to go. You don‘t always have time to read the latest information on your business and industry. But you can stay current by subscribing to the free Texas REALTOR® Update podcast on Get timely info, from legal issues to tech tips–delivered right to your computer or MP3 player! Marketing materials increase your visibility while reinforcing the Texas REALTOR® brand. Our broad selection of consumer handouts–free fliers that you can download in PDF and personalize with your own contact information–reinforce your standing as the consumer’s real estate professional of choice. Many are available in Spanish, too. is the one Web site that’s specifically for Texas consumers. It helps fulfill consumers’ need for credible real estate-related information, and educates them about what you do as a Texas REALTOR® to protect their interests. All members are encouraged to use our free RSS feed to automatically place headlines on your Web site that link straight to the latest news and features on MongoFax turns any fax machine into a scanner. Using the special cover sheet for Texas REALTORS® and toll-free number, simply fax your document and it’s delivered securely as a PDF attachment to any e-mail address you designate. Convert hard copies to digital archives. Keep the transaction moving even when you’re out of the office and without a computer. Learn more about this totally free service, and get the MongoFax/Texas Association of REALTORS® cover sheet, at Do Not Call Sentry helps you comply with confusing donot-call rules. It is an easy-to-use online system and it’s free for Texas REALTORS®!

ZipForm keeps all your real estate forms and contracts organized and computerized. Many REALTORS® pay $100 or more a year for ZipForm, but Texas REALTORS® enjoy ZipFormDesktop and ZipFormOnline as a free benefit of membership. Prescription drug card saves you money. With your Advantage HealthCard, available through Houston-based Ins/Mark of America, you’ll save up to 60% on your prescription drugs. This card is absolutely free to all Texas Association of REALTORS® members and their families, and it’s honored at many independent and chain pharmacies. Texas homebuyers and sellers survey data lets you know what the consumer trends are here in Texas, so you can make better marketing and business decisions. We commission this NAR Research study on your behalf every year, then give you the results, for free, through and Texas REALTOR® magazine. Oh, and one more thing while we’re on the subject of “free.” Did you know that your state association also provides professional standards services statewide for Texas REALTORS®? If you have a Code of Ethics complaint to file, or one is filed against you, we offer a free ombudsman program, conducted by phone, as the first step to resolve the matter.

Online store at
You can shop 24/7 for Texas Association of REALTORS® products through the member Web site, Your online store features closing gifts, educational materials, “I Am a Texas REALTOR®“ logo apparel, including caps and shirts, and a vast array of other items you can use in your business. Besides the “I Am a Texas REALTOR®“ items that let you show your pride as a Texas REALTOR®, you can purchase both Texas Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® logo products, and even order merchandise customized with your name and/or company logo. Whatever brand you want to market, chances are you’ll find it here. And when you log in to before placing your order, you will receive a 15% discount on all items purchased. That’s 15% off every order, every time. Now that’s a member benefit! > Benefits & Tools

Driving Texas REALTOR® pride!
Show everyone you’re proud of what you do. Purchase your “I Am a Texas REALTOR®” specialty license plate for only $30. And get this: $22 of your $30 goes to support affordable housing projects and causes through the Texas Association of REALTORS® Housing Opportunity Foundation. By marketing yourself, you’ll be helping others. You can even personalize your plate for an additional $40. And you don’t have to wait until your vehicle registration renewal. For details, visit

Look for this logo ...

Benefits partners
If a company offers a product or service to Texas REALTORS®, we expect the absolute best pricing and customer service for our members. Take a look at our criteria to be considered as a potential marketing partner: Does the program save members at least 15% off normal pricing? Does the program offer something that Texas REALTORS® cannot get anywhere else? Does the partner/company advertise in Texas REALTOR® magazine,, or Texas REALTOR® Focus e-newsletter? Does the partner provide a Web site and phone number for Texas REALTORS® who may be interested in obtaining more information? Does the partner/company appear to be stable and committed to providing superior customer service to our members, regardless of how many use the program?

Remember ... new programs are added year-round. For the latest, go to > Benefits & Tools.

Texas Association of REALTORS® 1115 San Jacinto Blvd., Suite 200 Austin, TX 78701-1906 Mailing Address P.O. Box 2246 Austin, TX 78768-2246 Main Line 512/480-8200 Main Fax 512/370-2390 Toll Free 800/873-9155 Online

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