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Whether a rookie or a veteran, many REALTORS® easily fall into a routine of showing properties, going to home inspections and later appearing at closings.  The familiarity of these situations and the expertise of a REALTOR® can sometimes make a person let down his or her guard.  Please be advised however, never to let your guard down – especially after reading the following story that took place last week in the New Bedford area.

An agent was called on her cell phone to show a vacant listing.  After arriving, she quickly became uncomfortable as the two men that met her there followed her around the downstairs uncomfortably close and kept urging her to show them the upstairs.  Luckily, her office has a set procedure for handling this type of situation and she was able to alert her office under the pretext of calling in for more information.  Two agents from the office immediately headed for the listing and the two men took off in a hurry as soon as they arrived.  This served as a huge wakeup call for her and many other REALTORS® never to let their guard down.  If your office does not currently have a safety plan in place, please do so as quickly as possible.  You can access more safety tips through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® as well as the National Association of REALTORS®.

On a similar note, there is a new service being offered by HomesinTransition that allows people to rent out vacant properties.  The renters are responsible for keeping the home maintained and understand that if a house sells he or she can be asked to move out in as little as five days.  The service is free to homeowners and is a way to prevent vandalism.  To read the story click here


The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has sent a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke, and the heads of the FDIC and Federal Housing Finance Agency to urge their assistance in addressing the costs and availability of mortgage capital at the retail level. 

According to NAR, long-term mortgage rates should be 4.5 percent, or perhaps lower, given the investment and regulatory efforts made by the federal government and taxpayers to strengthen the nation's banking system and improve the safety and soundness of the mortgage credit delivery system. However, rates remain near 5 percent, on average, for homeowners and small businesses primarily because large lending firms have laid off staff and are now using price "to deter new mortgage applications instead of building or supporting additional capacity so that borrowers can purchase or refinance property at more reasonable market rates," NAR officials contend.

The deliberate actions of large financial institutions to reduce capacity system-wide is not only harming consumers, but also competition in the marketplace and the viability of small and midsized retail lenders.  These lenders tend to rely on large FDIC-insured depository institutions for short-term "warehouse" credit lines that enable them to provide funds at the closing table.  Without warehouse lines or similar access to capital, small and midsized lender cannot lend and will be at risk of going out of business, NAR President Charles McMillan asserted in the letter.

To read the NAR letter in its entirety, click here.

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Do you have a current foreclosure or short sale listing in the city of Boston?  Then consider showcasing them to qualified buyers attending a second home buying fair being sponsored by the City of Boston.  The fair, being held on May 16 at the Tobin Community Center in Roxbury, will help match homebuyers to REO properties listed for sale in Boston.

More than 500 people attended the city’s first fair in February.  They learned about programs offered through the Boston Home Center to educate new buyers and provide a range of programs and financial assistance for the purchase and rehabilitation of REO properties.  Attendees were also able to attend a seminar on "How to Purchase a Foreclosed Property" and a Financial Assistance Workshop.

If you're interested in participating you should have experience working with REO listings (with current listings in Boston) and experience working with first-time home buyers and/or owner occupant buyers.

Participating lenders, non-profit counselors and city employees will be at the fair to explain various programs and services benefitting homebuyers, such as specialty mortgage products. 

You can download the registration form and other materials online. To register, or for questions, contact Christine McCrorey at cmccrorey.dnd@cityofboston.gov or via fax at (617) 635-0183 by April 30.

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You asked and we listened.  GBAR members can now login to their profile and update their license number, type and expiration date.  With your updated license information, we'll soon be sending you reminder e-mails for when your license is due to be renewed along with our upcoming continuing education courses.  By doing so we hope to take some of the stress you have by remembering one more date on the calendar.  If your license needs to renewed soon, you can check out our April, May and June continuing education courses.  For questions contact our membership department at (617) 423-8700.

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In an attempt to save foreclosed homes in Massachusetts, Mayor Menino has announced the availability of more than $4 million to purchase and renovate foreclosed homes and properties abandoned by developers.  The funds will be distributed by the city's Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) division and will help developers with the cost of renovating vacant REO properties for three specific purposes – 1.) owner-occupied homes, 2.) rental properties for low and moderate-income renters, and 3.) supportive housing for homeless families.  

State officials also announced a statewide clearinghouse program aimed at acquiring foreclosed properties and revitalizing communities hardest hit by foreclosures. 

The Massachusetts Foreclosed Properties Initiative was developed in partnership with Citizens' Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), a non-profit affordable housing organization and political officials such as Rep. Barney Frank, Governor Deval Patrick and Tina Brooks, Massachusetts' housing policy chief. 

The state will see more than $4 billion dollars from the Housing and Economic Recovery Act stimulus passed in July 2008 and $2 billion from this year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

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By Marilyn Urso, CRB, CRS®

The Green Movement started back in the 1960s and '70s when most of us were not particularly conscious of the environment and how quickly we were destroying it. Today, everything is green - or trying to be - from cleaning products to building products to cars. So it's no surprise that more and more consumers are looking to have healthier homes and save money on their utility bills. At least that's what I'm seeing in my market - how about you?

At the REALTORS® Conference in Orlando, last November, I was lucky enough to be in the first class of students for the National Association of REALTORS®' new green designation. There were 236 people taking the class, if that's any indication of the level of interest. It was two days filled with environmental and energy-saving concepts, ideas, and information that we can use to help our customers and clients in the buying and selling process.

There's no particular green demographic; it spans all generations and cultures. As REALTORS®, it is not our job to be the green experts, but we do need to have the knowledge and the team of experts to help consumers get the answers they need regarding all aspects green. So I encourage you to start building that team-the home inspectors and energy audit professionals, the organic landscapers and interior designers, and the banks that can provide green loans, just to name a few.

At REALTOR® magazine online and REALTOR.org, you can search "green" or "smart growth" for a lot of ideas on how to go green in your real estate practice. You're bound to become greener in the process-and, from there, you can determine whether NAR's new green designation is right for you.

GBAR is offering its second Green Designation class on April 27 and 28 as well as the Residential Green Elective required to complete the designation on April 22 and 29.  You can also enroll in our six credit green continuing education courses on April 23.

Finally, you can also access a green field guide created by NAR online.

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