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MAR President Gary Rogers and Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® President John Ranco submitted a joint op-ed to the Boston Globe last week.  You can read the piece entitled Restoring Our Economy Begins with Housing Stabilization
online.  The op-ed reiterates the importance of President Obama and Congress completing a bipartisan stimulus package focused on housing.  Other tactics Rogers and Ranco support are directing federal rescue dollars to buy down mortgage rates, a broader tax credit available to all home buyers and the elimination of repaying the credit. To read the full story, click here.


As a reminder, GBAR's quarterly and year-end market data reports for its 54 cities and town jurisdiction are now available online.  You can access the number of properties sold, median selling price, under agreements and on-the-market snapshots for the condo and single-family markets.  There are also reports available for 10 of the surrounding communities not falling under GBAR's jurisdiction. Click for Real Estate Rewind

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The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) hailed the U.S. Senate and Congress for reconciling their differences regarding The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.  Details of the legislation include a number of important housing provisions such as:
  • A $7,500 homebuyer tax credit that will be available for qualified purchase of a principal residence by a first time homebuyer between January 1, 2009 and September 1, 2009.  Individuals who purchase in 2009 using financing assistance from state and local mortgage bonds will be permitted to use the tax credit as well.  The credit does not require repayment.

  • Revised loan limits for FHA, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Reports indicate that the 2008 limits have been reinstated for 2009 except in communities where the 2009 limits are higher.

  • Foreclosure mitigation and neighborhood stabilization. Funding for states and localities to be used for neighborhood stabilization activities for the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes are authorized. Some news reports put the funding level at $2 billion.

  • Rental assistance. Up to $1.5 billion to provide short-term rental assistance and other aid for families during the economic crisis.

  • Low-income housing grants. Allow states to trade in a portion of their 2009 low-income housing tax credits for Treasury grants to finance the construction or acquisition and rehabilitation of low-income housing, including those with or without tax credit allocations

  • Energy efficient housing. Grants for energy retrofits for federally assisted housing (Section 8), funding for energy efficiency and conservation block grants to states, and increases in the residential tax credit through 2010 for certain energy efficient upgrades.

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December marked the fourth consecutive month in 2008 that the number of foreclosure deeds fell under 1,000, according to a report published by The Warren Group.  Nearly 60 percent of those deeds were filed between March and August, when more than 1,000 were recorded each month.  Foreclosure deeds then jumped 21.7 percent during the month of December, but were still 40.4 percent lower than the 2,724 petitions that were filed during the same time in 2007.

Foreclosure deeds totaled 12,430 in 2008 compared to 7,653 in 2007 and 3,130 in 2006.  The recent drop off may be linked to a law passed last year that requires lenders wanting to initiate foreclosure wait 90 days to allow delinquent borrows more time to pay off mortgage loan defaults.

On a similar note, the administration of Governor Deval L. Patrick issued a brochure in December that outlines the rights and responsibilities of Massachusetts renters living in foreclosed buildings.  The administration noted that the Commonwealth's Division of Banks estimates that 30 percent of the 7,653 Massachusetts foreclosure sales in 2007 involved multi-family properties.

According to state law, a tenant is entitled to at least 30 days written notice if the owner wants them to vacate the property.  A tenant is entitled to a court hearing should he or she wish to remain in the home after receiving the proper 30 days written notice.  Without court approval, owners do not have the right to evict their tenants.  The brochure can be accessed online.

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With so many accomplishments in 2008, the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR) decided to highlight them in its first-ever annual report.  The report details the great ideas and hard work that the many volunteers of GBAR's committees - from the first-ever advertising campaign created by the Communications Committee to the nearly $25,000 the Community Service Committee helped raise for the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.  You can also read about our members who received awards and recognition throughout the year including this year's Greater Boston and Massachusetts REALTOR® of the Year Amleto "Mel" Martocchia.  A membership report and a financial report are also included in the report.  We hope you take a few minutes to read about our members' successes throughout 2008.  Click for Annual Report

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In November John Tuccillo, a national speaker, industry consultant and former chief economist for the National Association of REALTORS® offered some "straight talk" to more than 100 GBAR members about the current economy and identified the opportunities available for you to survive and thrive in these uncertain economic times. He also addressed the new global economy, consumer demographics, and how recent FHA reform measures and the placement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac into conservatorship are likely to affect future housing demand and the next business opportunities in real estate.  A panel of top producing, veteran agents and brokers from around New England were on hand to share personal experiences, practical advice and successful strategies for surviving and thriving in today's market.  You can access the Tuccillo presentation and the REALTOR® panel discussion online.

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GBAR is once again sponsoring the eighth annual National Real Estate CyberConvention and Exposition, which is expected to attract more than 30,000 real estate professionals over the seven days of the event - February 22-28.  You can register now for free and also be entered in the Grand Prize Drawing for a Four Star luxury cruise for two.

This year's keynote speakers include Matthew Ferrara, CEO of Matthew Ferrara Seminars, Michael Russer, president and CEO of Russer Communications and Stefan Swanepoel, CEO of RealtyUGroup.  More than 40 nationally recognized real estate trainers, authors and industry experts will be available in four educational tracks: Broker/Agent Productivity, Tech Tips and Tools, Promoting Your Business and Top Commercial Presenters.  For a downloadable flyer click here.

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