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At the start of next year REALTORS® should understand how they can help homeowners comply with new smoke detector regulations.  Effective January 10, 2010 only photoelectric smoke detectors will be allowed within 20 feet of a kitchen or a bathroom containing a bathtub or shower.   According to fire officials this is because photoelectric detectors are less prone to false alarms when steam or smoke is produced.  Outside of this area you must have both a photoelectric and ionization smoke detector.

This change mirrors an existing provision of the state building code which prohibits the installation of ionization smoke detectors in new construction.  By placing a similar requirement in the fire code older homes built prior to 1975 are captured.

GBREB successfully opposed an earlier version of the regulations that would have placed additional liability on REALTORS® during a fire inspection and required compliance by October of 2008.  GBREB has strongly urged regulators and manufacturers to make it easier for consumers to clearly identify the difference between the two types.  Until then consumers are urged to carefully determine the type of detector they are purchasing.

Click here for more information on complying.

After several years of securing a series of one-year moratoriums preventing banks from entering into the real estate business, the National Association of REALTORS® has made its voice heard.

On March 11, President Obama signed an Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2009 which contains a provision permanently prohibiting national bank conglomerates and financial services holding companies from entering into the real estate brokerage and management businesses. 

For more information and a list of frequently asked questions about banks in real estate, click visit


The U.S. Treasury Department has issued guidelines for President Obama’s Making Home Affordable program – an initiative which is designed to help nearly nine million U.S. families avoid foreclosure by restructuring or refinancing their mortgages.

Under the Home Affordable Refinance program, individuals and families of owner-occupied housing that have lost value will be able to refinance loans that are owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.  To be eligible borrowers must be current in making their loan payments and may have a loan-to-value ratio between 80 and 105 percent.  It is estimated that up to 4-5 million homeowners will be able to refinance their home loan to take advantage of today’s lower mortgage rates or convert an adjustable rate mortgage into a more stable product, such as a 30-year fixed rate loan.  Cash out refinancing are not permitted under this program, which ends in June 2010.

The Home Affordable Loan Modification program will help up to 4 million households at risk of foreclosure to reduce their monthly mortgage payments by offering incentives to lenders, mortgage servicers, investors and borrowers that will offer the flexibility to provide more favorable loan terms to homeowners.  Again, only borrowers of owner-occupied housing units are eligible, and they must have loans at or below the maximum GSE conforming loan limit of $729,750 for a single-family home (higher limits apply to owners of 2-4 family properties).  Borrowers must already be in default or at risk of default, and loans must have been originated on or before January 1, 2009 to qualify.  Loan modifications can begin anytime between March 4, 2009 and December 31, 2012, but terms of the loan can only be modified once under this program.

To lean more about the new Treasury guidelines for the Making Home Affordable program, including detailed fact sheets, consumer FAQs for borrowers, and more, visit


The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® recently finalized a new, three-year strategic plan that will outline the organization's direction through 2011. The plan was created via a 15 member Strategic Planning Committee during a two-day retreat in December 2008. Gar Anderson, vice-president for association outreach for the National Association of REALTORS® moderated the retreat. To help the committee understand members’ needs, focus groups were held in June and a member-wide survey was implemented this past fall. To view the plan, click here.


The 2010 nomination process for GBAR leadership is now open and is perfect for members looking to take a more active role in the association. The deadline to apply for the position of Greater Boston Region Vice President to the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR)is April 1, 2009, while the deadline to apply for other positions, including GBAR president-elect, vice-president, treasurer and director, and MAR State Director is July 15.  Information on the qualifications and responsibilities of each open position, as well as the candidate application process is available in the 2010 GBAR Nomination Packet.