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New smoke detector regulations will take effect on April 5, 2010.  The regulations govern the installation of smoke detectors in single family homes and five unit multifamily residential buildings which have not been constructed, altered or modified since January 1, 1975.

A special seminar on the smoke detector rules is being offered by the Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s Government Affairs Department and includes state fire officials and representatives of the Boston Fire Department.   The one hour seminar will be held on February 2nd at the Greater Boston Real Estate Board located at One Center Plaza, Mezzanine Level.  Seating is limited and the deadline to register is January 29th.

Regulation FAQs | Printable PDF Version | Click here for information on the special seminar or to register


Several months ago the Association warned members of a Craigslist internet scam.  The scam has reappeared in a new variation. In this variation, listing information including photos are gathered from an agent's or brokerage firm's website and a fake Craigslist ad is created advertising the property for rent, typically at a bargain rental. The ad is accompanied by contact information which includes an email address and a phone number, which may be the agent's or the owner's phone number. Email inquiries receive replies with an elaborate story concerning the “owner's” necessity of renting very quickly. Of course, the scammer then makes off with the deposit for the “rental.”

REALTORS® should be careful of putting too much information concerning their listings out on the internet. REALTORS® may wish to reconsider advertising on websites that do not provide security measures to weed out ads that are not identified. Finally, if an agent begins receiving inquiries concerning property for rent when the property is really listed for sale, the agent should immediately check Craigslist and other similar websites to ensure that their listing is not being misrepresented by a scammer. Agents should also advise owners to refer all inquires concerning the property, whether for lease or sale, to their agent so as to avoid providing private information to scammers or lending credence to lies told to an innocent party. For further information contact the MAR Legal Hotline at 800-370-LEGAL or visit www.realtor.org. (Reprinted with permission from the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® Legal Hotline Notes.)

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Just in time for the holidays and the cold weather, the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR) presented the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless with a check for $23,200 to the support the Coalition's programming initiatives.  The funds were issued through the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) Foundation and reflect individuals charitable contributions made by REALTORS® to the GBREB Foundation as well as donations raised at GBAR networking events held this summer and fall.

GBAR's support for the Coalition also included a furniture drive conducted this fall in which nine truckloads of sofas, beds, tables and other household items were donated by REALTORS® and GBAR affiliate members to be provided to those transitioning from shelters and motels to permanent housing.  In total, GBAR has donated more than $40,000 in grants and in-kind contributions to the Coalition since 2007.  Read the release

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Short sale procedures for loan servicers have been standardized in guidelines released last month under the federal government's Making Home Affordable loan modification initiative for troubled home owners. The guidelines create a path for a short-sale or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure for eligible borrowers for whom loan modification isn't a viable option. The guidelines provide $1,500 in federal funds to help borrowers relocate, $1,000 to help servicers offset their processing costs, and up to $1,000 to investors to secure release of subordinate liens. For each $3 an investor pays to secure the release of a lien, the investor receives $1 in assistance.

The guidelines prohibit a reduction in agreed-upon commissions (if they're not more than 6 percent) and take effect April 5, 2010, but can be implemented by servicers at any time. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are expected to follow this release with their own rules based on these guidelines.

To learn about short sales, attend the upcoming GBAR Seminar, Understanding and Handling Short Sales with Attorney Stephen Silveri, Esq., which is scheduled for March 5, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., at the GBREB offices in Boston.  The seminar, which will earn attendees 2 CE credits (Foreclosures RE28 RC07) will examine each step of the short sale process, including who has the authority to negotiate short sales, managing buyers and their expectations, and communicating loss mitigation.  In addition, you will receive a checklist for requesting short sale approval, learn how to protect your commission, and the role of PMI in short sales.  Tuition is $45 for GBAR and GBREB members. Register online or call GBAR at 617-423-8700.

Read an NAR summary. Read the entire guidelines.

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A recently announced initiative by the Obama administration to boost home energy retrofitting would provide much-needed information on the issue and help develop a market for improving energy efficiency, but NAR would have serious concerns if the initiative tried to use the home buying process to implement the labeling of homes. NAR President Vicki Cox Golder recently outlined NAR's concerns in a letter to the White House.

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