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Rent Resources

If you’re a renter having trouble paying your rent, utilities, or other housing costs – or if you’re a landlord trying to stay afloat with tenants in this situation – help may be available. State and local programs are distributing billions of dollars in rental assistance to help renters stay housed during the pandemic.

Visit the CFPB’s Rental Assistance Finder to find out what this means for you and what you can do.  The CFPB’s site also includes resources to help renters and landlords understand other resources to help navigate various financial hardships related to the pandemic.
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Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Marian McPherson
Over the past year, the worsening imbalance between supply and demand has pushed homebuyers to the edge. Bidding wars and seller-friendly concessions have become the norm as buyers vie for their chance to own a home, even if it’s far from what they originally hoped for.

Although bidding wars are slowing and asking prices are leveling out, NerdWallet’s latest market analysis shows buyers are still feeling the pressure to do whatever it takes to purchase a home, which, unsurprisingly, can lead to dissatisfaction and regret.

“There are many reasons a buyer might regret their home purchase, or aspects of it,” the report read. “And in 2021, even more than in the past five years as a whole, the risk of buyer’s remorse is high. The heavily tilted seller’s market means most buyers are making sacrifices in order to successfully close on a home.”

Here are a few ways to make sure your clients don’t rue the day they bought their home.

Encourage buyers to separate wants from needs

The first issue for homebuyers, NerdWallet said, is the breakneck pace homes are being snapped up. Prior to June 2020, the five-year average for days on market was 41 days. However, that average has plummeted to a mere 18 days as low-interest rates keep buyers on the playing field.

To avoid wasting time during the home search, NerdWallet suggests buyers take more time to calculate a reasonable purchasing budget and create a list of wants and needs, so they can quickly identify the home that has everything they need, even if some of the bells and whistles are missing.

“Get specific: Know which features you’re willing to compromise on and what’s out of bounds in regards to [the] sales price,” the report read. “Making decisions such as ‘Do we really need a third bedroom?’ or ‘Can we afford another $50,000?’ on the fly is risky, at best.”

Don’t sacrifice everything

Although parsing the difference between a buyer’s wants and needs is important, NerdWallet noted the best way to avoid regret is resisting the urge to dismiss everything on the nice-to-have list.

“The number of homes on the market has fallen by about 55 percent from September 2019, when it last peaked, according to residential listing data from,” the report noted. “The supply of homes being offered for sale is paltry, so buyers are unlikely to find one that satisfies their wish list.”

“Being flexible is a must in this market, but sacrificing too much could leave [buyers] with a home that’s a far cry from the one [they] envisioned,” it added.

Ask buyers what their most important wants and needs are, and be willing to search longer or even pause the homebuying process if you foresee more-fitting inventory coming down the pipeline in the upcoming months.

Pull back on exorbitant offers and waiving contingencies

The past year has been an unusually strong sellers’ market where buyers are even battling over clearly overpriced homes. When offering four or five figures above the asking price hasn’t been enough, some buyers have resorted to waiving contingencies — a move that can come back to bite.
“When pitted against an all-cash offer for asking price or above, buyers who must borrow might try to entice the seller by taking dangerous risks, like forgoing a home inspection,” the report read. “But 10 percent of homeowners who have purchased in the past five years regret not getting a pre-purchase home inspection, and 13 percent of these recent buyers say they regret discovering their home had significant problems in need of repair.”

Before making an offer, NerdWallet said, it’s important to know your buyers’ purchasing threshold and be willing to walk away from a deal that could cause major headaches in the future. “Winning isn’t everything. Don’t let the competition pressure you into forgoing important protections or going over budget,” the report added.

Stop buyers from stretching their budget to the max

Many homebuyers, especially first-timers, don’t understand that just because they’ve been pre-approved for a certain loan amount doesn’t automatically mean they can afford it. Although they can afford a monthly mortgage, additional homeownership costs such as appliance repairs and purchases, regular maintenance and insurance could easily push them over the edge.

“Five years ago, in July 2016, homes were selling for $245,100, or $278,100 in today’s dollars, according to data from the National Association of Realtors,” the report read. “Now, the typical sales price is $360,000, nearly $82,000 more [and] incomes have not kept up.”
“What this means is a buyer’s money won’t go as far today,” it added. “Add to that the ongoing costs of homeownership, and it’s clear how quickly home buyers can get in over their heads.”

To avoid regret and possible foreclosure, help buyers create a holistic budget that accounts for their mortgage and the costs for maintaining their home on a monthly and annual basis. That will give them a more realistic idea of how far they can go to get the home they want.
4 Ways to Ensure Buyers Don't Regret Their Purchase

Improvements Coming to Boston Fire Inspection Process

Under the leadership of Boston Fire Department Commissioner Jack Dempsey, Fire Marshall Joseph Shea and his team at the Boston Fire Department, BFD is poised to introduce new technology to alleviate many of the pain points for REALTORS® in the smoke and co detector inspection process.   The team at BFD has secured funding for the project and is working with the City of Boston’s Chief Information Officer to implement the new system. BFD has been researching technology in other jurisdictions including the City of Quincy, which is very similar to the new portal in Boston. It is hoped that the new system will be fully operational by January of 2022. 

GBREB continues to have dialogue with the BFD regarding changes members would like to see incorporated including accepting new forms of payment.  Currently BFD is required by the City of Boston to only accept bank checks and money orders which they hope to address by allowing credit cards.

In addition to the new portal, BFD has worked to retrain staff on customer service including responding to emails and messages with questions on inspections. After hearing from several members that closing attorneys were rejecting inspection certificates without unit numbers, GBREB also raised the issue with BFD.  BFD promptly responded by investigating the issue and found that when the addressing system does not have a unit set up by the city it is the accepted business policy to list the unit number in the comments section.  Training was also conducted with BFD staff on the issue of unit numbers.   On September 1, BFD also decreased the wait time for inspections by going back to its morning and afternoon hours.   

As a reminder the Boston Fire Department allows for a smoke certificate to be good for 90 days, unlike the Commonwealth of Massachusetts which only allows for 60 days.  REALTORS are encouraged to apply for an inspection as soon as the property is listed. This will allow for plenty of time to get the inspection done and allow for corrective action when the home does not pass.  According to BFD an average of 275 inspections are conducted each week. At this time all inspection requests are now easily accommodated.
Improvements Coming to Fire Inspections In Boston
Check out the September edition of the MAA Insider featuring highlights from past events, information on upcoming events plus local and national multifamily news.

Read the September MAA Insider.
MAA Insider - September 2021

Did you miss our September Newsletter? Read about upcoming BOMA Boston events, news, and educational opportunities!

 Read the September BOMA Enews.

September 2021 E-News
As we navigate the ups and downs of the pandemic and the real estate market, we want to let you, our current and potential Realtor partners, know about an important new MassHousing objective.

Over the next five years we intend to build up the percentage of MassHousing loans made to Persons of Color each year from 34% today to 50% in 2026.

Over the last year and half, many social and economic disparities have received attention. One of the most dramatic is that the home ownership rate for People of Color is only about half of what it is for white homeowners in Massachusetts.

MassHousing is committed to doing its part to change that.

In the coming weeks and months, we will be reaching out to the Realtor community to help build greater public awareness of MassHousing’s affordable home mortgage loans.

In the meantime, we hope you will re-familiarize yourselves with us, by visiting our website, following us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and staying in touch with us.

One last thing. We just updated our list of top lenders and loan officers who are originating the most MassHousing loans. Check the list out here

We invite you to contact the members of our Relationship Management Team if you would like to learn more about how MassHousing and Realtors can work together. You can reach them at 1-888-843-6432 or at [email protected].
MassHousing Announces Plan to Increase Loans to Persons of Color


Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Erica Ramus

With the market starting to cool, now's a good time to check in with your agents. Are they on track with their goals? Here's how to make the most of agent check-ins and successfully plan for the upcoming year
As we head into September, now is the time to check in with your agents and see how they are doing with their 2021 goals. Many agents simply wanted to make it through 2020 and overcome the difficulties of selling houses during COVID-19.

Hopefully, your agents set realistic goals for 2021, and you’ve been tracking their progress throughout the year. With the inventory shortage issues of 2021, buyer’s agents may be short of their goals, while seller’s agents with strong listings may be ahead of the game.

No matter where your individual agents stand, now is the time to check their sales stats and sit down with them to plan for 2022. Here are four steps I take each year with my agents.

1. Assess agent stats

Pull stats for each agent, and compare them to the prior year. I do this for the entire brokerage as a group and then for each individual agent. See if you can spot any trends.

This is harder this year because 2020 and 2021 definitely were not normal years. But in general, you’ll be able to see up or down trends, and you’ll hopefully spot problems before they turn into bigger issues.

I run these numbers at the end of each quarter. If you see an agent who typically closed six sides a quarter in 2019 and dropped to four per quarter in 2020, you might attribute it to the pandemic. Did production increase again in 2021, or did it drop to two per quarter this year? 

2. Schedule agent check-ins

Brokers and managers should make every effort to plan a face-to-face check-in with every agent at least once a quarter. Virtual brokerages and larger offices may find this difficult, but if you have 20 agents or less (as most firms in the country do), this shouldn’t be too challenging.

I have 11 agents, and I check in regularly with each one. More than half of my agents are in the office at least three times a week. The others may live farther from the office or prefer to work from home, which is fine.

The ones who come in regularly have assigned desks. I manage by walking around and sitting with whoever happens to be in the office on any given day. We talk about current clients and files.

Sometimes, problems come up in these discussions that my agents may not normally pick up the phone to call me about. However, because we are in the office at the same time, they’ll often mention their concerns and issues, and we’ll mastermind them together. 

When it comes to agents who only stop in to drop off files or use the conference room, I will call them at least twice a month to just see how they are doing and if they need any help. I have had brokers tell me they leave their agents alone if they are quiet, assuming everything is fine. I have a more hands-on approach.

3. Create a custom coaching plan

During my check-ins, I ask if there is anything they need help with or what their pain points are. This lets the agents know the staff is there to support them — and that I’m there to help them achieve their goals. 

During a recent check-in, I discovered an agent was struggling with one of our software platforms, and their paperwork was falling behind because of it. I was able to sit with that person and show them shortcuts and best practices to speed up their use of the system.

In another chat, I learned that an agent’s slipping production numbers was due to the fact that he had taken on several other non-real estate projects and side jobs. This led to a difficult conversation about focus and deciding if he would be better off as a part-time agent in another office, as our office only hires full-time professionals.

Once you know where the pain points are for your agents and what’s going on in their personal lives that may be affecting production, you can sit down with them and create a plan to coach them to success. In my office, one size does not fit all. We don’t have one sales playbook or training path. With 11 agents, customized mentoring works for my office. 

4. Start building for 2022

Before we know it, we’ll be moving into cooler weather and pumpkin-spice-everything season. In my area, sales cool down the end of August then pick up a little in September. Then, we slow down the closer we get to November and the holiday season.

That’s why now is the perfect time to look at your firm’s trends for 2019, 2020 and what you have to date for 2021. Where do you want to be in 2022?

In my September meetings with agents, I start the planning process for next year. Although we don’t know what the inventory situation will be like next year or what the COVID-19 virus will look like, we should know what worked — and what didn’t — in 2021. Make adjustments to your marketing and agents’ business plans to take into account this uncertainty.

Finally, an in-person check-in with each agent right now might clue you into agents who are feeling restless or unhappy with the office or their production in general.

We see agents the fourth quarter of each year start looking at other offices and considering a brokerage change. You may be able to see this coming before it happens if you have your finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the office and the mood of your agents.
Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate.
Are Your Agents on Track? 4 Steps for Keeping Them on Goal
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess

Here’s a handy list of video ideas that every agent can — and should — easily make to reach out to more potential buyers and sellers and keep in touch with past clients:
Many of us know we should be shooting more videos to connect with our potential clients, but we aren’t sure what those videos should be about. The good news is that other agents around the country have likely created some of the same videos that will help us grow our business.

I’ve generated a list of 21 videos that real estate agents can use to market their businesses by connecting with buyers, sellers and past clients. I’m going to break these into groups of videos including videos to attract sellers, videos to attract buyers, videos to attract both buyers and sellers, and videos for past clients.

If you search for each of these titles on YouTube, you can get an idea of how other agents are using them, adapt them to your own local market and build your own videos that provide value to your audience.

How to attract sellers

1. 5 things to do before listing your house in (your city)
This video is designed to capture the attention of future sellers early in their process. Highlight the steps they can take to dress their house up for the selling process, like removing clutter and improving landscaping.

Include all the things you routinely tell people at a listing appointment, and publish the video with a call to action that invites viewers to contact you for a free, no-obligation conversation about how they can sell their homes for the highest price in the shortest period of time.

This video gives you the ability to capture the attention of future sellers just prior to putting their homes on the market.

2. 5 biggest mistakes sellers make in (your city)
This video should highlight the common mistakes that you’ve seen people make when selling their homes.

Explain mistakes like overpricing the home, failing to prepare for showings and other missteps that will negatively impact the sales price and time frame for selling a home.

3. Should I sell my house in (your city) right now?
Use this content to identify two groups of people: those who are considering selling their homes now and those who will sell sometime in the future. Break down the market for your potential clients and help them understand what is happening at this moment in time, and also help them understand what you anticipate in the future of real estate.

Of course each seller’s personal situation will differ, but we can help them understand the factors that are at work in the market.

4. Unsolicited video CMAs
You can target these videos to people who have expressed an interest in selling their homes, your past buyers, homes in your farm area or anyone you know who owns a home.

You’ll gather information about the home’s value, record your screen to show the homeowner that the information is current, and send it to homeowners with a call to action that invites them to call you for a no-obligation consultation.

I sent out 72 of these in a three month period and generated $11 million from the effort, and I believe it’s one of the best strategies available to agents who want to grow their business.

How to attract buyers

5. 5 reasons you shouldn’t buy a home in (your city or farm neighborhood)
This video will attract people because of its negative headline, but Trudy VanHorn with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Panama City Beach put a spin on it, so it’s really all about the positives of the neighborhood. Include language like this in your video: Don’t buy in this neighborhood if you hate having sidewalks that wrap around the entire neighborhood.
Don’t buy in this neighborhood if you hate being surrounded by families, because this area is full of small children and a variety of age groups.

The clickbait title will draw them in and present the positives of the neighborhood you’re farming.

6. 5 things you should know before buying in (your city or farm area)
Share general demographics about the area to educate buyers before they move to a specific area.

Provide the average size of houses, the distance to popular destinations in the area and other details about the neighborhood, so potential buyers can decide whether the area is a good fit for them.

7. What people love about living in (your city or farm area)
These videos allow you to highlight the amenities of a neighborhood, like swimming pools, workout facilities, walking trails or other features that current residents love.

These videos also establish you as the expert on that neighborhood so that people who see your content on social media will think of you when they’re ready to buy or sell.

8. What people hate about living in (your city)
In these videos, be honest about the things that people dislike about living in a certain neighborhood. Is it the heat and humidity? The traffic? The weather?

Your honesty about the things that people dislike will earn you credibility with your audience. Instead of telling them only the good in an attempt to sell them something, give them all the information they need to make an informed decision. They’ll trust your honesty.

9. Should I rent or buy in (your city or farm area)?
This video will also highlight a certain neighborhood, and it will help your audience weigh the costs of living in a particular area and potentially put themselves in a better financial situation.

What is the average rent in the neighborhood? How much is the average mortgage payment? This video will help you explain the benefits of homeownership, and it will also help you identify first-time homebuyers who can become your customers.

10. Coming soon
You should create one of these videos for every single listing that you take because they allow you to create excitement about properties that are coming on the market and identify those people who are interested in buying.

Say something like this in the video:
I’m out in front of this great new listing, and we’ll have photos of it in just a few days, but if you’d like more information about this three-bedroom, two-bath house in [list the neighborhood], reach out to me, and I’ll send you the details before it hits the market.

This is a great way to identify potential buyers without being salesy, because you’re giving them information they can’t get anywhere else.

How to attract both buyers and sellers

11. My favorite place
Highlighting your favorite restaurants, parks and local attractions helps you share the lifestyle of your market. These videos will allow you to engage with potential clients because everyone loves to hear about the best places in the area. These videos should be heavy on information and low on real estate sales details. Mixing up your video content with market information and market highlights is a winning recipe.

12. Neighborhood sales update
Review the sales that have taken place in the neighborhood you’re farming over the last three to six months. Share information about the homes that are actively on the market at the time of the video as well as pending contracts and homes that have recently sold.

These videos will keep you top-of-mind with homeowners in the neighborhood as well as the buyers who want to live there. By positioning yourself as an expert about the neighborhood, you’ll consistently have a flow of both buyers and sellers for that particular farm.

13. Overall market update
You should share this information at least every quarter, but I recommend that you provide it monthly to let your audience know how the current market numbers related to sales activity, average sales price and average days on market compare to the same time last year.

These videos will position you as the expert in the community, and they will help your audience know, like and trust you.

14. Check this out
These videos work well on social media, allowing you to share an amazing kitchen or an incredible outdoor space or some other aspect of a property. You can include a call to action for the people who want to see more of the house to click a link that drives them to your website or some other information about the property.

People love to see what’s happening in other houses — sometimes to get ideas for their own house or even because they’re dreaming of making a move. These videos are a great way to drive traffic to your website or to a specific property.

15. Open house walkthroughs
Record a video walkthrough every single time you host an open house, and use it to promote the event in the hours before it starts. The people in your audience may be interested in seeing the house in person, and some people in your audience may not be able to come to the in-person event.

These videos will help you increase your traffic the day of the open house and add the potential for someone who may not be able to attend the open house to watch the video instead. You may also grab the attention of potential sellers who appreciate your efforts on behalf of your current customers.

16. My favorite transactions
We tend to attract what we focus on, so by sharing the story of our favorite transaction, we’ll be telling the story of clients we enjoyed working with. You aren’t meant to work with everyone, so if you’re sharing the stories of the people you enjoy working with the most, you’ll draw more of those clients in the future.

17. My funniest transaction
Transparency can earn you credibility with people, so tell the story of the transactions that potential buyers or sellers will find humorous. People do business with people they like. These videos help share your likeability in a way that will draw potential clients.

18. My worst transaction
Use these videos to tell the story of transactions that were rife with major obstacles, and then explain how you overcame them. Drama draws a crowd, so some people will check out your video just to hear what happened.

What’s more, you’ll also build credibility as you explain how you kept things on track despite the challenges. Show people that you’re capable of handling anything that comes your way in a transaction — and you’ll grab the attention of potential buyers and sellers.

19. Frequently asked questions
Start by identifying the questions you get asked every day. For example, here are a few things clients often wonder about:
How do I get qualified for a loan?
What should I know about making an offer on a home?
What does an inspection time period look like?
How much down payment do I need to buy a home?

Make a video that answers your frequently asked questions before people even ask them — and you’ll inspire confidence in folks who will, one day, buy or sell their homes with you.

How to reach past clients

20. I was in the neighborhood
Keep in touch with past clients, and stay top-of-mind by letting them know you were thinking of them as you passed through their neighborhood. Drive to the home you helped a client buy, and if the car isn’t in the driveway, knock on the door.

If they don’t answer, shoot a video of yourself in front of the house. Say something like this in the video:

Hey! I was in the neighborhood and I stopped by, but you guys weren’t here. Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you. I hope you still love your house and let me know if I can help in any way. Take care, and I’ll talk to you soon.

It’s a high-impact video that they’ll remember when they get ready to sell, and it will keep you top-of-mind if they know of friends or family who are in the market as well.

21. Reasons I love referrals
Tell the stories of past clients who have sent referrals your way and explain how much you appreciate their efforts. Then tell the story of how those referral customers became your friends as a result of the transaction.

Everybody loves a great story, and this is a soft way to stay on people’s minds for referral opportunities.

Use these 21 ideas to generate videos and as a jumping-off point to spark your own creativity and add your own spin. The value of videos in your business has never been more important, and with every day that goes by, their value increases. Now is the time to lean into video creation if you’re looking to grow your business.

Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida.
21 Creative Video Concepts to Reach More Buyers and Sellers
Article Courtesy of: Banker & Tradesman
By Diane McLaughlin | Banker & Tradesman Staff 

Mortgage lenders using Fannie Mae’s systems will soon be able to consider rental payment history when deciding whether to approve a loan, a change that could help increase minority homeownership.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency said in a statement on August 11th that Fannie Mae will update its systems to consider rental payment history in its risk assessment processes, giving borrowers an opportunity to benefit from having a positive history of making rental payments included in underwriting decisions.  There is no additional burden for the borrower or the lender to use this feature, the FHFA said.

“For many households, rent is the single largest monthly expense. There is absolutely no reason timely payment of monthly housing expenses shouldn’t be included in underwriting calculations,” Acting Director Sandra L. Thompson, said in the statement. “With this update, Fannie Mae is taking another step toward understanding how rental payments can more broadly be included in a credit assessment, providing an additional opportunity for renters to achieve the dream of sustainable homeownership.”

In a separate blog post today, Fannie Mae CEO Hugh Frater said the change would be made to the Desktop Underwriter platform and represented “one important step in correcting housing inequities and encouraging the housing system to develop new ways to serve all of society safely and fairly.”

Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey found that Black consumers identified insufficient credit score or credit history as the single biggest obstacle to getting a mortgage at a rate of 29 percent compared to 18 percent for white consumers. Frater said 20 percent of the U.S. population had little or no established credit history, with people of color disproportionately represented in that demographic.

“While credit history is a key element in evaluating a borrower’s ability to make a mortgage payment, building credit in the United States is not an equitable endeavor,” Frater said. “Most ways to establish credit involve student loans, credit cards, or parental co-signers. But, people of color are statistically less likely to use these forms of credit to manage their financial lives.”

Starting Sept. 18, borrowers can give lenders permission to use bank account data to identify 12 months of consistent rent payments. But rental payment history will not hurt borrowers, Frater said, because any missed or inconsistent rental payments would not negatively affect their ability to qualify for a mortgage.

“This technology innovation is a ‘win-win’ for renters looking to own a home,” Frater said. “That is, there is no way it can hurt their credit score, and it will only be used to help eligible homebuyers qualify for mortgage credit.”
Frater added that a recent sample of applicants who had not owned a home in the past three years and did not receive a favorable recommendation through Desktop Underwriter showed that 17 percent could have been recommended for a mortgage if rental payment history had been considered.
Fannie Mae to Add Rental Payment History to Lending Platform


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