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Legislation to allow communities the ability to impose a new sales tax on homes and commercial properties is getting increased attention on Beacon Hill, where two prominent leaders in the Massachusetts House of Representatives recently expressed their interest in considering measures to create transfer taxes.  That’s concerning, given that transfer taxes would add to the already high cost of housing in Greater Boston and create an additional obstacle to housing production.  It’s also problematic since this type of tax discriminates against home buyers and sellers, singling them out to pay for initiatives that benefit the community at-large.  

However, nearly one dozen communities – including Arlington, Boston, Cambridge, Concord, Medford and Somerville – have introduced or are considering bills to impose a new tax on residential and commercial real estate transactions, and Gov. Healey’s housing bond bill, aka the Affordable Homes Act, includes language that would allow any community in the state to create a new tax of 0.5% - 2% on the portion of a home or commercial building sold that exceeds $1 million.  The Greater Boston Real Estate Board and REALTOR® Association oppose the passage of these measures, and you can add your voice to urge their defeat as well.  To participate, simply respond to the recent Call-For-Action on Transfer Taxes issued by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® urging state legislators to oppose the creation of a new sales tax on homes and commercial property. By doing so,  a pre-drafted letter outlining industry opposition to the various legislative proposals will be sent to your state senator and representative.   
 
Add Your Voice to REALTOR® Call-For-Action on Transfer Taxes
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess

In a market where agents must be expense-averse, Jimmy Burgess writes, generating leads that only have an expense if money comes in can make a lot of sense

With the slowdown in the number of transactions, a lot of agents are looking for ways to generate leads while maintaining a budget. If this is you, the solution might be companies that provide leads with no upfront fees.

The process begins with these companies capturing the leads, nurturing them to a point where they are ready to begin working with an agent, then referring the prospects to agents in their network. In exchange for the leads, the companies do not charge any upfront fees, but they do receive a referral fee at the time of closing. The referral fees can vary from 25 percent up to 40 percent, but with no upfront cost, many agents find these lead sources extremely attractive.

The key to success with these referral-based companies is communication and conversion. They require consistent communication about how the process is progressing with the referred leads. They also want to see the conversion of these leads to closings because the only way they make money is through successful closings. The better your communication and the higher your conversion rate, the better the quality and number of leads you will receive.

Each of these companies have areas they specialize in and specific qualifications to be eligible to participate in their programs. The key is matching your talents, experience and expertise with the clients these companies will be referring to you. If your expertise lines up with their prospects, they may be a lead source that can take your business to a higher level of success.

Rocket Homes 

Rocket Homes is a subsidiary company of Rocket Mortgage, America’s largest mortgage lender. The leads they refer are mortgage-approved, have a verified purchase time frame, and are exclusively referred to you.

The requirements to join their network are that you must have a minimum of 24 months of experience as a full-time agent and have closed a minimum of eight transactions in the past 12 months. In addition, you must complete their Verified Partner Agent training program.

If you’re looking to increase your buyer leads, Rocket Homes is a great place to start.

Redfin Partner Agents

Redfin has a program called Redfin Partner Agents where you can keep your license with your existing brokerage and they will send you buyer and seller leads. Just like the other programs mentioned in this article, they receive a referral fee at the time of closing, and there are no upfront fees for these leads. The referral fees paid vary by state, but for Florida as of the writing of this article, they range from 33 percent to 40 percent depending on the sales price.

The requirements for their program include having an active license that is in good standing with your local MLS. They also state that you should have “your fair share” of closed transactions with proven excellence based on their client surveys. The Redfin website states they’ve had 85,000+ clients buy or sell with their Partner Agents.

55places.com Partner Agent Program

55places.com is a website that provides details about 55+ communities all over the country. They partner with agents approved specifically for their program, each specializing in particular communities. The program looks for agents with extensive knowledge about a community’s HOA, floor plans and amenities.

They require prompt response to new leads and consistent communication with the company throughout the buying process. If you specialize in active adult living communities, 55places.com might be the lead source you’ve been seeking.

Veterans United Realty

Veterans United Realty is a subsidiary of Veterans United Home Loans. They focus on referring veterans and military families with agents who have VA experience and a willingness to go above and beyond in their customer service.

Due to the relocation of active duty military, Veterans United Realty does generate listing referral opportunities as well. If you’re an agent who has expertise serving veteran clients, this could be a productive lead source for you and your business.

ReadyConnect Concierge Program from Realtor.com

ReadyConnect Concierge is a program owned by Realtor.com that connects with online leads immediately after they are generated. They screen the leads for intent to buy, price point, location and timeline. Once the prospect has been screened, a message is pushed out via SMS or their app to a group of agents in their program. The first agent to respond is immediately connected via a live phone introduction to the prospect.

ReadyConnect Concierge has to originate at the brokerage level, but once the brokerage sets the program up, agents of all skill levels can receive leads. They reward agents that respond quickly and that provide consistent communication.

HomeLight

HomeLight is a website that connects prospective buyers and sellers with professional, highly qualified agents in their referral network. The process starts by creating a HomeLight profile outlining your professional achievements. HomeLight then utilizes its algorithm to match the prospects with agents based on the historical information of their past transactions, geographic expertise, price points from past transactions and other transaction-related metrics.

The referral fee paid to HomeLight is 33 percent, but with no upfront fees, the ability to generate buyer and seller leads through HomeLight makes sense for many agents.

UpNest

UpNest is a site that provides homeowners with a process where they can receive 2-5 listing proposals within 24 hours of their proposal request. Once you are included in UpNest’s program, you will receive requests for listing proposals along with other agents as they come in.

Your listing proposal will include your commission rate, the services you provide and your customer reviews. The prospect also has access to a video greeting from you, which is highly recommended. 

UpNest has a referral fee of 30 percent at the time of closing, and the referral fee is for any and all sales or purchases made by the prospect within 24 months of submitting the original proposal.

Depending on your area and your listing expertise, UpNest could be a reliable source for ready-to-list seller leads.

In a market where agents must be expense-averse, generating leads that only have an expense if money comes in can make a lot of sense. If you’re looking to increase your leads and minimize your upfront expenses, these companies provide a path to profitability.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida.

 

7 Budget-Friendly Lead Sources With No Upfront Fee

GBAR Monthly Minute- March 2024

In this special edition of the Monthly Minute, GBAR President Jared Wilk discusses the proposed NAR settlement in the antitrust lawsuits that take issue with the MLS Cooperative Compensation rule and broker commissions. Please watch to learn more about how this settlement may impact your business, how to plan for the future, and more.



Discussing the NAR Lawsuit Settlement

 

The recently announced settlement has raised several questions regarding access to mortgages and the ability to finance agent commissions. In short, under the settlement, buyers still have the same options when it comes to compensating their representative. That is, the listing brokers can compensate the buyer broker, the seller can compensate the buyer broker, or the buyer can compensate their broker directly. Buyers should still be able to get financing from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA under these scenarios, reports NAR. However, none of these agencies will allow the buyer to finance a commission into the mortgage at this time. The VA has not addressed whether it will change its requirement prohibiting VA buyers from paying the commission.

Will buyers still be able to obtain a mortgage after the settlement?

 Yes, based on our interpretation of the regulations, buyers should still be able to get financing from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the FHA if the listing broker compensates the buyer's broker or if the seller pays the buyer's broker directly. However, none of these agencies will allow the buyer to finance a commission into the mortgage at this time. NAR is working to get clear verification on this point.

Based on information in the guides that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHA provide to lenders, nothing has changed the ability of buyers to get a mortgage through them.  Each of these agencies specifies limits on how much a seller or broker can contribute to the buyer to pay for services typically paid by the buyer.  These payments to the buyer are called interested party contributions (IPCs). The agencies exclude fees "traditionally" or "customarily" paid by the seller from the IPCs.  These IPCs may vary from 3% or up, so adding a commission could take up room otherwise used for closing cost or rate buydown concessions. Thus, despite being a seller concession on the sale contract, a seller paid commission is not included in the IPC.  This interpretation is not expected to change when this settlement is complete.

However, if sellers paying the buyer agent's commission ceases to be the norm in the future, regulators will need to change the definition of IPCs to exclude seller-paid commissions or raise the IPC limit.

See Fannie Mae's selling guide, Part B3-4.1-02, Interested Party Contributions and Part B3-4.1-03, Types of Interested Party Contributions (IPCs). Also, see pp. 420 of the Fannie Mae Selling Guide: "Typical fees and/or closing costs paid by a seller in accordance with local custom, known as common and customary fees or costs, are not subject to Fannie Mae IPC limits."

See FHA's discussion of IPCs and exclusion of seller paid real estate commissions here.

Can real estate commissions be financed?

Financing commissions is not feasible under the current structure of the residential mortgage finance system, and there is no clear short-term legislative or regulatory fix. NAR is working to get clear confirmation on this point.

• Banks would treat such a loan as a personal loan that would have higher rates and they would limit access to those loans to borrowers with better credit profiles.  Furthermore, that personal loan would add to the buyers' liabilities and make it harder to qualify for the mortgage they are seeking.

• Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA do not allow commissions to be added to the balance of the mortgage. Simply put, investors will only lend against the asset they can take back and sell in a foreclosure. An investor would not be able to take back and sell the commission for a service like real estate brokerage.

• Finally, there are significant limits to adding commissions to the mortgage rate.  Several rules that make up the foundation of mortgage finance would need to be changed by the regulators and Congress.  Those rules took years to develop, implement, and refine, and changing them could take years, potentially a decade or more.
 

Commissions & Buyer Financing After the Settlement
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Darryl Davis

Your reputation precedes you in every meeting, showing and negotiation, coach Darryl Davis writes. Every interaction either enforces it or enhances it

The stakes are high in real estate, and your reputation is your most valuable asset. As a real estate coach with 30+ years of experience navigating the ups and downs of the market, I’ve witnessed first-hand how easily an agent’s reputation can be tarnished by common pitfalls that could easily be avoided.

While there are some mistakes that many know to steer clear of, there are others that agents can inadvertently fall into without realizing it. Here are seven critical mistakes to avoid to ensure your reputation remains solid and your career thrives.

1. Lack of communication

Effective communication is the keystone of any successful real estate transaction. Failing to promptly and clearly communicate with clients, colleagues and other vendors in the industry can lead to misunderstandings, missed opportunities, dissatisfaction and even deals falling through. 

Protip: Always keep your clients in the loop, respond to inquiries in a timely manner, and maintain open lines of communication so you can answer questions, clarify information and keep the transaction running smoothly. 

2. Unethical behavior

This might seem like a no-brainer, but ethics should never be compromised. Cutting corners, misrepresenting properties (regardless of the reason) or engaging in any form of dishonesty not only violates professional standards across the board but can also lead to serious legal repercussions — not to mention the devastating loss of trust among clients and peers. 

Protip: By upholding your integrity in all your dealings (even when it seems difficult), you build a solid reputation of reliability and trustworthiness.

3. Inadequate market knowledge

Clients rely on you for your expertise and insight into the real estate market. Failing to stay updated on market trends, property values and legal requirements can severely impact your effectiveness as an agent.

Your clients hired you because they trust and like you, and failing to have a full grasp of the real estate market leads those clients into thinking they might be better off as a FSBO. 

Protip: Continuous training, skills development and staying up to date on industry developments are crucial for providing informed advice and helping clients make sound decisions.

4. Poor online presence

In today’s digital age, your online presence speaks volumes about your professionalism and credibility. Negative reviews, unprofessional social media posts, or poorly maintained websites can deter potential clients looking for someone who has their act together! 

Protip: Actively manage your online reputation by encouraging positive reviews, maintaining professional social media profiles, and ensuring your website reflects your expertise and professionalism.

5. Neglecting client needs

Your success as a real estate agent hinges on your ability to meet or exceed your client’s expectations. Neglecting their needs, failing to listen to their concerns, or pushing your own agenda can lead to dissatisfaction and damage your reputation. There is no faster way for you to lose the trust of your clients than when the client believes the only thing you care about is your commission. 

Protip: Always prioritize your clients’ interests, listen attentively, and work diligently to achieve the best outcome for them. 

6. Overpromising and underdelivering

One pitfall that agents frequently find themselves in is when they promise a lot and deliver little. Setting unrealistic expectations, overpromising results to clients and then failing to deliver can severely damage your credibility.

This is one of the biggest reasons that homeowners choose to sell on their own — they see what agents do (or fail to do) and believe they could do a much better job themselves. 

Protip: Be honest about what you can achieve, manage expectations effectively and work hard to deliver on your promises. Seize opportunities to go above and beyond for your clients.

7. Ineffective networking

Real estate thrives on relationships with fellow agents and clients alike. Neglecting to build and maintain a strong professional network can limit your opportunities and growth. Referrals are common among agents, but no agent can refer to you if they don’t know who you are. A strong network not only brings new business but also enhances your reputation in the industry.

Protip: Engage with colleagues, participate in industry events and foster relationships with clients and other professionals.

Avoiding these seven pitfalls is crucial for any agent who wants to maintain and enhance their reputation as a real estate agent. Your reputation is a reflection of your professionalism, integrity and dedication to your clients. Without taking the time to guard your reputation, it can slide downhill before you realize it.

By focusing on ethical behavior, continuous learning, effective communication and client satisfaction, you can build a lasting and respected career in real estate.

Remember, your reputation precedes you in every meeting, showing and negotiation; every interaction either enforces it or enhances it. Protect it fiercely, nurture it carefully and it will be the foundation of your success.

Darryl Davis is the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars.

7 Pitfalls That Can Ruin Your Reputation as a Real Estate Agent
Article courtesy of: MAR Legal Hotline

An unrepresented buyer attended my open house and scheduled a follow up showing with me. I answered all their questions about the property and now they want to submit an offer using a buyer’s agent. Can I tell the buyer they can’t use their own agent at this point?

Answer: No. A buyer may choose who they want to represent their interests in a real estate transaction, and a listing agent has no authority to deprive a buyer of that right. In situations such as this, however, there may be a question of procuring cause. While the listing agent may not be obligated to compensate that buyer broker, they are still obligated to cooperate, unless it is not in the best interests of the client (See Code of Ethics, Article 3).
REALTORS® must take care to not allow issues pertaining to compensation to interfere with their clients’ interests. While brokers may discuss and negotiate compensation at any time during the transaction, if at any point the situation becomes antagonistic, those discussions should be placed on hold until the transaction has closed. However,  if there’s ever a question of a potential commission dispute, make your broker-owner aware of it as soon as possible.

Buyer brokers are encouraged to use Buyer Representation Agreements with every buyer client they are working with. Having such an agreement is particularly beneficial when a buyer broker is invited into a transaction where their ability to be compensated as the procuring cause may be in question. Having such an agreement in place does not eliminate the buyer broker’s ability to seek compensation from the listing broker, or otherwise through the transaction, but provides a layer of protection for that buyer broker’s interests in receiving compensation for their efforts in a transaction.

 
Unrepresented Buyers at Open Houses
 

Education & Events

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Earth Day Activities
Apr 20, 2024 - Apr 27, 2024
, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics Webinar
Apr 23, 2024
Zoom
GBAR RealTour Member Meeting Webinar
Apr 24, 2024
Zoom
Seller Representative Specialist (SRS)
Apr 25, 2024 - Apr 26, 2024
GBAR Member Services & Training Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics Webinar
May 13, 2024
Zoom
Manageable Monday: Selling Historical Properties Webinar
May 20, 2024
Zoom
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR) Webinar
May 21, 2024 - May 23, 2024
Zoom
YPN Battle of the Brokerages
Jun 05, 2024
Big Night Live
110 Causeway Street
Boston, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics Webinar
Jun 07, 2024
Zoom
 

Calendar

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Earth Day Activities
9:00am
 
Real Estate Professional Ethics Webinar
Zoom
2:00pm
 
GBAR RealTour Member Meeting Webinar
Zoom
11:00am
 

For easy access to one of your top member benefits, check out our new RPR page!


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