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Newton Centre Realty, Inc v David Jaffe

Newton Center Realty, Inc. V David Jaffe
Massachusetts Appeals Court
No. 19-P-1082
Argued 3/3/20-Decided 6/23/20

On June 23, 2020 the Massachusetts Appeals Court decided a case of first impression in the Commonwealth regarding brokerage fees.  The question addressed was does the death of a seller terminate a real estate brokerage agreement between the seller and a broker.

In 2017 a seller entered into three exclusive brokerage agreement to sell two residential properties in Brookline and one in Newton.  The agreements were on standard GBREB forms.  Under each agreement the broker was entitled to a four percent commission.  The seller died and the seller’s son sold the properties independent of the broker, but within the exclusivity period of the agreements that had been properly executed.  The broker sued the Sellers estate and was unsuccessful at trial.  The case was brought up on appeal. This issue had not been decided under Massachusetts law.  

The agreements here created a principal-agent relationship that entitled the broker to a commission if Shirley’s (the Seller) properties were sold within the exclusivity period.  They did not confer an interest in the property.  Accordingly, Shirley’s death terminated the agency relationship, and the broker was not entitled to recover contract damages from Shirley’s estate.  The Superior Court judge properly dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim. 
The Appeals Court upheld the lower court ruling that the death of the seller terminated the agency relationship, and the broker was not entitled to a commission.

Broker Fee Appeals Court Decision


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MAA is proud of our members by giving back to the community, always, but especially in these times. See below for some good stories during these troubling times.  If your company or a peer is doing something great to give back, feel free to email Courtney McHugh, to be featured on this page.
The Boston Business Journal names Metropolitan Cabinets & Countertops among the most charitable companies in Massachusetts. Click here for the full story.

The Peabody Companies
 partnered with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program(BHCHP) , completing a clothing drive with employees donating gloves, hats and undergarments to the organization. The company itself matched the donations, purchasing 20 winter coats to accompany the teams donation. Click here for the full story.
Support MAA's Charitable Partner, Rosie's Place! Click here to view what they are doing and how you can help.
By purchasing meals through Feed the Frontlines Boston, you will help fuel the extraordinary efforts of our city's healthcare workers while also supporting our local restaurants and employees. With your support Viga Italian Eatery and Shed's BBQ can delivery healthy, fresh and free meals to Boston's amazing doctors, nurses and medical staff. Click here to take action!
Yardi Systems has always supported the communities in which its offices are located. In March, Yardi committed millions of dollars for hunger relief services across North America in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the real estate software leader announced a second round of funding for these 22 food banks. Among them was the Greater Boston Food Bank, which has received $74,000 to date.
MAA Gives Back!
As advocates for their clients and the industry, the 30-Under-30 honorees of 2020 are rising to previously unimaginable challenges. In this year, which marks the program’s 20th anniversary, these high achievers are facing a previously unthinkable set of obstacles stemming from a national crisis. 
GBAR member Kimberlee Meserve of Keller Williams Realty Chestnut Hill was named to this year's class making for the eleventh GBAR member to achieve this status. Read more about Kimberlee here.

Past GBAR 30-Under-30 Honorees:

2007: Suzanne Koller
2008: Jessica Ye
2008: Mike DiMella 
2009: Elad Bushari
2011: Joanne Taranto
2013: Andrea McDonough
2015: Eric Rollo
2017: Ryan Glass
2018: Randy Horn
2019: Josh Stiles
2020: Kimberlee Meserve
GBAR Agent Named to REALTOR® Magazine’s 30-Under-30 Class of 2020

Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Bernice Ross

This week, Tami Bonnell, the CEO of EXIT Realty, weighs in on ways agents can provide more value to their sellers on their next listing appointment and the 4 questions they need to ask clients
How can you convert more listing appointments into signed listings? Tami Bonnell, the CEO of EXIT Realty, says it starts with the mind-body connection, asking four key questions and becoming the solution to your clients’ problems rather than being the local expert or “trusted adviser.” 

I normally wouldn’t expect the CEO of a major real estate franchise to be an expert on listing appointments, but in this week’s video, Bonnell shares a powerful approach that not only helps you take more listings, but also create customers for life.

The mind-body connection

According to Bonnell, who is also a third-degree black belt, martial arts is more about the mind-body connection and being in control as opposed to fighting. 

In the circumstances we’re facing right now, she advised that the more you can stay in the present tense, the better off you’re going to be. 

“For me, when I’m in the present tense, and I’m really present, I’m actively listening to another person,” Bonnell said. “I make [the conversation] personal — completely about that person. I put myself in their shoes. I do homework on the human being more than I actually do on the product, to find out what’s really important to that person, what their personality type is.”

Bonnell then Googles them, friends them on Facebook, connects with them on LinkedIn and finds out what’s going on in their real world. Whenever someone tells her that she seems to do a lot of homework, Bonnell typically responds by saying that the client is important enough for her to do that homework. 

‘Value equals income’

According to Bonnell, the most important question an agent should ask is: How can I add value to your life? It doesn’t matter who Bonnell is in front of, her goal is always to add value to her clients — whether they list with her today or not. Sometimes, Bonnell said, the timing is just not right for them. 

At the end of the day, Bonnell’s mindset is focused on being the solution that helps people solve their problems.

Whether it’s helping them push back their mortgage payments a few months or showing how they can capitalize by investing in “opportunity zones” as a strategy to reduce their capital gains tax on their investments, this is what builds value and strong relationships that result in more listings and referral business. 

The 4 questions that create value

After one of her talks on creating value, Bonnell was approached by one of her agents who was going on a listing appointment later that day and was competing against three other agents. The seller was a man his 70s who owned a business and was possibly retiring. 

Bonnell advised him to do the homework (search the seller on Google, friend him on Facebook, check his LinkedIn profile, and find out more about him as a person). She then told him to ask the four following questions:
Where do you see yourself in the next one to three years?
What are your real estate dreams?
If you could wave a magic wand in a perfect world, paint that picture for me.
Why are you having me over to list your house? Do you want to list today, or is there something you want to get for a return out of listing your property? 

The agent followed Bonnell’s advice. He discovered the seller wanted to retire to a waterfront property on the North Carolina coast in two or three years. The agent advised the seller that area was appreciating rapidly, and it would be smart to buy as soon as possible. The agent then referred the seller to another agent who could help him with his purchase.

The agent also recommended that it would smart to delay selling his current property because it was still appreciating. The agent would stay in touch to keep the seller apprised if there was any change in the trends. 

This advice stopped the seller short. The three other agents were only focused on taking the listing. The agent also explained the benefits of investing in opportunity zones.  

The bottom line was the seller bought the home in North Carolina. By waiting to sell his existing property, he received $150,000 more than he would have if he had sold earlier.

Moreover, with the agent’s help in terms of understanding short-term rentals and opportunity zones, the seller ended up paying off the investment property in two years. This agent helped the seller increase his net worth by about $2.4 million. 

Be the solution

Bonnell explains the benefits of using this approach. Although you may not always get the listing, what you’re attempting to do is a build a reputation that you’ll always work directly with the client on their behalf and find solutions to their problems.

Too many people are worried about the gadgets and gizmos galore. “I believe in the human behind the device and the human behind the transaction,” she said. “If we can do any of those things that’ll make the transaction easier, smoother, faster, more effective, I’m all i

However, she added, technology can never replace the value agents can bring to the transaction. Agents have an opportunity to pour not just their hearts, but also their vast knowledge and expertise into their clients so they can make the best decision possible based on where they are right now. 

“We’ve got to get rid of that salesperson mentality and get into that solution mentality,” she said.

If you want to earn your keep, justify your paycheck, and compete against the $8.8 billion that was spent with disruptors last year, you must be able to show your sellers how you will give them a great return. If the seller gets a great return, do they really care how much they pay you in commission? 

Bonnell had this final piece of advice about what you can do to take more listings. Take 120 seconds at the beginning of the day, before any appointments, to picture how you want your day or that appointment to go. Picture how you want the people to feel. The end result? You will come closer and closer to what you picture every time.

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. If you’re ready to List & Sell Real Estate Like Crazy, learn more about how to do it If you’re a new agent who wants to successfully compete even against even the best agents, check out our online new agent sales training at 

Want to Convert Listing Appointments Into Signed Listings? Here's the Solution

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Article Courtesy of: Inman News 
By: Brandon Dolye

Thriving in a shifting market is all about making adjustments. Here's how one Utah-based real estate group doubled production by adopting gamification — yes, in the midst of this pandemic.
The pandemic has been tough on all of us. Some of us couldn’t even show homes. All of us made adjustments. But not everyone took a production hit. Some teams are still on track with their original goals. Others are actually doing better this year compared to last year.
I love the saying that’s become common in a lot of Facebook groups I follow: “Yea, there was a 50 percent reduction in transactions during the pandemic — but there was also an 80 percent reduction in competition!”

Surviving the pandemic was about adjustments, but thriving in the pandemic? Is that even possible? 

I saw a lot of cool things from teams in my network, and a lot of lessons to be learned for when markets shift, and times become uncertain. One of the coolest was from a team just north of Salt Lake City that actually doubled its production in the midst of massive uncertainty. (I have the numbers to prove it!)

How Utah Life doubled their production during the pandemic

Before we dig into the numbers, here’s what you need to know about Utah Life Real Estate Group. They have 20 total team members — around 14 full-time agents, a couple part-timers and a handful of administrative staff.

They run a full team model and provide coaching, systems and accountability for all of their agents. A lot of their coaching is around mindset.

Also, they are extremely driven by numbers, goals, and achievement. They are the team around which the idea and concept of Sisu was born. A lot of the screenshots showing their numbers and production are taken from their Sisu dashboards. 
Utah Life has some very cool graphs, which make it super simple to see just how much they crushed it during March and April. 

Take a look at this chart of their signed units. This is impressive, especially considering that they lost one of their top producers in November of 2019.

This is a chart of their under-contract units. Compared to same months in 2019 and 2018, their under-contract units increased in April and March of 2020.

Use of gamification to drive real estate sales

Gamification has become popular in sales because you can tweak the system to produce the exact results you’re looking for.

A lot of other industries rely heavily on their compensation plans and promotion paths to do this — a careful concoction of payments, promotions, recognition and accelerators that align incentives across a sales team and make things work. 

This, of course, happens in real estate as well, but to a lesser extent. Almost all of our teams and brokerages are 100 percent commission-based contractors. It’s harder to create a culture where incentives are aligned, but here’s where gamification comes in. Gamification can help you align incentives, tighten your culture and drive key metrics that you know will create results. 

In this case study, Utah Life focused heavily on a few different leading indicators such as conversations and appointments set. See the huge spike in conversations on their graph above, which pretty much fueled everything. I believe the point system was as follows: 
Conversations: 10 points each.
Appointments: 100 points each.
Client placed under contract: 500 points.
Daily exercise: additional 30-point bonus.

Where this system breaks

You’ll want your most OCD team member running your gamification. That person who’s got your CRM system dialed in to the last one and zero? That’s exactly who should run a system like this. 
They’ll love it, too, because this is the type of thing that actually drives adoption with all of your systems. Didn’t happen in the CRM? It didn’t happen at all. Here’s where teams go wrong: 

You rely on your agents to enter 100 percent of the data. For obvious reasons, there won’t be a lot of enthusiasm around this. Tie it to your CRM so that your agents can stick to their current processes.
You don’t have a live scoreboard. Can you imagine going to a basketball game without a live scoreboard? There would be no drama. No excitement. And a lot less competition pushing everyone to do their best. If you can, get a 24/7 live scoreboard. This alone should create a 30-percent boost in production.
See this case study with Glassdoor sales team on page 125. They increased their booked meetings by more than 50 percent while going from little to 100 percent CRM adoption. Not real estate sales, but similar concepts apply. Make it fun, visible and fair. 

The competition doesn’t have to be inside your team only

One thing that I thought was really cool about the contest was that the competition was not only internal. Too much internal competition can be unhealthy. There’s a fine balance.

But you probably know other real estate teams that are around your size and level. You network with them on Facebook, or maybe they compete in another market that’s not super close to you. 

Creating competition with other teams can be an extremely fun and healthy way to drive results. You can put up a prize (for example, $500 to the top agent) but set stipulations that the losing team has to front the prize money. Have fun with it!

The exact specifications of one of the contests Utah Life ran during the pandemic was the Utah Life versus Bowen Adams Real Estate contest. You can also see their joint scoreboard in Sisu below.
Top agent got $1000, second place $500 and third place $250.
The contest ran for 10 days from April 20 to April 30.
Agents earned 500 points for units placed under contract.
Agents earned 300 points for signing a listing.
Agents earned 200 points for signing a buyer.
100 points for each attended appointment (buyer or seller).
5 points for each prospecting conversation.

On my team, personally, we’ve done monthly and quarterly competitions for things like most open houses, five-star reviews, showings, appointments or even just days of activity logged.

We set it up so anyone would have the opportunity to win something — not just the top producers. Prizes have included gift cards and team swag members could pick from. 

We’ve also done group goals where anyone who meets the goal is invited to lunch or happy hour and other team-wide goals that included a team outing for everyone. Before the pandemic shut us down, we were planning on doing “top golf”!

The three steps to making gamification happen

To sum things up, I think Utah Life’s success during this period boils down to a handful of key elements: 

1. They met daily on Zoom to go over numbers, offer quick training and keep the motivation high.
2. Their leaderboard was highly visible 24/7 via web and mobile apps. 
3. The contest was clearly defined and the numbers were simple to track — often, 100 percent automated from the CRM. 

I see a lot of team leaders and brokers pushing gamification, but this one was an eye-opener as to just how effective this strategy can be. 

Brandon Doyle is a Realtor at Doyle Real Estate Team — Re/Max Results in Minneapolis and co-author of Mindset, Methods & Metrics – Winning as a Modern Real Estate Agent. You can follow him on Twitter.
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