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HELP FOR PROPERTY OWNERS AND TENANTS IMPACTED BY COVID-19

Did you know that you may be eligible for state assistance with paying your rent or mortgage? If you have lost your job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Housing and Community Development has programs for low-income renters and homeowners that will help you with past due rent or mortgage payments, as well as future housing costs. 

Visit mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp  to get connected with regional agencies that can help you apply for funds and stay in your home.   In addition, DHCD has also provided a list of frequently asked questions  for owners about accepting state rental assistance. 
 
Summary of the Eviction Diversion Initiative:
The Eviction and Diversion Initiative (EDI) is designed keep people safely housed during the pandemic as we approach the end of the Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium. EDI contains $171 million in resources that include a $100 million commitment for RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition), with an increased benefit cap of $10,000, and $13 million for legal assistance for low-income tenants and owners as they navigate the eviction process. The initiative also includes a commitment to streamline the RAFT application process, provide additional support for the regional housing administering agencies, and allow small owners to apply directly for RAFT benefits.  
Eviction Diversion Information
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Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Erica Ramus
 
It's the start of a new year, otherwise known in the broker world as agent musical chairs season. This month, brokers will watch as agents switch brokerages back and forth as they chase promises of more leads or higher splits or lower fees.

If you’ve been a broker or manager for a few years, you learn to watch for signs an agent is getting ready to leave. Here are a few telltale signs to look for in your agents’ behavior.

Change in attitude 

This sign is an easy one to spot. Cranky or whiny agents are easy pickings for recruiting brokers. An agent who complains at the closing table that things are not all rainbows and roses at his office might find himself being recruited by the co-operating agent’s broker later.

“Find their pain” is one way brokers get inside the heads of agents they are targeting. 

An agent who comes to the office talking about higher splits at other offices or a certain fee at your brokerage might be comparing compensation plans, thinking they will make more money at a different firm.

The split or fees are only one component of what makes a perfect office fit, but it’s the easiest way to compare offices when searching for a new place to work. Once a competing broker plants the seed of doubt, it can be hard to weed out a dissatisfied salesperson.

Change in routine 

This “tell” requires you to pay attention to your agents and know their habits. Someone who suddenly doesn’t have the time to make sales meetings might be avoiding face-to-face interactions with you or the staff. If agents who generally come into the office daily or weekly don’t seem to be around much anymore, they might be distancing from the office on purpose.

Brokers who can see the back-end of company CRM platforms can check who is logging in daily and who has stopped contacting leads. Check your transaction management software to see who is putting together new deals. If someone working in the system regularly now rarely logs in, they could be planning on transitioning to a new office.

Change in deal flow 

Look at current listing inventory and pending sales. An agent who routinely closes two deals a month who has nothing in the pipeline might be closing out his or her last few transactions with you. A strong listing agent who hasn’t brought in a new listing in a while or who is quietly withdrawing listings might be cleaning up his or her plate to start fresh at another firm. 

Even if an agent is not planning on switching firms, you should be aware of each agent and their pipeline. This opportunity is perfect to re-recruit and let agents know you are concerned about their success and want to help them achieve their goals.

Change in communication  

If you have more than one agent in the office, you’re going to have different personalities and communication styles. Some agents might check in with the broker or manager only when they have a problem. Others enjoy a regular phone call or in-office meeting to go over deals and issues. 

Becoming quiet or checking in less is an obvious red flag. But when an agent who is typically more distant starts calling the broker more often, what’s up? They might be seeking out attention without coming right out and saying this is the case. It could be a form of expressing their dissatisfaction. 

For example, one broker started receiving calls from an agent who had been with the company for almost a decade. She told the broker that they never really talked much anymore and asked questions about how the brokerage distributes leads. These were subtle signs that she was dissatisfied with their relationship and had one foot out the door. 

When you notice one (or more) of the four red flags above in one of your agents, take note of how you feel. Are you relieved? Some agents just don’t fit your office culture or are downright liabilities. Let them go, and help make their transition out the door easy. But if you are concerned and don’t want to lose the agent, take steps to keep them in the fold. 

Let them know you are worried because you’ve noticed a change. Ask if there are particular concerns or problems with which you can assist them. For example, if they want more leads, offer to coach them on how to fill their funnel. 

People cite “more money” or higher splits as the main reason they consider switching brokerages. It’s never that simple. Most importantly, your agents want to know you care. Be there to support them, take their calls, and coach them to success. We talk a lot about recruiting. Remember: Re-recruiting your salespeople is also a form of recruiting. 

People rarely up and quit with zero warnings or red flags. Don’t be so busy that you don’t know what’s going on with your agents. If you pay attention and show you care about them as people (not just as transaction closers), hopefully, you’ll have less agent churn no matter what the season is.

Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.
4 Telltale Signs an Agent is Planning to Exit Your Brokerage
GBAR

 

Many of the “core documents” to a real estate transaction have retention requirements codified in regulations:

Agency Disclosure: 254 CMR 3.00 requires brokers to retain the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure, as well as Consent to Dual Agency Disclosures and Designated Agency Disclosures for a period of three (3) years from the date of the notice.

Escrow records: 254 CMR 3.10(b) requires brokers to maintain records of all funds held in their escrow accounts. Such records should include the date the money was received, the source of the funds, the date the funds were deposited, check number, the date of withdrawal, and “other pertinent information concerning the transaction … and to whom the money belongs.” Copies of checks deposited into and withdrawn from the escrow account should be maintained for three (3) years from the date of issuance.

Lead Paint: 24 CFR § 35.175 requires brokers to retain the Lead Paint Form for three (3) years. HUD recommends maintaining lead paint notification and disclosure forms, as well as inspection, remediation and, maintenance records indefinitely due to the liability associated with lead paint.

Rental Documents: 254 CMR 7.00 (2) requires the following items to be retained for a period of three (3) years:  the Tenant Fee Disclosure, from the date on which the notice was provided; “all rental listings and written documents that demonstrate the availability of an apartment at the time it is advertised for rental” from the date on which the apartment was rented; and “a copy of any check, money order and written cash receipt for any fees, deposits or payments made by a prospective tenant or actual tenant” from the date of issuance.

Regardless of the specific retention requirements noted above, it is a good idea to keep all transaction documents for seven (7) years. This includes, but is not limited to: listing agreements, buyer representation agreements, purchase contracts, and communications with the client(s) and other broker(s). The statute of limitations for most contract actions is six (6) years, so it is important to retain documents for at least this long to protect your interests in any potential lawsuit. Certain documents, such as corporate records, partnership agreements, audit reports, general ledgers, tax returns and deeds should be kept permanently. In most cases, it is acceptable to store these documents electronically, as long as you are safely and securely backing up all of your data. Brokerages should work with an attorney and/or accountant to develop and maintain a record retention policy for their office(s).

Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; and Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel, Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®
What Records Am I Required to Maintain?
GBAR

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

 Read the January BOMA Enews.

January 2021 E-News
GBREB

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Check out the January edition of the MAA Insider featuring highlights from past events, information on upcoming events plus local and national multifamily news.

 Read the January MAA Insider. 
MAA Insider - January 2021
MAA

The BOMA Affiliate Spotlight promotes the excellent service and valuable products of BOMA Boston's Affiliate members. 
The BOMA Affiliate Spotlight promotes the excellent service and valuable products of BOMA Boston's Affiliate members. To be featured, please contact Courtney McHugh, cmchugh@gbreb.com

2021 BOMA Affiliate Spotlight Companies
January Affiliate Spotlights

United Services of America, an AffinEco Company 
Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email


2020 BOMA Affiliate Spotlight Companies
September Affiliate Spotlights
Pritchard Industries 

Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email
Usource

Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email
HETI 
Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email


October Affiliate Spotlights
Able Services

Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email 

November Affiliate Spotlights
Sullivan Engineering

Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email

 Citron Hygiene
Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email

December Affiliate Spotlights
Maintenance Contractors of New England 

Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email
Usource
Click here to view their Affiliate Spotlight Email


 

BOMA Affiliate Spotlight
GBREB
On December 31, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020 into law, which makes important changes to the requirements associated with sending a Notice to Quit. The New Law also affords tenants the right to seek a stay during such time as they have a pending application for rental assistance.   It was attached to the late arriving General Appropriation Bill, as lawmakers attempted to get the budgeting cycles back on schedule for fiscal 2022.  

During the budget deliberations, GBREB monitored over 2,000 Amendments that were offered including 777 Amendments that were filed in House and 475 offered by lawmakers in the Senate.  Among those that were not included which GBREB opposed were amendments to extend the eviction moratorium, establish a real estate sales tax, dilute 40B, and require anyone who cleaned a drain to be licensed.

For a memorandum highlighting the new requirements as well as guidance on how to comply with the new law, click here.
New Eviction Protection Law Amends Notice to Quit Requirements
GBAR
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Carl Medford


Here's how to differentiate and showcase your value from the get-go at the listing appointment:
 
Somewhere along the line, our society has transitioned from being service-based to commodity-based. With service no longer anticipated in most areas of our lives, we focus on securing commodities in its place. 

If we can reduce anything we want to a basic commodity, then regardless of what it is (an appliance, a phone or even a car), the natural progression focuses on getting it at the lowest possible price.

For example, we now call the service stations of yesteryear gas stations. Instead of going for service, we search for the station with the lowest fuel prices and pump our own gas.

Rather than going to one location for a full-service experience, including auto repairs, we have segmented repairs into basic components (commodities), such as oil changing stations, brake replacement companies and so on. Once again, we search for the company that will provide the commodity we want for the lowest possible price.

In a commodity-based world, sellers now search for real estate agents who will sell their house for the lowest possible commission. I frequently hear, during listing presentations, “You guys are all the same. You provide the same things as everyone else I’ve talked to — why should I choose you?”

In short, everything we do as agents to sell a home has become a commodity rather than a service. If sellers cannot discern the difference between us, they will naturally search for the lowest possible price.

Ironically, most agents counter this argument by insisting that their level of “service” is better than the others — all the while missing the fact that sellers don’t see the “services provided” as service at all. They are seeing the overall package provided by a listing agent as a commodity.

Although the standard “package of services” provided by any specific agent might vary from market to market across the country (property prep, staging, professional pictures, 3D tours, brochures, open houses, social media advertising and so on), at the end of the day, sellers still see the package as a commodity.

If this is true, if you wish to preserve your commission, the goal in a listing appointment is to demonstrate to the seller how you provide much more than a basic commodity. Here are our three recommendations:

1. Start with your value proposition 


A value proposition is a concise statement that: 
1. Clearly defines the differences between you and everyone else
2. Definitively states why they should do business with you

Many agents have a value proposition that states they provide the best service. The fundamental problem with “service” is it is largely intangible. Although a commodity is concrete — you can see it, touch it, measure it — service is difficult to measure. You know excellent service when you receive it, but how is it qualified or quantified?

Rather than focus on service, identify the typical pain points in transactions in your market, and state how you can uniquely alleviate the stress. 

For example, have you ever tried waving down a New York City cab, only to feel frustrated while trying to communicate where you want to go and annoyed when the cab driver only takes cash?

Then Uber’s value proposition makes total sense: “Tap the app, get a ride. Uber is the smartest way to get around.” 

Uber further clarifies how it diminishes typical taxi pain points, “One tap and a car comes directly to you. Your driver knows exactly where to go. And payment is completely cashless.” Regardless of how you view Uber, its value proposition is brilliant.

2. Follow up with stories

Everyone loves a great story. It is one reason online reviews are so valuable — they are past clients explaining, in short stories, why working with you was so awesome. That alone is the No. 1 reason you should be actively working to build as large a review base as possible. The larger the number of positive reviews you have, the greater the pool of stories available to tout your value proposition.

When a seller asks me why they shouldn’t just go with a discount broker, one of the stories I share is about a vacant listing targeted by our local homeless population. The seller, an elderly lady, had already relocated to a distant retirement home and could not be a meaningful part of the solution. Also, we were upgrading her functionally obsolescent house so it would sell for top dollar. If we were going to put the home on the market, we would have to resolve the issues.

Directly behind the property was a right-of-way that housed a homeless encampment whose occupants kept breaking in, stealing our improvements (including 20 existing solar panels), knocking holes in walls and so on. 

It was not an easy process, but we prevailed. The first evening we had our temporary occupant in place, a local community member climbed the back fence and headed toward the house.

He beat a hasty retreat when he discovered our occupant standing on the back porch with a wooden sporting implement in his hands.

We finished the upgrades, professionally staged it at our expense, took a full range of pictures, including drone footage and a Matterport 3D tour — and sold it within a week for substantially over asking price, setting a new high for the neighborhood.

After completing my story, I ask the seller a simple question: “Do you know of any discount agent who would do what we did?” Then I stop talking, sit still and look at the sellers until they respond. 

3. Finish with distinctions that set you apart

With everyone purportedly providing the same service level, and with consumers seeing that service as a commodity, there must be something else separating you from the pack. In my case, I leverage experience.

Most sellers see commissions as the penalty they must pay to get their home sold, and therefore, they strive to keep that penalty as low as possible. 

In contrast, we help sellers understand that the commission is the investment they make in securing the most experienced team in the region. With that experience comes access to an entire bench of professionals, including our in-house Transformations Team, Staging Crew, Listing Team and more. Additionally, we have more experience negotiating than almost anyone else in the region because of our volume.

I ask sellers a simple question: “If you are going to have Lasik surgery, are you more interested in getting a rock-bottom price from someone offering discounts to get business, or do you want someone with extensive experience? Would you be willing to trust your eyes to someone with limited experience, or do you really want someone with extensive proven results?” 

In most cases, sellers tell me they want the experience. At that point, I ask them, “If that is true, are you willing to trust your largest financial transaction to an agent with less experience?”

Although not everyone can use their experience to distinguish, newbies can claim their office’s or mentor’s overall experience. In reality, every agent has their own unique superpower they can leverage — some careful strategic thinking can help you identify your distinctions.

In our new commodity-based world, the choice is simple: Remain a commodity and face continued downward pressure on your commissions, or learn to effectively separate yourself from the rest of the pack by developing and sharing an engaging value proposition, telling stories that demonstrate your value, and effectively communicating your superpower.

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.
Defend Your Commission! 3 Steps For Showing Sellers You’re Worth It
GBAR
On December 31, Governor Baker signed into law Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020 into law, which makes important changes to the requirements associated with sending a Notice to Quit. The New Law also affords tenants the right to seek a stay during such time as they have a pending application for rental assistance.   It was attached to the late arriving General Appropriation Bill, as lawmakers attempted to get the budgeting cycles back on schedule for fiscal 2022.  

During the budget deliberations, GBREB monitored over 2,000 Amendments that were offered including 777 Amendments that were filed in House and 475 offered by lawmakers in the Senate.  Among those that were not included which GBREB opposed were amendments to extend the eviction moratorium, establish a real estate sales tax, dilute 40B, and require anyone who cleaned a drain to be licensed.

For the first time in 25 years the legislature amended its rules allowing them to continue working in a lame duck session through the end of the year.   The current two-year legislative cycle will end on January 5th and new lawmakers will be sworn in the next day to begin a new two-year session.  GBREB will be providing a subsequent update on several big bills before the legislature including a climate change and emissions reduction bill and economic development bill once time for debate expires at midnight on January 5th.

Please visit the Legal/Advocacy section for updated and guidance on how to comply with the new law. 
 
New Eviction Protection Law Amends Notice to Quit Requirements
GBAR

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BOMI Leasing & Marketing For Property Managers
Live Virtual Course
9:00am
 
CE Webinar- Architecture
9:00am
 
Real Estate Professional Ethics - CE Webinar
Webinar
10:00am
 
REFA Annual Forecasting Program
Zoom
12:00pm
 
GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
GBAR Webinar
1:00pm