Diversity, Inclusion and Fair Housing

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board believes that everyone should have fair and equal access to housing and stridently supports the Fair Housing Act and all laws which seek to ensure everyone has access to housing including any and all protected classes as defined by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.  The Board and its members strongly condemn any other bias or discriminatory practice. It is our steadfast commitment ensure our membership has the resources, training and support needed to guard against discrimination of any kind and we work collaborative with local, state and federal partners to ensure all of our members have access to the training and supports needed to ensure we live up to these goals. We are proud of the work we have done to make certain Boston is a more welcoming city for all who live here and will continue to embody the highest standard of the Fair Housing Law.



View All News
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Lee Davenport

Prevent being canceled, fined or jailed by understanding fair housing laws and regulations and avoiding violations

As a real estate expert who works with homebuyers and sellers day in and day out, you may have innocently advised a client using the phrase, “If you were my daughter, I would suggest you look at _____ [fill in the blank] neighborhood(s).”

Harmless, right?

Not necessarily. If working in the real estate field were similar to various sports, I could see a referee immediately stepping in between you and your client saying “flag on the play” as soon as you’ve finished uttering those words.


There is an elephant in the room. That elephant is the looming threat of being canceled over a social media post, over what you thought was an innocent comment that was captured on a Ring doorbell camera or the like.

It’s time to get the elephant out of the room by doing this quick self-assessment as to whether or not your (or your agent’s) business is a walking red flag. The good thing is that nobody has to know your responses and you can make adjustments now before getting into hot water (not simply with an imaginary referee but) with your local and/or federal laws. 

As an added bonus, if fair housing courses become a requirement to renew our Realtor status every cycle, that becomes another opportunity to make adjustments without the stress of being penalized. 

Red flag quiz: Have you done any of these? 

Red flags to watch out for in your real estate dealings include:

1. Taking clients only to certain neighborhoods where you believe they will ‘fit in’ instead of where they have asked you to tour

More than one-third  of those surveyed —including white, Hispanic/Latino/Latinx, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Black, not just people of color — in the 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers by the National Association of Realtors believe that had witnessed or experienced steering towards or away from particular neighborhoods.

The only acceptable reason to not take a client to a neighborhood they have asked to see is if it does not fit their budget, which we should explicitly state and have a paper trail to protect ourselves if there ever are allegations of unfair housing. Anything else may be interpreted as steering.

2. Giving advice based on your own preferences such as,  ‘If you were my daughter/son/niece/sister (or any other familial relationship), I would (not) want you to live here’ 

This may be interpreted as steering unless you give an explicit reason (please have a paper trail) that is tied to the property and not people.

For example: “The flood damage in the neighborhood has not been adequately repaired and impacts appreciation.” We should give statements of fact about the property, never the people.

3. Referencing only certain parts of a community/subdivision/complex/building for those like the client (especially if it refers to a protected class such as how many children they have, their gender, etc.)

This is another example of illegal steering.

4. Being willing and excited to work with a prospect over the phone or via email/direct message but reassigning them to another agent (or outright ignoring/ghosting them) after meeting them in person

Never ghost a prospect because they may be able to make the case that it was due to being part of a lawfully protected class.

There are numerous, valid reasons as to why you may not be able to work with a client at this time and need to refer them.  For example, perhaps you are struck with a sudden, verifiable illness or have documented travel plans that conflict with the prospect’s availability. As a courtesy, and to not be a walking red flag, explain it and follow up in writing.

5. Not being willing to market a listing with the same deliverables or on the same platforms where you market your other properties

It’s one thing if you have a pre-printed menu of services that distinguishes the type of marketing based on what package the seller chooses. It’s another thing (that looks like un-fair housing) when you “on the fly” deem you will not invest certain marketing resources in a particular listing.
In short, pre-plan your different listing packages (which may be at different price points), giving the option to the potential client to select instead of you picking and choosing in a way that may be deemed discriminatory. Offering the same services to everyone is critical to not being a walking red flag.

6. Saying you do not serve a particular neighborhood even though it’s similar to and nearer than other neighborhoods you normally promote

It’s one thing if you specialize in horse farms and this is a condo. But it’s another thing if you consider this the “bad” part of town. We know that such selectivity has cost some real estate firms millions.

7. Asking clients to hide any part of their identity (such as sexual orientation, religious affiliation, nationality, how many children they have, race, etc.), especially if they are part of a protected class

It is one thing if we are working with actual fair housing testers, but it is dehumanizing to ask clients to generally hide parts of themselves at the start of a real estate transaction. 

It’s also one thing to have a home staged for a prospective buyer, but we should never have to stage who lives in the home for an appraiser.
For instance, I do not encourage families to hide who they are (e.g. removing family photos, religious symbols, etc.) when an appraiser is scheduled. Instead, if our “spidey senses” are tingling because the valuation results seem to have been lowballed comparatively or impacted by one’s protected class, then we as real estate pros best help our clients by helping them to report it.

It’s less dehumanizing and, if there is an instance of un-fair housing, this particular instance will be documented (since housing discrimination is underreported, which allows it to fester). The specific violator can be identified, asked for restitution and, ideally, can learn to improve their practices for the betterment of our communities.

8. Not targeting communities least likely to apply

Targeting communities least likely to apply is a must for “properties subject to affirmative marketing requirements” but as  Fair Housing Decoders (what I call fair housing advocates), we can go the extra mile to reach more of our communities by pursuing those that are the least likely to apply in addition to our normal marketing challenges.

9. Partnering with vendors who are fair housing offenders (e.g. banks that are notorious for alleged unfair lending)

There is currently an initiative snowballing that says lenders may be on the hook for appraisers who discriminate. For the sake of this article’s topic, we will not get into the nuances of that but I have been asking all Fair Housing Decoders in the continuing education course I teach on fair housing advocacy to hold their vendor partners accountable for fair housing/lending.

That may mean eventually dropping these vendor partners if they are opposed to treating everyone in our community fairly in the home buying/selling/leasing process. I like the onus being voluntarily on us, but it looks like policies/laws may eventually force our hand. There is no time like today to cultivate this practice.

Do you see a theme in not being a red flag? 

It is to communicate as much as possible as early as possible with a paper trail. Thus, a lack of communication is often our biggest red flag that may cause us to deal with the headache of an investigation and/or penalty that could have been avoided by being more proactive in our communication, that again should always have a paper trail.

Coach’s call: I want to challenge you that if you are a night person, at the end of each day, follow up conversations in writing (email, text, DM, or even fax, if that floats your boat) to clarify and make sure all parties are on the same page. If you are a morning person, do itat the start of your day. If you are neither, then be sure to still schedule it daily, while your memory is fresh. This habit will save you in the long run.

As a former managing broker of a “big box” realty firm (I partly got a law degree to better navigate such legal issues as a managing broker), it never failed that the agents who were thorough in communicating via a paper trail were able to avoid fines and penalties. Most times they walked away with a pat on the back for being so detailed, whereas those who simply relied on the selective memory of a conversation often had to face penalties, including fines and/or a loss of their license.

You may even know some in our industry that faced jail time depending on the severity of the infraction.

As real estate experts, we should be our community’s resource for impartial data about the property, not about the people (nor our opinions of those people). Thus, if any part of your real estate dealings describes the people, please know your business is likely a walking red flag.

Lee Davenport is a licensed real estate broker, trainer and coach.
'I Wouldn't Want You To Live Here': 9 Fair Housing Violations to Avoid
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Andrea Brambila

At the Realtors Legislative Meetings' Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum, Lawrence Yun predicted total home sales would bottom out this year before ticking up in 2024

National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun started off his much-anticipated presentation on housing market trends Tuesday morning with a dig at the Federal Reserve for its latest interest rate increase aiming to curb inflation.

“They should not have done that,” Yun told attendees of the Residential Economic Issues and Trends Forum at the Realtors Legislative Meetings, NAR’s midyear conference in Washington, D.C.

“The latest figure is that inflation is at 5 percent — not yet 2 percent, but moving in the right direction,” especially compared to a 9 percent peak last summer, he added.

Rent is one of the biggest drivers of inflation and that 5 percent inflation is coming at a time when rental rates are still accelerating — but not for much longer, according to Yun. Rents will come down because of “very, very robust” apartment construction, which is at a 40-year high.

“Therefore in my view the Fed made a mistake,” Yun said.

Yun noted that existing-home sales are currently below their pre-COVID rates, but may be stabilizing.

“We have to stop the bleeding before the improvement can take place,” Yun said.

On the other hand, new-home sales are back to their pre-COVID levels, according to Yun.

He attributed the difference to inventory: While existing homes on the market are about 40 percent below what they were in 2019, new-home inventory is higher than it has been for years.

The lack of existing-home inventory means that there’s no home-price collapse coming, according to Yun. Sixty percent of listings currently sell within a month and 28 percent are attracting multiple offers, he said.

“Seventy percent of the country is seeing positive gains [in home prices], 30 percent negative,” Yun added.

Demographics will continue to drive housing demand as the population grows and life events trigger home sales, according to Yun.

While he made jokes throughout his presentation, his loudest laugh line came when he predicted that when divorce data came out for 2022, it would be lower than in 2021.

“Why? You hate your spouse, but you realize you love your 3 percent mortgage rate,” he said, prompting guffaws from the audience.

He predicted that total home sales would bottom this year before ticking up next year as mortgage rates decline and job growth continues.

Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), also spoke at the forum and, not surprisingly, stressed the need to build more housing units to both boost inventory and reduce inflation, the latter of which he said could only be addressed by building “attainable affordable housing.”

According to Dietz, the primary obstacles to homebuilding include the cost of building materials, which are still hindered by supply chain issues, such as tariffs on Canadian lumber, regulations that can add up to $200,000 to the cost of a home in a high-cost market like California and a labor shortage of about 100,000 workers.

“The long-term labor shortage in the industry is going to remain with us,” Dietz said.

He said the country would need to build more than 1.1 million single-family homes a year to meaningfully reduce the inventory shortage, and the NAHB doesn’t expect that figure to rise above 1 million until 2025.
NAR Chief Economist: 'The Fed Made a Mistake'

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has ordered new loan level pricing adjustments (LLPAs) at the Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which mortgage lenders must be in compliance with as of May 1.  As a result, many homebuyers with mortgages insured by Fannie and Freddie are now paying higher upfront fees.  Importantly, the fees do not apply to Fannie and Freddie’s affordable mortgage programs, HomeReady and Home Possible, which let buyers put as little as 3 percent down, or to non-conventional government-backed loans, including FHA, VA and USDA loans and HUD Section 184 loans

Since 2008, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac have charged LLPAs to individual borrowers based on their credit score, down payment, and other risk factors.  With this latest change, many buyers who put 5% to 25% down and have credit scores above 680 are seeing fee increases, and the same can be expected for those with high-balance adjustable rate loans.  Notably, it was just last year the FHFA raised guarantee fees on second homes, conforming jumbo mortgages, and high-balance cash out refinancing loans.  Meanwhile, higher-risk borrowers with lower credit scores and large down payments are seeing reduced fees, though they can still expect to pay more than those with good credit.  In addition, changes made in 2022 that reduced or eliminated the LLPA fee for first-time buyers and those with low or moderate incomes are now being made permanent. 

While reduced fees for entry-level borrowers is welcomed news within the industry, the National Association of Realtors® has urged the FHFA to rescind the higher fees imposed on middle-wealth borrowers, noting that the fee increases exacerbate the 3 percentage point jump in mortgage rates over the past year and are completely unnecessary given the current financial strength of the GSEs.  Additionally, NAR is working alongside industry partners to oppose a new fee on borrowers with debt-to-income ratios (DTIs) greater than 40 percent that the FHFA has announced plans to impose beginning August 1.  For more background and explanation on the recent change in LLPAs, read more from Inman News.     

What You Need To Know About Mortgage Fee Hike
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Bernice Ross

The authors of 'Exactly What to Say for Real Estate Agents' provided 30 magic words to help agents have the tough conversations. Here, Bernice Ross boils down the top takeaways

Best-selling author Chris Smith and Jimmy Mackin, the co-founders of Curaytor, joined forces with legendary sales trainer Phil M. Jones to create a book packed with the “magic words” that can help real estate agents be more effective and close more transactions than ever before.  

In Exactly What to Say for Real Estate Agents, they provide “30 Magic Words” to help real estate agents with the most common critical and difficult conversations they face today. 

Smith and Mackin are well-known in the real estate business, but most real estate professionals don’t know Jones. As Mackin puts it, “He’s a modern day Zig Ziglar.” Jones says that he has trained more than 2 million salespeople.

Don’t tell and sell. Ask questions 

Top producers know what to say, how to say it and when to say it. In the book, Jones explains how certain “magic words talk straight to the subconscious brain.”
Because these words circumvent maybe answers by creating yes and no answers, they enable your clients to make decisions without over-analyzing them. 
“Change your words, change your world,” the authors say. 

Most scripts and strategies are based on the old sales strategy known as “Hunt ’em, tell ’em, and sell ’em.”

However, for the 35-plus years I’ve been in the business, there’s one negotiation maxim that I have always found to be true: The person asking the questions is the person who is control of the conversation. 

And despite their focus on messaging, the authors agree. Questions are important because:

They start conversations. 
Conversations build relationships.
Relationships create opportunities.
Opportunities lead to decisions. 

Consequently, the secret of sales success — and communicating more effectively in any situation — is asking better questions. 
Below are just a few of the many powerful takeaways from Exactly What to Say for Real Estate Agents.  

Getting past rejection

Unless you’re part of that very small percentage of people who are immune to rejection, you are constantly missing opportunities to introduce yourself, your services or a property to someone who could benefit from that introduction. 

According to Jones:
It was for this reason that I figured the best place to start is with a set of Magic Words you can use to introduce just about anything to just about anybody, at just about any point in time, that is completely rejection free. The words in the questions are: 
“I’m not sure if it’s for you, but … ”

Here’s why this works:  
The clients don’t feel pressure.
Suggesting that “it” might not be right for them intrigues them because their curiosity is spiked, and they’ll want to know what it is.
This approach, “fires an internal driver that tells them a decision needs to be made and it is their decision to make.” 
The effect on your client’s brain is, “You might want to take a look at this.” 

Jones goes on to explain that the real magic word here is “but.” 

In most cases, you want to avoid using the word “but” because it negates everything that comes before it. 

For example, if your client says, “We really like what you’ve told us about listing our home, but … ,” you can already tell you’re not getting the listing. Here are two examples from the book: 
I’m not sure if it’s for you, but there is a new listing coming up next week that could be a good fit. 
I’m not sure if it’s for you, but there is an open house on Saturday, and you’re welcome to join us. 
At this point the listener will either ask for more information or give it some thought and peg the conversation to recall at a later date.

Why word choice matters

Mackin and Smith have created an invaluable field guide that takes Jones’ 30 “Magic Words” and applies them to prospecting, working with buyers and sellers, closing and overcoming common objections. Here are some additional examples from their field guide, plus a bonus of seven words you should never say during negotiations: 

‘Help me understand the benefits of selling without an agent’
Instead of telling someone you don’t understand them, make your lack of understanding your fault. This removes their defensiveness because you’re creating a situation where you are allowing them to teach you something. 

‘Just imagine’

The authors ask, “Did you know that every decision any human makes is made at least twice? The decision is first made in your mind hypothetically before it is ever made in reality.”

The power of this phrase comes from creating a story. “Just imagine” causes the subconscious brain to kick in and the person pictures the scenario that you’re creating.

For example: 
Just imagine your kids’ faces when they see this backyard.
Just imagine the memories you will make in this home.  

‘Most people’
Jones explains that these two words “most people” are probably responsible for more of his negotiating success than any other strategy he has ever used. People draw confidence from the fact that others have made the same decision, and it worked out well. 
Second, people don’t like being told what to do. Using the phrase “most people” allows you to share advice without bumping into this issue. 
This approach also triggers a response in their subconscious brain that, “I’m like most people, so if this is what most people would do, then perhaps it is what I should do too.”

Two examples include:
Most people who list with me sell over asking price.
Most people find the first offer they receive is typically the best one. 

If you’re ready to upgrade your negotiation skills and to make more money this year, Exactly What to Say for Real Estate Agents is definitely the one guide you need today to achieve that goal.

For more of these kinds of useful insights, you can also watch an interview I conducted with Jimmy Mackin here.

Most people do, and just imagine what could happen to your sales if you did.

Bonus: 7 words you should avoid during negotiations

Have you ever been in a negotiation where everything seemed to be going well, and it fell apart for no apparent reason? Although there are thousands of reasons deals go wrong, there are seven seemingly innocuous words that often cause negotiations to fall apart. Eliminating these words from your negotiation vocabulary will help you be stronger and more confident at the negotiation table.

1. But
2. Can’t
3. Hope
4. If
5. No / not
6. Should
7. Try

Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles. Learn about her broker/manager training programs designed for women, by women, at BrokerageUp.com and her new agent sales training at RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.
Ever Struggle For Words? Here’s How to Nail Client Conversations
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jim Darlrymple II

Quick, what’s the most tedious part of working as a real estate agent?

Perhaps it’s writing one listing description after another until they all blur together. Or maybe it’s filling out paperwork again and again and again, or responding to the early-morning emails or late-night text messages.

Whatever the task may be, now imagine not having to do it again. Instead, a hyper-intelligent computer takes over. It fills in the blanks on your forms. It writes engaging copy for that blog. It generates one new listing description after another, each unique, forever.

That may not quite be the reality yet. But thanks to a recent explosion in artificial intelligence technology, it is a future that’s easier to imagine now than ever before.

That explosion has included the rise of several new high-profile chatbots, a series of AI-powered image generators and a host of other tools that can make anything from video to music. What follows is a discussion of just one piece of the AI field — chatbots — and how they’re already changing the real estate industry. And while this field is still in its infancy, it’s clear that it has the potential to be dramatically transformative.

However, industry professionals also believe the tech is most likely to enhance agents’ jobs rather than replace them.

Why is AI everywhere now? (A little bit of history)

Chatbots have existed for many years, including in the real estate industry where high-profile companies, such as OJO have made them core parts of their product lineups.

But the reason everyone is suddenly talking about AI is largely thanks to a company called OpenAI, which set the world ablaze with the debut in December of a free public version of its chatbot, dubbed ChatGPT.

More than 1 million people signed up for ChatGPT within five days of its launch, according to company leaders.

ChatGPT has reportedly grown to more than 100 million users. Rivals have since entered the market, but ChatGPT was really the thing that ignited the current hype cycle around AI.

The three most important chatbots right now

While the debut of ChatGPT created tremendous hype, Kent Czechowski, chief data scientist at OJO, told Inman in an email that “there is real substance” behind that hype.

“The latest generation of AI technologies will have a significant impact on the real estate industry, improving efficiency, enhancing customer experience, and enabling better decision-making,” Czechowski argued.

Numerous tools are on the market right now, but for the time being everyone should at least know about three big chatbots. To get a sense of how the big three perform, Inman experimented by asking each of them to produce a basic listing description using this prompt:

Write a four sentence real estate listing for a home in Los Angeles. The home is located in the Echo Park neighborhood, has two bedrooms, one bathroom, a one-car garage and views of downtown.

Here’s what they spit out and how they work:


For the reasons mentioned above, ChatGPT is the granddad of AI chatbots. Users have to sign up to use ChatGPT, but so far the tool remains free — though access can be restricted when demand is high. There is, however, a paid “plus” version that costs $20 per month and which gives users access regardless of demand.

Here’s what ChatGPT produced in response to the prompt:
Introducing a stunning home located in Echo Park, offering stunning views of downtown Los Angeles. This 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom residence is the perfect place to call home. The one-car garage provides security and convenience, while the tasteful finishes throughout the home will impress any buyer. Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to own a home in one of LA’s most sought-after neighborhoods.

That’s not a terrible response. It’s a little bland, but with a few edits, it would be usable. And of course there are, sadly, many worse listing descriptions out there in the real world. Which is to say ChatGPT might not on its own be able to replace the best writers in real estate right now, but it’s competitive against the worst.

Google Bard

Bard was Google’s response to ChatGPT. Though Google had already experimented with such tools, ChatGPT’s immediate popularity reportedly prompted Google leadership to declare a “code red” situation and reassign teams to build a rival.

Bard subsequently debuted in February. It’s free to use, though would-be users have to sign up for a waitlist.

The response to Bard has been more tempered than what ChatGPT generated. And the tool’s response to the listing prompt may explain why:

• Charming 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom home in Echo Park. 
• Enjoy stunning views of downtown from your private balcony. 
• Just steps to the park, restaurants, and shops. 
• Don’t miss this rare opportunity to own a piece of Echo Park history.

Unlike ChatGPT, Bard opted for a bulleted list, which is not a standard or useable format for a real estate listing. It also invented details, such as a “private balcony,” that weren’t in the prompt and which might not be accurate.

So this response is basically trash.

However, one useful thing about all of these new chatbots is that users can ask for revised responses. In this case, Inman asked Bard to rewrite the response without the bullet points. It worked, but the response was nearly word-for-word the same, just without the bullets. A back-and-forth with the bot could likely have refined the answer and made it more useful, but at a certain point, it’s simply faster for a human to write the listing.


Microsoft’s Bing has been around for years as an also-ran search engine that was overwhelmingly eclipsed by Google. However, in February the company rolled out the “New Bing,” which is a chatbot powered by ChatGPT technology.

Bing’s chatbot requires users to download and use Microsoft Edge, which is the company’s web browser. It’s a standard app installation process, but it’s an extra step that other chatbots don’t require and is thus probably enough to deter many users. On the other hand, once you have Edge, Bing offers a number of useful prompt categories to help users imagine what the tool can do, and it has different conversation style options.

Here’s what Bing generated in response to the prompt:

Originally built in 1914, this charming 2 bedroom 1 bath has been modified throughout the years with modern amenities including partially updated windows, renovated kitchen and bathroom, upgraded 200 AMP main service panel, foundation upgrades, along with an AC split system in the main living area to name a few.
Two bedrooms and one bathroom, along with the kitchen and living spaces, on the main floor are replete with upgrades. From the living room, you can peer at the beautiful downtown LA skyline, or up the hill at a palm-tree-dotted horizon. The entire house has mini-split systems.
Wonderful opportunity to own two charming California bungalows in LA’s thriving Echo Park neighborhood! The front house is a cozy two bedroom, one bathroom home that has several original features like a coffered ceiling in the living room, built-in cabinetry and wood-burning fireplace.
Echo Park Home for Sale: We are pleased to present an eight (8) unit multifamily property located at 2436 Echo Park Avenue in Los Angeles, California. The property is situated in a prime Echo Park location at the top of a hill in Elysian Heights, south of Riverside Drive and west of Stadium Way.

Like Bard, this response includes details that weren’t justified by the initial prompt. On the other hand, this is definitely the most colorful and interesting of the three examples, and Bing managed to get a lot more mileage out of the four-sentence limitation than its competitors.

But perhaps the most interesting component of this result is that it mentions a specific address. And it turns out that address corresponds with a real home that, as of the time of this writing, is actually for sale. A few of the details mentioned in Bing’s response appear to be lifted directly from that listing, which highlights a fundamental feature, and potential flaw, of AI content: These chatbots are trained on the internet and draw on existing content, meaning they run the risk of inadvertently plagiarizing other work (scroll down for more on that issue).

Concerns aside, though, Bing also included prompts for follow-up questions as well as links to sites, such as Redfin and Zillow where a user could find out more about related topics. As a result, the tool felt more integrated with the broader web than Bard or ChatGPT.

How are real estate pros using these tools?  

Probably the most obvious way for real estate pros to use these types of tools right now is along the lines of the experiment Inman ran above.

Deena Serna is a Compass agent in Vero Beach, Florida, who told Inman that she has been experimenting with writing listing descriptions with ChatGPT. Though Serna has yet to deploy such descriptions for an actual listing in the real world, her impression so far is that the bot is “really good if you want to type up a blurb about communities” or a house. Asked why an agent, who presumably is experienced and fast at writing such content, would need a chatbot, Serna explained that the tool can help break up a person’s tendency to repeat words and language.

“When you list properties you kind of always go to the same points, so I think it shakes it up a little bit,” she said.
Clarity Odd, an agent with HomeSmart Realty Group in Portland, Oregon, has also been experimenting with ChatGPT. She sees such tools as potentially taking repetitive tasks off agents’ plates, and noted that when asked to describe a property, “ChatGPT can spit out this really beautiful well composed paragraph.”

But that doesn’t mean chatbots immediately solve all agents’ problems.

“There is an absolute learning curve,” Odd said. “You have to be able to prompt ChatGPT in the right way to elicit the proper response. If you don’t prompt it correctly, it’s going to give you really generic, cookie-cutter responses.”

Similar comments came up in other conversations for this story, and they highlight the fact that it takes time, effort and know-how for agents to take advantage of AI tools. The potential is huge, in other words, but harnessing it is a skill.

To wit: The relatively specific prompt in the section above was not Inman’s first attempt at getting the chatbots to churn out useful listing descriptions. In fact, Inman started with simple sentences such as “write a real estate listing,” but the results were consistently lackluster.

In any case, Dave Jones, co-owner of Windermere Abode in Tacoma, Washington, was among those who made a similar point about agents needing to surmount a learning curve, noting that “not every prompt is created equal.”

“You still have to understand what you’re doing to fully realize the capabilities of this software,” he said. “We have to make this mindset shift from being a researcher to an engineer.”

Dean Cacioppo, founder and CEO of real estate marketing firm One Click SEO, suggested that new chatbot users “layer” their prompts, asking one question after another, with each response adding to a larger piece of content. In his case, he often starts by asking ChatGPT to create an outline, then having it fill in the blanks for each part of the outline.

Cacioppo also said that chatbot users have to think about the tone they’re trying to capture, then specifically ask the bot to write in that style.

“If you just say, ‘write this article’ it’s going to be really bad,” Cacioppo said. “If you don’t give it the tone, so for example saying ‘write this in a humorous way,’ you’ll get very very dry, very obviously AI-written stuff.”

As industry pros get more familiar with chatbots, they’re also using the technology for more diverse tasks. Cacioppo, for instance, is deploying ChatGPT to create SEO-optimized business descriptions.

“Right now we’re using it a whole lot for Google business profiles,” he explained.

In Odd’s case, she’s beginning to use ChatGPT to write scripts for her new YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Jones is already using ChatGPT to generate questions that he asks on his podcast.

“I haven’t written down questions for a podcast in two months,” Jones said.

Czechowski painted an even more sweeping picture, telling Inman that AI can deliver large-scale data insights based on millions of current and historical listings. It’ll also allow for new levels of personalization, and “an explosion of hyper-localized and highly-targeted content.” It’ll pioneer a form of “interactive discovery,” he said.

“Users can eventually get to answers even when they cannot fully articulate the question,” he said. “In real estate, interactive dialog tools like ChatGPT are a convenient way for inexperienced consumers to find their bearings in an overwhelming real estate market.”

AI isn’t just for writing copy

While the real estate industry is racing to adopt chatbot technology for things like listing descriptions, it’s also clear that one of the biggest limitations is simply users’ imaginations.

For example, ChatGPT can also write in various programming languages, such as JavaScript and CSS. That means users can ask the tool to write codes that embed images, buttons and other items on their sites. For instance, Inman asked ChatGPT to “write code that will embed a gif of a real estate agent in WordPress.”

This was the (hilarious and somewhat confusing) result:

Whether you think that gif is an accurate representation of real estate agents or not isn’t really the point. Instead, the key thing to keep in mind is that the “content” ChatGPT wrote is coding language that exists on the backend of this post. The process wasn’t perfect — the gif was initially displaying as a thumbnail and Inman had to tweak it to make it full size — but it’s still worth considering that chatbot content can take on many forms.

Inman additionally asked ChatGPT to “write a recipe for gluten-free double chocolate cookies.” And it delivered (though Inman has not yet tried baking this recipe):

The real point here is that consumer-facing content, such as listing descriptions and blog posts is just the tip of the iceberg.
AI content is also becoming even more interactive. For example, Instacart has a ChatGPT plugin that allows users to generate recipes and add ingredients to their online shopping carts in one swoop.

Restaurant reservation company OpenTable is doing something similar; the company has a ChatGPT plugin that combines the process of finding a place to eat and reserving a table.

Real estate technology companies are experimenting with similar technology, though we’ll dive into that topic in a future post. For now, the point is that chatbots can do a lot more than just chat.

“I suspect the most impactful innovations will be AI-powered features that enhance existing products,” Czechowski concluded.

Is AI going to destroy the world?

As with any new technology, the rise of intelligent chatbots has elicited a host of concerns. Perhaps most alarmingly, a group of famous technology leaders including Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak recently argued that “AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth” and “can pose profound risks to society and humanity.” The leaders consequently want companies to pause their AI experiments.

In the meantime, and before the robot uprising becomes real, more practical issues abound: For instance, copyrights. If a human writes something, that person owns the copyright to that content. If an AI chatbot then lifts passages from that content, it would be guilty of plagiarism. Explicit plagiarism is likely rare, given that chatbots draw on vast troves of sources, but it may also be hard for users to even know if the responses they get are stolen or not.

It’s also unclear who owns the content that AI generates. In general, writing is only considered copyrighted when created by a human — meaning AI content would not typically be protected. The U.S. Copyright Office has indicated it may begin granting copyright status to AI-generated material, but only on a case-by-case basis.

What this means is that chatbot users may not own the content they’re using. Someone could create a unique blog post, and then watch helplessly as another personcopies that post onto another website — something that isn’t allowed with traditional human-generated content.

Other concerns include the potential for bias to be baked into a bot’s programming, factual errors and the possibility of AI servers becoming overwhelmed and cutting off access.

But probably the biggest concern floating around right now is that ChatGPT and similar tech could ultimately replace human jobs. Odd, for instance, noted that some of her real estate peers seem to hold the tech at arm’s length, afraid that it might ultimately render agents obsolete.

However, all of the industry members who spoke to Inman said that chatbots are not on the verge of replacing real estate professionals. Cacioppo, for one, repeatedly said the content that chatbots create is simply not good enough to eliminate human involvement.

“You always will need a level of human intervention,” he argued. “AI does not do a good job of discriminating fact from fiction.”
Odd made a similar point, noting that “one thing AI can’t do is replace invaluable experience and knowledge.”

“Those agents who have 30 years of experience,” she said, “there’s no way AI can replace their knowledge.”

Czechowski, meanwhile, argued that AI will lead to greater efficiency. And he sees agents as retaining their place in the industry, even as “most of the information-providing aspects of the job will be delegated to AI-powered tools.” At the same time, he continued, the technology will “supercharge real estate professionals.”

“It will enable the rise of the truly tech-enabled real estate agent — one who can serve more consumers on a more consistent basis, and provide an even higher quality of service,” Czechowski said. “It will lead to a huge productivity boost in many job types across the entire real estate industry, as it helps to automate most of the more tedious aspects of daily work to free up time to focus on the more creative parts of the job.”
The Chatbot Revolution Has Begun Here's What Agents Need to Know
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess

By focusing on optimizing the efficiencies in your business and serving others with the highest level of service possible, your continued success is inevitable

The real estate market has changed and top-producing agents realize they must change as well. They understand the success they’ve achieved in the past will not continue unless they adjust to the new market environment and optimize their operation.

The following are the seven power moves top-producing agents are making right now.

1. They’re evaluating expenses

With fewer transactions available real estate professionals are evaluating all of their expenses. They are deciding which expenses are yielding an acceptable return on their investment and which expenses should be reduced or eliminated.

The savings from expense reductions flow straight to the bottom line, and this practice not only increases profitability, but it also offers an opportunity to identify expenses that may need to be increased due to the positive return they render.

If you’re wondering how to evaluate the expenses in your business, start by making a list of all expenses you’ve incurred over the past 90 days. If these aren’t readily available, begin keeping an expense diary for the next 30 days.

Evaluate and quantify the value, or lack thereof, for each expense. I like to break these down into four categories:
• Must keep: Expenses that cannot be eliminated or reduced due to their positive impact on the business.
• Keep but reduce: Expenses that help the business but could be reduced in the short term and reevaluated when the business improves.
• Eliminate now but reconsider later: Expenses that are unnecessary in the current market environment but they may return to viability in an improved market.
• Eliminate immediately or as soon as possible: These are expenses with no merit now or in the foreseeable future.

Anything you inspect, you can expect to perform better. Evaluating all your business expenses is a great place to begin optimizing your business for success.

2. They’re evaluating income

Top-producing Realtors are examining where their income originates. They are identifying the areas that have been the most and least productive. Once they identify these areas, they are choosing to spend more time and effort on the activities yielding transactions while eliminating the ones that are less productive.

If you’re wondering how to evaluate your business income, start by making a list of all your transactions over the past three years. Off to the side of each transaction, identify what activity initiated that transaction. Was it 
• a referral
• someone you met originally at an open house
• an internet lead
• a lead from your geographical farming efforts
• a customer from another activity you may have been doing
Once you have an activity identified beside each transaction, total how many transactions have come from each activity. Then divide the number of transactions that came from that activity by the total number of transactions. These percentages will clearly identify the most productive income-generating activities you have in your business.

By focusing your efforts on the activities with the best results, the efficiency in, and in turn income, of your business will increase.

3. They’re building systems

Top real estate agents are using this time to build systems in their businesses. They understand the pace with which the business moved over the past few years made it difficult to slow down enough to build systems. That is not the case today.

These top agents are using this slowdown in transactions as an opportunity to prepare their business to not only run more efficiently now, but to have the capacity to handle more business in the future.

The best way to build systems for your business is to identify repetitive activities that can be systemized via checklists or automation. Checklists for a new listing, contract-to-close activities, post-closing activities, marketing plans for a new listing, or other similar activities are a great way to make sure nothing is missed throughout the process.

Developing automated follow-up systems for online leads, drip campaigns for nurturing future clients, building marketing plans for expired listings and FSBOs, or any other plans of action that can be outlined and easily followed provides the leverage needed to expand the business.

The systems put in place today are the seeds for future business expansion. Make sure you’re utilizing this time to prepare your business for future growth.

4. They’re upgrading the talent around them

The best real estate agents are taking this time to upgrade the talent around them. They’re evaluating every person they have on their team. 

The paid employees being evaluated might include their personal assistant, their transaction coordinator, or their buyer’s agent. They’re also evaluating the people they depend on to assist their clients, including but not limited to, their preferred lender, their preferred home inspector, and the handyman they refer clients to.

They realize this is not a time to accept mediocrity in regard to any members of their team whether employed by them or someone they refer business to. They are identifying the service providers who have not only provided great service but who have also returned the favor by referring business to them. By doing so, they can identify whether the relationship has the potential to be a two-way street of growing together or not.

Now is the time to assemble the most talented team possible to serve your clients at the highest level possible. The people around you will determine how much growth your business is capable of having.

5. They’re focusing on where the puck will be instead of where it has been

This is a play on the famous quote from Hall of Fame hockey player Wayne Gretzky: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”

Top agents realize there are certain activities they can focus on now that will position them for success both in the short term and for the long term. They’re spending time on areas like producing evergreen video content that will work for them while they sleep for years to come. 

They’re focusing on their Google Business Profile page with an understanding that time spent optimizing their page today provides compounding opportunities now and in the future. 

They’re building their social media presence with an understanding that the value of an engaged social media following will reap an abundant harvest in the coming years.

By focusing on these and other core activities, they are setting the stage for unprecedented growth in the future.

6. They’re having more real estate-related conversations

The best real estate agents realize the most valuable assets they have are their relationships. Top agents are utilizing this time to check-in with their past clients and their sphere of influence.

They’re also expanding their reach by engaging with as many new people as possible. 

They’re hosting more open houses to increase their ability to have conversations with new potential clients. They’re letting the neighbors know about their new listing either by door knocking or circle prospecting. They’re joining clubs, service organizations or charitable groups to expand the number of relationships they have.

They understand the number of transactions they close this year and in the future will be a direct result of the number of real estate-related conversations they have.

7. They’re getting greedy while other agents are fearful

This is a play on the famous Warren Buffett quote: “I get fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

The market today includes a lot of agents who are fearful and unsure of what to do. Top producers understand that chaos creates opportunity. While other agents are fearful, top agents are getting greedy.

They’re getting greedy about producing more content allowing them to broaden their reach and market share. They’re getting greedy by taking on more geographical farm areas while others are pulling back or leaving the business. 

They’re getting greedy by focusing on adding more value than ever before to the market with an understanding that by giving more today, they’re gaining market share even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

They understand the real estate market is cyclical, and they recognize now is the opportunity to take market share by doing the business the right way while others struggle to survive.

Is your desire to grow your business this year? What are you doing right now that your competition isn’t? By focusing on optimizing the efficiencies in your business and serving others with the highest level of service possible, your continued success is inevitable.

Jimmy Burgess is the CEO for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida.
7 Power Moves Top Agents Are Making Right Now
Back in 2020, the Massachusetts Legislature enacted a law allowing the remote notarization of documents, commercial and residential alike, during the state of emergency triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. Although that law is set to expire, it has now been replaced with new statutory provisions designed to make remote notarization a permanent alternative to in-person acknowledgments. The new statute won’t take effect until January 1, 2024. In the meantime, the Secretary of State will need to promulgate rules and regulations specifying how remote notarization will work. In addition, any notary wishing to perform remote notarizations will be required to register with the Secretary, who is authorized to require candidates to complete an educational course on the subject. 

For now, here’s an outline of what to expect:
• Remote notarization will need to utilize a “tamper-evident” technology which can be counted on to identify any changes made to the notary’s records.
• Notaries will be permitted to sign and stamp documents electronically.
• A tangible copy of an electronic notarization, certified as accurate by the notary, will be sufficient for recording at the Registry of Deeds, although special rules may apply to so-called “registered land” under the jurisdiction of the Land Court.
• The notarization must be performed during a “single, real-time session”.
• The notary will be responsible for creating an audio-visual recording of the performance of the notarization. These recordings must be retained for at least ten years and made available to the parties to the relevant transaction as well as title insurers and legal enforcement agencies. 
• Remote notarization is unavailable in the case of election documents or wills.
• A notary performing a remote notarization must be physically located in Massachusetts and be able to confirm the identity of the person whose signature is being acknowledged; alternative forms of identification include personal knowledge, the affirmation of a credible, disinterested witness personally known to the notary or two forms of “identity proofing” to be established by the Secretary.
• If a document is notarized remotely, the notary’s  certificate must so indicate, identifying the notary’s location and that of the person whose signature was acknowledged.
• In the case of sales or financings involving a one-four family residential dwelling, remote notarizations may be performed only by an attorney or a person supervised by or acting pursuant to a direct request by the attorney handling the closing. 
More information will be available once the Secretary’s rules and regulations are in place. 

Philip S. Lapatin
Holland & Knight LLP
March 31, 2023

New State Law Will Allow Remote Notarization
Following years of debate, a new version of the Massachusetts State Sanitary Code will take effect on April 1. The Department of Public Health, which has responsibility for promulgating the Code, decided that the existing version had become outdated, ambiguous and in some cases obsolete. With input from state and local officials as well as landlord and tenant groups, the DPH has produced the first major overhaul of the Code since 1994. Many of the existing provisions have been tweaked and renumbered while others have undergone more significant changes and new sections have been added. Landlords should take the time to familiarize themselves with the new Code; the official version has yet to be published but here’s a DPH website which contains a link to the text: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/housing-code-effective-april-2023.  What follows is a summary of what appear to be the most important new dictates applicable to multi-family apartment buildings (separate sections of the Code regulate lodging houses, single-family dwellings and other forms of housing).

Access to Apartments

Except in case of emergency, tenants will now be entitled to at least 48 hours’ prior notice before giving landlords access to an apartment for the purpose of correcting Code violations. If possible, an appointment should be scheduled.


The Code will continue to require landlords to provide a stove and oven unless the lease obligates the tenant to supply these appliances. The same rule will now be extended to refrigerators and freezers; if they’re not included with the apartment or don’t contain a combined storage area of at least 11 cubic feet, the lease must say so. 

Kitchen Walls

The wall above a kitchen countertop must have a smooth, non-absorbent, easily cleanable surface and form a watertight seal with the countertop itself. The wall surface must extend at least 24 inched above the countertop where practicable. 

Hot Water

The required temperature range for hot water continues to be 110-130 degrees except in the case of bathtubs or showers, where the maximum temperature has been reduced to 120 degrees.

Heating Facilities

Like portable electric space heaters, fireplaces will not be considered to meet the requirements of a heating system. 

Temperature Standards

The heating season will now run from September 15 through May 31 instead of from September 16 through June 14. Local health boards are authorized to shorten the heating season throughout a particular city or town so as to begin no later than September 30 and end no earlier than May 15. It appears that individual landlords will no longer be entitled to obtain variances shrinking the heating season even further.  

Electrical Panels

Tenants who are required to purchase their own electricity must now be given access to their apartment’s electrical distribution panel. 

Posting of Contact Information

Owners who employ property managers living on-site have historically been exempt from the requirement that the owner’s name and contact information be posted  next to the mailboxes or in another readily-visible location. That exemption has now been eliminated. Unless the owner lives in the building, the owner’s contact information must be posted together with contact information for any non-resident property manager.

Monitoring Messages

The telephone number of the owner and property manager must be regularly monitored (e.g., checking voicemail messages) but no less frequently than once every 12 hours unless occupants have been provided with an alternate contact person and phone number for use during periods of temporary absence. 

Notice of Tenant Rights

Landlords will be obligated to make tenants aware of their legal rights and responsibilities by providing to each occupant a copy of a notice to be prepared by the DPH or posting the notice next to the mailboxes or in another readily-visible location. 


The Code currently requires landlords to keep their buildings free from “chronic dampness”. That phrase has been changed to “excess moisture or the appearance of mold”. Tenants will still be expected to keep their apartments in a sanitary condition, which should include cleaning shower stalls and avoiding other conditions likely to cause mold. 

Leaks and Flooding

In the event of leaks or flooding, landlords will be required to ensure that all surfaces have been dried within 48 hours after notice of the occurrence. While the wording is unclear, it appears that landlords who don’t receive a notice will be expected to take action within 48 hours after “the end of the event”, for example a major rainstorm.

Weathertight Elements

The requirements for ensuring that windows and doors are watertight have been tightened. In particular, weatherstripping will no longer be considered sufficient to prevent the infiltration of air or moisture.


All openable exterior windows, not just those on the first four floors of a building, will have to be equipped with screens during the period from April 1 through October 31. 

Pest Control

Landlords will be required to inspect each apartment prior to turnover in order to identify the presence of pests, broadly defined to include all “unwanted animal life”. Extermination continues to be the landlord’s responsibility, although tenants will still be expected to maintain their apartments in a “sanitary manner so as to prevent the attraction of pests”. 

Garbage Collection

The obligation of a landlord to provide receptacles and arrange for the removal of garbage used to apply only where a building contained three or more dwelling units; that threshold has been reduced to two, meaning that all multi-unit structures will now be covered. Tenants will be expected to abide by local regulations governing the separation of recyclable, yard waste and bulk items like mattresses and large appliances. 

Exterior Maintenance

The obligation of landlords relative to exterior areas will now include eliminating “potential injury hazards” and “conditions contributing to the accumulation of standing water”. 


In those instances where a landlord has obtained a variance from the local health board allowing the Code’s requirements to be modified, all tenants must be given a copy of the variance, which should also be attached to new leases. 


Local health boards retain their right to condemn buildings found to be unfit for human habitation. A new Code provision will now require landlords to provide comparable, suitable housing for tenants during the remainder of the lease term or until the building is deemed suitable for occupancy by the board. 
Many of these new provisions are unclear and will need to be clarified by the DPH or interpreted by the courts, In the meantime, members with general questions may contact the Massachusetts Apartment Association’s free legal hotline at 617-573-5822; those needing more specific advice are urged to consult with their own attorneys.

Philip S. Lapatin
Holland & Knight LLP
March 10, 2023
New Sanitary Code Overhauled - Takes Effect April 1


GBREB Policy Statement on Diversity and Inclusion

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) and its five Divisions, being the Building Owners and Managers Association of Boston, the Commercial Brokers Association, the Greater Boston Association of Realtors, the Real Estate Finance Association and the Massachusetts Apartment Association, are committed to diversity and inclusion in all of its activities, including its programs, forums, and conferences. GBREB is equally dedicated to ensuring that the makeup of its membership, board, and program participants represents a diverse, inclusive, and dynamic group of individuals.
By embracing diversity and encouraging inclusion, GBREB and its five Divisions speak more effectively on behalf of the entire profession, establishing a high standard within the real estate industry and serving a fuller range of stakeholders.
To reflect their dedication to advancing diversity and inclusion in the real estate profession, GBREB and each of its five Divisions are committed to the following policies:

  • Establishing measurable objectives to achieve and communicate this policy.
  • Actively promoting the value of diversity and inclusion in the association’s staff and board positions.
  • Maximizing opportunities for each individual to contribute to the organization’s goals by actively ensuring a fully diverse body of staff and volunteer participants in appointments to task forces, special projects, decision-making activities, and leadership roles.
  • Seeking the best and brightest to participate in GBREB programs and with a regard for diversity of gender, race, gender expression, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, veteran status, disability, religion or age.

Learn More at GBREB Divisions' Diversity & Inclusion Sites

Link to BOMA Diversity and Inclusion SiteLink to CBA Diversity and Inclusion SiteLink to GBAR Diversity and Inclusion SiteLink to MAA Diversity and Inclusion SiteLink to REFA Diversity and Inclusion Site