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.

 

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Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Darryl Davis

Transparency and communication are more important than ever before. Darryl Davis offers essential talking points for your next commission conversation with sellers

In the wake of the landmark legal ruling against the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homeowners and industry professionals alike are re-evaluating the conventional practice of sellers paying commissions for both the buyer’s and seller’s agents. This verdict has sparked a nationwide debate, questioning the fairness and efficacy of this long-standing tradition in the U.S. real estate market. 

While the outcome of the lawsuit may not immediately revolutionize existing practices, it does open a critical dialogue about the distribution of commission costs. I want to explore the benefits that sellers reap from adhering to the traditional model, shedding light on the advantages of this practice becomes more pertinent than ever, providing sellers with compelling reasons to continue shouldering both sides of the commission.

This won’t change the outcome of the lawsuits, but it should give you some compelling ways to articulate the benefits to the seller for paying both sides of the commission.

In the United States, the seller almost always pays the commission for both the selling and buying agents, a practice that has been much scrutinized with lawsuits continuing to pop up.
However, this approach has been a cornerstone of real estate transactions for decades. Understanding the benefits of this practice is crucial, especially in the current climate of legal and regulatory challenges.

Advantages of seller-paid commission for sellers

• Increased buyer interest: When sellers cover the commission, the property becomes more attractive to a broader range of buyers. This is particularly beneficial in competitive markets, where every advantage counts.
• Potential for higher selling price: Because buyers don’t need to reserve funds for commission, they might be willing to offer a higher purchase price.
• Faster sale of property: By removing the extra financial burden on buyers, sellers often enjoy quicker sales, reducing the time their property spends on the market.
• Simplified negotiation process: With commission costs off the table, negotiations can focus squarely on the property’s price, streamlining the discussion.
• Reduced financial burden on buyers: This approach makes properties accessible to a wider pool of buyers, some of whom might have limited available cash for upfront costs.
• Enhanced seller reputation: Sellers who cover commission costs are often viewed as more motivated and cooperative, traits that can attract serious and qualified buyers.
• Streamlined transaction process: The transaction becomes less complex with fewer parties negotiating over commission payments, leading to a smoother overall experience.

Here’s the deal. Until we get more direction from the “powers that be” on what and how buyer’s agents should be paid, we should probably keep doing what we are doing — but with a lot more transparency and better communication skills with everyone involved.

The practice of sellers paying the buyer’s side of the commission in the U.S. real estate market has deep roots. While recent legal challenges have put these practices under the microscope, it’s clear that this method offers multiple advantages for sellers.

From attracting more buyers to potentially fetching higher selling prices and ensuring a quicker sale, the benefits are significant. As the industry navigates these legal waters, understanding the rationale behind this practice helps in appreciating its value in the complex world of real estate transactions.

Additionally, NAR provides several resources to help you discuss compensation with consumers:


Darryl Davis is the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars.

7 Perks of Seller-Paid Commission to Share With Homeowners
GBAR
The Greater Boston Association of Realtors’® (GBAR) Diversity Scholarship Program was created in 2023 to provide training and financial support to members of racial minority groups who aspire to a career in real estate.  By establishing this scholarship program, it is our hope to promote an inclusive environment within the local real estate industry in which the population of licensed real estate professionals mirrors the diversity of home buyers and homeowners residing in the 64 communities in the Greater Boston region served by GBAR.  

Each year, the association will seek to award a minimum of 10 scholarships to cover the cost of attending the real estate salesperson pre-licensing course, the registration fee to take the salesperson’s licensing exam twice (if necessary), and first-year of membership dues to join the Greater Boston, Massachusetts and National Associations of Realtors®, for those who affiliate with a Realtor® member firm of the GBAR.  GBAR has partnered exclusively with the New England Real Estate Academy to provide pre-licensing course instruction to scholarship recipients, which includes 20 hours of online training via webinar and 20 hours of self-directed study, digital and audio versions of the “Principles of Real Estate Practice in Massachusetts” instruction manual, and access to a monthly study group, quizzes and a practice final exam.  

Scholarship recipients will be provided three months from notification of selection to enroll in the salesperson pre-licensing course and six months from the date of enrollment to complete the course.  Course fees will be paid in advance by GBAR, while the license exam fee will be reimbursed to scholarship recipients following completion of the examination, provided appropriate documentation is provided, and application for Realtor® membership with GBAR is made within 60 days of passing the licensing exam.

If you are interested in applying for a GBAR Diversity Scholarship, we recommend reviewing the eligibility and application criteria cited below prior to submitting an online application.  Applicants should be aware that an interview with the scholarship selection committee is part of the application process. 

The deadline to submit an application is March 1, 2024.  For questions, contact GBAR at 617-423-8700 or 617-224-9303.

Scholarship Eligibility Criteria:

Applicants must be:
- At least 18 years of age;
- A legal U.S. resident and permanent resident of Massachusetts;
- Residing in one of 64 communities in the Greater Boston Real Estate Board/GBAR jurisdiction;
- A member of a racial minority.  Racial minority is defined as a person of race or national origin that is African American, Asian American/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, Middle Eastern American, Native American.
- Able to satisfy the requirements for licensure for real estate salespersons set by the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons;

Scholarship Application Criteria:

- Complete the required scholarship application on or before March 1st.
- Submit two personal letters of recommendation;
- Students currently enrolled in a pre-licensing course with New England Real Estate Academy are ineligible to apply;
- Individuals shall interview with the scholarship selection committee as part of the application process

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APPLY HERE

GBAR Announces Diversity Scholarships Program
GBAR
GBAR is pleased to announce a new member benefit through our partnership with SafeShowings LCC, to bring a mobile app that gives REALTORS® control of their safety in real time.

The safety and well being of our members is ALWAYS a top priority and this is the FIRST mobile proactive safety app of its kind. We we encourage you to implement and use this new member benefit in your real estate business! 

SafeShowings is the first mobile proactive strategic deterrent, safety app of its kind. It captures a real-time image of the person or people to whom a professional, most often a lone worker, is about to show a property. The images are then uploaded to a secure location. If a user is unable to end a SafeShowings showing properly and within the allotted time, the application will immediately notify the user’s selected emergency contacts with the exact location and images of the person or predator. This is the only real-time, locale-entry strategic deterrent application that dissuades criminal behavior because the person intending to do harm clearly knows that they will get caught. The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) states that “Research clearly shows that the chance of being caught is a vastly more effective deterrent than even draconian punishment.” According to the NIJ, a strategic deterrent is the number one way to ensure that you and your employees are safe. A strategic deterrent is the last line of defense.

With SafeShowings, the uer captures the following every time he or she enters a property:

• Images
• Contact names
• Cell phone numbers
• GPS location of the SafeShowings user

Click here to download the SafeShowings App--for FREE!

Resources

Getting Started Video
FAQs

SafeShowings App Launch Webinar Replay


Click here
to view a replay of our SafeShowings App Launch Webinar, and learn more about how to get setup and start using this effective tool at your next showing or open house!
GBAR Launches New Safety App Member Benefit
GBAR
 
On October 19, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) held a webinar for to introduce college students to introduction to Commercial Real Estate (CRE).

GBREB consists of five divisions: Building Owners and Managers Association, Boston (BOMA Boston), Commercial Brokers Association (CBA), Greater Boston Association of Realtors (GBAR), Real Estate Finance Association (REFA), and Massachusetts Apartment Association (MAA).  The program included a panel discussion with industry professionals from all five divisions who provided an introductory overview of the Commercial Real Estate Industry and its many career paths, and will share their tips on how to connect, network, and launch your career. 

Moderator: Kathleen Franco, Senior Vice President, Residential Operations, Claremont Properties, 2023 GBREB Chair  

Panelists:

Jessica Buonopane, CAPS, Senior Vice President, Residential Properties, National Development, 2023 MAA President
Alison Powers, Executive Vice President, JLL, 2023 CBA President
Ravi Ragnauth, Partner & CFO, Berkshire Residential Investments, 2023 REFA President-Elect
Tanisha N. Salmon, Realtor, Keller Williams Realty, GBAR Director & GBAR DEI Committee Chair
Jennifer Twombly, General Manager, Rockhill Management, 2023 BOMA President

View GBREB Career College Showcase video

GBREB College Career Showcase Replay
GBAR

What steps can a listing agent take to verify that the person contacting them is really the owner of the property? 

There have been an increasing number of reports in Massachusetts relating to fraudulent sellers. Often, these scams are attempted on vacation properties or vacant properties because the legitimate owners may not be routinely physically present at the property. Some indicators of a potentially fraudulent seller are:

• They say are out of state/country and cannot meet in person;
• Refusal to engage in a video conference;
• Insistence on selling the property fast;
• Willingness to sell below market value.

If faced with a situation where perhaps the lead seems too good to be true, or there are some red flags, a diligent listing agent should:

• Seek advice from their broker;
• Request identification from the seller(s);
• Do a records search – do the names match?
• Insist on a video call;
• Do an internet/social media search for the seller(s).

If the seller is legitimate, they will likely be agreeable to the efforts to verify their identity and ownership status of the property. In those situations where the person is attempting to perpetrate a fraud, taking these additional steps will likely act as a sufficient deterrent to the scammer. 

Failure to engage in proper due diligence by the listing agent could result in significant damages to the listing agent, the brokerage, the owners of the property, and the buyers.
Courtesy of the MAR Legal Team.
Red Flags & Tips for Dealing With Property Scammers
GBAR

GBREB, Massachusetts Housing Coalition and the Massachusetts Homebuilders and Remodeler’s Association Take Action to Oppose 2024 Rent Control Ballot Question

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board, Massachusetts Housing Coalition (MHC) and the Massachusetts Homebuilders (HBRAMA) and Remodeler’s Association recently took the first step in opposing a 2024 ballot initiative to bring back rent control. 

Before a question can be put before the voters, it must take clear several procedural steps. One of the first steps is a review by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office to determine if complies with Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution. As part of that review, GBREB, MHA and HMRAMA recently submitted a legal memorandum outlining concerns that the question did not meet the constitutional muster to move forward. 

Attorney General Andrea Campbell then has about a month to decide which of the over 40 questions on a wide variety of topics should advance.  

The ballot question process is independent of legislation currently pending at the State House to bring back rent control including the recent home rule petition in Boston filed by Mayor Michelle Wu.

Click here to see an explanation of how a voter referendum is added to the ballot in Massachusetts.

Please visit gbreb.com/advocacy for more information.

GBREB, Others Take Action to Oppose 2024 Rent Control Ballot Question
GBAR
Article Courtesy of: State House News
By: Sam Doran

As renters and would-be homebuyers face an affordability crisis, a leading trade group for the people who facilitate home sales is eyeing new building projects as the solution.

"Rent control tries to attack a symptom of our lack of building. And that's not the way to fix the issue. We need to build more housing," Justin Davidson told Mass. Association of Realtors members as they prepared to visit House and Senate offices Monday.

Elected officials in Boston are among those trying to tackle the affordability issue by capping rent increases, which Davidson, the association's government affairs director, called a "harmful" policy.

"If we build enough housing, if people have the options of where to live and what type of home to live in, we don't need rent control," Davidson said.
 he problem without invoking rent control, and supports a tax-deductible savings program (H 2727 / S 1787) to help people bank away up to $5,000 per year to put toward their first property.
 
A Rep. Angelo Puppolo bill pertaining to zoning reforms was touted by the realtors as a top priority, featuring increased by-right zoning for multifamily housing and so-called inlaw apartments, and a lower local threshold to win approval for variances and special permits.

"So much housing in Massachusetts is reliant on a special permit or a variance, and a supermajority threshold is so incredibly difficult to meet," Davidson said of the proposed move to a simple majority for those votes.

Lt. Gov. Kimberley Driscoll, a former Salem mayor, recalled that realtors "were with us" on housing goals in the Witch City, and were "standing up in zoning meetings, supporting the conversations in the local watering holes to promote projects."

"There's 351 cities and towns in this state. The state doesn't build housing, it happens in the ground, in the places you live, where you work, where we need it, where it's also hard to get done," the lieutenant governor said.

The Realtors Association opposes transfer tax and rent control bills that many housing advocates are promoting as possible solutions, and Davidson also lumped the transfer tax into a category of "harmful policies."

"You've worked with buyers that know that they can't just come up with a few thousand extra dollars to close the deal," Davidson said, adding that transfer fees are "exclusionary."

Legislation to create a local-option transfer fee has been pushed by proponents who hope to apply the fee to transactions greater than $1 million, although an enabling bill has provisions in it to allow it to apply in any community.

Other association priorities include a real estate licensure bill dealing with required coursework on diversity and fair housing law (H 265 / S 166), and proposed tax-exempt grants for owners of houses with flawed pyrrhotite concrete foundations (S 495 / S 2242).



     



                      


If you missed the REALTOR® Day on the Hill event, visit MAR's website here to learn more about our Legislative Priorities, What REALTORS® Support & Oppose, as well as background information on the event.
REALTORS® Take Build-More Approach To Housing Woes Driscoll Notes Local Rules
GBAR
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.

Why?

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
GBAR

 

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