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News

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Earlier this month the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) issued a press release regarding 2018 Loan Limits, which saw increases in 3,145 counties across the country, including the four counties within the GBAR jurisdiction (Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk) as well as neighboring Essex County. Within our jurisdiction, the loan limit for single-family homes will increase to $603,750 in 2018, a 9.6 percent increase from the 2017 limit of $598,000. Similarly, the two-family home limit also increased 9.6 percent for next year to $772,900, up from $765,550 in 2017.

Click here for a full list of loan increase in all counties nationwide.
 
FHA Loan Limits to Rise Again in 2018
Strong economic fundamentals, a steady influx of foreign investors, and a slightly more balanced housing market fueled an increase in the sales and prices of both detached single-family homes and condominiums during October, according to data released today by the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR).

The 1,101 single-family detached homes sold in October 2017 was the fourth highest sales total on record for the month and was a 14.3 percent increase on the 963 homes sold in October 2016. With this rise in sales, it breaks the streak on six consecutive months that the single-family home sales had dropped on a year-to-year basis. This total was also well above the historical monthly average of 952 homes sold. There was a modest increase in sales volume in the condo market, as sales rose 1.8 percent to 842 in October 2017 from the 827 units sold in the same month in 2016. This made for the third most active October on record in Greater Boston for the condo market and was comfortably above the historical monthly sales average of 747 units sold. 

“The severe inventory shortage of the past two years has created an enormous amount of pent-up demand, so it’s not surprising to see buyers extending their home search well into the late summer and early fall,” observed GBAR President Melody Skye Roloff, of Exit Realty Beatrice Associates in Middleton. “With mortgage rates still very attractive, the job and stock markets doing extremely well, and the inventory of homes for sale holding steady over the last four months, buyer confidence remains high with many expressing the desire to buy now before the end of the year,” she added.

The median sales price for single-family homes reached a new record high price for the month of October at $568,000, which is an 8.2 percent increase on the median sales price of $525,000 from October 2016. Likewise, the condo market also reached a new record high median sales price for the month as that figure rose 6.6 percent to $511,525 up from the October 2016 median sales price of $480,000.

“As long as buyer activity remains strong, sellers can feel confident listing their homes for sale,” Roloff asserted. “We continue to see healthy price appreciation, especially at the lower-end and mid-market price points, and while most sellers in October were able to command close to their asking price, there are indications prices may be nearing their peak, and will likely soften as inventory levels improve,” she noted.    

Indeed, while supply of homes for sale has plagued the Greater Boston housing market in recent months, the number of active listings has all but caught up with the inventory from October 2016. In the single-family market, active listings dropped a modest 3.4 percent to 3,360 in October 2017, down from 3,478 homes for sale in October 2016. In the condo market, inventory rose 4.8 percent to 2,214 units for sale, up from the 2,113 units on market in October 2016.

Additionally, both markets experienced increases in the number of pending sales in October, as the single-family market saw a 6.2 percent rise to 1,238 last month up from 1,166 in October 2016. The condo market saw a modest increase of 3.4 to 992 sales pending, up from 959 in October 2016.

For additional information regarding October 2017 Greater Boston Housing statistics, including our new interactive housing market data dashboard, visit the Monthly Housing Market Reports page
Greater Boston Housing Market Sees Sales Surge in October
On Wednesday, November 29, the U.S. House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation, chaired by Rep. LoBiondo (R-NJ) with Ranking Member Rep. Larsen (D-WA) held a hearing on "Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Emerging Uses in a Changing National Airspace," focused on the need to continue work on integrating UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) into the National Airspace, while protecting safety and security.  

The hearing's two witness panels included representatives of the UAS industry and companies utilizing the technology, and current FAA Administrator, Daniel Elwell, and the Director of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office, Earl Lawrence.  Their testimony and the Subcommittee members' questions focused on the positive impact that UAS can have for the economy (creating jobs) and various industries (making routine work, such as maintenance and inspections, safer and more efficient), and the challenges of working in a continually shifting regulatory framework.  They also stressed the need for clear regulations for UAS use, and the need for the government to engage with the UAS industry on concerns like geofencing, remote identification systems, and other security issues.  The FAA representatives discussed the progress of their rulemaking for UAS, including rules for remote identification, and steps toward "detect and avoid" technology, which could prevent collisions in the sky.  

The FAA released its small UAS rulemaking in August 2016, and was expected to follow-up with rules allowing over-crowded flights and beyond-visual-line of sight flights for micro-UAS; however, those rulemakings have been delayed.  In November 2017, as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, Congress reinstated the requirement that all UAS - whether for commercial or recreational use - be registered with the FAA.  NAR has been very active with both Congress and the FAA as they continue their work to integrate UAS, and sent a letter to the Subcommittee on Aviation for this hearing stressing the need for continued rulemaking to allow UAS technology to meet its full potential, while protecting the safety of the NAS and people on the ground.  

In response to the hearing, National Association of REALTORS® President Elizabeth Mendenhall penned a letter to Chairman LoBiondo and Ranking Member Larsen, thanking them for holding the hearing and stating NAR’s support of these endeavors.

For more information of UAS and Drones, visit NAR’s website here.
 
House Committee Hearing on Unmanned Aircraft Systems
As 2017 nears an end, it is a great time to reflect on the past year, as well as look forward into what 2018 will hold for our association. Following the recommendations of our Nominating Committee, the 2018 GBAR Board of Directors has been set, and includes an experienced executive team, led by 2018 President Marie Presti of The Presti Group in Newton, President-Elect James Major of Century 21 North Shore in Woburn, Vice President Jason Gell of Boston’s Luxury Properties in Brookline, Treasurer Dino Confalone of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Cambridge, Greater Boston Regional Vice President to MAR David McCarthy of Keller Williams Realty Boston-Metro in Boston, and current 2017 President Melody Skye Roloff of Exit Realty Beatrice Associates in Middleton, who will serve as Immediate Past President. 

In addition to these leaders, GBAR is also well represented on the Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s (GBREB) Board of Directors. A pair of GBAR Past Presidents, Michael DiMella (2014) of Charlesgate Realty Group in Boston, and William Dermody (2012) of Century 21 Commonwealth in Needham will take up the roles of GBREB Chairman and GBREB Clerk, respectively, in 2018.

The GBAR leadership will be sworn into their new positions at our annual Installation of 2018 GBAR Officers & Holiday Party, on Thursday, December 14 at the Boston-Newton Marriott in Newton. The reception and dinner are open to all GBAR members. So, whether you have served on a committee, or would like to support members of next year’s board, please register online or contact GBAR staff to reserve your seat or a table. Space is limited, and registration will end on Monday, December 11th at 2:00 p.m.—register today! 
2018 GBAR & GBREB Leaders Set to Take Office—Installation Tickets Still Available!
Are you familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”)?  If you operate a website for your real estate business – whether as a brokerage or as an agent – you are at risk of claims of copyright infringement from third parties for any and all content on your website.  What does this mean?  Any content on your website, whether created by you using third party data or images or content reproduced by you (i.e. MLS data offered to consumers through an IDX feed), can subject you to claims of copyright infringement from third parties.

If all the conditions of the United States Copyright Office’s DMCA are satisfied, Section 512 of the Act limits the monetary liability of online “Service Providers” (as such term is defined in the Act) who are recipients of claims by third parties alleging copyright infringement.

Although a complete summary of the provisions of the DMCA and the so-called “safe harbor” provided to online “Service Providers” under Section 512 of the Act are beyond the scope of this article, broker/owners and agents will likely benefit from a review of the impact of the DMCA on their business with legal counsel or other advisers who are familiar with copyright issues and the internet.
In late Fall 2015, MLSPIN named President and CEO Kathleen Condon as the “Designated Agent” not only for the service itself, but also of each of its Users.   However, certain amendments to the Act (the “2016 Regulations”) establish a new deadline of December 31, 2017 for “service providers” to file on-line the name of a Designated Agent who will receive notices from third parties that allege material on a particular website infringes upon the claimant’s copyright.

In an effort to satisfy elements of the 2016 Regulations that require each “service provider” to have its own Designated Agent, MLSPIN recently notified its Users that it would electronically register its Designated Agent only for itself under the DMCA (as amended).  The effect of this change is that following the electronic registration by MLSPIN, Kathleen Condon will no longer serve as the Designated Agent for your brokerage or for any of MLSPIN’s other brokerage firm Participants.  
REALTORS® who are “service providers” are encouraged to discuss with their own attorney what measures they need to take to comply with the new electronic registration requirements for Designated Agents under the 2016 regulations.  As stated before, there is a deadline of December 31, 2017 for all electronic registrations, therefore immediate attention may be required.

A video from the National Association of REALTORS® on “Changes to the DMCA Safe Harbor” is available here and may help you to gain a greater understanding of your role in maintaining compliance under the safe-harbor provisions of the DMCA.  A full text of the DMCA is available from the US Copyright Office website: http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap5.html#512.
 
Deadline Approaching for Electronic Registration of ‘Designated Agents’ Under the DMCA
As a listing broker, can you require that a cooperating broker attend all your showings?

The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR) Brokerage Counseling Hotline has received several questions regarding open houses, procuring cause, and a listing broker’s ability to condition the terms under which a cooperating broker may be entitled to compensation offered on the MLS.
 
Under the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) model MLS rules, the provisions of which are followed by many- if not most- MLSs, the unilateral offer of compensation to other members is “unconditional except that entitlement to compensation is determined by the cooperating broker’s performance as the procuring cause of the sale.” Thus, by attempting to require certain actions or conditions on the part of paying a co-broke commission (such as you must accompany the buyer on all showings) the listing broker is then conditioning the offer of compensation and therefore creating a stipulation that, while not illegal, would be inconsistent with the rules most MLSs follow and therefore make the listing unavailable for submission.  

For example, offering a commission in MLS establishes a unilateral contract, which is accepted by the co-broke when they take the 1st step, then creating a chain of events, which establishes the procuring cause of the sale i.e. who is entitled to the commission. Though it may be true that accompanying one’s buyer to all showings of the property would certainly be helpful in establishing that the co-broke is procuring cause, failure to do so does not automatically mean that they are not procuring cause.  Members with questions or concerns regarding the rules of their MLS should review them for clarification. For more information, you can call the GBAR Brokerage Counseling Hotline at 617-399-7869. 
Procuring Cause and Unconditional Offer of Compensation
 

Education & Events

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GBAR New Member Orientation
Dec 18, 2017
Holiday Inn
55 Ariadne Road
Dedham, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics (Webinar)
Dec 19, 2017
Webinar
Rentals The Right Way!
Jan 09, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation (Natick, MA)
Jan 11, 2018
Hampton Inn
319 Speen Street
Natick, MA
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR Designation) BOSTON
Jan 29, 2018 - Jan 30, 2018
GBREB
One Center Plaza
Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation (Dedham, MA)
Feb 15, 2018
Holiday Inn
55 Ariadne Road
Dedham, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation (Burlington, MA)
Mar 08, 2018
Hilton Garden Inn
5 Wheeler Road
Burlington, MA
RENE Certification Course (Real Estate Negotiation Expert)
Mar 15, 2018 - Mar 16, 2018

68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Green Designation
Apr 26, 2018 - Apr 27, 2018
GBAR Member Service &Training Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
 

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GBAR New Member Orientation
Holiday Inn
9:00am
 
Real Estate Professional Ethics (Webinar)
Webinar
2:00pm
 
Rentals The Right Way!
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
8:00am
 
GBAR New Member Orientation (Natick, MA)
Hampton Inn
9:00am
 
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR Designation) BOSTON
GBREB
8:30am