Right now, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow ANY city or town in Massachusetts to impose a new sales tax on ALL real estate of up to 2%. This will drive up costs, hurt the economy and destabilize the marketplace.

Sales Tax on Homes-We Need Your Help!
This and other transfer tax bills would further exacerbate the housing affordability crisis in Massachusetts, undermine the basic tenet of fairness in tax policy, and create an unstable revenue source for affordable housing. 
If enacted, H. 1769 would have an extremely negative effect on the Massachusetts real estate market and Massachusetts Realtors®. If you share your Association’s concerns that a new sales tax on homes is bad public policy, the time to act is now!  

Your legislators need to hear from you TODAY.

Take action now to send a pre-drafted email to your State Senator and Representative. If REALTORS® like you don’t make their voices heard, this bad tax policy could become a reality in all communities in the Commonwealth.

Additionally, for talking points in opposition to the legislation, see the Greater Boston Real Estate Board issued an email earlier this week, addressing the board's disapproval of the bill.

Participate in Legislative Call For Action to Oppose RE Transfer Taxes

After clearing hurdles in the House and the Senate, President Trump signed a federal spending on Dec. 20, funding part of the federal government through Fiscal Year 2020, and, "brings certainty and stability to the housing market", according to a press release issued by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
  
Specifically, the spending package contains three key NAR priorities, each representing wins for REALTORS® and the real estate industry: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), Terrorism Risk Insurance Program (TRIP), and three tax extenders. Read More.

Federal Funding Bill Contains Key Wins for Real Estate

Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Christy Murdock Edgar

KISS your way through 2020: Keep it simple ...

You may have already started thinking about what you’ll do to improve your personal and professional life in the new year. On the other hand, you may be thinking that resolutions never work, so why bother?

The following five resolutions however, are not only easy to stick to, but offer the kind of payoff that will help keep you motivated for the long haul.

1. Learn to use your phone

You may think that you’re already living on your phone, but you probably haven’t fully explored its capabilities. Take some time to learn more about your phone’s features. Learn to optimize its assistive options, and install mobile versions of your favorite desktop platforms.

Truly mastering your phone’s potential can help you work more effectively on-the-go and save you hours of desk time. In addition, with mobile CRM and transaction management, you’ll be more responsive and more organized than ever before.

2. Develop a time management program

If you feel that you are constantly stressed out and running to catch up, you need to take control of the clock and the calendar. Develop a time management program that can help you organize your day and make time for the things that pay dividends both at work and at home.

Whether you choose time blocking, Beat the Clock, mono-tasking, or just get better at setting reminders and alarms on your phone, better time management will help you to feel more in control, reduce stress, and keep you on track each day, week, month, and throughout 2020.

3. Get serious about content

What is your biggest marketing challenge? Whether it’s keeping up with your social media posts, revamping your website, or starting that long-delayed blog, podcast, or video channel, you can no longer afford to put off content creation

Instead of beating yourself up for what you haven’t done, figure out what is keeping you from creating content and address that challenge first.

Do you lack time? Expertise? Confidence? Consider working with a coach or outsourcing some of your content production in order to overcome your reluctance, so that you can give yourself a boost and get started.

4. Learn something new

One of the most important things that you can do to differentiate yourself is to take on a growth mindset. Whether you choose to seek a new certification or designation, move from agent to broker, or take a class at the local association, you’ll find that investing time, money, and effort in education pays big dividends.

Alternatively, take advantage of one of the many free and convenient online platforms to learn something new that you can use each day in your business. Explore Canva or Poster My Wall for flyers, postcards, and other promotional graphics. Work with Wix to create a customizable website. Master Excel spreadsheets in order to better track your finances.

5. Practice self-care

New Year’s resolutions are often punishing, involving things that we need to improve or tasks that we need to do. Instead of resolving to do more or be better, why not resolve to take better care of yourself?

If you spend all of your time taking care of your clients and your family, who’s taking care of you? Set aside some time each day for meditation or visualization. Make a standing appointment for a weekly massage. Keep facial masks on hand for anytime you have an extra half hour to chill out.

Remember, resolutions don’t have to make you feel bad about yourself. Choose something that makes you feel more relaxed, more in control, and more connected. Hopefully, each of these can become a meaningful and rewarding part of your daily routine.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate. She is also a Florida Realtors faculty member. Follow Writing Real Estate on  Facebook, Twitter, Instagram  and YouTube.
5 Simple New Year's Resolutions That Will Pay Big Dividends in 2020

 The Department of Revenue (DOR) has released the final version of its Short-Term Rental Regulations, which includes some key changes that were a direct result of advocacy by the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® who testified on proposed regulations this past summer. Read More.

 

Short-Term Rental Regulations Finalized: What You Need to Know

 
The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has published its 2020 loan limits, with the baseline limit increasing to $510,400 from $484,350 in 2019. HUD In high-cost areas, the limit will be $765,600, up from the 2019 limit of $726,525.
  
For Metropolitan Boston (Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth and Suffolk counties), the single-family loan limit is $690,000. Read more, and view loan limits for 2-4 family properties and all counties here.

 

Federal Loan Limits to Rise in 2020
 
Many of you may be aware of or participated in discussions in recent weeks surrounding the so-called Clear Cooperation Policy proposed on the national level to address “pocket” listings and properties “coming soon” to market. 
  
Recently, at the 2019 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco, the NAR Board of Directors voted to implement new policy language – MLS Statement 8.0 – requiring brokers to enter listings into the MLS within one business day of marketing the property publicly. The policy does not prohibit office-exclusive listings, and only applies to association-owned MLS systems.
  
Accordingly, MLS PIN, as a broker-owned system, is not bound by the policy, but it may be considered by the MLS PIN Rules Committee in the near future. Read More.
 
NAR Board OKs MLS Clear Cooperation Policy
Article Courtesy of Inman News
By: RYAN RODENBECK

These services streamline how we operate and give us insight and clarity:

There are many factors at play when it comes to making a real estate team more efficient. In a previous article, I covered what I consider to be the most important factor, which is building a company culture.

A close second to that is using the proper efficiency tools to help agents stay on track with tasks, office communication, ongoing training and, most importantly, measurement.

Over the years, I’ve used many different CRMs, task management software and websites, and the below list is composed of my favorite tech tools for running an effective and efficient team.  

1. Workplace by Facebook

This is by far my favorite piece of software that I’ve used in the past 12 years for training and creating a virtual company culture.

Think of it as your company’s own private Facebook without the advertisements and the strong political opinions of distant relatives.

We use it for all communication with our team members. We use this for agent onboarding, communication, training and project management.

One of our focuses here at Spyglass Realty is ongoing training, so we’ll video our monthly meeting and then cut it up into segments and take the edited videos and put them in our Agent Onboarding Channel, as well as Agent Training Chanel. We also label them properly so that an agent can search any subject and the proper video appears.  

We use the chat function (which is just like Facebook Messenger) to chat privately or with certain groups. I have paid admins and VAs in certain groups (like Content Marketing) and agents that are taking leads in others. You also have the ability to start a separate group with clients. 

I once started with an investor and met them on a Zoom call (which was broadcast in that group with myself, the investor and an assistant) and signed a buyer rep, toured properties via Workplace Live and closed on two duplexes without ever meeting the client or them visiting Austin.

2. Follow Up Boss

When it comes to customer relationship management systems (CRM), there are a lot of choices. I’ve used a variety of CRMs in the past, and my favorite one is Follow Up Boss. I will say there are CRMs out there that allow for more customization, have a few more bells and whistles, and can potentially do more if you know how to program or hire someone to program for you. 

But if you’re looking for the best, out-of-the-box CRM platform for real estate teams that doesn’t require a computer science degree, Follow Up Boss is my pick. The lead routing, action plans and reporting on this platform are easy to set up and use, and the API works with every lead source that I have encountered. 

You can also make “Smart Lists” based on the time that the lead came into the site, what tags they have, how many times they came back to the site and a number of other functions that allow you to save the criteria of the lead search. You can share these lists with the agents to use as their daily follow-up. 

3. Trello

Every team needs a way to assign tasks to admin and agents. There are a number of tools that accomplish this. I’ve used Basecamp, Asana and Trello.

I find Trello to be the most user-friendly project management tool of them all. The dashboard looks like a game of solitaire and it’s easy to assign a member to each task, assign due dates, and move the card to the completed pile of cards. The key with any number of systems is documentation of these systems.  

4. Zapier

If you’re a team that runs multiple platforms for lead generation, you’ll find that many of these don’t talk to each other the correct way. Zapier is the solution for this.

It’s not just for leads, but in this business, that’s primarily what we use it for. To explain further, software platforms have what is called an API, which is a set of tools, protocols and routines. Each platform has one, and Zapier is software where users can make a workflow from one platform to another. 

There are simple integrations that a tech-savvy broker can implement, but if you’re working with multiple platforms and need a more intricate workflow, you might want to find a Zapier contractor who you can pay to put these together. 

5. Brokerflow

For anyone who’s running a team, it’s important to track growth and performance. Some brokers and team leaders (like myself) aren’t wired for this. For me, BrokerFlow was the answer.

This platform gives team leaders and brokers information on how much business they have done year to date, how that compared with previous years and what sources the business came from. 

You can look at historical data to see what months were the best for you or tell which lender or title company you’ve sent the most business to. It has a leaderboard that shows which agents are the most productive at any given time. It also does transaction management and issues commission disbursements from the platform and 1099 amounts at the end of the year. 

Like Follow Up Boss, there are a lot of services that do something similar, but the reason we like this one is the ease of use for the agents to enter transactions and the ability over the other platforms to measure the success of our team.

Where most platforms focus on transaction management, this one concentrates on providing insight into where business comes from, how that impacted the bottom line and how we’re growing.

Wondering what lead source X is worth it after six months? You can pull out your phone and in two or three clicks see how much business that source has generated. I can tell you exactly (again in a couple of clicks) how much revenue is generated by providing company leads.

This gives team leaders and brokers the peace of mind of knowing where the growth of their company is at any given time and confidence that the agents are progressing at the rate that you (the owner or team leader) set out in their goal-setting session.  

Ryan Rodenbeck is the broker-owner of Spyglass Realty and Investments in Austin. Connect with him on Instagram.
5 Tools That Will Boost Your Team's Productivity
While the largest destinations for cross-border capital into the U.S. have lost momentum in recent years, Boston is gaining ground.
  
Foreign investment in office, multifamily, industrial, retail and hotel assets have averaged about $2B annually in Boston’s urban core in recent years, but increased to $3.1B in 2018, according to Real Capital Analytics. 
  
In downtown San Francisco, foreign investment fell from more than $3B in 2016 to $1.6B last year. Foreign investment in New York City real estate dropped by 50% between 2015 and 2018. “On the basis and return side, we’re an even more attractive market than New York or San Francisco right now,” CBRE Executive Vice President Scott Dragos said. “Boston has historically been behind, so that’s a breath of fresh air.” Read More.
  
Looking to learn more about Boston's growing international marketplace? Attend GBAR Global Council's International Connection: Working with International Clients program and hear from industry professionals about their work with foreign buyers, sellers and investors. More Information. 
 
Boston Gaining On New York, San Francisco As Foreign Investors’ Market Of Choice
 On Oct. 15, the long-awaited FHA Condo Rule went into effect. Make sure you are prepared. National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) staff discussed the long-awaited FHA Condo Rule, and its impact on REALTORS® and consumers in this video.
  
For many years, NAR urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to finalize changes to the previous rule that would ease restrictions on FHA financing for condominiums, thus enabling more first-time buyers, older adults, and low to moderate-income families to achieve the dream of homeownership. Read More
 
Long-Awaited FHA Condo Rule Takes Effect
 On Oct. 15, the long-awaited FHA Condo Rule went into effect. Make sure you are prepared. National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) staff discussed the long-awaited FHA Condo Rule, and its impact on REALTORS® and consumers in this video.
  
For many years, NAR urged the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to finalize changes to the previous rule that would ease restrictions on FHA financing for condominiums, thus enabling more first-time buyers, older adults, and low to moderate-income families to achieve the dream of homeownership. Read More
 
Down Payment Assistance Available Through MassHousing
GBREB NEWS
The City of Boston has agreed to a settlement agreement with Airbnb, establishing Airbnb's responsibilities under the City of Boston's short-term rental ordinance.   

Under the terms of the agreement, Boston will continue to require owners to register their units and continue the City's regulations about which units are eligible to be used as short-term rentals. On September 1, 2019, Airbnb's website will add a function to allow hosts to enter and display their required City-formatted registration number. By December 1, 2019, all listings will be required to display a City-formatted registration number, or the listings will be removed. Airbnb will inform users of the City's short-term rental standards, and work with users to ensure their listings are registered with the City of Boston.

In addition, Airbnb will also share key data with the City of Boston, including the listing's unique ID/URL, submitted registration number, unique host ID, listing information, and listing zip code.

Under the agreement, the City of Boston will have the power to notify Airbnb of any listing the City believes is ineligible under Boston's short-term rental ordinance. Unless the host complies with Boston's short-term rental registration process in thirty days, Airbnb will remove the listing from its platform.  

For additional information regarding the short-term rental law and the details of the settlement agreement please visit the City of Boston Inspectional Services website.



 

Short Term Rental Agreement Reached In Boston

Learn to be the best agent in your market place, dominate the competition and watch your closings and commission soar to near unlimited heights


Article Courtesy of Inman News
By: Matt Kaestner

The statistics for new agents entering into business are rather bleak. An overwhelming majority of new real estate agents fail in the first year or two in the business. New agents are eager yet don’t understand how to keep afloat and be profitable early on in their career.

Most new agents are ready to go, thinking riches will fall into their lap the moment they pass the real estate licensing exam. In today’s competitive market there is nothing further from the truth.

So what does a new agent need to do regularly to succeed, grow and be profitable in their business and beyond? Here’s a list of eight things that new agents must do to prosper and succeed in their first year.


1. Focus on learning
What separates the good from the great and the great from the best? It’s not solely your talent or your drive because so many people have both of those traits. I believe it’s your skill set.

The learned traits that successful sales people and success real estate agents acquire and employ through intentional learning and practice is the foundation of a success real estate sales business.

In the real estate world, we are blessed in that we have no need to try and reinvent the wheel. Your broker or mentor can point the way to the scripts necessary to improve your skill set if you are willing to put in the work, practice your scripts and make them your own.

On top of that, being new, you’ll likely need to take time to learn the inner workings of a real estate transaction. Spend time with your broker or mentor to learn the finer points of your state’s purchase agreement, the disclosures and the way agents in your market structure deals.

If your broker has training platforms, schedule time every day or block out a few hours a week to explore their training to improve your knowledge and your skills week over week. Every market, every state, every region, every home in this country is different.

Learn the ins and outs of your market. Take an inspector to coffee, go into the title office, network with the lenders in your area and ask questions. Build your knowledge base, and fill in the gaps as situations arise in your practice.

2. Talk to your sphere of influence, and let them know you are in business

When you are new to selling real estate, this should be step one! Call everyone that you know, and let them know that you are in business, that you are working with a great team, and you’re there to help them with all of the their real estate needs.

These are the most important people in your database. They already know and trust you, which is half the battle. They are the most important people because they are the ones who are most likely to actually do business with you and refer their family and friends when they know someone in their circle that is looking to buy or sell.

3. Start dialing to grow your database

You need to be talking to people! We’re in a face-to-face, voice-to-voice business. Your main focus everyday is to talk to as many homeowners and potential buyers as possible.

Set time aside every single workday to focus on the task of connecting with prospects.

As you talk to those prospects and earn their trust, get their email addresses and continually add new people  to a database, an excel file or your customer relationship management platform (CRM). Keep track of who you are talking to with notes so that you can reference prior conversations and deepen the relationship with your follow-up calls.

Then proceed to send them regular emails to keep them informed and continue to connect periodically throughout the year to stay top-of-mind.

4. Get to know the local market
Being an actual market expert is difficult, claiming to be one is all too easy. So how can you gain an edge on the competition? Study, study, and then study some more.

Do you know that house on 123 Main St that sold six months ago? What style was it, what did it sell for, and what does it looks like inside?

There is so much data and info in your market that is all stored on your MLS. Start in a small region or a neighborhood. Learn about the homes and the prices and why one home sold for more or less. Know why people are moving in and out of the the area.

Get to know the local schools, the local sports teams and what is important to the people who live and work in the community you are selling in.

For most of us, the community part is easy because we often live in those same communities in which we sell. But don’t overlook the market stats and knowledge that a true expert has about the real estate in the area.

Take 20 minutes a day to search and study the MLS for actives, sold and pending homes. Learn key data points like price-per-square-foot, average days on market, absorption rate, etc., so that you are armed with data and can speak with confidence regarding the market when you have your next real estate conversation with a potential buyer or seller.

5. Start fresh with a dedicated social media presence

Set aside your old personal Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and start social media accounts that are focused on your real estate-related activity. This is a great way to announce your arrival into the business in your local market. But you cannot take a laissez-faire approach if you wish for your reach to grow.

Create a plan, and write out a content calendar for your social media postings. Share relevant material on each of the appropriate platforms that catches users’ attention and grows your follower base.

For example, pictures and videos go primarily on Instagram, daily activities on your IG and FB stories, relevant articles on Facebook and Twitter.  No need to reinvent the wheel your first year in business. To save time, use a system that you can schedule and post your content in advance.

Use the Facebook’s scheduler on the free business page to schedule content and posts in advance as well as using third-party services like Later to do the same thing on Instagram.

6. Identify a profitable farm, and work it
Everybody wants those easy “come list me calls.” How do many agents accomplish provoking inbound calls to come list? Farming, aka, continually marketing and providing service to a geographic region or neighborhood and having that collection of homeowners perceive you to be the area expert.

Alas, I wish it were as easy as it sounds. Time and persistent effort is primary to becoming successful in a farm, but before you put the energy into a farm, in your first year of business, you need to identify the right farm.
How do you identify a starter farm?

Here are six basic principles for finding and working the right farm:
1. Find a neighborhood with above average year-over-year turnover.
2. Select a farm with a number of properties you can actually work consistently. I recommend your first farm ranging from 250-400 homes.
3. Try to find a farm without a dominant agent already farming the area.
4. Continually provide value by connecting with the property owners to deepen the relationships like planning events (garage sales, community get-togethers, etc.) or providing valuable data and info that speaks to the homeowners in the area, like recent activity or a local event calendar
5. Volunteer to work other agents’ open houses, litter the neighborhood with your open house signs in the farm to strengthen your presence and the perception that you are to the go-to agent in the area.
6. Door-knock, and drop flyers to the homes regularly.

Spending time and purposeful actions in the farm will breed familiarity with you and your brand, and over time you’ll grow to be the go-to person who is top-of-mind when local property owners think about your neighborhood’s real estate needs.

7. Get an accountability partner or coach
Accountability to your business development and your personal development is what starts you on the path from new agent to mediocre agent and eventually will set you apart to change your life and your business into the super star agent you dream you can be. We all know we need to do the work.

Having a friend, a business partner, another agent, a broker or coach there by your side, continually pushing you forward and holding you accountable for your actions so that you can attain the goals you set for yourself is so incredibly helpful. You’re not in this alone, there are many people in your life who will be willing to keep you on track to achieve.

You can also find other like-minded individuals outside of your market or your profession in places like Facebook groups who can hold you to your word. In fact, writing this article was one of my tasks I posted in one of my frequently visited Facebook groups called “Hold Me Accountable.”

I told the group the task I needed to be held accountable for and what I would do if I didn’t finish my article today. I prefer to rather spend time writing today instead of the punishment I laid out for myself. Set a goal for the day, punishment if you don’t complete the task — and follow through.

For example, “I’ll make 25 contacts today on the phones, or I will not have dessert at dinner.” It’s easy, it’s clear, and it can provide the motivation to do the tasks that often get left by the wayside.

8. Stick to the plan
Focusing on constant progress is what makes any business great. So many salespeople, business owners and entrepreneurs take the bull by the horns and are shot out of a cannon the moment they start pursuing goal.  They work feverishly in the beginning, and the will they possess often fades over time.

You must realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. The real processes of growing a successful real estate practice takes time. You must sustain your focus. You must never let that will to succeed fade.

Keep that candle burning bright by working on your mindset, saying a mantra everyday, reading and listening to empowering people and messages every day. Type in “motivation” into YouTube, and you’ll find more content than you could possibly watch or listen to in a lifetime.

Go to iTunes and see the tens of thousands of episodes of podcasts related to real estate, sales, mindset or motivation. Never stop adding fuel to your fire when you’re on the road driving. Never let that desire to be the best fade. You owe it to family, you owe it to your friends, and most importantly, you owe it to yourself to fulfill your potential.

These key actions will lay the foundation for a successful real estate practice. It’s up to you to follow through with the principles I’ve just laid out. You have the ability to be the best agent in your market place, to dominate the competition and watch your closings and commission soar to near unlimited heights.

Matt Kaestner is a Realtor Zutila, Inc.
What the Fed’s Rate Cut Means for Your Buyers

Calendar

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GBREB Winter Soiree
WilmerHale
5:30pm
 
GBAR New Member Orientation (Natick, MA)
The Verve Hotel
 
Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA Certification)
GBAR Member Service And Training Center
8:30am
 
Lunch & Learn: Understanding Title & Title Concerns
GBAR Member Training And Service Center
11:45am
 
GBAR New Member Orientation (Woburn, MA)
Hilton Boston Woburn