Housing Market Data Dashboard- Members Only

The Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR) housing market data dashboard is an interactive platform which provides 24/7 customizable search and reporting capabilities for active inventory and sold properties in the detached single-family home, condominium, and multi-family housing markets. The dashboard is a powerful, new resource for REALTORS® that enables agents and brokers to monitor, research and report on current market performance and historical trends to their clients and customers. Specifically, it allows you to track variations in sales, selling price, inventory levels, market time and more on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis, and filter the data and trend lines by geographic area (region, town, neighborhood), property type, price range, lot size, living area, and number of bedrooms.  There is also a dashboard for market pricing analysis, and a separate dashboard for a one-page town summary

Data in the dashboard is populated from the MLS Property Information Network (MLS PIN) for the previous four years, and is available for nearly 90 communities in Eastern Massachusetts, including all 64 communities in the GBAR jurisdiction. 

IFRAME TO MARKET SNAPSHOT

Monthly Housing Market Data

As part of our effort to monitor housing market activity in metropolitan Boston, GBAR compiles a monthly data report which provides insight into the current performance and longer-term trends within the residential(detached single-family home and condo) and multi-family housing markets in the GBAR jurisdiction. Within these reports we follow key performance indicators (KPI) of housing market activity on an annual and month-to-month basis.

To view and download the latest one page data reports offering monthly snapshots of residential market activity for any of the 351 communities in Massachusetts follow this link , then follow the instructions to log-in to the members-only section of MARealtor.com.

2021

           January:  Housing Market Insights ReportNews Release | Housing Market Recap Video
           February: Housing Market Insights Report | News Release | Housing Market Recap Video
           March:  Housing Market Insights Report | News Release | Housing Market Recap Video
           April: Housing Market Insights Report News Release | Housing Market Recap Video
           May: Housing Market Insights Report | News Release | Housing Market Recap Video
           JuneHousing Market Insights Report | News Release | Housing Market Recap Video

2020

2019

 2018

2017

 

Housing Market Data & Dashboard
Earlier this month the U.S. Department of Justice withdrew from its consent to a settlement agreement reach with NAR last year that resolved issues raised by the DOJ concerning brokerage commissions and the MLS system.  As a result of this unprecedented move, NAR has announced that the proposed changes to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics and MLS rules that it had agreed to implement as part of the settlement are on hold. 

The revisions that were to be implemented include the following:

1) The amount of compensation offered to buyers’ agents for each MLS listing be made publicly available;

2) Changes to Standard of Practice 12-1 of the Code of Ethics to definitively state that buyers’ agents cannot represent their services as free to clients;

3) MLS rule revisions to re-affirm that MLSs and brokerages must provide consumers all properties that fit their criteria regardless of compensation offered or the name of the listing brokerage.  Notably, this would prohibit MLS listings from being filtered based on compensation amount or the name of the listing broker or agent;

4) A new requirement that with seller’s prior approval, licensed real estate agents be given access to the lockboxes of properties listed on an MLS, even if the agent does not subscribe to the MLS. 

For REALTOR® reaction to the DOJ’s decision you can read the NAR statement from President Charlie Oppler and view a video issued in response to the DOJ Settlement action from NAR”s Legal staff. 


DOJ Reneges on Settlement Previously Reached with NAR
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Lillian Dickerson 

Here are 10 hypothetical situations to help illustrate how you can avoid some very real legal and ethical problems

New to the industry? Get started with everything you need to know about the early decisions that’ll shape your career, including choosing a brokerage, learning your market, creating an online presence, budgeting, getting leads, marketing listings and so much more. If you’re a team leader or broker-owner, New Agent Month will be jam-packed with resources to help your new hires navigate.

Even the most earnest real estate agents can accidentally make a false step that could end in an ethics violation, a lawsuit or even revocation of their license. That’s why it’s vital to understand ethical issues and potential legal problems — especially if you’re a brand new real estate agent.

Take a look at the following common hairy situations agents encounter and the potential consequences.
 

Scenario 1

A potential buyer is especially concerned about the risk of termites at a property you’re representing. She asks if the home has ever incurred any damage from termites, to which you respond, “no, none.”
But you fail to mention that there has been evidence of the presence of termites on the property in the past, though they’ve never caused any significant damage to date.

 
Verdict: You could be at risk of a lawsuit, or even of losing your license.

Agents who misrepresent a property, mislead clients or fail to disclose property defects quickly make themselves vulnerable to being sued.

If the aforementioned potential buyer ultimately buys the home, then months later starts seeing termite damage on their property and is perplexed as to why, they will likely come back to the listing agent and blame them for failing to disclose the presence of termites.

The seller or listing agent could also potentially be liable even if failing to disclose termites to the buyer was not intentional. Other common related items that an agent can get into trouble for not disclosing include foundation issues, improvements made without permits or leaks.

Common misrepresentation issues also include property boundaries or issues with roofs, or even an agent’s relationship to the buyer, seller, or anyone else involved in the transaction.
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Scenario 2

Your buyer is thrilled with the “perfect” home you’ve helped them find, and you meet up on a Friday afternoon to collect their earnest money for escrow.
You take their check, put it in a safe interior pocket in your work purse, and promptly forget all about the check until you notice it in your purse the following Tuesday.

 
Verdict: You could be sued and potentially have your license revoked if you have a pattern of similar mishandling of funds.

Earnest money needs to be deposited into escrow in a timely fashion, and agents should not take this lightly. They should also avoid moving money around, not keeping up their books, or borrowing money from clients (a big no-no). The bottom line is, when it comes to handling clients’ money, keep it organized, and get it to the appropriate parties as quickly as possible.
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Scenario 3

An agent calls you regarding a property you’ve listed, which currently has an accepted offer — with contingencies. The agent wants to know what the status is on offers and contingencies, and you curtly reply, “I’m not at liberty to discuss.”
 
Verdict: You’ve just committed an ethics code violation.
Article 3 of the Realtor Code of Ethics states: “Realtors shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest. The obligation to cooperate does not include the obligation to share commissions, fees, or to otherwise compensate another broker.” As such, you’re obligated to disclose if an offer has been expected and what the current status is in case the agent and their client want to submit a backup offer.
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Scenario 4

Your clients are shopping for homes in a new city and want to know crime rates in different neighborhoods to help them make their homebuying decision. So, you generate crime reports with a variety of crime statistics on every neighborhood in the city and provide them to your client.
 
Verdict: You’ve committed an ethics code and fair housing violation.
Such practices that might potentially sway a buyer toward wanting to live in one neighborhood versus another are considered steering under the Fair Housing Act and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) ethics guidelines. To avoid a potential slip into steering, agents can be sure to do things like suggest listings to clients based on a home’s objective features or price point and refer clients to third parties if they have questions about things like schools or ethnicities in a neighborhood.
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Scenario 5

Your seller receives a buyer love letter in one offer on their home that hits them in a personal way — the buyer couple reveals that they have two kids the same age apart as the seller’s, and the seller now envisions their family growing up in their home. The seller accepts their offer, and later on, a competing buyer who is single learns that the seller accepted the offer of the other buyer because they had a family.
 
Verdict: The seller and/or listing agent could be sued, and this is a fair housing violation.
When buyers give away personal details in buyer love letters that might sway sellers, it opens up sellers to liability in a fair housing lawsuit. At a Realtors Conference in 2020, Barbara Betts, broker-owner of the Betts Realty Group and a director of the National Association of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors and the Pacific West Association of Realtors, suggested that listing agents speak with their sellers about not accepting these kinds of letters at all because of their potential for liability. Of course, if letters only discuss the merits of the house buyers are hoping to win, that’s a different story. But it’s impossible to know the content of a love letter in advance.
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Scenario 6

You notice a property pop up in the multiple listing service (MLS) that checks off all the boxes of what your buyer wants in their new home. But, you also notice that the listing agent works at a discount brokerage known for offering lower than the typical cooperating compensation for buyer’s agents. So, you decided not to alert your client to the listing. There are plenty of other listings out there anyway.
 
 
Verdict: This practice could quickly get agents sued if they’re caught, and it’s considered a fair housing violation.
In fact, several Houston-area real estate agents were recently targeted in lawsuits by REX Real Estate when the discount brokerage acquired recordings of agents revealing that they wouldn’t show buyers homes listed by the discount brokerage because of the smaller commission they would receive. Buyers have a right to know about all the potential options available to them.
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Scenario 7

You list a property and clearly state in the MLS that no showings will be available on the property until a certain date the sellers have specified, when they plan to go on an extended vacation. The day before the sellers were supposed to leave, they mention to you that they left early and have already vacated the house. A potential buyer had reached out to you wanting to see the house ASAP, so you contact them and let them know you can now show them the house this afternoon, a day before you said on the MLS it would be open for showings.
 
Verdict: You have violated the Realtor Code of Ethics.
Realtors are obligated under the Realtor Code of Ethics to cooperate with other brokers, unless it’s not in their client’s best interest. By showing the home yourself a day before publicly stating when it would be available to see, you’re misrepresenting the availability of access to the property and going against their obligation to share information about the property and make it available to other brokers.
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Scenario 8

You’ve hit a bit of a dry spell and could really use some new leads. You remember an old leads list you have in your database from before you started a texting plan through your CRM, and think, “Bingo! Why didn’t I text these leads before?” You add their cell numbers into your texting campaign plan and wait for those leads to warm on up.
 
Verdict: You’ve just done something illegal and made yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations, consumers must give their consent to receive marketing communications. Just because someone opted in to receive communications from you previously does not mean they now want to start receiving new text messages from you. “That is a major no-no,” Robby Trefethren, an inside sales agent (ISA) coach at Hatch Coaching, told Inman. “You are opening yourself up to major legal and financial liability, and I don’t recommend doing that to anyone.”
________________________________________

Scenario 9

Your client is interested in a property and have poured over the listing multiple times, but really wish they could get a video tour of the home before deciding whether or not to go see it in person.
The only problem is, the listing doesn’t have any kind of video or virtual tour of the home with it. You tell your clients, no problem, you can go visit the property for them and take some videos on your iPhone while you’re there to pass along to them.
 

Verdict: You’ve made yourself vulnerable to a lawsuit.
By recording video footage of a home without the seller’s consent, you’ve given them the option to take legal action against you. Sure, it’s possible that the listing agent just didn’t have the tech or know-how to create a video tour of the home, but it’s also possible that the sellers did not want to have video footage of their home on the internet. Without asking, you have no way of knowing.
________________________________________

Scenario 10

Some friends of one of your current clients reaches out to you because they’re unhappy with their current Realtor, whom they say, “Just isn’t getting the job done.”
Because you are responsible and kind and want your clients to see that you’re willing to help their friends, you tell them you’d be happy to help out and are sorry their current Realtor isn’t doing their job right.
 
Verdict: You’ve just violated Article 16 of the Realtor Code of Ethics.
If a client already has a representation agreement in place with another Realtor, you’re violating Article 16 by agreeing to work with them before their existing contract with the other Realtor expires.
It is, however, permissible to discuss with someone like this who reaches out to you what you could do to help them once their existing contract does expire.
“If they make incoming contact to me, I absolutely can have a conversation about what I will do for them after their contract has expired,” Betts told attendees at the aforementioned Realtors conference in 2020. “You cannot talk about right now. You cannot tell them their Realtor isn’t doing their job.”
10 Scenarios That Can Result in Ethics Violations, Lawsuits or Worse

 

Article Courtesy of: Inamn News
By: Andrew Chishchevoy

When systems don’t talk to each other, your brokerage suffers. So what can you do?
 
Data silos are a (mostly) silent weight that slows your business, reduce your profits, and make people mad. I say “mostly” silent because you probably hear the sounds of data silos around your office.

“These spreadsheets are killing me.”

“I still don’t have everything to process commissions because the transaction data hasn’t been entered yet.”

“We have to redo the contract because of a typo when the transaction was entered.”

“I wasn’t in the office to finish that data entry.”


Leading brokerages have been working to eliminate these data silos over the last few years. This is a critical business process improvement that you’ll need to address just to keep up. You don’t want to get stuck in the past and get left behind.

So what exactly is a data silo? It’s simply any place where important data is NOT accessible easily to all who need it. And, it can harm productivity, teamwork, and cost you financially.

The most common data silos we see in brokerages are caused by software that handles a step in the process, but that does not talk to the software that handles the next step. Transaction management to commission payouts is a big one of these.

Maybe your brokerage has a transaction management system, but then you have to manually enter all the commission data into a spreadsheet to calculate the disbursements.

The same holds true for moving all that financial data from transactions and commissions into accounting. Or bringing listing data from a CRM or MLS into your transaction management system. Or pushing data from the back office into a reporting system, such as Realogy Dash.

Every time data hits a wall in the process, you are in a data silo.

What problems do data silos cause?


Data silos can have a negative impact on your business. Here are some of the problems they cause:
Decreased productivity and morale—you are slower to close transactions, slower to disburse agent commissions, and slower do everything else
Mistakes and errors—leaving you with bad or missing data that can cause rework and compliance problems
No business overview—you have no holistic view of your business and its health
Increased costs—you are paying for a lot of rework and duplicate manual work

So how do you fix this?

The good news is that data silos are a technology problem, not a people problem. And fixing the technology will make your office staff and agents happier and more productive. Here are things to look for in technology solutions that eliminate data silos.

Consolidate multiple business functions in one platform—transaction management, commission calculation, accounting, and even agent management, are all related and all have overlapping data
Integrate your tools—after consolidating, you’ll still have a couple different systems and you’ll want them to be able to talk to each other through an “out of the box” integration or an API
Provide access from anywhere—it’s 2021, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be able to access your systems securely from anywhere with a web browser or mobile app
Seek robust reporting—getting all your data into one place allows you to get that holistic view of your business, so look for systems that provide flexible reporting

If you don’t fix your data silos…

You will probably continue on for a while before the weight pulls you all the way down. Other brokerages will be moving faster, closing faster, paying faster, making fewer mistakes, and retaining great staff and agents. Don’t get stuck in the past. Don’t get left behind.
Are Data Silos Are Dragging Your Brokerage Down? Here’s How to Fix It
GBREB and MAR are urging legislators to consider a more permanent online notarization law. In 2020, in response to the pandemic, Massachusetts temporarily allowed electronic notary services. 

Under the Act the notary, the client, as well as any participating witnesses, must be physically located in Massachusetts at the time of the videoconference and must sign the documents by hand in ink.

Several states have fully authorized remote online notarization which permits notarization by video using a third-party technology platform.  Many of you may be familiar with the proposed Federal Secure Notarization law which NAR supports.

It sets the floor—not the ceiling—for use of remote online notarization and does not prevent states from passing their own laws or setting their own regulations.  If lawmakers are unable to reach an agreement on how to modernize the process before the Act expires June 15, they will likely extend it for a few months to give all the parties time to reach a compromise.

For additional information, view this article from Banker & Tradesmen

We will keep you appraised of any further developments.
 
GBREB, MAR Urge for More Permanent Online Notarization Law
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess


Here are 7 activities to help you implement a new strategy each day over the next week
 
The most successful real estate agents don’t do things exactly the same way, but top producers share a framework that allows them to grow their businesses. These seven practices will help you leverage your time to grow your business like top producers do. 

1. They grow themselves

Top producers focus daily on growing their knowledge of how to be the very best version of themselves. They constantly search for new ways to conduct business with a focus on working better and growing faster. They tend to be early adopters who identify innovative ideas and test them to see how they work. 

Agents who listen to podcasts, participate in training, read books and watch YouTube videos about best practices benefit from the wisdom and experience of other people, and top producers use those ideas to grow themselves consistently.

As things begin to reopen following COVID, real estate conferences will provide excellent opportunities to network and learn new ways to improve your business from other agents. Nothing replaces time spent with other agents who are looking for ways to grow their business. Top producers search out mastermind groups where ideas are plentiful.

Be aware, too, that accountability plays a vital part in growth, and those agents who seek mentors and coaches will likely see the best gains because they’ve surrounded themselves with people who have accomplished what they hope to do themselves.

2. They use the hot-sheet 

Top producers live by the hot-sheet, and it should be an essential part of every agent’s daily activity. Top producers notice the new listings coming on the market, and they also watch the homes that are going pending and the sales data of the homes that have closed. This data gives them the opportunity to stay on top of any trends or shifts in the market.

But the primary use of the hot-sheet is to send new listings out to prospects who are ready to buy. Top producers keep their hottest buyers informed about new properties, price changes on homes that meet their search criteria, and how recent sales might impact their home values.

Top producers who utilize the hot-sheet to provide timely details about relevant properties for their prospects build deeper relationships. It also provides the opportunity for one transaction to lead to a lifetime client.

3. They create and modify systems 

 

Time is often the most significant challenge you’ll face in your work, and the top agents constantly seek ways to systemize their activity. By creating and consistently modifying those processes, top producers make better use of their time by looking for ways to do more work with less effort.

There are countless tools available to help us streamline things like sending handwritten communications and staying in touch with your top prospects. The agents who leverage those tools will likely see growth in their businesses as a result.

Don’t be overwhelmed by the enormous amount of systems your business needs. Make a list of the tasks you repeat, and put one system per month in place. 

Maybe this month, it’s a checklist for closing out a listing. Next month, maybe you create a pre-listing packet. Perhaps the third month, you implement an automated past-client follow-up system. 
If you just focus on one system per month, you will have a more efficient business poised for more growth and less work at the end of a year.

4. They send out CMAs

Top producers send out CMAs daily to various people: past clients, listing prospects, people within their sphere of influence or people in their database. Specifically, video CMAs allow you to stay in touch with your top prospects and give them information about the value of their homes in the current market.

Each 5- to 10-minute video takes about 30 minutes to create as you walk the prospect through recent activity, comparable homes in their area, and estimated closing costs to help them truly understand the potential value of selling their homes. 

Agents who send one of these each day will stay top-of-mind for their prospects. And when those owners decide to sell, they’ll have an opportunity to list these properties.

5. They make outbound calls

Real estate revolves around conversations, so though you can use texts, emails or other forms of outreach, there must be a phone conversation before any transactions happen.

Top producers don’t wait for things to come to them. Instead, they initiate conversations with past clients, people in their sphere of influence and their current prospects. They also use techniques, such as circle prospecting, to connect with the people in the area they are farming. No matter who they call, rest assured that top producers have real estate-related conversations every day.

The lesson is that if you want to have more closings, simply have more real estate conversations.

6. They add to their databases

Your database is the lifeblood of your real estate business. Your ability to add to it and then effectively communicate with the people in it will determine your future success. 

Top producers add new people to their database daily, but having an extensive database isn’t their only focus. They also purposefully communicate with their database to build rapport with the people in it.

Top producers add people to their database through several strategies, including open house attendees, farming efforts, circle prospecting conversations, door-knocking, online lead generation, or simply meeting people in the community. No matter which strategy you use, consistently adding to databases is a daily practice for top producers.

Once you’ve added people to the list, use weekly communications to help them begin to know, like and trust you on a deeper level. The more personalized your outreach is, the more likely you are to build relationships with your database.

The key is to systemize the outreach so that you’re consistently connecting and providing value, which will lead to more business.

7. They use to-do lists

Top producers stay in charge of their day by ensuring that they engage in the right activity instead of doing things that won’t grow their businesses. 

They create to-do lists before leaving the office each day or before they go to bed each night. They wake up in the morning with a plan for how they will grow their business that day.

To grow your business, adopt the practices that top producers use to maximize their time and make the most of their efforts. This list has seven activities to make it easier for you to implement one a day over the next week into your business. By doing so, your business will look more and more like the top producers in real estate, and soon after, your results too.

Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida. Connect with him on Facebook or Instagram.
7 Daily Habits of Top Producers That'll Bolster Your Business
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Carl Medford

Fear commonly immobilizes buyers from making the choices that will ultimately enhance their lives. Here’s how to coach your clients to succeed despite the potential risks
 
After a buyer’s agent showed one of our listings, I recently called her. It turns out the buyers loved the home and were considering writing an offer. 

“They are afraid, however, and might not actually write,” stated their agent. 

I asked the obvious question, “What kind of fear would keep them from writing an offer?” 

The response floored me. “They are concerned the price may go way over the asking price, and so they are afraid to write.” 

In my world, fear usually flows from the possibility of potential harm or damage. A valid fear might be the thought of being alone with a lion due to the chance you might end up injured or even dead. On the other hand, what possible harm could come from writing an offer that does not effectively compete with other offers?

There is no end to valid potential homebuyer fears. Some are obvious: 
• “What happens if I lose my job down the road?” 
• “What happens if one of us gets sick?” 
• “What if we discover something horrible about the home after we move in?” 
• “What if the market collapses and my home loses a significant chunk of its’ value?” 
• “What if I discover I don’t like my home or neighborhood?” 
• “What if a sexual predator moves in next door?” 
• “What if a natural disaster damages my property?” 

Like it or not, life is all about risk. Whether asking someone out on that first date, visiting a new restaurant, or investing in the stock market, there is no end of uncertainty in just about every facet of our lives. That adage is true: No risk, no reward. 

It’s the same when working with buyers, especially in a volatile market such as the one in which we find ourselves. The key is to help buyers identify valid risks and then work with them to overcome their fear by providing appropriate responses.

First, you have to figure out if the fear is valid. Although every fear has a basis of some kind, some are more valid than others. When you hear words relating to fear (“afraid,” “concerned,” “anxious,” “worried,” “trepidation,” “apprehension”), try to find out what is under the fear itself. 

Using the “fear of writing an offer” as an example, if a buyer does not think they have a reasonable opportunity to win in any given offer scenario, they might be concerned that they will be wasting the sellers’ or their agent’s time. On the other hand, if they believe they might need to offer more for a property than they can afford, that is not fear: It’s common sense. 

Rather than letting “fear” prevent your buyers from writing an offer, coach them to write one that’s within their financial parameters. If their efforts are not enough, no harm, no foul. Move on. 

Although no sellers like receiving lowball offers or those with ridiculous terms, the only bad offer is the one that does not get written. Obviously, balance and common sense are required, but never make assumptions when writing offers. The highest-priced offer is not always the winner. Cash does not always triumph. Sellers do not always pick the obvious winner. And so on. 

We encourage our buyers to ascribe to the spaghetti theory when writing offers: “If you throw enough spaghetti at the wall, something will stick.” 

Hopefully, every time you write an offer but fail to secure a contract, you are using the knowledge gained to improve your future offers. It goes without saying that if a buyer continues to lose out when submitting offers, they need to change their parameters to put themselves in a category where they are more likely to win. 

The truth is, if your buyer has valid fears about writing offers, then it’s probably best they stop viewing homes until they get their concerns resolved. If they visit a home they love, but balk at writing an offer due to fear, sit down with them before showing them another property to find out what the source of the anxiety truly is. 

Ask searching questions. Once you have uncovered the real fear under their actions, then coach them forward. Here are the top four buyer fears and how to mitigate them:

1. Fear of buying the wrong home

With the pressure generated by a critical shortage of available homes and the resultant multiple offers on anything decent, many buyers are concerned that the decisions made in such a highly competitive and emotional environment might end in buyer’s remorse. This rings especially true for first-time buyers who are at-bat for the first time. 

Although they might end up in a home that either does not meet all their stated needs or is less than they hoped for, first-time buyers need to understand that their first home is, in the majority of cases, a steppingstone to the home of their dreams. Put another way, very seldom is their first home their “forever” home. 

With this in mind, it’s more critical to get a home than to find one that checks all their boxes. Buyers who approach the current market with an immutable list will be those still sitting on the sidelines while others are moving into their new homes. 

Due diligence is in order: Do all the proper inspections, scrutinize the home, and get rational boundaries in place. For example, a family of six should not be buying a two-bedroom condo. 

When coaching, help them understand that they might need to be flexible on other parameters, such as square footage, the number of bedrooms or bathrooms, local schools, and even the city. 

Coach them to realize that though criteria are important, securing a home in the current environment is essential. Even if the house is not optimal, most buyers can live in less than ideal conditions for a few years until it’s possible to move up. 

2. Fear of financial loss

Buyers already stretching to their outside limits can reasonably be expected to be concerned about financial loss. From what I have seen, the primary concern in an escalating market is the fear of a possible collapse in prices. 

“Why buy now, if my home will go down in value in the near future?” they ask. The underlying issue here is thinking of your primary home as an investment rather than a place to live. 

If you buy an investment, you want it to do well. If you are buying a roof over your head, then what happens to the value does not matter: The key is whether you can continue to make the payments. 

Those who bought homes at the top of the market back in 2005-2006 were horrified when the market subsequently collapsed, and their values plummeted. Homeowners who sat tight and continued to make their monthly payments are now sitting in homes worth more than at the previous peak. 

Real estate is cyclical, and what goes down will eventually go back up. Even if a home goes down in value after purchase, as long as the buyers keep paying the mortgage, they are still reaping the benefits of homeownership, including accompanying tax benefits. 

Coach your buyers to understand that it’s more important to focus on their ability to make a monthly payment and reap all the benefits of homeownership than to be concerned about short-term fluctuations in market values. 

3. Fear of environmental harm

Living in the San Francisco Bay area, we experience frequent comments from those across the country questioning our sanity for living in an earthquake-prone area. I have the same misgivings about those living in areas affected by potential floods, tornados, hurricanes, wildfires and the like. 

Regardless of where you live, there is the potential for harm. Ironically, a recent survey revealed that approximately only 10 percent of Californians carried earthquake insurance. 

Other forms of harm can come from various sources, whether housefires, break-ins or other uncontrollable events. Coach nervous buyers by explaining the protection options available. 

4. Fear of personal harm

Fear-raising questions that plague buyers include the potential of job loss, sickness or even death. Again, there are protections available in varying types of insurance. Coach them to weigh all their options so they understand what might be best for them. Ironically, I am amazed at the number of buyers who don’t have any personal insurance. 

Life is full of risk. Those who succeed in reaching their goals are the ones who accept that risk lines the pathway to success and choose to go up the road anyway. You might fall off the path occasionally, but in the end, the benefits of owning real estate far outweigh the risks.

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team.
4 Tips for Dealing With Buyers' Fears in an Overheated Market
Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Jimmy Burgess

If your business isn’t growing in today’s unprecedented market, your leads likely aren’t the problem — your activities are. Success comes through consistently doing the things that help your business grow.

Practicing certain disciplines on a daily, weekly or monthly basis compounds the results over time and leads to tremendous growth. So, if you’re looking for business growth, these disciplines will help.

1. Send one thank-you note per day

Start your day by writing a note to someone who has helped you personally or professionally, or send a note of congratulations to someone who deserves it. Thank that lender who went above and beyond. Thank that person who sent you a referral. Congratulate your past client who got a promotion or who had a baby or grandchild.

When you start your day looking for things to be thankful for, it establishes a mindset of recognizing and appreciating more of the things around you. Even better, when you show your appreciation to the people who have helped you, they are more inclined to do it again by sending even more opportunities your way.

The practice of handwritten notes is personal. It shows the recipients you care enough to take the time to recognize them. It sets you apart, and ultimately, it’s simply the right thing to do if you are wanting to be the best possible version of yourself.

Thank-you notes will help you set the right mindset for yourself, and they’ll also generate goodwill among the people you’re sending them to.

2. Add at least one person to your database every day

Your business grows in direct proportion to the number of people you add to your database and for whom you add value through consistent communication. These daily additions can come through circle prospecting, farming, referrals, marketing, or people you’ve met in your personal life.

If you want your business to grow faster, add more people to your database each day, and then do the work of helping them to know, like and trust you using weekly emails and other communications that keep you top-of-mind.

The more personal your interactions are, the more likely you are to build a relationship that moves them toward becoming your customer. Adding new people to your database daily is the first step to better relationships and business growth.

3. Send a personalized property to at least one person per day

I’m sure you have automated emails going out with properties to the people in your database, but a personalized email on a specific property is extremely powerful.

Each day, find a property on your hot sheet that’s relevant to a buyer or a seller in your database. It could be a just-listed property that might interest your buyer, or a just-sold property that could impact your sellers’ home value.

You’ll send it with an invitation for them to contact you with any questions, and the personal outreach will create momentum that tells the customer that you’re working hard on their behalf.

It’s a simple, personal way to launch a conversation that allows you to provide valuable information for your customers and build rapport that can lead to lifelong relationships.

4. Send one unsolicited video CMA each day

This practice personally helped me generate $11 million worth of listings over 72 days just by sending out one CMA a day to people in one of three groups:

• People who told me they were interested in selling within the next year or two.
• Past buyer clients who live in a home that I sold them.
• People who are homeowners in the area, who I’d met through marketing activities like open houses and farming.

This is done by recording your screen to create a video explaining the updated valuation and emailing it to the seller. This screen recording can be done with a tool such as BombBomb, Loom or even Zoom.

You’ll start the video by entering their address in Google Earth, showing them an aerial view of their home. This is not only an unexpected, catchy beginning for the homeowner, but it also creates curiosity about the view.

You’ll show active, pending and sold comparable properties, and talk about specific properties that compare to their home. You’ll also provide data for three or four of the best comparable sales that will help you give a range of estimated values to the homeowner.

Next, you’ll show an estimated seller net sheet, which can be as simple as a Word document that includes the estimated selling price, typical closing costs for sellers in your market, and estimated net proceeds to the seller, excluding any mortgage payoff or prorations.

I’ve shared specific details about this process in the past because it has generated new opportunities for me even 18 months after I first began the process without any new outreach. If you send one of these per day, I promise you’ll see results. Get the full rundown on this strategy here.

5. Build next-10 and top-10 lists for your business

To keep your customers top-of-mind and to help you be strategic in your activities, build lists that will help you identify the next 10 people whose homes you’ll likely list or to whom you’ll likely sell a home, and the top 10 referral partners for your business.

In the past, I’ve kept these lists right in front of my desk because they remind me to stay in touch with the people who are most likely to help my business.
For the customers, I worked hard to provide value to them and to help them know, like and trust me as their chosen real estate expert. For the referrers, it reminded me to show my appreciation, and in doing so, it created new conversations and opportunities, and it helped me increase my conversion rates.

These lists will help you focus your efforts on the low-hanging fruit in your business, which will also help you generate focused growth.

6. Engage in at least 10 meaningful conversations each day

These interactive conversations can happen via email, phone or text, and if they are truly meaningful, they’ll eventually lead to contracts. Industry data suggests that, on average, 50 meaningful conversations lead to a transaction.

By knowing how many conversations on average lead to a transaction for you, your understanding of how many conversations you need daily is easy to figure out.

Top producers initiate conversations with people instead of waiting for them to happen organically. When you concentrate on these conversations, you’ll generate more opportunities for yourself, which will result in more growth and more deals.

7. Routinely add systems to your business

This process won’t necessarily happen every single day, but it’s important that you think about it daily and routinely add systems to your business that will help you automate and streamline your activity.

Start by identifying weaknesses in your business and places where things aren’t running as smoothly as you’d like. Maybe you need a checklist for ensuring that new leads stay informed about new properties that come on the market.

Maybe you need to create a checklist for new listings that you take, for marketing a property and for closing on a home. But don’t get overwhelmed by the number of systems you need in your business. Simply build them one at a time on your way to working more efficiently.

Systems ensure that you don’t skip any important steps in your processes and they help you leverage your time for maximum productivity. Because time is the most important resource we have, top producers look for ways to do more work with less effort. Systems help accomplish that. Here are 12 systems that will help you automate your business growth.

Your best strategy for business growth results from the intentional activities you engage in on a regular basis. These disciplines will help you be strategic with your time and increase the number of opportunities available at any given time.

Start by implementing at least one of these disciplines to your routine, or add even more for greater growth. Focus on the things that are working, and build disciplines that will help you convert more customers and close more deals.

Jimmy Burgess is the Chief Growth Officer for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida in Northwest Florida.
7 Daily Disciplines That'll Make Your Business Boom

 

Article Courtesy of: Inman News
By: Veronika Bondarenko

Amid President Biden's proposal to raise the long-term capital gains tax to 39.6%, luxury agents are reporting a slew of panicked questions from 'extremely motivated' sellers

While much around the proposed capital gains tax remains up in the air, its potential effect on the country’s wealthiest residents is leading to a slew of questions being thrown at luxury agents and financial advisors.

As a way of funding the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan to help families with young children struggling with poverty, President Joe Biden recently outlined the next steps toward raising income taxes from 37 to 39.6 percent for households making more than $400,000 per year, and increasing the long-term capital gains rate from the current 20 percent cap to 39.6 percent for people who make over $1 million annually.

The capital gains tax would be applied when selling assets such as real estate (and also stocks and shares) that one has held for more than a year — that said, it is causing quite a stir in affluent enclaves like the Hamptons and Malibu.

“It’s something that we talk about in every other conversation,” Noel Roberts, the head of the local Nest Seekers’ Private Client boutique practice in the Hamptons and star of Million Dollar Beach House, told Inman. “As late as last year, it became a concern for clients who had a property that they were looking to sell last year. Because it was rumored that Biden would close the 1031 loophole [a section of the IRS tax code that allows investors to swap one property for another and defer the tax], they were extremely motivated to see a sale culminate by the end of the year.”

While places like Southampton and Malibu have average household incomes of below $200,000, these places are also home to a large number of residents who have millions of dollars in assets and multiple properties that they lease out as investments. Marco Rufo, a partner with The Agency in Pacific Palisades, said that clients who will be impacted most in the short-term are those who are looking to trade or unload expensive properties soon.

“In West LA, there are a lot of people making over a million dollars right per year, so their federal taxes are going to up more than 20 percent,” Rufo said. “That’s huge and the conversation that people are having is ‘how am I going to protect myself from that?’ Accountants and financial advisors are already looking for loopholes and, unfortunately, they’re probably going to find them.”

Over the last year, luxury sales have had the opposite effect from what many predicted at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. While many thought that financial uncertainty would cause a surplus of vacation properties on the market, low mortgage rates and travel restrictions have instead skyrocketed the number of people looking to buy luxurious, amenity-heavy homes in popular vacation destinations. Across the U.S., sales of luxury homes rose 41.6 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2021.

On a larger scale, both Roberts and Rufo believe that luxury sales will continue to flourish. Moving investment properties around and finding ways to minimize tax impact has always been a strategy of those who live in this type of ultra-luxury world.

But because of the uncertainty around whether the capital gains tax will come into effect or whom it will affect, Roberts said that a number of ultra-high-net-worth clients who have been sitting on properties in the hopes to see prices grow are now motivated to sell in the next few months. Some even did so before the end of 2020 in worries that certain tax changes could become retroactive.

“This is something for [luxury agents] to be thinking about throughout the rest of this year,” Roberts said, bringing up an example of a developer client who traded one ultra-luxury investment property for three commercial properties and is now wondering whether selling it outright and taking a tax hit was the way to go. “I think we’re going to see a spurt of investment activity this year from clients who want to take advantage of the 1031 [exchange] or just sell at the [current] tax rate as opposed to that future rate which is nearly double.”

These types of concerns naturally appear outrageous to people who earn average salaries. As Biden frequently says at press conferences, the proposed tax changes are an attempt to level the playing field and address the kind of extreme inequality that is often observed in the world of luxury real estate compared to the average American.

But the effect of the tax hikes is something that high-earning developers and 1-percent individuals looking to sell in the short term are thinking about seriously. As many look for ways to minimize tax impact, the luxury real estate sphere could see a number of interesting sales and wider after-shock effects in the coming months.

“Biden has been talking about it for a while, but in the last two weeks, it became much more official,” Rufo said. “Now, everyone really has their eyes open.”
Proposed Capital Gains Tax Increase Could Lead to a Rush of Luxury Sales
Sales of detached single-family homes and condominiums softened in December amid appreciating home prices and rising inventory, according to data released today by the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR).

The 1,027 single-family detached homes sold in December 2017 was a 9.7 percent decrease in sales from the 1,137 homes sold in December 2016. This total was the seventh-highest on record for the month of December, and is above the monthly sales average since 2003 of 984 homes sold. The condo market also experienced a decrease in sales as 793 units were sold in December 2017, which reflects of a 14.3 percent drop in sales from the 925 units sold in December 2016, which is also the record high for December. This was the eighth most active December on record for condo sales and sits above the historical monthly average of 772 units sold. 

“Despite these drops in overall sales, activity has remained strong and we’re seeing an eager buyer population, ready to enter the market ahead of projected increases in mortgage rates and home values in the coming year,” said 2018 GBAR President Marie Presti, broker-owner of The Presti Group in Newton. “We’re seeing the inventory levels bounce back which is a good sign for those looking to purchase a home.”

Indeed, the active listings for both single family homes and condos experienced year-over-year increases in December. Single family listings saw a 17.5 percent increase from 1,967 homes for sale in December 2016 to 2,311 homes for sale at the end of last year. This is the second consecutive month this figure has risen on a year-over-year basis. Likewise, the condo market had a 7.3 percent increase to 1,441 active listings, up from 1,343 in December 2016, and is the fourth consecutive month this number has risen or remained the same on a year-over-year basis.

The median sales price for single-family homes reached a new record high price for the month of December at $589,000, which is an 8.1 percent increase on the median sales price of $545,000 from December 2016. Similarly, the condo market also reached a new record high median sales price for the month at $542,000, which is a 15.8 percent increase from the December 2016 median sales price of $468,000.

“Even with rising inventory, potential sellers should remain confident in listing their homes, as home prices continue to appreciate,” added Presti. “Again, in December, we saw that homes are selling the market quicker than in years past, indicating just how strong the buyer demand has been.”

In fact, single family homes were coming off market after 57 days in December, an 18.6 percent drop from the 70 days on market figure from December 2016. In the condo market, this figure remained flat at 46 days to off market. For additional information regarding December 2017 Greater Boston Housing statistics, including our new interactive housing market data dashboard, visit the Monthly Housing Market Reports page






Greater Boston Home Sales Soften in December Despite Rising Supply of Homes
Questions continue to swirl around the subject of what kinds of fees can legitimately be charged to residential tenants and rental applicants.  The law remains murky, meaning that landlords and brokers must proceed with caution.

Fees Charged By Landlords At or Prior to Term Commencement
Chapter 186, Section 15B of the Massachusetts General Laws (“Section 15B”) forbids landlords, at or prior to the commencement of any tenancy, from requiring a tenant or prospective tenant to pay any amount in excess of the rent for the first full month of occupancy, the rent for the last full month of occupancy, a security deposit equal to the first month’s rent and the cost of purchasing and installing a new lock and key.  In an important 2014 decision, Perry v. Equity Residential Management, L.L.C., United States District Court Judge Rya Zobel declared that these provisions must be applied strictly and are “simply not susceptible of more than one reasonable construction.”  She proceeded to invalidate the following fees charged by a landlord prior to commencement of the tenancy:
a $50.00 application fee per person;
an amenity or community fee ranging as high as $500.00; and
a $250.00 fee for the privilege of being allowed to keep a pet.
Massachusetts courts have likewise disallowed any amounts charged by landlords at or prior to the commencement of the lease term unless expressly authorized by Section 15B.

Fees Charged by Landlords After Term Commencement
Section 15B contains a separate provision prohibiting landlords, at any time subsequent to the commencement of a tenancy, from demanding rent in advance of the current month’s rent or a security deposit in excess of the amount otherwise allowable.  In Perry, Judge Zobel took the position that the statute did not bar the landlord from charging a monthly pet fee of $30.00; because the tenants “became obligated to pay this fee after they were already tenants, they may not turn to Section 15B for relief.”  She acknowledged, but respectfully disagreed with, a contrary 2012 ruling by Judge David Kerman of the Northeast Housing Court in Broad Street Associates v. Levine.  In his view, Section 15B “makes no distinction between up-front deposits and recurring fees.”  He also noted, however, that the landlord had not offered “any economic or other explanation or justification for the fees,” without clarifying whether that would have made a difference.  He also pointed out that the landlord did not “characterize, or attempt to justify” the recurring pet fees as “additional rent”, implying that the landlord could have simply increased the rent in consideration of allowing the pet.
Whether the correct interpretation of the statute is Judge Zobel’s or Judge Kerman’s won’t be known until the issue is definitively resolved by an appellate Massachusetts court.  In the meantime, landlords who impose fees after the term of a lease has commenced can seek to defend these charges on the basis of (1) Judge Zobel’s decision and (2) the fact that the charges have a sound economic basis (such as the additional wear and tear likely to be caused by having a dog in an apartment).

New Occupant Screening Fees
One particular fee which some landlords charge relates to the screening of a proposed new subtenant or roommate.  In this scenario, the landlord is typically seeking to be reimbursed for costs like a credit report, processing a rental application, qualifying the new occupant and amending the lease agreement.  If the landlord requires a new lease and the new occupant will not move into the apartment until the term of that lease begins, the analysis becomes a bit more complicated.  Any fee charged by the landlord for screening the new occupant could be viewed as being imposed prior to the commencement of the new tenancy in violation of Section 15B.  The landlord would take the position that, notwithstanding the new lease, this is really a continuation of the original “tenancy”, legitimizing any fee for screening the new occupant just as the monthly pet fee was permitted by Judge Zobel in Perry.  In any event, the landlord could presumably recoup the cost of screening the new roommate by increasing the rent payable under the new lease.

Service Fees
Another type of fee, which is believed to be exempt from the statutory restrictions whenever charged, relates to additional services provided by the landlord to a particular tenant.  The best example is a parking space, for which a separate charge is routinely made.  Another illustration is offered by Gardner v. Simpson Financing Limited Partnership, decided in 2012 by a federal District Court judge and cited with approval by Judge Zobel in Perry.  The landlord in that case utilized a lease form requiring tenants to maintain personal liability insurance in a minimum amount of $25,000, covering personal injury or property damage caused by the tenant or any guest.  The landlord had arranged to obtain a master insurance policy to which tenants could be added.  Those tenants who chose to participate were essentially required to reimburse the landlord for their proportionate share of the premium.  Tenants also had the option of adding contents coverage for an extra charge, protecting themselves from loss if their personal property was damaged by fire or other casualty.

Some of the residents alleged that the premium charges violated Section 15B.  The judge disagreed, characterizing the master insurance policy as an “additional service” made available to the tenants, who decided on their own whether to participate in the program.  Admittedly, tenants were required to obtain liability insurance, but they were not compelled to use the landlord’s insurer.  In the case of contents coverage, the decision of whether to obtain insurance at all was the tenant’s alone.  It would, in the words of the judge, “elevate form over function” to penalize the landlord in these circumstances.

Contrast these fees with those charged for additional services which a tenant doesn’t want, like the amenity fee struck down in Perry. The same result was reached in Hermida v. Archstone, a 2011 case involving tenants who were charged a one-time $475 amenity fee for the right to use the property’s swimming pool, gym and outdoor grill.  Although this fee was meant to be optional, the tenants were not so informed.  Ultimately, they demanded a refund. The tenor of the Hermida decision clearly suggests that the result would have been different if the tenants were told that they needed to pay the amenity fee only if they in fact wished to take advantage of having a swimming pool, gym and outdoor grill on site.  None of these facilities (unlike, say, a toilet or functioning heating system) is legally required to be made available to a residential tenant and there is no good reason why they can’t be withheld from tenants who choose not to pay for them.  It seems clear that Judge Zobel would concur, given her characterization of the prohibited amenity fee in Perry as mandatory and non-refundable.

Commissions Charged By Brokers
Any amount which a landlord is allowed to charge can alternatively be collected through a real estate broker; the economic impact on the tenant is exactly the same.  A more difficult question is whether a broker can impose charges in addition to those lawfully collectible by a landlord.  That issue was raised in Samia v. McElaney, a 1983 decision handed down by the Boston Housing Court.  The judge readily acknowledged that Section 15B prohibits a landlord from collecting a broker’s commission from a rental applicant.  In Samia, however, the broker was not acting as the landlord’s alter ego.  Rather, the broker’s firm was characterized as a “separate bona fide business operation engaged in locating apartments for tenants” even though the landlord was its major source of listings.  Under these circumstances, the judge found “no prohibition” against the broker’s charging a commission to a rental applicant.

Other Fees Charged By Brokers
The same logic which permits a broker to charge a commission should apply as well to other fees.  For example, a broker may wish to collect and process information (similar to what is contained in a rental application) with respect to a prospective tenant and/or order a credit report.  The broker would essentially be taking the position that that part of its job is to investigate the desirability of the applicant; this is somewhat analogous to getting a prequalification letter from a mortgage lender in order to confirm that a would-be homebuyer will be able to pay for a house.  Interestingly, an article in the April issue of Units, the publication of the National Apartment Association, suggests that the “fastest growing form of fraud today” consists of persons falsifying a rental application, for example by supplying a false social security number or landlord reference.  The author recommends more careful scrutiny by “leasing teams”.  Rather than charging separate application and/or credit report fees, some brokers may simply prefer to include those costs as part of their basic commission.

It must be emphasized once again that the law remains in a serious state of flux, preventing an authoritative pronouncement regarding the legitimacy of particular fees, especially those charged after the term of a lease has commenced.  Members are urged to consult with their own attorneys.

Philip S. Lapatin, Esq.
Holland & Knight LLP
May 3, 2018

For any questions you may have, please contact GBAR Director of Risk Management & Legal Counsel William G. Mullen III, Esq., at wmullen@grbeb.com or 617-399-7842.
 
Charging Fees to Residential Tenants

Each year since 2000, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has recognized 30 members across the nation, under the age of 30 who have demonstrated innovative business savviness, skill, success, creativity, leadership and community involvement throughout their early real estate careers.

This week, GBAR members Randy Horn of Compass Massachusetts in Boston and Nicole Rideout of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston were named as part of the 50 finalists vying for a seat in REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Class of 2018.    

Starting next Friday, March 16 and through 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 23, members of the public can vote (once per every 24 hours) for their favorite finalist to receive the Web Choice Award. The finalist who receives the most votes is guaranteed a spot among this year’s 30 Under 30. The magazine’s panel of judges will select the remaining 29 honorees from the finalists. The 30 Under 30 Class of 2018 will be featured in the May/June issue of REALTOR® Magazine.
GBAR Members Named as Finalists for REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30

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GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
GBAR Webinar
1:00pm
 
Annual Awards & Networking Breakfast
Venezia Restaurant Boston
9:30am
 
GBAR New Member Orientation- Agency Webinar
GBAR Webinar
3:00pm
 
CE Webinar - Fair Housing Training- City Of Boston
Live Webinar Course
9:00am
 
Rentals The Right Way! - CE Webinar
Live Webinar Course
1:00pm