With less than a month left before the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) expires, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation to reform and reauthorize the program for five years. But because the bill—which is backed by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)—still needs Senate approval, it’s unclear whether the long-sought five-year extension will be passed before Dec. 8, when the NFIP is set to expire.

"Realtors® know first-hand what happens when the NFIP expires, and it isn’t good for consumers, businesses or our communities" said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. "We appreciate the leadership that members of Congress have shown passing sound reforms, which will strengthen the program, protect property owners and deliver good results for taxpayers."
The NFIP is responsible for providing the vast majority of flood insurance policies in over 20,000 communities nationwide. Without it, most consumers would be unable to purchase the flood insurance that’s required on mortgages in a flood plain. In the past, NAR has shown that 40,000 home sales are lost every month when the program is unavailable.

Flood insurance is required for any property that’s in a flood zone and has a federally related mortgage. Any loan backed by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the FHA, the VA, or the Rural Housing Services is a federally related mortgage.

H.R. 2874, the "21st Century Flood Reform Act," reauthorizes the NFIP for five years, while taking steps to reform the program. These reforms include:

Authorizing $1 billion to elevate, buy out or mitigate high-risk properties
Capping flood insurance premiums at $10,000 per year for homeowners
Removing hurdles to the private flood insurance market, which often offers better coverage at lower cost than the NFIP.
Providing for community flood maps and a homeowner’s ability to appeal their flood designation
Better aligning NFIP rates to match a property’s true risk, particularly for in-land and lower-value properties
Improving the claims process for flood victims
Addressing repeatedly flooded properties, which account for 2 percent of NFIP policies but 25 percent of claim payments

For more information, visit NAR’s NFIP website.
House Passes Five-Year Flood Insurance Extension
As 2017 beings to come to an end, it is a great time to reflect on the past year and all we have been able to accomplish at GBAR. We want to invite all our of members to join us for our Installation of 2018 GBAR Officers & Directors and Holiday Party, on Thursday, December 14th from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. at the Boston-Newton Marriott in Newton. At this annual event, we install the 2018 Board of Directors, and President Marie Presti and recognize and celebrate the accomplishments and hard work of this year’s directors, committee leaders and members.

The luncheon is open to all GBAR members. So, whether you have served on a committee, or would like to support members of next year’s board, please register online or contact GBAR staff to reserve your seat or a table as space for this event is limited. This is a wonderful last opportunity of the year to network with your REALTOR® colleagues and industry affiliates and to celebrate another successful year at GBAR.
Celebrate The Holiday Season with GBAR
This year, we are delighted to award several of our members with REALTOR® Emeritus status. This is a highly-distinguished level of membership status awarded by the National Association of REALTORS® to individuals who have held membership in the REALTOR® organization for a minimum of 40 years. Less than 3,000 REALTORS® nationwide have received this honor. The following GBAR members will receive their certificates at next month’s Installation event:

-Nancy Evancho, Congress Realtors®, Natick
-Jerry Mazzola, Congress Realtors®, Natick
-Phyllis Reservitz, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lexington
-Raymond Watts, A Different Agent, Wellesley

We also had four members who earned their REALTOR® Emeritus status earlier in the year and were recognized at our Annual Award Breakfast in June.

-Elaine Costello, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Milton                  
-Joanne Damish, Joanne Damish Real Estate, Walpole                                       
-Priscilla Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Associates, North Reading                                     
-Nancy Ledger Quinn, Berkshire Hathaway Home Service, Maynard            

Congratulations to you all!
GBAR Names New REALTOR® Emeritus Recipients
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has published its 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report which features real estate trends and survey statistics from the past year. This is the 36th edition of the report, and is the longest-running source for national housing data regarding the demographics, preferences, motivations and experiences of recent homebuyers and sellers.
The report found that 34 percent of buyer were first-time homebuyers, which is down from the 2016 mark of 35 percent. This figure is the fourth-lowest since NAR began this report in 1981. The report also showed that down payments have decreased for first-time buyers, to 5 percent down from 6 percent as the age of first-time buyers remained flat at 32 years old.

The dreams of many aspiring first-time buyers were unfortunately dimmed over the past year by persistent inventory shortages, which undercut their ability to become homeowners,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a press release issued by NAR “With the lower end of the market seeing the worst of the supply crunch, house hunters faced mounting odds in finding their first home. Multiple offers were a common occurrence, investors paying in cash had the upper hand, and prices kept climbing, which yanked homeownership out of reach for countless would-be buyers.”

The report indicated that 87 percent of buyers used a real estate agent when purchasing a home, and an all-time high of 89 percent of sellers used an agent when listing their property. As a result, for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) sales hit an all-time low share of 8 percent in 2017.

The full report is available for purchase on the NAR website, with a discounted price for NAR members. NAR also posted downloadable highlights from the report as well as an infographic for buyers and a sellers infographic.
NAR 2017 Home Buyers and Sellers Report Indicates Inventory, Affordability Issues, Increased Agent
As a listing broker, can you require that a cooperating broker attend all your showings?

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

For example, offering a commission in MLS establishes a unilateral contract, which is accepted by the co-broke when they take the 1st step, then creating a chain of events, which establishes the procuring cause of the sale i.e. who is entitled to the commission. Though it may be true that accompanying one’s buyer to all showings of the property would certainly be helpful in establishing that the co-broke is procuring cause, failure to do so does not automatically mean that they are not procuring cause.  Members with questions or concerns regarding the rules of their MLS should review them for clarification. For more information, you can call the GBAR Brokerage Counseling Hotline at 617-399-7869. 
Procuring Cause and Unconditional Offer of Compensation
Baby cams, also known as nanny cams, are popular with parents today. The tiny, easy-to-hide devices help parents keep tabs on their kids while they’re away.  State privacy and “wiretapping” laws differ, but for the most part, you’ll want to let buyers know upfront if there’s a chance they’ll be captured on one of these or other types of surveillance devices while they’re in the house.
The key issue is expectations of privacy. If you’re inside someone’s home, you have a right to expect a certain amount of privacy; if you’re outside—say on a public sidewalk—you can’t always expect the same level of privacy.

In a similar manner, if you’re recording a phone conversation, privacy expectations are relevant. People expect a phone conversation to be private, so you’ll want to let them know beforehand if you plan to tape the conversation to keep accurate notes or for other reasons.

Massachusetts's wiretapping law is often referred to as the "two-party consent" law.  Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 272, § 99, it is a crime to secretly record a conversation, whether the conversation is in-person,  taking place by telephone or via another medium (such as a secret video recording where sound is captured.)  Thus, a prudent REALTOR® will make it their practice to ask a seller (or the listing agent if representing a buyer client) if there are any recording devices in the home and to inform all parties to a telephone call or conversation that they may be or are being recorded, unless it is absolutely clear to everyone involved that the recording is not "secret".  

It should be noted that recording without sound is not unlawful under Massachusetts law.  However, best practice would suggest that buyers and their agents be informed about any video recording devices – with or without audio. Under Massachusetts's wiretapping law, if a party to a conversation is or has been made aware that their conversation is being recorded and does not want to be recorded, it is up to that person to leave the conversation.  

Privacy issues that involve REALTORS® are illustrated in this Voice for Real Estate video  from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). The video shares excerpts from a recent video by NAR’s Legal Affairs division on what you need to know about surveillance cameras when you’re showing a house or recording a phone conversation with customers or clients.
Is Your Seller’s Baby Cam a Lawsuit Waiting to Happen?
Realtor® Magazine is currently accepting applications for its annual “30 Under 30” list which recognizes the rising young stars in the real estate industry. Candidates are reviewed by the REALTOR® Mag staff that look for REALTORS® who are successful in the real estate business and have demonstrated skill, success, creativity and leadership in their careers. GBAR has had several members stand out from the crowd and be honored in past 30 Under 30 classes. If this sounds like you, we encourage you to apply today!

Announced each May, the deadline to apply for “30 Under 30” is January 12, 2018. Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the 30 Under 30 program. 
Realtor® Magazine Now Accepting Applications for “30 Under 30”
On Monday, November 6th, representatives from the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GRBEB) and Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) testified before the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy in opposition to S.1839 An Act Relative to Home Energy Efficiency sponsored by the late Senator Kenneth Donnelly.   The bill would require sellers to complete a home energy audit prior to sale and would capture condominiums, single-family homes , and multi-family residential home with fewer than five units.

The bill would require the seller or seller’s agent to disclose to a prospective buyer the information obtained by the energy audit at the time of listing or prior to the signing of a purchase and sale, whichever comes first. It would also direct the state Department of Energy Resources to establish an energy scoring program for the sale of residential property.    

GBREB and MAR have consistently opposed adding new requirements at the time of transfer. In testimony before the Committee, GBREB and MAR expressed concern the legislation will unnecessarily complicate and delay the home buying process as well as impact the negotiation of contracts regarding the acceptability of the ratings. In addition, concerns were raised regarding stigmatizing older homes and adversely impacting home values.  

Under current state law, home inspectors and associate home inspectors are required to provide a document outlining the procedures and benefits of a home energy audit to all clients purchasing a single-family residential dwelling, a multiple-family residential dwelling with less than five dwelling units or a condominium unit in structure with less than five dwelling units. In addition, Massachusetts residential consumers currently pay a surcharge on their energy bills for energy audits they can have performed on their home at no additional cost.   

Despite strong opposition from MAR and GBREB, several legislators expressed support for the bill during the public hearing. The bill has seventy-one co-sponsors who support the bill. 
State Lawmakers Consider New Disclosure Requirement For Sellers and Seller Agents
GBAR’s Young Professionals Network and Industry Affiliates Committees are coming together to kick off the holiday season with a networking night at the Violet Thorn in Natick

Whether you are young in age, young in business or young at heart, you’ll enjoy  fun night of food, drinks and networking with some of the industry’s newest members and an ever-growing group of industry professionals. This is a great opportunity to expand your industry knowledge and referral network, you don’t want to miss out!

We ask that you to please register online in advance of this event and in lieu of a registration fee, we are asking for monetary donations that will be donated to the local chapters of the American Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals.

Please contact Suzanne Bernard at 617-399-7851 or sbernard@gbreb.com to register or with any questions about this event.
 
Kick Off the Holiday Season with GBAR’s YPN & Affiliates
David Wluka has been appointed as the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Regional Vice President for Region 1, which is comprised of the six New England states. He becomes one of 13 regional vice presidents that are elected by the NAR Board of Directors. In the role of RVP, Wluka will oversee the work of the association and serve as an NAR spokesperson, will attend regional conferences, and chair the regional caucuses held at NAR’s two annual meetings

Wluka has served the Greater Boston Real Estate Board (GBREB) as chairman in 1999, and served as the president of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® in 2006. He also currently serves as the State Political Coordinator for Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.

In a statement on NAR’s website, Wluka said, “I have worn many hats during my real estate career: agent, broker-owner, franchisee, franchisor, and independent. Additionally, I have been honored to serve in many leadership roles. I have always embraced the idea that change is constant and is a continual invitation to grow and innovate. I look forward to doing my small part to keep our members successful in 2018!”

Congratulations David, we all wish you a successful 2018 in your role at NAR!
GBAR Member Appointed to NAR Leadership Position
A recent survey conducted by a third-party marketing firm to measure member awareness and satisfaction with programs, services and resources offered by GBAR shows that an overwhelming majority of REALTORS® (76%) value the association’s dispute resolution services most.  This includes arbitration, mediation and other processes intended to enforce the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.  Nearly three-quarters of survey respondents also stated that they found the GBREB Forms Library and REALTOR® Designation and CE course offerings to be very valuable or valuable.  Seven in 10 members also stated that GBAR’s monthly housing market reports and new housing data dashboard are very valuable or valuable to be their business.
 
Notably, from a customer service perspective, more than two-thirds of participants in the member survey expressed satisfaction with the ability of association staff to be responsive, answer their questions, and otherwise meet their needs.  Furthermore, with agents become increasingly mobile and tech-savvy, it is not surprising that most REALTORS® cited online tools and electronic communications – namely the GBAR website and housing data dashboard, GBREB E-Forms Platform via zipLogix™, and GBAR Informer e-newsletter -- as the most common method of engagement with the association, while networking events, volunteer committee service and the GBAR Brokerage Counseling Line were the least frequent forms of interaction.  For more findings, check out our Executive Summary of the 2017 GBAR Member Survey.

Significantly, nearly one in five GBAR members took the time to respond to this year’s member survey, the results of which will be used during the coming year to help draft a new association strategic plan and otherwise guide association leaders in making informed decisions with respect to future budgeting, staffing and programming.  We appreciate all those members who completed the survey, and congratulate Eric Erb, of Keller Williams Realty in Cambridge and Maureen Harmonay, of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Bolton, who were chosen in the post-survey drawing as the two recipients of free local association dues for 2018; as well as Natalie Bassil, of Gibson Sotheby’s International Realty in Boston; Amanda Ehrard of Key Realty Group in Boston; Julie Connolly-Joyce, of The Galvin Group in Dorchester; and Daniel Woods, of Woods Real Estate in Cambridge, who were selected as the four winners of a $50 Visa gift card.  


Click here to view the Member Survey Executive Summary



Survey Finds GBAR Members Value Education, Ethics Enforcement, and Forms Most
Earlier this month, the National Association of REALTORS® launched a Call for Action (CFA) to urge REALTORS® to tell federal lawmakers not to harm homeowners as they move forward with plans to reform the nation’s tax code. The CFA is expected to run until Congress breaks for Thanksgiving.

NAR supports tax reform that helps as many people as possible, but the framework that’s being discussed on Capitol Hill raises concerns because of its impact on middle-income homeowners, and plan’s potential to wipe out the tax benefits of owning a home for 95% of American families.

NAR has taken a firm stance against several key provisions included in the plan that would negatively impact the housing market and wealth of homeowners nationwide. Specifically, REALTORS® oppose changes to the current tax code would eliminate the deduction for state and local property taxes and would nearly double the standard deduction while eliminating personal dependency exemptions. 

For more information on this issue, the Call For Action, and how it impacts our industry, visit the NAR’s tax reform homepage and view the latest edition of The Voice for Real Estate.

We urge you to participate in this call for action and to please consider supporting the REALTORS® Political Action Committee (RPAC).
 
Have You Participated in NAR’s Call for Action on Tax Reform?

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CIPS Core Course: Transaction Tools
One Center Plaza
8:00am
 
GBAR YPN And Affiliates Networking Event
Crowne Plaza- Violet Thorn
6:30pm
 
Real Estate Professional Ethics -Live Classroom
One Center Plaza
10:30am
 
2017 GBAR Annual Meeting
GBAR Member Service & Training Center
12:30pm
 
Installation of 2018 Officers & Directors and Holiday Party
Marriott- Newton
5:30pm