Increases in sales of single-family detached homes and condominiums kept the Greater Boston housing market red hot in July despite appreciating home prices and a short supply of homes for sale according to data released today by the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR).
 
Sales of single-family detached homes increased from 1,560 homes sold in July 2017 to 1,651 homes sold last month. This is a 5.8 percent increase in sales volume and ranks fifth best all-time for homes sold for the month of July in Greater Boston. The condo market also experienced a sales increase last month, rising to 1,250 units sold from the 1,168 units sold in July 2017. This 7.0 percent increase makes for the fifth most-active month of July for the condo market in Greater Boston. Additionally, this is the first time since April that both markets had a year-over-year increase in closed sales. 

“The market remains red hot and two of the key factors driving sales are the strong local economy and favorable demographics, including large numbers of millennials looking to entry the housing market for the first time after years of renting or living in the home they grew up in,” said GBAR President Marie Presti, broker/owner of The Presti Group in Newton and Stoneham. “Prices continue to meet new heights month after month, but that hasn’t slowed down buyers as many are eager to purchase a home while mortgage rates remain low.  We simply don’t have the inventory needed to satisfy demand, so it remains a great time to list your home for sale here in Greater Boston,” she added.  

In fact, median prices in Greater Boston reached record-high monthly figures in both markets. The single-family home median sales price rose 7.7 percent from $601,500 in July 2017 to a new record price for July of $647,680 this year. Likewise, the condo market saw a 13.2 percent increase to $600,000 last month, up from $530,000 in July 2017. 

“The Greater Boston housing market is among the most desirable in the country right now for buyers as well as investors, and that’s evident in the strong appreciation in home prices over the past year, and the fact that many are willing to pay top dollar to purchase a home here,” observed Presti. 

The inventory shortage has continued into July as active listings of single family homes fell 8.0 percent from 3,011 in July 2017 to 2,770 last month. Additionally, inventory of condos fell 1,723 units last month from 1,923 in July 2017, which is a 10.4 percent drop.  

For additional information regarding July 2018 Greater Boston Housing statistics, including our new interactive housing market data dashboard, visit the Monthly Housing Market Reports page.
Strong Demand Fuels Steady Gains in Boston Area Home Sales, Prices in July
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced new products for homebuyers on a budget. For just a 3 percent down payment, certain consumers can now get a loan from both government-sponsored lenders for a home purchase or refinance transaction, which means the agency will finance up to 97 percent loan-to-value. 

Freddie Mac's Home Possible mortgages are also available for as little as 3 percent to 5 percent down, targeting homebuyers in high-cost and undeserved communities. These new products are designed to compete with the low-down-payment options offered by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), which offers loans for as little as 3.5 percent down for those with a credit score of at least 580. 

Housing prices are on the rise across the country, which has put a strain on first-time buyers. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and Freddie Mac estimate that median price growth will accelerate by 3.5% in 2018, and in some cases will continue to rise faster than income gains over the coming years.

Additionally, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced they are ending their single-family rental pilot program, a victory for NAR who had urged the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to stop the program. Earlier this week, the FHFA ended the program which had provided liquidity to institutional investors to purchase single-family homes for rental housing. The action is consistent with NAR’s long-term position that the companies should maintain their focus on ensuring liquidity for home sales. 

"With inventory shortages facing housing markets across the country, the National Association of REALTORS® has long advocated for the Federal Housing Finance Agency to end its expansion into the single-family rental market and return its focus to promoting a liquid and efficient housing market, as Congress intended. By financing the purchase of thousands of single-family homes for institutional investors to use as rentals, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac compounded on inventory shortages and affordability concerns, which are holding back prospective homebuyers across the country. NAR applauds today’s FHFA decision, and we look forward to continue working with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to help more Americans achieve homeownership going forward," said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall.
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Lower Down Payments, End Rental Pilot Program
Earlier this month, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) announced its leadership team for 2019, which features two GBAR members who will service in committee leadership roles at the national level; Andrew Sarno of Medford and Craig Foley of Melrose.

Our 2015 President Andrew Sarno of Medford, was appointed as Vice Chair of NAR’s Membership Policy and Board Jurisdiction Committee. Andrew has served as a member of this committee since 2015 and has been a member of the NAR Board of Directors since 2016. Additionally, he serves as a member of NAR’s Professional Standard Committee and previously sat on the Advocacy Resources/Territorial Jurisdiction Work Group.

Craig Foley, of Melrose, who locally presents the NAR Green Designation courses, was fittingly named Chair of NAR’s Sustainability Advisory Group. Craig previously served as a member of this advisory and served as a member and regional representative for the Land Use Property Rights and Environment Committee. 

Congratulations to Andrew and Craig on these well-deserved assignments! 

Additionally, GBAR will be announcing our committee applications for 2019 in September.
GBAR Members Named as NAR Committee Leaders
Recent reports to the association offices of prescription drugs being stolen during open houses is just one example of many risky situations that can occur and why it's important to keep safety precautions in mind while you are on the job. An open house can be a great tool to market a property, but it also exposes you to numerous unfamiliar people for the first time. 

Aside from an open house, as a real estate practitioner, you’re faced with potentially risky situations every day. Meeting new clients, showing homes, and even walking to your car at night can be dangerous. It’s essential that you make safe decisions and know how to react when confronted with trouble.  Below are several important yet simple tips to follow for safety while conducting an open house: 

• If possible, always try to have at least one other person working with you at the open house.
• Check your cell phone’s strength and signal prior to the open house. Have emergency numbers programmed on speed dial, and keep your phone with you at all times.
• Upon entering a house for the first time, check all rooms and determine several “escape” routes. Make sure all deadbolt locks are unlocked to facilitate a faster escape.
• Have all open house visitors sign in. Ask for full name, address, phone number and e-mail.
• When showing the house, always walk behind the prospect. Direct them; don’t lead them. Say, for example, “The kitchen is on your left,” and gesture for them to go ahead of you. 
• Communicate frequently with the office, your answering service, a friend or a relative that you will be calling in every hour on the hour. And if you don’t call, they are to call you. Have a code word that you use with your office in case you feel unsafe.                     
• Don’t assume that everyone has left the premises at the end of an open house. Check all of the rooms and the backyard prior to locking the doors. 

There are many other very important safety ideas available from the National Association of REALTORS® Safety Program available free online at www.realtor.org/about_nar/safety. GBAR urges every broker to review this important material and share it with their agents at their next office meeting.
Exercise Caution at Open Houses
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has announced its newest domain name, .realestate. On September 18, NAR, through its partnership with Second Generation, Ltd., will launch the .realestate domain to individual REALTORS®, firms and boards of NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) for an exclusive 60-day pre-sale period.

As .realestate is an unrestricted top-level domain, this provides you with the opportunity to get your company or brokerage name before someone else does. Standard .realestate domains will be available for $69/year. A list of premium domains and pricing will be available in late August. Act fast because on November 26, .realestate domains will be internationally available to the general public.

In order to get .realestate domains during the member pre-sale, you must have an active .realtor™ domain. Your .realtor™ domain can be a firm or an individual REALTOR® domain. Agents who are members of NAR currently can acquire a .realtor domain for free for the first year, and $39.95 in subsequent years. Firm domain names should be the full firm name as it appears in your office record. For brokerages, the cost is $79 per year from inception. 
New .realestate Domain Launches Soon
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has released it’s 2018 Profile of International Transactions in U.S. Residential Real Estate. This report is an in depth look at foreign buyers and sellers, the countries they are moving to and from, how much they are spending and what they are looking for. Overall, the report found that foreign buyers and recent immigrants accounted for 8 percent of the $1.6 trillion in existing home sales, a decrease from 10 percent during the 12-month period that ended March 2017.

“After a surge in 2017, we saw a decrease in foreign activity in the housing market in the latest year, bringing us closer to the levels seen in 2016,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a press release. “Inventory shortages continue to drive up prices and sustained job creation and historically low interest rates mean that foreign buyers are now competing with domestic residents for the same, limited supply of homes.”

Some of the key findings of the report indicate that:
 
• Foreign buyers purchased $121.0 billion of residential property from April 2017—March 2018, a decrease from $153 billion during the previous 12-month period (April 2016—March 2017). 
• Foreign buyers continued to purchase properties at a higher price point compared with all existing home buyers: among existing home buyers, the median price was $249,300, whereas properties purchased by foreign buyers sold for a median price of $292,400.
• The major foreign buyers were China ($30.4B), Canada ($10.5B), the United Kingdom ($7.3B), India ($7.2B), and Mexico ($4.2B).

If you’re looking to take advantage of this sizeable market of international buyers and sellers, GBAR is offering two elective courses for the Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) Designation.  

Our first course, The Americas & International Real Estate on August 21st, introduces real estate professionals to the basic skills and knowledge necessary to facilitate international transactions with clients in Canada, the U.S., as well as Central and South America. It is designed to benefit both experienced international professionals as well as those just getting started. Our second CIPS elective course on October 29th focuses on Europe & International Real Estate and teaches the principles and knowledge you need to work with European clients. 
NAR Report Examines Market for International Home Buyers and Investors
We have extended the deadline to submit a nomination for 2019 REALTOR® leadership positions to Monday, August 20th. We are seeking REALTORS® who have the knowledge, passion and communication skills to be an industry advocate and voice for fellow REALTORS® to help bring our association to the next level in 2019. If you or know someone you know has these traits, please consider submitting a Candidate Nomination Form for yourself or a colleague.

There are several elected leadership positions available for 2019, including the offices of treasurer, vice president and president-elect, as well as six seats for two-year director terms. We also are seeking candidates to serve on the boards of directors for GBREB, MAR and NAR. It’s our strong desire that the association's leadership reflects the diversity of business models and licensee population we serve.

To learn more, access the qualifications and duties of all elected leadership positions and our online Candidate Nomination Form.
 
2019 REALTOR® Leadership Nominations Deadline Extended
On July 31, the U.S. Senate approved a bill to keep the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) operating for four more months. The NFIP was set to expire that same day, and previously had an extension approved by the U.S. House of Representatives. Following these votes, President Donald Trump signed the bill into law, extending the program until November 30, 2018.

“We applaud lawmakers for taking this needed action to prevent disruptions to closings in thousands of communities across the country,” said Elizabeth Mendenhall, president of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) in a statement. “Although the program is now extended through Nov. 30, the NFIP is in desperate need of reforms that will make the program solvent and sustainable for the long term. The National Association of REALTORS® will continue fighting for these reforms.”

REALTORS® have been urging extension of the program for months. Nearly 125,000 REALTORS®—about 15 percent of the NAR membership—sent letters to their members of Congress in support of the extension.

For more detailed information about the NFIP, visit NAR’s webpage here.
 
President Trump Signs Flood Insurance Extension
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently published its 2018 REALTORS® Member Profile, a random study of NAR’s membership based on a variety of economic and demographic characteristics as well as business practices. 

Overall, the total number of REALTORS® rose from 1.22 million in March 2017 to 1.30 million in April 2018. The report showed that the overall median age of REALTORS® has risen from 53 to 54 this past year, however as recently as 2015, the median age of a REALTOR® was 57. This recent drop in age may be attributed both to members retiring and to new younger entrants to the business including that 33 percent of REALTORS® were over 60 years old and five percent were less than 30, slightly up from last year. 

Additionally, for the third year in a row, inventory has plagued members across the country as 35 percent of REALTORS® cited finding the right property as the biggest challenge facing potential buyers.
“A familiar story lingers from last year, as limited inventory continues to plague many housing markets across the country. For the fifth year in a row, the difficulty finding the right property has surpassed the difficulty in obtaining a mortgage as the most cited reason limiting potential homebuyers,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun in a news release about the report. 

NAR also created an infographic about the profile and the highlights of the report are available here. The full report can be purchased online as well.
NAR Report Details Growth in Membership
Last week, the National Association of REALTORS®(NAR) issued a scam alert regarding an email phishing attempt. Please see below for details regarding this scam and how you can protect yourself from scams like these.

If you receive an email appearing to be under the REALTOR® Party banner, it is not from NAR. The email is a solicitation to help "Jim" with a financial donation. This solicitation is not from the REALTOR® Party or the National Association of REALTORS®. NAR will never solicit donations for personal or individual charities. All donations go through the REALTORS® Relief Foundation. Please delete this email if you see it. Anyone who received the email or sent money to the link in the email should file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov.

The National Association of REALTORS® urges its members and state and local REALTOR® associations to be on high alert for email and online fraud.

For more information on cyberscams and cybersecurity best practices, visit these resources:
Data Privacy and Security
Risk Management
Internet Security Best Practices
REALTOR® Safety Articles
Combat Real Estate Cyberthreats
Wire Fraudsters Targeting Real Estate Transactions
Protecting Your Business and Your Clients from Cyberfraud
Scam Alert: Email Phishing Advisory from NAR
Sales of single-family homes and condominiums remained historically strong in June but were unable to keep pace with year ago levels due to stubbornly low inventory levels and steadily appreciating home values, according to data issued today by the Greater Boston Association of REALTORS® (GBAR).

The single-family detached home market experienced a softening in sales in June as 1,822 homes were sold compared to 1,942 homes sold in June 2017, which was a record high for the month. Despite this 6.2 percent decline, this was the fifth highest sales volume on record for the month of June in Greater Boston and reflects a near 50 percent increase in home sales over the number of homes sold in May.  The condo market experienced a more modest decline in sales of 2.3 percent, as the 1,342 condos sold last month fell short of the June 2017 total of 1,374 units sold. This is the seventh highest sales total on record for the month of June and a healthy 20 percent improvement from the previous month.

“The fundamentals of a healthy housing market remain in place,” stated GBAR President Marie Presti, broker-owner of The Presti Group in Newton and Stoneham.  “We simply lack enough homes to sell to satisfy current buyer demand.  That’s led to some slowing in sales activity over the prior month, but it’s also helping to shorten market time and boost home values, making this an optimum time to sell for those considering doing so,” she observed.  

In June, median selling prices once again rose to new record-high monthly figures in both markets. Among detached single-family homes, the median sales price rose 7.1 percent to $652,500 this June, up from a median sales price of $692,250 in June 2017, marking the fifteenth consecutive month the median home selling price has climbed on a year-to-year basis.  Likewise, in the condo market, the median sales price increased to $575,000, which is a 10.6 increase from a median selling price of $520,000 in June 2017.  Last month’s gain represents the ninth consecutive month the median selling prices for condominiums has risen on an annual basis in Greater Boston.

Today’s home prices speak to the desirability to live and work in the metropolitan Boston area, Presti asserts.  “We are seeing little in the way of sticker shock.  Rather, buyers and investors alike remain bullish on Boston,” she said.  

One key factor fueling the appreciation in property values is the supply of homes for sale.  Even though new listings for detached single-family homes improved 5 percent from last June, active listings for single-family homes fell a modest 4.6 percent to 3,059 homes, down from the3,208 active listings in June 2017.  Meanwhile, active listings of condos rose on a year-over-year basis from 1,975 in June 2017 to 2,007 units for sale last month, which is an increase of 1.6 percent, but new listings for condominiums slid nearly 3 percent from the previous June.

As a result, homes are selling more quickly than at the same time last year. Single family homes are remaining on market for just 33 days, which is a 10.8 percent drop from last June’s figure of 37 days to off market. The condo market also experienced a drop, falling 9.4 percent from 32 days to off market in June 2017 to 29 days this year.

“Unfortunately, there is no quick fix that will solve the current shortage in homes for sale, and if it continues to persist it could begin to negatively impact our economy,” Presti cautioned.  “We call upon our state leaders and the Massachusetts Legislature to pass measures like H. 4290 that would simplify the process for communities to modify zoning regulations to allow for increased production of new housing, as well as approve other initiatives aimed at creating more housing units in the Commonwealth.  Without action, we risk losing residents to outmigration and becoming less attractive to businesses that want to relocate, build, and grow their operations here,” she added.  

For additional information regarding June 2018 Greater Boston Housing statistics, including our new interactive housing market data dashboard, visit the Monthly Housing Market Reports page
Greater Boston Housing Market Remains Hot in June
There are several laws and regulations that require certain transaction documents to be retained for a specified amount of time. They are as follows:

Client Funds

State Regulation CMR 254 CMR 3.00 (10)(b) requires every broker to keep “a record of funds deposited in his/ her escrow accounts, which records shall clearly indicate the date and from whom the broker received the money, date deposited along with the source of the money and check number, date of withdrawal with the name of the person receiving such withdrawal, and other pertinent information concerning the transaction and shall clearly show for whose account the money is deposited and to whom the money belongs. Every broker shall also keep a copy of each check deposited into and withdrawn from the escrow account for a period of three years from the date of issuance.” 

Agency Disclosure


State Regulation CMR 254 CMR 3.00 requires brokers to retain the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure, as well as Consent to Dual Agency Disclosures and Designated Agency Disclosures for a period of three years from the date of the notice.

Rentals


State Regulation 254 CMR 7.00 (2) requires the following items to be retained for a period of 3 years: the Tenant Fee Disclosure, from the date on which the notice was provided; “all rental listings and written documents that demonstrate the availability of an apartment at the time it is advertised for rental” from the date on which the apartment was rented; and “a copy of any check, money order, and written cash receipt for any fees, deposits, or payments made by a prospective tenant or actual tenant” from the date of issuance.

Lead Paint

Federal Regulation 24 CFR § 35.175 requires brokers to retain the Lead Paint Form for three years. Additionally, HUD recommends that, “given the liability issues associated with lead-based paint,” the following forms should be kept indefinitely: Receipt of Lead Hazard Information Pamphlet; copies of the Lead Hazard Evaluation and Reduction Notices; Evaluation, Lead Hazard Reduction and Clearance Reports; and ongoing Maintenance Records.

Regardless of the specific retention requirements noted above, it is a good idea to keep all transaction documents for seven years. The statute of limitations for most contract actions is six years, so you want to make sure you retain documents along enough to be able to defend yourself, if necessary. Certain documents, such as corporate records, partnership agreements, audit reports, general ledgers, tax returns, and deeds should be kept permanently. It is a good idea to work with attorney and/or accountant to develop and maintain a record retention policy. In most cases, it is acceptable to store these documents electronically, as long as you are safely and securely backing up all of your data.

Additionally, please see this record retention schedule for a overview of how long you should keep different documents.
How Long Must My Office Retain Documents?

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SRES Designation (Seniors Real Estate Specialist)
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
8:30am
 
CE Webinar- Disclosures...Disclosures...Disclosures
9:00am
 
GBAR New Member Orientation (Randolph, MA)
The Lantana
9:00am
 
Ziplogix Training
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
10:00am
 
Rentals The Right Way!
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
8:30am