GBREB NEWS

Monday 3/18 & Tuesday 3/19 Public Hearing On Wetlands By-Law and Real Estate Sales Tax

The Boston City Council will be holding two public hearings next week of interest to the real estate industry.    Both hearings will be held at Boston City Hall in the Iannella Chamber, 1 City Hall Square 5th Floor.  Members of the public are welcome to attend.

WHAT:  Wetlands ByLaw
DATE:  Monday, March 18th
TIME:  11:30
Docket #0250 - An ordinance protecting local wetlands and promoting climate change adaptation in the City of Boston.
SPONSORS:  Councilors Wu, O'Malley, Flaherty, Edwards, Essaibi-George, Flynn, Janey, McCarthy, Zakim and Campbell

WHAT: Real Estate Transfer Tax
DATE:  Tuesday, March 19th
TIME:  2:00 p.m.
Docket #0187 - A hearing regarding a petition for a special law re: An Act Authorizing the City of Boston to Establish an Investor and Commercial Properties Transfer Fee.
SPONSORS:  Edwards, Janey, Wu, Ciommo, Essaibi-George, Flynn, Garrison, O’Malley, Zakim and Campbell

Boston Wetlands, Real Estate Sales Tax Hearing
GBREB NEWS

The Greater Boston Real Estate Board Scholarship has been established to provide scholarships ranging from $500 to $5,000 to graduating high school seniors who reside in Boston or the Greater Boston area.

This scholarship will be guaranteed for two years.  Applicants will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Demonstrated Academic Achievement
  • Leadership Experience and Extra-Curricular Involvement
  • Demonstrated Financial Need
  • Short Answer Response and Essay Response

In order to apply for this scholarship you MUST:

  • Be a class of 2019 graduating high school senior
  • Reside in Boston or the Greater Boston area (click here again to check to you live in this region) or see the list below:

Acton, Arlington, Ashland, Avon, Bedford, Bellingham, Belmont, Boxboro, Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Canton, Chelsea, Concord, Dedham, Dover, Everett, Foxboro, Framingham, Franklin, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Mansfield, Maynard, Medfield, Medford, Medway, Melrose, Millis, Milton, Natick, Needham, Newton, Norfolk, Norwood, North Reading, Randolph, Reading, Revere, Sharon, Sherborn, Somerville, Stoneham, Stoughton, Stow, Sudbury, Wakefield, Walpole, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Wilmington, Winchester, Winthrop, Woburn, and Wrentham. 

  • Submit a 2019-2020 FAFSA
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

The deadline to apply is April 1st.

 

 

GBREB Foundation Scholarship Deadline April 1

Massachusetts recently adopted a new law taxing and regulating the short-term rental market. The following information should help REALTORS® navigate the short-term rental market under these new laws and regulations. The law, H3454, An Act Regulating and Insuring Short-Term Rentals, governs short-term rentals in Massachusetts. These are defined to include occupancy for a period of not more than 31 consecutive calendar days of accommodations normally used for sleeping and living purposes, including without limitation an apartment, house, cottage, condominium unit or furnished accommodation other than a hotel, motel, lodging house or bed-and-breakfast establishment (all of which are already subject to regulation). Traditional tenancies at will are not covered, nor is the law meant to legitimize short-terms rentals by tenants in violation of their leases.

Short Term Rentals Member Advisory

2019 Installation of Officers, January 24th

 

GBREB Installation
GBREB NEWS

Massachusetts SJC Upholds Independent 3rd Party Appraisals

In September GBREB filed an Amicus Curiam , or “Friends the Court” brief in the case of Buffalo-Water, LLC V. Fidelity Real Estate Company LLC.  

In this case the two parties reached a contractual agreement on the purchase/sale of commercial property, with the price being established by a 3rd party appraiser. In this case, Buffalo Water did not like the number that the appraiser arrived at for the sale price and sought to extricate themselves from the transaction.

Under Massachusetts law, judicial review of an independent third party appraisal in a transaction like this was limited to cases of fraud, corruption, dishonesty or bad faith. This case is an attempt to create additional categories to discredit the third party appraisal and thwart a transaction.

The issue on appeal in this case  is whether we should modify this common-law rule and allow a judge to invalidate an appraisal intended by the parties to provide a final, binding valuation of a property where there is the appearance of bias, not on the part of the individual who conducted the appraisal, but on the part of the entity that employed the individual appraiser.

On November 26th,  the SJC concluded that the common-law rule established in Eliot v. Coulter, 322 Mass. 86, 91 (1947),  properly balances the need for fair valuations with the need for finality in the appraisal process, and that an appearance of bias alone is insufficient to invalidate an appraisal. Because the allegations in the complaint, if proved, do not warrant a finding of any violation of the agreements setting forth the terms of the appraisal, or a finding of fraud, corruption, dishonesty, or bad faith by the individual appraiser, or a finding of breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by the defendant, the SJC affirmed the Superior Court judge's order allowing the defendant's motion to dismiss.

The Amicus Brief filed on behalf of the Greater Boston Real Estate Board states that the current law should be upheld and that no new categories or exceptions should be created judicially as that is best left to the Massachusetts Legislature.  The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision upheld GBREB's position.

 


 

Court Upholds Independent Appraisals
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
State and Federal lead paint disclosure laws have been on the books for over 20 years and in that time not a lot of changes were made. Yet REALTORS® are still presented with thorny lead paint questions. 

Here’s a rundown of frequent trouble areas:

1. Don’t have a buyer complete a blank lead paint form.       
 
The law requires the seller to complete the Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification Certification form as part of their disclosure obligation to the buyer. This is the opportunity for the seller to tell the buyer what (if anything) they know about lead paint in the home. The buyer then acknowledges the information by initialing and signing the form. Signing a blank form and submitting it along with an offer does not meet the requirements in the law.  

2. For what properties does the seller use the lead paint form?     
  
The form should be used for properties built before 1978. If the seller is unsure about when the property was built, they should contact the local building department. Avoid using the form for homes built in 1978 or after as this can be confusing to the buyer. 

3. What about that antique mantel?           
Occasionally, in a post-1978 home, a seller will let you know that they are aware of the presence of lead paint in some part of the home. The common example is the antique mantle over the fireplace.  In this case, the home is built after 1978 so the form itself is not required. However, the REALTOR® would be required to disclose this information to a buyer. 

4. What about a gut rehab?         
If a property was built before 1978, but had a recently completed rehab, a lead paint form should still be used. In the 1998 case, Piers v. Wheeler, the court found a seller and real estate broker liable for stating that a home was “free of lead” after extensive renovations on the house were done, which included the taking down of walls and ceilings, the removal of partitions, the installation of new plumbing and heating systems, the stripping and refurbishing of wood work, and the renovation of the fireplace. Even after all this renovation, lead was found and a child was lead poisoned. 

5. I received two offers on my listing. One asks for a lead inspection and one is waving the inspection.   

Federal law is clear that the seller is required to provide a potential purchaser with an opportunity to conduct a lead inspection or risk assessment before the purchaser becomes obligated under an offer or contract to purchase. A party selling housing, therefore, may not offer or advertise property as being available only if purchasers will not take advantage of the opportunity to conduct an inspection or risk assessment. A purchaser is not required to conduct an inspection or risk assessment and may waive this opportunity in the course of negotiations with the seller.  The purchaser is entitled to a 10-day period to arrange for and complete the inspection or risk assessment, but the parties may mutually agree to a different period of time. If the purchaser chooses to have an inspection or risk assessment, the seller is not required to pay for the cost of the inspection or risk assessment. Typically, the purchaser will pay, but this point is negotiable.  

For more information on how to properly fill out the lead paint form, please click here.
Don't Get Painted Into a Corner with Missteps on Lead Disclosure Law
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

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YPN Kick-Off Event
The Barking Crab
6:00pm
 
Green Designation
GBAR Member Training And Service Center
9:00am
 
GBAR Broker-Owner Forum
Crowne Plaza
 
GREEN DAY 2
GBAR Member Service & Training Center
 
CE Webinar- Architecture
9:00am