Upcoming Events

Boston CRE Summit on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
REFA Charitable Golf & Tennis Tournament
Dedham Polo And Country Club
Westin Copley Place

REFA invites you to submit nominations for the Swain Award to be presented at the 2021 REFA Gala on October 26th

The Robert S. Swain Jr. Distinguished Service Award is an annual recognition of an outstanding contribution made to the real estate industry either by lifetime example or specific achievement. 
This year’s Gala will be a celebration of coming together and supporting each other and our community through a challenging time.  We recognize that so many have done so much. 
At REFA, and through the Swain Award, we want to recognize individuals, companies or groups in the CRE industry who have made a significant impact in the last year managing through the pandemic.  This could come in the form of assisting with COVID logistics, testing and vaccine rollout, offering housing or rent relief, financial contributions, above and beyond support for employees, or anything else that merits recognition.

Submit your REFA Gala Honoree Nomination

REFA Webinar Recap

The Impact of COVID-19: One Year Later
April 29th, 2021

Presented by:

Paul Ayoub, Chair, Nutter

Leslie Cohen, Principal, COO, Head of Asset Management, Samuels & Associates

Jonathan Davis, Founder & CEO, The Davis Companies

Robin Lidington, Managing Director, Wells Fargo Bank

Robert Palter, Global Co-Head, Real Estate Practice, McKinsey & Company

Navjot Singh, Managing Partner, Boston Office, McKinsey & Company

John Wolff, SVP/Real Estate Market Executive, Commercial Real Estate Banking, Bank of America

If you missed it, you can view the webinar recording here.

Top Takeaways from our Speakers:

Click here to download the printable version.

Return to Work

  • The results of “the great working from home experiment” have been better than expected. 70-90% of employees like working from home and are productive at home, despite the challenges
  • However, the reality of remote work is that it has also made us more distant and is hard on younger colleagues, who are missing out on mentorship and training opportunities.
  • Moving forward, employees want to be together, but they also want the flexibility to work remotely.
  • Much of today’s office space will be reduced or redesigned for more collaboration and to meet the needs of tenants and workers in a hybrid world.
  • The race is on to find collaboration tools and technology to support hybrid working models.
  • Companies are considering different models, such as having multiple microhubs, having employees work fully remotely and leasing flex space only, or having a partially remote workforce and multiple hubs.

Banking Industry and Labor Capacity

  • The massive scale of the federal fiscal and monetary response to the crisis has been a welcome surprise to the real estate industry.
  • The life sciences market in Cambridge and Boston has seen tremendous growth in response to the pandemic.
  • The rebound in the capital markets has been strong, which has helped the banking and real estate sectors with liquidity which has helped restore/maintain asset values.
  • The economy may not be prepared for the consumer demand that is coming as a result of vaccines, pent-up demand, accumulated savings, and rising consumer confidence. Goods shortages, capacity and labor shortages are occurring and the possibility for sustained rising inflation exists. There will be increasing competition for CRE professionals in the coming years.

Residential, Retail, and Parking

  • The residential market in Boston over the past year was negatively impacted by the pandemic and the related school closings and decrease in international travel, but the market is now showing positive signs.
  • Many restaurants and retail outfits have closed, but the relief offered to tenants last year is allowing some tenants to reopen, and we are starting to see new retail tenant deals.
  • The industry must figure out how parking will work for office tenants moving forward in the hybrid model.


  • Panelists predicted that this year will be a challenging time for owners and operators of office real estate. Net office demand will likely continue to decline and vacancy rates will rise. This trend is jarring in light of the robust economic growth that’s being predicted, but may be the new normal, at least in the near term.
  • There was a movement pre-pandemic toward more flexible leasing arrangements, which the pandemic accelerated.
  • The bulk of leasing being transacted now is short-term renewals because tenants do not want to make long-term commitments.
  • The desire to “reimagine the workplace” will increase the cost of leases and decrease lease renewal rates.

Lasting Positives and Lessons Learned From the COVID-19 Era:

  • A renewed and greater push for diversity, equity and inclusion in the commercial real estate industry. We are seeing the promise of meaningful change in this area.
  • A deeper sense of corporate responsibility. The inequality gap was vastly accelerated by the pandemic. Companies that focus on social causes, giving back to the community, and the health and well-being of their employees will have a competitive advantage going forward.
  • The pandemic has produced a shift in personal preference in behavior. Many people are choosing to retire early or wish to relocate. These are challenges for the real estate industry, but also present opportunities for the next generation.
  • Communication with employees, colleagues, tenants, and residents is essential to keeping people calm, engaged, and informed.

This update is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. Under the rules of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, this material may be considered as advertising.

REFA COVID-19 Webinar Takeaways


A one-stop-shop

The Massachusetts Landlord Survival Guide  is an invaluable tool to help new and longtime owners succeed. Simple, fast and an informative legal resource, the Landlord Survival Guide is the source for owners to navigate the common pitfalls of being in the rental business. Covering topics from fair housing, discrimination, evictions, owners duties, tenant rights, and more, this book is the ultimate resource with all the information you need in one place.
New Landlord Survival Guide

New England Real Estate Journal - March 2021

New England Real Estate Journal - February 2021

Massachusetts Vaccine Information Resources

Massachusetts is currently Phase 1 of the MA COVID-19 vaccine distribution timeline and Phase 2 is projected to start in February.  Phase 3 is projected to start in April and the majority of residents will fall into this phase.  

Visit When can I get the COVID-19 Vaccine?to find out if you are eligible and where you can be vaccinated. As Massachusetts moves through the prioritization phases, additional information on where, when, and how to get the vaccine will be announced publicly and posted on the Covid-19 website.  This page is updated frequently.

For information on where you can get the vaccine based on your eligibility status, visit COVID-19 vaccine locations for individuals currently eligible to be vaccinated | Mass.gov.  The webpage includes a map of COVID-19 vaccination locations for individuals currently eligible to be vaccinated. Each location includes information on how to schedule an appointment.  At this time, the Department of Public Health is not scheduling appointments directly. 

For other Frequently Asked Questions including vaccine safety, eligibility and other common questions, please visit COVID-19 Vaccine Frequently Asked Questions | Mass.gov.

Information for COVID vaccine providers including vaccine guidance, prioritization and trainings can be found at www.mass.gov/CovidVaccineProviders


Vaccine Information

New England Real Estate Journal - December 2020

New England Real Estate Journal - November 2020
REFA Membership Snapshot


Did you know that you may be eligible for state assistance with paying your rent or mortgage? If you have lost your job or income due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Housing and Community Development has programs for low-income renters and homeowners that will help you with past due rent or mortgage payments, as well as future housing costs. 

Visit mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp  to get connected with regional agencies that can help you apply for funds and stay in your home.   In addition, DHCD has also provided a list of frequently asked questions  for owners about accepting state rental assistance. 
Summary of the Eviction Diversion Initiative:
The Eviction and Diversion Initiative (EDI) is designed keep people safely housed during the pandemic as we approach the end of the Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium. EDI contains $171 million in resources that include a $100 million commitment for RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition), with an increased benefit cap of $10,000, and $13 million for legal assistance for low-income tenants and owners as they navigate the eviction process. The initiative also includes a commitment to streamline the RAFT application process, provide additional support for the regional housing administering agencies, and allow small owners to apply directly for RAFT benefits.  
Eviction Diversion Information

New England Real Estate Journal - October 2020

Become a REFA Member!


15 for 12 Membership Promotion:

Join REFA today for 2021 and receive the rest of this year for free!



Here are just a few of the benefits associated with a REFA membership:


Advocacy: Through the Greater Boston Real Estate Board’s Advocacy Group, REFA represents members’ interests on the city, state, and national level. Click here to view our Government Affairs page.


Committee Involvement: Take advantage of your membership by joining one of REFA's many committees. Our committees continue to meet via video meetings.


DEI InitiativeREFA is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and working towards creating a more diverse commercial real estate community. For more information, please visit our DEI resource page.


EducationREFA holds over 30 programs a year, featuring keynote presentations and panel discussions featuring some of the industry’s most prominent leaders. All of our educational events are now being held as webinars. To learn more, click here to view our events calendar. If you have any interest or questions in upcoming events, feel free to contact me directly!


Industry Job Board: The REFA Job Board is an online tool to attract top talent by posting opportunities.


Networking Opportunities: While in-person events are on hold for the time being, you can look forward to quality networking opportunities through committees, educational programs, the charitable golf tournament, networking receptions, and the annual REFA Gala.


Online Membership Directory: Find other REFA members and their contact information with our online membership directory.


Social Media: We are also active on Social Media – Now that you’re a member, join our LinkedIn Group and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.


Become a REFA Member!


Questions about membership? Email Alex Levine at alevine@gbreb.com.

15 for 12 REFA Membership Promotion

Upcoming Events

Boston CRE Summit on Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity
REFA Charitable Golf & Tennis Tournament
Dedham Polo And Country Club
Westin Copley Place