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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
What are some of the main things to watch out for with escrow accounts?

Three of the most common escrow account pitfalls our members encounter are:

a. Commingling of Funds.
Funds cannot be transferred from the escrow account to an operating account until the transaction has closed. We often hear of members who preemptively transfer funds from their escrow to their operating account so that they can bring a check for the co-broker at closing. Even if it is a near certainty that the transaction will close as scheduled, this is an impermissible commingling of funds. There is nothing in 254 CMR 3.10(a) that would prohibit the disbursement of funds directly from the escrow account after the closing has occurred. 

b. Having Non-Broker Signatories.
The Board interprets 254 CMR 3.10(a) as allowing for only brokers to keep and maintain escrow accounts. Neither salespeople nor unlicensed individuals, such as a bookkeeper, may have check signing authority. 

c. Escrow Accounting:
The broker is responsible for keeping a proper account of the escrow account. This requires not only tracking all deposits and distributions, but also maintaining copies of each check deposited into and withdrawn from the escrow account for a period of three (3) years from the date of issuance. The check register must be kept for a period of ten (10) years.
Escrow Account Pitfalls to Avoid
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
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
 

Education & Events

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CIPS- The Americas And International Real Estate
Aug 21, 2018
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Three Center Plaza Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
RENE Certification Course (Real Estate Negotiation Expert)
Sep 06, 2018 - Sep 07, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
CE Webinar- Fair Housing
Sep 10, 2018
Green Designation
Sep 12, 2018 - Sep 13, 2018
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Three Center Plaza
Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR Designation)
Sep 17, 2018 - Sep 18, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Ziplogix Training
Sep 19, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Real Estate Safety Matters: Safe Business = Smart Business
Sep 20, 2018
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Three Center Plaza
Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
CRB Designation: Building a Business Plan That Gets Results
Oct 04, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
2018 GBAR ROADSHOW
Oct 11, 2018
Marriott Burlington
One Burlington Mall Road
Burlington, MA
 

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CIPS- The Americas And International Real Estate
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
8:30am
 
RENE Certification Course (Real Estate Negotiation Expert)
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
8:00am
 
CE Webinar- Fair Housing
9:00am
 
Green Designation
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
9:00am
 
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR Designation)
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
8:30am
 
Ziplogix Training
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
10:00am