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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?
 

Education & Events

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CIPS Core Course: Transaction Tools
Nov 29, 2017
One Center Plaza
Boston, MA
GBAR YPN And Affiliates Networking Event
Nov 30, 2017
Crowne Plaza- Violet Thorn
1360 Worcester St.
Natick, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics -Live Classroom
Dec 05, 2017
One Center Plaza
Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
2017 GBAR Annual Meeting
Dec 11, 2017
GBAR Member Service & Training Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Installation of 2018 Officers & Directors and Holiday Party
Dec 14, 2017
Marriott- Newton
2345 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation
Dec 18, 2017
Holiday Inn
55 Ariadne Road
Dedham, MA
Real Estate Professional Ethics (Webinar)
Dec 19, 2017
Webinar
Rentals The Right Way!
Jan 09, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
GBAR New Member Orientation (Natick, MA)
Jan 11, 2018
Hampton Inn
319 Speen Street
Natick, MA
 

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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