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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
 

Education & Events

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Ziplogix Training
Sep 19, 2018
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
68 Main Street
Reading, MA
Network To Success
Sep 19, 2018
Lucky Strike Social
325 Revolution Drive
Somerville, MA
Real Estate Safety Matters: Safe Business = Smart Business
Sep 20, 2018
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
Three Center Plaza
Mezzanine Suite
Boston, MA
REALTOUR - Southern Norfolk Region (Randolph, MA)
Sep 24, 2018
Lantana
43 Scanlon Dr
Randolph, MA
REALTOUR - Metro Boston Region (Somerville, MA)
Sep 25, 2018
Holiday Inn Boston/Bunker Hill
30 Washington St.
Somerville, MA
GBREB Young Leaders After Hours
Sep 25, 2018
100 Summer Street
Amenities Center
Boston, MA
REALTOUR - Central Middlesex Region (Concord, MA)
Oct 01, 2018
Concord's Colonial Inn
48 Monument Square
Concord, MA
REALTOUR - Eastern Middlesex Region (Wakefiled)
Oct 02, 2018
Sheraton Wakefield Boston Hotel & Conf. Center
1 Audubon Rd.
Wakefield, MA
REALTOUR - Metro West Region (Natick, MA)
Oct 03, 2018
Crowne Plaza
1360 Worcester St.
Natick, MA
 

Calendar

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Event
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Ziplogix Training
GBAR Member Training & Service Center
10:00am
 
Network To Success
Lucky Strike Social
5:30pm
 
Real Estate Safety Matters: Safe Business = Smart Business
Greater Boston Real Estate Board
10:30am
 
REALTOUR - Southern Norfolk Region (Randolph, MA)
Lantana
9:30am
 
REALTOUR - Metro Boston Region (Somerville, MA)
Holiday Inn Boston/Bunker Hill
9:30am
 
GBREB Young Leaders After Hours
100 Summer Street
5:30pm