Saturday May 30th 2015

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What’s being said in the media: April 2015 Closed Sales

Here are the articles and posts that resulted in the release of our April 2015 Closed Sales Report. We’ll continue to update this post as more articles come in.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Mass. home sales down, but median prices up
Worcester Business Journal

Why Did Massachusetts Home Sales Drop 7.6% in April?
Boston.com

Massachusetts Home Sales Down In April
CBS Boston

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lack of Greater Boston homes to buy reignites bidding wars
Boston Globe

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Low Inventory Pushed Massachusetts Closed Home Sales Down in April

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® reported today that single-family home sales in April were down close to six percent compared to the same time last year as a shortage of homes for sale impacted the number of closings. Demand for available single-family homes pushed prices up, while condominium sales and prices were also down in April.

April 2015 Closed Sales Release

Video Podcast with MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald

Highlights from the release:

  • April single-family home sales down -5.9% over last year. (3,10 sales in 2015 from 3,301 sales in April 2014)
  • April single-family median prices went UP year-over-year (to $326,500 in 2015 from $319,250 in April 2014)
  • April condo sales down -12.6% and median prices down -4.4% ($305,000)
  • Inventory in April down -19.2% to 17,984 and condominiums available down -23.8% to 4,627
  • SF listings added to the market in April UP 10.4% over last year. (9,941 from 9,003 in 2014)
  • Condo listings added to the market UP 11.4% over last year. (3,476 from 3,119 in 2014)

SFapr CCapr

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The Wednesday Word: Support Land Use and Zoning Reforms- The H.O.M.E. Bill

This week, we review another REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill issue: Land Use and Zoning Reform. Be sure to read up on all of the Wednesday Word blog posts so you are prepared to meet with your legislator on Wednesday, June 10th.

Support Land Use and Zoning Reforms: The H.O.M.E. Bill

ISSUE: Due to the short supply of housing in Massachusetts, potential homeowners continue to face increasing housing costs. One of the many issues driving the reduced housing stock is the presence of barriers to production, many of which are found in current zoning laws.

The Legislation: S.119 An Act improving housing opportunities and the Massachusetts economy

Sponsor: Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport)

Legislative Actions to Date: Referred to Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Businesses

What the Bill Does:

Filed in conjunction with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board, S.119 seeks to make numerous changes to Massachusetts zoning laws. Below are some of the proposed changes to the law.

  • The H.O.M.E. Bill promotes smart growth by requiring that cluster development be allowed by right in residential zoning districts, at the density permitted in the underlying zoning district.  Additionally, these sections prohibit cities and towns from requiring a “proof permit” plan in connection with a cluster development application.
  • The bill also promotes multifamily housing construction by requiring that cities and towns permit multifamily development by right on at least 1.5% of the community’s developable land area that is suitable for multifamily residential.  This section would also establish a minimum density of 20 units per acre for by right multifamily development.
  • Promotes affordable in-fill housing by requiring that accessory dwelling units (“ADUs”), sometimes referred to as in-law apartments, be permitted by right in all single-family residential zoning districts.  These sections also prohibit zoning ordinances and by-laws from unreasonably regulating the location, dimensions, or design of an accessory dwelling unit on a lot.
  • The bill seeks to ease the burden on property owners to obtain dimensional relief for minor improvements by creating a two-tiered variance Under this structure, the existing substantial hardship standard would apply only to use variances and a less burdensome practical difficulty standard would apply to all other variances.
  • The bill replaces the supermajority vote requirements for variances and special permits with a simple majority They also establish that the granting of a variance or the reversal of any order or decision of any administrative official would require a majority vote of the members of the board then in office.
  • Creates consistent wetlands requirements by restoring uniformity across Massachusetts by prohibiting local wetlands requirements unless: (a) the local regulations are more restrictive than those established by state law; and (b) DEP approves the local regulations upon a finding that they are scientifically-based restrictions, are necessary to protect unusual local resources, and do not conflict with the State Wetlands Protection Act and DEP regulations.
  • Creates consistent sewage disposal requirements by establishing a DEP review and approval process of local sewage disposal systems regulations to ensure they are scientifically-based restrictions, necessary to protect unusual local resources and do not conflict with Title V.

Action Needed: Ask your legislator the support S. 119 and urge the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business to report the legislation out of committee favorably.

Remember to check out the Day on the Hill Facebook event page and visit the Government Affairs page for all your DOH updates. Finally, don’t forget to check out MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald’s Day on the Hill video so you can get the inside scoop on the 30th Annual REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill!

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The Wednesday Word: Oppose Mandatory Energy Scoring

REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill is only 3 weeks away so be sure to catch up on all the “Wednesday Word” Day on the Hill Briefings. Remember to check out the Day on the Hill Facebook event page and visit the Government Affairs page for all your DOH updates. Finally, don’t forget to check out MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald’s Day on the Hill video so you can get the inside scoop on the 30th Annual REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill!

This week we review Mandatory Energy Scoring and why REALTORS® oppose this bill.

Oppose Mandatory Energy Scoring

ISSUE: Mandatory energy audits at or prior to the transfer of property can disrupt sales and therefore have a negative impact on the Massachusetts housing economy. Additionally, requiring energy efficiency scoring on homes in Massachusetts will stigmatize older homes causing a substantial decline in value.

The Legislation: S.1761 An Act relative to home energy efficiency
Sponsor: Senator Benjamin Downing (D-Pittsfield)
Legislative Action to Date: Referred to the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy

What the Bill Does:
This bill seeks to require sellers or their agents to perform a Mass Save energy audit prior to listing a home for sale and disclose to any prospective buyer the information in the energy audit at the time of the listing. Additionally, the bill commissions the design and implementation of an energy scoring and labeling system.

Action Needed: Ask your legislator to oppose this legislation.

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For more information on Day on the Hill:

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Social Media Monday: Why businesses should take advantage of Facebook video

 

KIEV, UKRAINE - May 20, 2013: A social media logotype collection of well-known social network brand's printed on stickers and placed on modern computer keyboard.

KIEV, UKRAINE – May 20, 2013: A social media logotype collection of well-known social network brand’s printed on stickers and placed on modern computer keyboard.

There’s a shift underway on social media, and everything’s going visual. According to a report put out by Facebook earlier this year, video in particular has been the most successful content on its site.

If you need some stats to back up this claim, consider these:

  • The number of video posts per person has increased 75% globally and 94% in the U.S.
  • Since June 2014, Facebook has averaged more than 1 billion video views every day
  • Globally, the amount of video from people and brands in News Feed has increased 3.6x year-over-year
  • More than 50% of people who come back to Facebook every day in the US watch at least one video daily and 76% of people in the US who use Facebook say they tend to discover the videos they watch on Facebook.

Perhaps more important to business owners, however, is the fact that a native Facebook upload post (meaning one uploaded directly to Facebook, not a link to a YouTube or other video host) will receive  an average boost in reach of 135%, according to a study done by Socialbakers. This is significant if you’ve been disheartened by reduced reach due to Facebook’s recent changes to the algorithm. Couple a native Facebook video upload with a small budget allotted for “boosted” posts, and you might see your engagement skyrocket.

REALTORS, let us know if you’ve experimented with Facebook video. In your experience, is a native upload more successful than a YouTube link? We want to hear in the comments below!

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The Wednesday Word – Support Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief And Debt Cancellation

This is the third installment of the Wednesday Word blog posts that will discuss the 2015-2016 Legislative Issues in preparation for REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill. This week, the Wednesday Word address the issue of Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief and Debt Cancellation and reasons why supporting this issue will benefit the real estate industry, homeownership, and private property rights.

Support Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief And Debt Cancellation

ISSUE: The general tax rule that applies to debt forgiven during a short sale is that the amount forgiven, sometimes referred to as phantom income, is treated as taxable income to the borrower. This results in homeowners who are unable to afford their mortgages having to pay taxes on income they never received.

The Legislation: S. 1521 An Act relative to discharge of indebtedness of principal residence from gross income

Sponsor: Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford)

Legislative Actions to Date: Referred to the Joint Committee on Revenue

What the Bill Does:

This bill would allow homeowners to complete loan modifications, short sales and foreclosures for which they have debt forgiven without making them liable to pay state taxes on the that debt. This bill would mirror the federal law, the Mortgage Debt Relief Act of 2007, to allow taxpayers to apply for this exclusion on their state tax return as well.

Action Needed: Ask your legislator to support S. 1521 and urge the Joint Committee on Revue to report the legislation out of committee favorably.

As we approach Day on the Hill, be sure to get all the information about the event by reading The MAR Report, checking out the MAR facebook page, and visiting the MAR Government Affairs page . Also, stay tuned for a special Day on the Hill Preparation video starring MAR Staff.

(Please note: This blog post was prepared by MAR Legal Staff: Michael McDonagh, General Counsel; Ashley Stolba, Associate Counsel; and Justin Davidson, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Edited by Christine Howe, Legal Affairs & Finance Administrative Assistant)

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