Friday July 3rd 2015

Stalk Us!

Know Your ‘Good Neighbor’

Suzann Ward (fourth from left) and her volunteers at Breaking Bread Kitchen in Sheffield.

Suzann Ward (fourth from left) and her volunteers at Breaking Bread Kitchen in Sheffield.

On the night of the MAR Professional Award Reception at the SeaCrest Hotel October 5, 2014, Suzann Ward had no idea she was to be recognized by a room full of her peers and fellow REALTORS® for her charity work. She was up against several other worthy REALTORS®, but the Good Neighbor Award went to her that night, with two others receiving honorable mention.

“I was completely surprised,” said Ward, REALTOR® at Barnbrook Realty in Great Barrington. “It felt amazing to be honored in that way, though, and I’m grateful.”

The MAR Good Neighbor Award recognizes REALTORS® who are committed to community activism through volunteer work, educational programs, youth activities, and any other civic or charitable activity that improves the lives of the local community. The award winner receives a grant that goes toward his or her charity.

In Ward’s case, this community activism and volunteer work is at the Breaking Bread Kitchen and Pantry in Sheffield. Breaking Bread is a once weekly community meal, taking place every Thursday of the year at the American Legion in Sheffield. Using the club’s kitchen and dining facilities, area churches and civic groups take turns preparing and hosting a meal for those in the community who need nourishment and friendship. From organizing and managing her fellow volunteers, to cooking and cleaning in the kitchen, Ward’s role at the kitchen takes many different forms. Ward solicits her group of volunteers from local real estate businesses, but she’ll also go to dinner when she’s “off duty.”

“It’s fun,” said Ward. “You walk out of there feeling like you did something for someone who really needs it.”

The grant from MAR went mostly into food resources that the pantry needs on a weekly basis. Every week Ward and her volunteers serve up a soup, salad, entree and dessert, most of it coming from what is left from a local food pantry that day. Around 80 people are served every Thursday night, but more are expected to come in the summer months as it gets warmer.

“The people I think deserve the real recognition are those involved in the set up, serving and cleaning,” said Ward. “They are there for the majority of the time cleaning and preparing. People are so busy these days it’s hard to volunteer time.”

Are you or someone you know a REALTOR® that volunteers his or her time to a local charity? Nominate yourself or someone else today. Good Neighbor Award winners receive a grant for their charity that goes directly back into serving the Massachusetts communities REALTORS® care about. The deadline to enter is Monday, August 3, 2015.

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REALTOR® Association Testify on Behalf of Massachusetts Homeowners at Two Separate State House Hearings Today

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MAR General Counsel Mike McDonagh and MAR President Corinne Fitzgerald testify in two hearings at the State House.

It will be a busy day for the volunteer leaders of MAR as they will be appearing today before two separate hearings at the Massachusetts State House. The outcome of these proposed bills could both negatively impact home values in two separate ways.

The first hearing is in support of Senate 1521, An Act relative to discharge of indebtedness of principal residence from gross income. This bill would bring relief for homeowners who are forgiven some portion of mortgage debt and greatly assist homeowners in avoiding foreclosure. Currently, a seller who goes through the short sale process, would be required to pay tax on the phantom income (the portion of mortgage debt that has been forgiven by the lender), even though no cash has changed hands.

REALTOR® volunteer leadership will also testify in OPPOSITION to Senate 1761 “An Act relative to home energy efficiency.” This bill would require mandatory energy audits and an energy rating at or prior to the transfer of property. Not only would this requirement disrupt sales and have a negative impact on the Massachusetts housing economy, but also stigmatize older and historic homes causing a substantial decline in value.

To see a list of MAR’s 2015 legislative priorities, click here.

Read the entire press release.

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Hurry! Last Day for the MAR Conference & Tradeshow Early Bird!

Connect_facebook headerToday is the last day to register for the MAR Conference & Tradeshow with the Early Bird price of $130. You won’t want to miss this year’s event at the DoubleTree Hilton in Danvers, MA with new and returning national speakers. This year’s presenters include Leigh Brown, Chris Bird, Terry Watson, and more! There are also some exciting panels this year that will be discussing topics such as teams, video production/media, successful agents, among others. Don’t miss it.. click here to register.

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Social Media Monday: Video Inspiration

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A recent article from Mashable starts with the contention that “In the future, selling houses might be less about realtors and more about video creators.” Here at the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, we say, “Why can’t you be both?” If you’re  a REALTOR® looking to start or expand your your digital advertising to include video, check out this roundup of outside-the-box videos advertising for-sale homes on Mashable

 

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How well do your buyer clients understand the home buying process?

The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation has developed a survey that includes questions that touch on the components of home buying. The answers to these questions will help the Office and its partners get a feel for how well consumers do or do not understand aspects of home buying and will enable the Office to target our education and outreach efforts.

REALTORS®, please share this survey with your buyer clients. This will give the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation a better understanding of what areas they should focus future educational programs on.

Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation Home Buyers Survey

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Top 10 Towns with the highest sales and price increases in May

top ten towns(5)

Hampden County saw two towns tie for the highest percent increase in closed homes sales in May.

 Closed Sales Percent Increase
Median Sales Price Growth Median Price Percent Increase
1. Wilbraham +325.0% 1. Hamilton $627,000 + 51.2%
1. Ludlow +325.0 % 2. Seekonk $377,500 + 51.0%
2. Webster +300.0% 3. East Longmeadow $320,000 + 50.4%
3. Townsend +220.0% 4. Wayland $790,000 + 48.8%
4. Swansea +200.0% 5. Northbridge $376,500 + 44.8%
5. Sturbridge +150.0% 6. Southwick $259,750 + 44.3%
6. Lawrence +137.5% 7. Ipswich $553,500 + 43.8%
7. Southbridge +128.6% 8. Westford $629,500 + 35.4%
8. Fitchburg +115.4% 9. Newton $1,265,000 + 31.8%
9. Abington +87.5% 10. Amherst $438,000 + 31.5%

*A minimum of ten homes must have been sold in each town during May 2015 to make this list.

All data used in the rankings is compiled from the Berkshire County Multiple Listing Service, Cape Cod & Islands Association of REALTORS®, Inc. and MLS Property Information Network, Inc.

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