New 2017 Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form

All Realtors® should be aware that the Board of Registration for Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons has issued a NEW Mandatory Agency Disclosure Form. The form’s official title is the Massachusetts Mandatory Real Estate Licensee – Consumer Relationship Disclosure. The form is designed to provide the same kinds of disclosures to consumers while clarifying and simplifying some aspects of the old form. We put together a Q&A below to help you understand the changes. You should start using the new form immediately.

Q
: Why did the Board of Registration issue a new agency disclosure form?

A: the Board of Registration wanted to make the form easier to use while still providing the required agency disclosures for the customers and clients that Realtors work with. To do this, the board convened a subcommittee made up of experts including practitioners, attorneys, and real estate instructors to look at the current form and suggest changes.

Q: What is different in the new form?

A: The form accomplishes the same objectives as the old form, but some of the language in the form is new and the layout is different. Similar to the old form, the new form states that it is not a contract, but now that text is bold and underlined.

The form still requires licensees to select either “Seller’s agent,” “Buyer’s agent,” or “Facilitator.” You will notice that the section below this has changed on the new form. Now licensees will need to check a box indicating if their office is working as a designated agency office or a non-designated agency office.  This is intended to alert the consumer (buyer or seller) whether other licensees associated with your office will also be the consumer’s agent.  (Because facilitators are not agents of either the buyer or seller, this second check off does not apply to them.)

Once you have disclosed that you are a seller’s agent or a buyer’s agent, you will then need to check off the box that describes your office policy.

  • If the policy of your office is only to offer “single agency” your relationship between the brokerage firm and the consumer (buyer or seller) will be the same for every agent in your office.
  • If the policy of your office is to appoint individual associates as “designated agents” for the seller and to appoint other individual associates as “designated agents” for the buyer, then you should check the Designated Agency box, disclosing that the agency relationship is limited to the designated individuals.

Remember, before an agent may be appointed for the opposing party in a Designated Agency scenario, written consent must be obtained from the buyer and seller.  Consent may be obtained, in advance, in either a listing agreement or in a buyer agency agreement, or in a later consent form.  Finally, this consumer relationship disclosure form, by itself, is not a consent to designated agency.

The new form has also corrected a deficiency in the old form regarding situations where a licensee works in a designated agency firm and wants to show his/her listing to a customer. In those instances, there was not a way to disclose this to the customer on the old disclosure form.

Q: I am in the middle of a transaction and have already used the old form. Do I need my client to complete a new form? Also, what happens if someone uses the old form now that the new form is in effect?        

If you have used the old form while it was still in effect, you have met the requirements to disclose your agency relationship with customers and clients and so a new form is not needed.  For any future usage, the new form is currently in effect and should be used with all customers and clients moving forward.  Copies of the form can be downloaded from the Board of Registration’s website and is currently being made available in all MAR electronic forms platforms. MAR has been informed that the Board is not planning to discipline licensees for using the wrong form in the near future. The Board of Registration will hold their next meeting on March 21st and we will share any updates on this information at that time.

Q: Where can I find a copy of the new form?

A: The form is now available on the Board of Registration’s website http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/licensee/dpl-boards/re/ under the section entitled “application and forms.” MAR is currently working to include the new form in all electronic forms platforms as well as paper versions.

Q: When does the form become effective?

A: The form is currently in effect and you should use it when having a personal meeting to discuss a specific property with a client or customer.

Q: How long must my brokerage firm keep a copy of the executed brokerage disclosure form?

A: Three years. This requirement has not changed.

Q: Has anything changed regarding the timing of when I need to use the form?

A: No, this has not changed. Regardless of your relationship with the buyer or seller, all licensed brokers and salespersons must present the brokerage disclosure form at the first personal meeting to discuss a specific property.

Q: What if the consumer refuses to sign the form?

A: The process if a consumer refuses to sign the form remains the same:

  1. Make a notation on the form where indicated;
  2. Provide the consumer a copy of the form; and
  3. Keep the other copy for your file.

Q: Why isn’t there a box to check as a dual agent?

A: Dual agency arises when there is a conflict caused by representing both the buyer and seller.  By itself, disclosure of an agency relationship with either the buyer or seller cannot be a conflict. Before a licensee may act as a “dual agent,” written consent must be signed by both the buyer and seller. Consent may be obtained before it is known for certain that dual representation will actually occur (either in a listing agreement or a buyer agency agreement) or once it becomes known that the licensee represents both the seller and prospective buyer. If consent was obtained before it was known that a dual agency situation has arisen, a notice must be given to the buyer and seller to advise them that dual agency has actually occurred.

Q: If I disclose that I work in a designated agency brokerage office, does that mean I am precluded from showing a buyer into my client’s listing?

A: No, you may work with the buyer in your capacity as a designated seller’s agent. The unrepresented buyer is your customer. If you have a separate agreement to work with that buyer as a designated buyer’s agent, you must obtain signed consent from both the buyer and the seller to work as a “dual agent.”  As a dual agent, you cannot advocate the interest of one client if doing so conflicts with the interest of your other client. You must be neutral as to any conflict.

Buyer Demand Keeps Pending Sales Strong in January

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Ongoing buyer demand pushed pending home sales up in January more than 10 percent compared to the same time last year. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices was positive in January.

January Pending Sales:

Single Family January 2017 January 2016 % Change
Sales 3,600 3,254 10.6%
Median Price $354,000 $329,700 7.4%
  • Pending sales have been up 46 of the last 47 months
Condominium January 2017 January 2016 % Change
Sales 1,524 1,278 19.2%
Median Price $330,000 $310,000 6.5%
  • Pending sales have been up 16 of the last 17 months

Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index January 2017 January 2016 %Change
Market 69.63 66.98 4%
Price 75.19 73.32 2%
  • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index was up for the 10th straight month
  • Measured on a 100-point scale, a score of 50 is the midpoint between a “strong” (100 points) and a “weak” (0 points) market condition

Read the full January 2017 Future Indicators Report.

The Seller’s Statement of Property Condition Form: To Use or Not to Use?

Filling out real estate forms can be a daunting task. They can be long, complicated and require lots of signatures. But forms have a purpose, of course. They also tend to make transactions run smoother, especially digital forms that can be signed electronically and eliminate the hassle of scheduling in-person meetings. When working with a seller, there is one form which comes to mind that can do just that.

The Seller’s Statement of Property Condition is a standard form, but the state of Massachusetts does not require this form to be filled out as a part of a real estate transaction. So, it’s up to the individual company to decide if they are going to use it or not.

This eight-page form can be a wealth of information for buyers. Quite simply, the form details everything a homeowner may know or doesn’t know about the property during the time they have owned it. In this form, members will find questions about special permits, water damage and structural components, including heating, plumbing etc.

Many of the sellers complete the form by checking the third box, “unknown.” However, if sellers take time to fully complete this form, they could save a buyer the trouble of making an offer. In addition, it’s very difficult for a buyer to come back after a home inspection and ask a seller to provide credit for a repair if they were aware of the issue prior to an offer. The more one discloses, the less they have to deal with after.

Whether your company requires sellers to complete the Seller’s Statement of Property Condition or not, you should know that there is an easy way to access it through MAR’s website as a member benefit. One of the recent upgrades allows you to email the Seller’s Statement of Property Condition to a client and have it completed electronically. It works like electronic signature. Once the seller completes the form, the agent gets a notification that the form has been completed.

It’s nice to know that in today’s fast-paced world, even lengthy real estate forms can be completed quickly and painlessly.

For more information on your free access to zipLogix, the official forms software of the National Association of REALTORS®, as a member of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® please visit the MAR forms page.

These 10 MA towns experienced the highest increases in sales and price in December

Top-ten_blog_purpleWorcester County experienced a boom in median price increases over last year in December, with two towns topping the list. Closed home sales increases were spread across the state.

Closed Sales Percent Increase
1. Wellfleet + 175.0%
2. Ashland, Mansfield, Merrimac + 150.0%
3. Westfield + 140.0%
4. Kingston + 120.0%
5. Rutland + 116.7%
6. South Hadley + 111.1%
7. Longmeadow + 109.1%
8. Marshfield + 94.4%
9. Wilmington + 94.1%
10. Seekonk + 92.3%

 

Median Sales Price Growth Median Price Percent Increase
1. Douglas $338,000 + 64.9%
2. Belchertown $307,000 + 43.6%
3. Spencer $215,000 + 38.7%
4. Sudbury $774,500 + 36.3%
5. Bourne $375,000 + 35.1%
6. Gardner $190,000 + 34.2%
7. Westwood $755,500 + 33.7%
8. Tyngsborough $399,900 + 32.5%
9. Norwell $840,000 + 30.5%
10. Dracut $365,000 + 29.8%

*A minimum of ten homes must have been sold in each town during December 2016 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.

Massachusetts Home Sales Flat in December After a Strong Year

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn Decorations

December closed out with single-family home sales essentially at the same pace as last year. Eleven of the 12 months of the year saw an increase in home sales over 2015. Median prices were also up for 10 straight months as home values reached new highs. Condominium sales were down in December, after a year of mostly increases. Overall, 2016 was a positive year for home sales in Massachusetts as both year-end single-family and condominium sales and median prices were up over 2015.

Read more in the full December 2016 Closed Sales Release.

Highlights from the release:

      • December single-family home sales remained essentially flat over last year. (4,779 sales in 2016 from 4,805 sales in December 2015)
      • December single-family median prices went up 3.6% year-over-year (to $355,000 in 2016 from $342,500 in December 2015)
      • December condo sales went down -2.5% and median prices went up 4.6% (to $338,500)
      • Inventory in December went down -35.5% to 11,447 and condominiums available down -31.3% to 3,164
      • SF listings added to the market in December went down -12.7% over last year. (2,453 from 2,810 in 2015)
      • Condo listings added to the market went down -11.0% over last year. (940 from 1,056 in 2015)

 

Do you love the ‘Like’ Button? If so, Proceed with Caution

Close-up of business group keeping thumbs up

Have you ever heard of “Like farming?” No? Neither did I until very recently (not that it’s new.) I thought it might be a good idea to spread the word on what this practice is and why you should be aware of it the next time you’re scrolling through your Facebook news feed.

What is “Like farming?”
Here’s a good definition from ThatsNonsense.com:

“Facebook like-farming, in its simplest sense, is the process of attempting to get likes, shares and followers using exploitation, manipulation and/or deception.”

What this really means is that any time you like, comment or share something that you don’t quite know where it comes from, you’re at risk for being farmed.

Once these posts get a lot of “likes,” the scammers behind the posts are then able to start posting spam that shows up in your news feed or links to more malicious sites that might try and steal your personal and/or financial information.

What Can You Do?
The simple answer is really read what your scrolling past and understand where it comes from before hitting “Like.” Don’t fall for the emotional photos or posts that tug at your heart strings and ask you for something such as “help me reach one million likes” or “comment on this photo and see what happens.” The list goes on.

And finally, just because you like something doesn’t mean you have to “Like” it.

For more information, here are some good articles the explain the scam in greater detail.
Everything you need to know about Facebook Like-Farming by Craig Charles, thatsnonsense.com
Don’t click ‘like’ on Facebook again until you read this by Kim Komando, Komando.com
Why You Should Be Careful About What You ‘Like’ On Facebook by Amit Chowdhry, Forbes.com