Tuesday May 3rd 2016

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

Top-ten_blog_purpleThe Cape experienced a busy March in closed sales, with three towns making the list.

Closed Sales Percent Increase
Median Sales Price Growth Median Price Percent Increase
1. Southborough +400.0% 1. Southwick $273,750 + 104.3%
2. Raynham +333.3% 2. Athol $126,900 + 50.2%
3. Norton +250.0% 3. Westborough $436,450 + 43.1%
4. Freetown +220.0% 4. Oxford $237,500 + 39.7%
5. Mashpee, Northampton +200.0% 5. Abington $312,500 + 35.4%
6. Barnstable +183.3% 6. Southbridge $164,950 + 34.9%
7. Sandwich +180.0% 7. Holden $322,450 + 33.0%
8. Ludlow +175.0% 8. Saugus $420,000 + 29.9%
9. Webster +160.0% 9. Rehoboth $356,500 + 29.0%
10. Canton +150.0% 10. Stoughton $359,950 + 28.6%

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

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REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill Keynote Speaker Announced! | The Wednesday Word

Karyn_Polito_official_portraitLieutenant Governor Karyn Polito

MAR is honored to announce that Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito will be the Keynote Speaker for the 31st annual Margaret C. Carlson REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill.

Karyn Polito was inaugurated on January 8th, 2015 as the 72nd Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, elected alongside Governor Charlie Baker.

Lieutenant Governor Polito is a lifelong resident of Shrewsbury, where she lives with her husband and two young children. She has been a REALTOR® for over 10 years and is an active member of the Central Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®.

Lieutenant Governor Polito began her public service in local government, serving as a member of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen. She then expanded her work to the state level, serving as a member of the State Lottery Commission, and, beginning in 2001, was elected as State Representative for the 11th Worcester District (Shrewsbury and Westborough) for five terms.

In the Lieutenant Governor’s time as a State Representative, she was a leading advocate for the passage of “Jessica’s Law,” a bill that would establish tough mandatory minimum sentences for child sex offenders. Additionally, she worked relentlessly to secure increases in local aid, Chapter 70 School aid, Special Education aid, and Special Education transportation aid, as well as for local grant funding. The Lieutenant Governor has also worked hard to promote jobs and economic development, especially encouraging young people to explore careers in science and technology.

MAR is excited to welcome Lieutenant Governor Polito to the REALTOR® Day on the Hill. As a reminder, the 31st annual Margaret C. Carlson REALTOR® Day on Beacon Hill is Tuesday June 21st, 2016 from 10:00 am-11:00am at The Great Hall, Massachusetts State House. REALTORS® will have a chance to network and enjoy a continental breakfast at 9:30AM before learning about the key legislative issues in 2016 that will affect the real estate industry and private property.

For more information on Day on the Hill, check out the MAR Facebook Page as well as the MAR Government Affairs page

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

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What’s Being Said in the Media: March 2016 Closed Sales Report

what's being said in the media 2016

These articles and posts resulted in the release of our February 2016 Closed Sales Release. We’ll continue to update this post as more articles come in.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

March closed home sales hit another high for the month
Cape & Plymouth Business Magazine

Massachusetts Single-Family Home, Condo Sales Soar In March

Massachusetts single-family home, condo sales soar in March

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Morning Briefing: Home price growth is easing off
Mortgage Professional America

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March Closed Home Sales Hit another High for the Month

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn Decorations

Heavy buyer activity in the first quarter pushed March closed home sales to a new high for the month. Median prices were back up after ticking down in February for the first time in nine months. Condominium sales also closed up with median prices essentially flat from 2015.

Read more in the full March 2016 Closed Sales Release.

Highlights from the release:

      • March single-family home sales went up 23.2% over last year. (3,452 sales in 2016 from 2,801 sales in March 2015)
      • March single-family median prices went up 3.0% year-over-year (to $329,505 in 2016 from $320,000 in March 2015)
      • March condo sales went up 24.8% and median prices went up -0.3% (to $307,900)
      • Inventory in March went down -12.9% to 15,442 and condominiums available down -12.1% to 4,306
      • SF listings added to the market in March went up 30.8% over last year. (8,296 from 6,343 in 2015)
      • Condo listings added to the market went up 16.5% over last year. (2,971 from 2,551 in 2015)


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The Scoop on Solar | The Wednesday Word

Solar Panels

Are you representing a client who is selling a home with solar panels on the roof? Is your buyer client looking to make an offer on a house with solar panels? Here is what you need to know.

Some of the best advice to your client, whether you represent a buyer or a seller, is to have your client be prepared before they buy or sell. In many cases, problems that can cause delays in the transaction can be avoided with some preparation in advance:

Are the panels leased or owned? The first thing to determine is whether the panels are owned by the seller or if the seller is leasing them from the solar company. If the panels are owned by the seller, then they should be factored into the price of the home just as any other asset would be. It would be prudent to search for comparable homes with owned solar panels as well.

A solar renewable energy credit (SREC) should also be considered when valuing the asset. An SREC is created for every megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced by a solar generator. SRECs allow a seller with a solar array to use electricity that is produced by the panels and then separately sell the SREC to a utility company. Some solar owners use SREC brokers to handle the sale, so if you have a seller who is part of a ten year SREC Program they may consider selling their future credits through such a broker. If a seller does this, they would then value their solar panels based on the energy savings that they provide.

Buyers, on the other hand, should be asking sellers if they are part of an SREC program and whether the SRECs will be transferred with the panels. If they are, a buyer would also want to know what the average annual output of the panels has been so that they can properly value them.

If the panels are leased, it can be a bit more complicated. When representing a seller with leased solar panels, agents should recommend that the seller contact the leasing company right away to let them know that they are planning to sell the home. In fact, some solar companies have set up departments specifically to work on lease transfers. The solar company may reference a UCC-1 that has been recorded with the property. A UCC-1 acts as a lien against the solar equipment on the property and is used by the solar companies to protect their interest in the leased panels. These finds should be recorded at your local registry of deeds. It is important to know whether or not a UCC-1 has been recorded with the property because some lenders may have concerns that the UCC-1 will take priority over the mortgage in the event of a bankruptcy. Some companies will remove the UCC-1 filing and then replace it when the new mortgage is recorded.

For those REALTORS® representing buyers interested in a home with leased solar panels you want to remind your clients to factor the monthly lease cost when determining whether or not they can afford the home. The buyer’s lender is likely to consider this when making a determination on their loan. Also, buyers should review their credit scores because the solar leasing companies are going to ensure that the buyer can assume the costs of the lease before they approve a transfer.

In the end a seller has three options when dealing with leased solar panels: they can buy out the lease; transfer the lease to the new buyer; or attempt to transfer the panels to their new home, although this option may only be available in rare occasions.

Remember to always use caution when advising clients about solar panels. The Attorney General published the following helpful informational sheet on solar panels: http://www.mass.gov/ago/news-and-updates/press-releases/2016/advice-to-homeowners-considering-solar-panels.html

You can always contact the MAR Legal Hotline if you have any questions at legalhotline@marealtor.com or (800)-370-LEGAL.

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

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The Wednesday Word | HUD Issues Guidance Warning Against Blanket Criminal History Screening Policies

hud-logoOn April 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) issued a memorandum titled, “Office of General Counsel Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions.” This guidance comes after Supreme Court’s decision last summer, which held disparate impact claims are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA” or “Act”).
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin. Violation of the Federal Fair Housing Act occurs when a policy or practice has an unjustified discriminatory effect in these categories, even if the housing provider had no intent to discriminate when establishing the policy or practice.

In the guidance, the HUD urges housing providers, including landlords, sellers, and agents to exercise caution when implanting blanket policies to make decisions on prospective tenants or purchasers based on criminal history due to the potential disparate impact is may have on minorities.
Disparate Impact is a legal doctrine that may deem a policy as discriminatory if it has a disproportionate “adverse impact” against any protected class when there is no legitimate, non-discriminatory business need for the policy. While persons with criminal records are not a protected class under the Act, HUD stresses that criminal history-based barriers to housing have a statistically disproportionate impact on minorities, which are a protected class under the Act, and as such, creating arbitrary or blanket criminal-based policies or restrictions could violate the Fair Housing Act.
Although HUD does not suggest that housing providers are prohibited from implementing screening policies based on criminal history, it does recommend that those policies be thoughtful and tailored to serve a substantial, legitimate, and nondiscriminatory interest of the housing provider, such as resident safety or the protection of property.
Whether a criminal history-based policy or practice has a disparate impact is ultimately a fact and case-specific inquiry, and all housing providers should exercise caution when implementing such policies. HUD’s Guidance provides recommendations on how to create a legally defensible policy. For specific assistance in reviewing these policies, it is recommended that you read Fair Housing Act: Criminal History-Based Practices and Policies, which was published by the National Association of REALTORS®. The New York Times also issues a piece on the Guidance, titled Federal Housing Officials Warn Against Blanket Bans of Ex-Offenders.

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

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