How I stay on Top of the News in Massachusetts

Newspaper and digital tablet on wooden table

How do we have time for reading when we’re too busy liking Facebook posts, snapping Instagram selfies or playing Candy Crush? (ok, not sure anyone plays it, but I continue to get invitations to join!) Of course, I’m being a little facetious when I say that, because when it comes to being busy, Realtors® are some of the busiest people I know!

So how do you keep up with goings on in Massachusetts if you’re busy dealing with clients, lawyers and appraisers etc.? If you were asking yourself that very question, let me give you an answer by sharing what I use to make sure I know what’s going on at Beacon Hill and around the state.

I subscribe to three different emails. Each accomplishes essentially the same thing and it really comes down to personal preference. I suggest giving each a try and picking the one you like best. And if there are others out there that I might have missed, please let me know in the comment section as I’m always on the lookout for new sources too.

The Daily Download
This daily newsletter is produced by CommonWealth Magazine, which is published by the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank typically identified as MassINC.

MASSterList is published by Jay Fitzgerald and Keith Regan, two seasoned political reporters who know their way around Beacon Hill politics. This newsletter is described as providing a wide-ranging summary of the latest news on Massachusetts politics, public policy, and government that is curated from a rich array of sources, both conventional and niche.

POLITICO: Massachusetts Playbook 
POLITICO describes itself as the national global news and information company at the intersection of politics and policy. The Massachusetts edition of the Playbook is written by Lauren Dezenski’s and is described as the “must-read rundown of what’s up on Beacon Hill and beyond.”

Rising Pending Home Sales in September Could Signify a Busy Fall Real Estate Market

Single-family pending home sales jumped over four percent this month from September of last year, with prices rising close to five percent. Pending condominium sales were also up, rising more than three percent over last year, while prices increased slightly. Realtors® confidence in the market and in home prices were both up again in September. This month’s “Hot Topic” question asks Realtors® how they would describe the appraisal process in the last six months.

September Pending Sales:

Single Family September 2017 September 2016 % Change
Sales 5,288 5,056 4.6%
Median Price $395,876 $378,750 4.5%
  • Pending sales up for 11 out of the last 12 months
Condominium September 2017 September 2016 % Change
Sales 1,918 1,855 3.4%
Median Price $349,000 $345,000 1.2%
  • Pending sales up for 10 out of the last 12 months

Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index September 2017 September 2016 %Change
Market 76.74 73.33 4.64%
Price 68.48 67.15 1.98%
  • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index up for the 28th time in 29 months
  • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index up for the eighth time in nine months
  • 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 more in the September 2017 Future Indicators Report.

Level Up Your Direct Messaging Strategy on Facebook

Facebook has been working hard to push (and monetize) its direct messaging platform, Messenger, since it became a standalone app in 2011. Messenger now has 1.3 billion monthly users. While the majority of these users may be sending selfies with the cute cat filter, the space is ripe for capitalization by small businesses wanting to start a conversation with consumers. (Ahem, Realtors®.)

Since 2011, Facebook Messenger has been hard at work adding paid features that businesses can take advantage of to reach their current and future customers. If you’re familiar at all with Facebook advertising, you may have noticed the option to place ads in the direct messenger. Read on to learn the ways you might be able to incorporate these paid direct messaging options into your advertising strategy:

  1. Sponsored Messages,” although currently in testing and only available to a handful of advertisers, represent an interesting pivot for Facebook Messenger. The tool will allow for brands to pay for direct messages to consumers who have previously engaged with them on the app. Though some have criticized the move, saying messages from brand with dilute the experience for users who use the app to connect with friends and family, it remains a promising tool for businesses who want to reach consumers directly.
  2. Perhaps the easiest route to encourage consumers to chat with you is a simple Click To Message ad. Facebook has added a “Message” button you can add to any of your promotions that will open a pop-up chat window with your business.

    Example of an ad with a direct messaging call-to-action.
  3. Finally, this July, Facebook added the option to buy display ads within the chat inbox. This provides a less intrusive option to reach consumers in the Messenger setting, without the well, pushiness of push notification.Messenger ad within the inbox.

Have you experimented with Facebook’s direct messaging features? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments below, or you know, message us on Facebook

And the Winners Are…

Good Neighbor Award winner Kelly Catallo and 2016 Realtor of the Year Michelle Haggstrom holding their awards at the Professional Awards Dinner

We’re not quite gearing up for the Oscars yet, but awards season is approaching for Realtors®. All year long, many of you go above and beyond. You participate on countless local, state, and sometimes national committees and task forces. We don’t have to remind you how time consuming or demanding these commitments are, but the industry does want to remind you that your work is most appreciated and meaningful to the Realtor® community.

The Awards Dinner is one way to honor your commitment and recognize the many members who have made their volunteer work a priority. This year, the event takes place after the MAR Board of Directors meeting on September 14 at the Double Tree Hilton in Milford, Massachusetts. It will be there that the much-anticipated Educator of the Year, Good Neighbor, and Realtor® of the Year winners are announced.

Kelly Catallo, Broker/Owner of Cosmopolitan Real Estate INC., was the Good Neighbor winner in 2016. Catallo was honored for her work founding the Running of the Leprechauns 5K in Medford, raising over $50,000 for the Boston Children’s hospital..

This year, Catallo reflects on what receiving that honor was like for her at the Awards Dinner in 2016. Like many who hear they have been nominated for an award, Catallo was shocked. “When it sunk in,” Catallo said, “this very warm feeling of love enveloped me. I was so very honored. I do what I do because it’s what I can do. Being able to bring people together to bring awareness and support for our community, while having fun, for something so important as the Boston Children’s Hospital is so spiritually fulfilling. Being honored by my peers was like getting a great big bear hug!”

Similar to many of you, Catallo is a busy person. There’s business, family and fun. But time, she says in reflecting on her precious volunteer work, is not something we have; it’s something we create. “Don’t let the opportunity to be a valuable, contributing member of your community pass you by, create the time—be it an hour a week or 10 minutes a day. You owe it to yourself.”

Take the time to appreciate yourself and your fellow Realtor® members this September at the Awards Dinner. We hope to see you there!

Banker & Tradesman Editorial: Help Needed To Hang A Hat

straw hat hanging on white wall

If home is where you hang your hat, do you really need a Realtor to help you find the right wall?

Probably not – but you do need one to help you negotiate the best price for that wall, and all the other walls around it and the roof over it. And then you need one to stand by you as you navigate the byzantine process of actually purchasing said walls and roof.

The real estate market exists as a series of ebbs and flows, of highs and lows. As we all know, Greater Boston is flying high. When the market is hot – and right now a confluence of factors makes it possibly the hottest it has ever been – brokers and agents must use every tool at their disposal to secure a buyer’s or seller’s contract.

This particular high is also characterized by new and different threats to the industry. No longer must a Realtor merely worry that another agent will undercut her commission; she must also worry about that a portal site will do the same even as it moves into traditional purchase and sale services.

Technology is a real threat to the industry; so are changing attitudes. Many of today’s first-time buyers are convinced they don’t need the services a Realtor offers. This is particularly true in Boston, where many of these would-be buyers have spent a decade or more finding their own apartments and negotiating their own leases.

They may be correct. Between Zillow and Redfin a prospective buyer can see most of the inventory available in their price range and preferred geography. Millennials know what they want and they know how to do the research to get it. They (generally) understand that in today’s market they aren’t going to get the perfect house at the perfect price.

But what buyers don’t know is how scary and stressful a home purchase can be. Why would they? They’ve never done it before. So much can go wrong between falling in love and the closing date. When the inspection turns up mice in the attic and cracks in the basement, your Google-fu isn’t going to save you; you need a seasoned professional to walk you through your options and back you up on whichever one you choose.

That’s what a good agent does; supports their buyer (or seller) as they navigate the twisting, winding road to achieving their dream. An agent is more than a business partner; an agent is a friend, a confidante and a purveyor of tough love, as needed. That’s why they call it a relationship business.

And for all the industry’s fretting about the future of the Realtor, evidence so far does not support a big uptick in FSBOs. The percentage has increased, but at nowhere near catastrophic levels, supporting the conclusion that even the more experienced homebuyer recognizes the importance of agent representation.

Take heart, brokers, Realtors and agents – today’s buyers still need you to help them hang their hats – and they know it.

This editorial was reprinted with permission from Banker & Tradesman.

What are your Facebook ‘reactions’ telling you?

It’s been almost a year and half since Facebook introduced its expanded reaction buttons (February 24, 2016 to be exact). If you don’t know what I’m specifically talking about by name, you will when you see the buttons below:

As a user of Facebook, I felt these were a great addition to the news feed. The additional buttons give you more specific ways to react to a post. I’m not sure about you, but I always felt a little strange “liking” sad posts such as when a pet died, etc.

So why after more than a year am I bringing this up? I’m bringing it up because I feel there are good insights in those reactions that Realtors® can take advantage of when it comes to creating relevant content for current and future clients. And I don’t think many people are taking advantage of the information that is there.
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