Are you missing important emails?

man with laptop and email concept

One of the most important communication goals for MAR volunteer leaders and professional staff is ensuring that our communications reach you. We use a number of different platforms to send our members all the information needed to participate in MAR’s advocacy and information services. Meanwhile, we realize that spam and junk mail filtering are important. In fact, 80% of all global email volume is spam. Unfortunately, filters also can block critical information you need for business. So here are some simple steps to balance your need for critical business information versus spam filtering, and to help MAR keep critical business information flowing your way.

Whitelisting  

MAR emails typically come from either an MAR staff professional or one of our general mailboxes. MAR emails always originate from the marealtor.com domain.  So a first step is to “whitelist” our marealtor.com domain with your email provider.   Add us to your contacts list wherever possible.  There are several guides to whitelisting individual email addresses and domains for most major email providers and devices.

  1. Microsoft Outlook/Office
  2. Gmail
  3. Other providers

We’d ask that you add MAR staff professionals and the following addresses to your Contacts: info@marealtor.com, mar@marealtor.com, plus the addresses of Staff you regularly correspond with.

Email Providers 

Another important issue that we’re trying to address are the personal email providers which a relatively small percentage of our members use to do business. Personal email providers like AOL, Verizon, RoadRunner, Adelphia or newer free accounts tied to companies like Comcast and AT&T are certainly handy for personal messages. Their spam and junk-filtering systems are very aggressive, and it’s difficult to deliver email to those addresses if you’re using a large-volume commercial service like the ones MAR, the National Association, and even many of our local Associations use for important messages like legislative Calls for Action or e-newsletter industry updates. Most of our delivery failures come from a small number of members who use personal email providers for their business. Among members using their own domain or a company email address, failure rates are much lower.

There are lots of great options out there. The simplest is probably Gmail, which is free and extremely reliable. It takes only seconds to sign up for a free account, and you can easily set up forwarding from your old email addresses to the new inbox so you’ll never miss a thing.

Even better is to set up a branded email address – something customized and easy to remember. NAR offers an email package for its .realtor domains, at an additional cost of $60 per year.  You’ll need to claim set up your .realtor domain first, if you haven’t already.

GoDaddy, a popular web hosting company is currently offering a great price on its email and Office packages – you can get a professional domain, custom email, AND the full Office 365 suite with Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and more to use on up to 5 devices for $9.99 a month.

There are lots of other options out there, but the important thing is to consider the value email communications hold to your business. If you, like us, miss an important email because your spam filter got a little overenthusiastic, what could the consequences be? For us, it was a day lost reconfiguring the website. For you, it could be an important committee meeting, pictures of a loved one, or even a great offer on one of your listings. Isn’t it worth using the best possible tools at your disposal to manage your business communications, especially when they’re so affordable?

Massachusetts Real Estate Market Starts Strong in 2017

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn Decorations

The 2017 real estate market started strong with the most closed home sales in a January since MAR began recording the data in 2004. Continuing buyer demand pushed closed sales up more three percent over last year. Single-family median prices also saw a hike over last year. Condominium sales and median price closed up in January as well.

Read more in the full January 2017 Closed Sales Release.


Highlights from the release:

      • January single-family home sales went up 3.2% over last year (3,400 sales in 2017 from 3,294 sales in January 2016)
      • January single-family median prices went up 7.4% year-over-year (to $354,000 in 2017 from $329,700 in January 2016)
      • January condo sales went up 4.1% and median prices went up 6.5% (to $330,000)
      • Inventory in January went down -33.6% to 11,259 and condominiums available down -29.1% to 3,211
      • SF listings added to the market in January went down -1.8% over last year. (4,167 from 4,242 in 2016)
      • Condo listings added to the market went up 9.9% over last year. (1,805 from 1,642 in 2016)

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.

 

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.