Tuesday April 28th 2015

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Social Media Monday: How to self-publish on LinkedIn

Ostersund, Sweden - August 3, 2014: Linkedin webpage on a comput

As a REALTOR, we’re sure you have a robust LinkedIn profile page with plenty of “connections,” but how often are you engaging with your following? One strategy to make sure your connections don’t forget about you is to use LinkedIn to self-publish. Think of it as a blogging platform–in fact, if you have a blog, it can be helpful to migrate content from there. Otherwise, simply share your real estate expertise through writing “to raise your professional profile to another level by showcasing your expertise on relevant topics.”

Read the rest of the article on Mashable.

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Wednesday Word: 2015 Fair Housing Focus

FairHousingFocusNAR2015

 To celebrate Fair Housing Month 2015, NAR is emphasizing community, leadership, and inviting and sustaining diversity. As part of Fair Housing Focus, NAR outlines some aspects of fair housing that go Beyond the Transaction:

  • Diverse Neighborhoods REALTORS® are already the best advocates for inclusive communities, because they understand the value of diverse neighborhoods, a key tenet of fair housing.
  • Diversity in REALTOR® Leadership By actively engaging minority members in leadership roles, state and local associations will benefit from governing bodies that accurately reflect their membership and bring to the table a heightened sensitivity to race issues.
  • Diversity among Community Leadership REALTORS® have the power to help elect candidates who are passionate about fair housing. The REALTOR® Party exists to share its resources and expertise with state and local associations that want to give a leg-up to the best candidates for the job: those who will promote and create broader housing opportunities.
  • Land Use and Neighborhood Revitalization Policies that Invite and Sustain Diversity The REALTOR® Party has numerous programs designed to address aspects of fair housing, from land use policy to neighborhood revitalization. Whether you’re starting small or thinking big, sprucing up a single city block or re-drafting zoning law to promote diverse neighborhoods, the REALTOR® Party is there for you. It’s time to take it beyond the transaction. Now, more than ever, consider how you and your fellow REALTORS® can take the lead in creating a reality of fair housing for all.

Check out NAR’s other Fair Housing Resources and be sure to display your Fair Housing Poster for the rest of Fair Housing Month 2015.

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

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Wednesday Word: Fair Housing Month FAQ

Photo credit hud.gov

Photo credit hud.gov

This week, we will take at look at some of the most frequently asked Fair Housing questions. As a reminder, if you ever have a question or are unsure if what you are doing will violate the fair housing statute, simply contact the MAR Legal Staff via the Legal Hotline.

Q.        When I first meet with a prospective client, I like to ask them a series of questions to better build a relationship, and to establish their wants and needs. Are there any specific questions that I should avoid asking?  My office takes Fair Housing laws seriously, and I want to be sure that we are following the laws.

A.        As a real estate agent, it is important to understand the wants and needs of your clients, and quite often, learning this information is the result of well-intended questions and conversation. It is always important, however, to keep Fair Housing laws in mind when speaking with your clients. Specifically, M.G.L. c. 151B Section 4 states, in part,  that it shall be unlawful to …”cause to be made any written or oral inquiry or record concerning the race, color, religious creed, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation …  age, genetic information, ancestry, marital status, veteran status or membership in the armed services, blindness, hearing impairment or other handicap or because such person possesses a trained dog guide as a consequence of blindness or hearing impairment, of the person seeking to rent or lease or buy any such accommodation or land.”
A recent case held a broker liable for asking his Venezuelan client the question: “Where are you from?” Although the broker in this case claimed to be making small talk and insisted that his question was non-discriminatory, the statute is clear: an inquiry concerning national origin is a per se violation of the Massachusetts Fair Housing Laws.  REALTORS should always be mindful of this section of the law when speaking with clients and prospective clients.

Q.        My Buyer-Client is purchasing a rental property that was built before 1978. There is a family currently renting the home, and one of their children is under 6 years old. The Seller/Landlord has never inspected the property for the presence of lead paint. We have a lead inspection scheduled for next week. If lead paint is found, what must my client do to comply with the lead laws?

A.        If lead paint exists in the home, your client will have to delead the home or bring it under interim control. You should remind your client that it is illegal to evict or refuse to renew the lease of this family because of lead paint. Additionally, the parents cannot waive the rights of their children to live in lead-safe housing or agree to assume to risks of lead exposure.
The Lead Laws provide that new owners have 90 days from the date of taking title to bring the home into compliance.  Since there is a signed lease in place, the tenants will have to be relocated for the time that certain deleading work is taking place inside the home, and the landlord is responsible for the reasonable moving costs and temporary housing costs over and above the rent of the home being deleaded. During the time the home is being deleaded, the tenant remains responsible for paying the normal rent they would pay for this period as their share of the cost of temporary housing. The Lead Law states the temporary housing must not cause undue economic or personal hardship to the tenant. You should remind your client that a state tax credit of $1,500 per unit is available to abate the home.

Q.        My Landlord-Client has been renting an old Victorian to a couple for the past several years. When they rented the apartment they did not have any children, and chose not to have the property tested for lead. The couple has now informed my client that they are expecting their first child. How can my client be sure to follow the Lead Paint laws?

A.        Since there has not been a transfer of ownership, and the tenant is already living in the unit, there is no “grace” period in the law after a child under 6 moves in.  Prior to the birth of a child, the home must be brought into compliance with the Lead Law. On the day the child is born or moves in, the landlord becomes liable for failure to comply. You should also remind your client that it is illegal not to rent or to evict a tenant based on the fact that she is pregnant.

For more information on Fair Housing, please visit the MAR Legal Resources Page.

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

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Power up and launch your mission at the Wells Fargo Cinemeeting

wells fargo cinemeeting small
Don’t miss the eighth annual Wells Fargo CineMeeting broadcast to select movie theaters nationwide on April 30, 2015.

Learn valuable lessons from two of America’s pillars of hope, courage and resilience, Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly. Also appearing will be Brian Buffini of Buffini & Company and Greg Gwizdz of Wells Fargo . REALTORS® can expect to come away with a better understanding of the housing market, as well as systems to transform your business and have your best year ever.

Date: Thursday, April 30, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 4:45 p.m.
Location: Regal Fenway Stadium 13
201 Brookline Ave.
Boston, MA 02115

Go to www.wellsfargo.com/events for more info and details on how to register for your seat.

PS. Don’t forget to stop by the MAR table when you’re there!

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March 2015 Future Indicators Report: Buyers Were Thinking Spring as Pending Home Sales Went Up

The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® (MAR) reported today that spring market started to gain traction in March as pending home sales went up over 14 percent from the same time last year according to the March Future Indicators Report. While both REALTOR® Confidence Indexes are at 12 month highs, they were still down slightly from March 2014. This month’s “Hot Topic” question shows that a significant percent of REALTOR® clients discussed condominium living after the record winter.

Here are the March 2015 highlights:

Pendingchart3.15

  • Single-family pending home sales were up 14.4% compared to March 2014
  • Single-family median price was up since March 2014 (to $320,000)
  • Condo pending home sales were up 12.1% compared to March 2014
  • Condo median price was up 3.0% compared to March 2014 (to $309,108)
  • Pending sales have been up 24 of the last 25 months

REALTOR® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index
March 2015
March 2014
% Change
 Market 69.18 69.50  -0.46%
 Price 78.88 79.69 +1.21%
  •  The RMCI has been down 15 of last 16 months
  • The 12th straight month that the RPCI has gone down
  • March 2015 is the highest the RMCI has been since March 2014
  • March is the fourth time the RPCI has been at 70 or above since August 2014
  • Measured on a 100-point scale, a score of 50 is the midpoint between a “strong” (100 points) and a “weak” (0 points) market

Click link to read the full release: Buyers Were Thinking Spring as Pending Home Sales Went Up in March

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Social Media Monday: How to hone your skills section on LinkedIn

Ostersund, Sweden - August 3, 2014: Linkedin webpage on a comput

The skills section of your LinkedIn page matter more than ever, according to Mashable, as the business-oriented social platform “recently tweaked its search engine so that you can filter by the skills on a user’s profile (i.e., your LinkedIn Skills affect your search rankings).”

The top ten hireable skills according to LinkedIn are predictably techie skills, but REALTORS® can still take advantage of the updated search engine on the site by honing in on the most important and frequent skills in the industry.

Read on to get specific tips on perfecting your skills section from a LinkedIn expert on Mashable.

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