Saturday July 30th 2016

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MAR President responds to Boston Globe Editorial ‘Pass the home energy audit measure’

Yesterday (7/28/16), the Boston Globe published an editorial in favor of mandatory energy inspections and grades “Pass the home energy audit measure.”

While MAR supports the goals of the bill to bring more energy efficiency to the Commonwealth, the Association opposes provisions that call for mandatory energy inspections and grades prior to a home being listed for sale. Below is the letter to the editor submitted to the Boston Globe by MAR President Annie Blatz in response to the editorial. For more information on MAR’s position, go to www.NoEnergyGrade.com

If only it were that ‘simple’

Annie Blatz, 2016 President, Massachusetts Association of Realtors® and Branch Executive at Kinlin Grover Real Estate, Cape Cod.

As a Realtor® for over 31 years and the 2016 president of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors®(MAR), I vehemently disagree with the Boston Globe’s editorial “Pass the home energy audit measure.”

Realtors® support energy efficiency and actively promote the voluntary Mass Save program to clients on both sides of a transaction. Common sense tells us to allow buyers to request the information that they find important, not mandate a one-size-fits-all program.

The Globe is correct that the consumer should be protected when buying a home. In fact, they already are. A buyer is free to have a home inspection, to request utility bills and have an energy audit done. No other attribute of a home is scored by the government.

What this bill will do is add another layer of bureaucracy and delays to an already complicated real estate transaction. This isn’t good for the economy or our inventory-starved state.

Finally, despite what the Globe believes, these requirements would negatively impact low- and moderate-income homebuyers. It’s not “concern-trolling” on our part, it’s the experience of over 22,000 members dealing first-hand with the unintended consequences of past “simple” requirements.

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The Unintended Consequences of the Not so ‘Simple’ Home Energy Label

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By Annie Blatz, 2016 President, Massachusetts Association of Realtors®

Unless we contact our legislators within the next few weeks, state government could require all homes to be inspected and scored on energy efficiency before they could be sold here. Unlike Miles Per Gallon (MPG) and Energy Star ratings, which only appear on new cars and appliances, there is a proposal before the legislature that would require government testing and labeling on all homes before they are sold. The program could stigmatize entire neighborhoods and communities of older housing stock in Massachusetts.

These potential mandatory energy inspections and scoring provisions are only a small part of S.2400, An Act to promote energy diversity, which is now in House-Senate Conference Committee.  These provisions requiring a home inspection and rating before selling a home would be extremely harmful to the Massachusetts housing market and would disproportionately hurt home values for low- and moderate-income homeowners and possibly entire neighborhoods.

Proponents like to compare home energy labels to MPG ratings of new cars or Energy Star scores on new appliances. But older cars and appliances are not rated and neither should older homes. Following New York and Rhode Island, our state has the third oldest median house age at 57 years, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey. If passed, these requirements would be like putting a new MPG requirement on a 50-plus-year-old car; it doesn’t make sense.

According to the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, Massachusetts has been the number one most energy efficient state in the country since 2011. While improved energy efficiency is an important goal for all of us, a blanket “MPG” requirement on all homes would have significant and very real unintended consequences. A labeling system not only would have negative impacts on older homes, but would significantly impact low- and moderate-income communities where homeowners cannot afford to make upgrades. Essentially a state statute could result in depressed home values, especially in our older neighborhoods.

In addition to disproportionally hurting low and moderate-income homeowners, the requirement of an energy audit prior to listing a home for sale would complicate and delay an already complicated process of buying and selling a home. Currently the number of homes for sale is critically low and this would make it even more difficult for potential sellers to list their home for sale. This is not how you encourage a healthy real estate market and a strong economy.

What we need is a common sense approach to energy efficiency and alternatives already exist. We need to continue to work with our utility providers to promote the strictly-voluntary Mass Save program to all homeowners. This program provides an incentive-based approach to energy efficiency rather than a punitive home inspection/label mandate. We should remind buyers to consider a Mass Save audit shortly after purchase or as part of their home inspection process.   We should also make it easier to build new homes that set the standard for energy efficiency.

This all starts with the Conference Committee understanding that requiring energy inspections and home energy labeling before you can sell a house in Massachusetts provides no energy efficiency, but is merely another government mandate. We urge the Conference Committee to reject the energy auditing and labeling provisions contained in the Senate version of this bill.

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Momentum Continues into the Summer as Single Family Home Pending Sales Go Up Again in June

pendingsales_gradientFBPending home sales rose again over six percent from last year, while condominium pending sales slowed for the first time in 15 months. Prices also rose incrementally over last year. The strong market was reflected in a high Realtor® Market Confidence Index, while Price Confidence ticked down.

June Pending Sales:

Single Family June 2016 June 2015 % Change
Sales 6,813 6,407 6.3%
Median Price $380,000 $372,000 2.2%
  • Pending sales have been up 39 of last 40 months
Condominium June 2016 June 2015 % Change
Sales 2,507 2,517 -0.4%
Median Price $349,000 $330,000 6.0%
  • Pending sales down for the first time in 15 months

REALTOR® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index June 2016 June 2015 %Change
Market 80.97 78.47 3.2%
Price 73.87 74.48 -0.8%
  • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index was up for the 16th straight month
  • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index was down for the seventh time in 12 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 the full June 2016 Future Indicators Report release.

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Facebook changes algorithm again | Social Media Monday

About two weeks ago, Facebook announced it would change its algorithm again to favor users’ friends and family in individual newsfeeds. This is bad news for publishers who use the platform to reach fans, but not necessarily unprecedented. Facebook has been tweaking it’s algorithm more regularly, and each change seems to favor the “people,” as Mark Zuckerberg himself has stated.

What does this mean as a business owner? This change will affect all types of content (links, videos, live feeds) put out by publishers. If you own a business page that regularly puts out content be prepared for your social media referral traffic to decrease significantly, if it hasn’t already.

What do I do as a publisher/business owner?

To combat this, consider putting together a Facebook advertising budget. This algorithm change is another step in social media’s move toward monetization, and it’s up to business owners if they want to play the game.

Another strategy might be to focus on engagement with your posts. If a friend of a user has interacted with a publisher’s content, there is a higher chance that content will appear in that newsfeed. When pushing out content on Facebook, benchmark your success by engagement, comments and shares.

Read more at New York Times.

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

Top-ten_blog_purpleMiddlesex County experienced a boom in activity this month.

Closed Sales Percent Increase
Median Sales Price Growth Median Price Percent Increase
1. Topsfield +1,000.0% 1. Great Barrington $337,463 + 84.2%
2. Holbrook +333.3% 2. Dighton $386,150 + 80.3%
3. Merrimac +266.7% 3. Groton $556,950 + 59.4%
4. Pepperell, Groton +250.0% 4. Swansea $323,950 + 55.4%
5. Westport +242.9% 5. Westwood $985,000 + 53.0%
6. Stow, Granby +233.3% 6. Milton $766,200 + 50.2%
7. Tyngsborough +225.0% 7. Mansfield $510,000 + 48.3%
8. Ashburnham +175.0% 8. Dover $1,050,000 + 41.4%
9. Norton +166.7% 9. Halifax $407,500 + 40.6%
10. Wayland +163.6% 10. Palmer $247,000 + 36.3%

*A minimum of ten homes must have been sold in each town during May 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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Busy Spring Season is in Full Swing as Massachusetts Experiences a Record May in Closed Home Sales

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn Decorations The busy early spring and late winter showed no sign of slowing down as closed home sales rose over 17 percent in May from this time last year. Median prices also rose incrementally as new listings coming on the market fell for the second month in a row. Condominium sales also closed higher with median prices up close to three percent from 2015.

Read more in the full May 2016 Closed Sales Release.

Highlights from the release:

      • May single-family home sales went up 17.3% over last year. (4,966 sales in 2016 from 4,235 sales in May 2015)
      • May single-family median prices went up 3.8% year-over-year (to $353,000 in 2016 from $340,000 in May 2015)
      • May condo sales went up 7% and median prices went up 3% (to $340,000)
      • Inventory in May went down -27.2% to 17,120 and condominiums available down -28.5% to 4,310
      • SF listings added to the market in May went down -17.1% over last year. (8,663 from 10,445 in 2015)
      • Condo listings added to the market went down -14.5% over last year. (2,837 from 3,318 in 2015)

May2016_SFMay2016_C

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