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

Massachusetts Median Home Prices Remain at the $400,000 Mark as Number of Homes for Sale Reach Lowest Level for July since 2004

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn Decorations

The median price for a single-family home hit the $400,000 mark for the second month in a row in July. Single-family homes saw a dip in sales over last year, while condominiums sales rose slightly. Inventory also reached the lowest level for the month of July since MAR began recording the data in 2004.
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Referral Central

Woman whispering to her friendAll real estate professionals rely on referral business, just as so many other customer-oriented sales professionals. Realtors® rely on referrals from their customers and clients and they need them from their fellow agents. But did you know you have access to a very special feature called Referral Central as part of your membership to the Massachusetts Association of Realtors®?

It’s really easy to access Referral Central. All you need to do is take full advantage of what your Realtor® association has to offer! Let me tell you a story:

I took part in a committee meeting a while back and the topic of discussion was the value of membership and understanding why members join the association. One member of the group explained that the most emphatic moment for her to understanding the value of membership was watching her husband work as a volunteer leader in the association, travelling to different events and meetings across the state. It was a poignant moment because he came back from those meetings with one overwhelmingly huge benefit – referrals.

You can contact your local, state or national Realtor®  Association, begin volunteering on a committee for 2018 by signing up here, and work your way from there as a boots-on-the-ground volunteer.

However, you can also act now and see immediate results (well, you’ll have to wait a couple of months). How? Instant networking is at your fingertips at the annual MAR Conference & Tradeshow happening September 25-26. It is the best-kept secret that the two-day conference provides not only great courses and events, but also two days of networking and referral building.

Just picture it. You are walking through the halls of the convention center—this year’s venue is the beautiful Sea Crest Hotel in Falmouth—and say you are from Newburyport, chatting with a fellow member from Shrewsbury. You attend the same class together and chat a bit more after the class only to find out that this member has a buyer looking for waterfront property on the North Shore. Of course, you have great properties as your listings! This type of exchange happens all the time at our conferences.

Plus, you don’t have to worry about grabbing the time in between classes to connect with fellow members because there are networking events built in to the conference. Get to know your fellow Realtors® at the welcome reception, the tradeshow networking reception or the annual after-hours party, Realtor® After Dark. This year we’re even offering a clambake to take advantage of all the Cape has to offer and celebrate our New England roots.

Association volunteering and attending the annual MAR Conference allows you to reap the benefits of “Referral Central.” Your access is yearlong through other association involvement but you can’t miss the greatest hub of activity that happens once a year. You won’t be sorry.

Massachusetts Median Home Prices Cross the $400,000 Threshold for the First Time

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn DecorationsThe median price for a single-family home hit an all-time high in June and went over $400,000 for the first time. Both single-family homes and condominiums saw a drop in sales in June from last year. Inventory also reached the lowest level for the month of June since MAR began recording the data in 2004.

Read more in the full June 2017 Closed Sales Release.

  • June single-family home sales went down -4.8% over last year (6,614 sales in 2017 from 6,948 sales in June 2016)
  • June single-family median prices went up 7.9% year-over-year (to $410,000 in 2017 from $380,000 in June 2016)
  • June condo sales went down -5.6% and median prices went up 3.3% (to $361,500)
  • Inventory in June went down -32.4% to 13,973 and condominiums available down -27.9% to 3,820
  • SF listings added to the market in June went down -7.3% over last year. (7,904 from 8,529 in 2016)
  • Condo listings added to the market went up 0.4% over last year. (2,863 from 2,852 in 2016)

Government Affairs Update – Second Quarter of 2017

Massachusetts State House - Freedom Trail Site - Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The second quarter of 2017 has been busy for MAR Government Affairs. After a slow start, the legislature briefly picked up the pace before closing out the quarter focused almost entirely on the issues of marijuana and the state budget.

ANNUAL BUDGET
The budgeting process for fiscal year 2018 drew the interest of Realtors® when the Senate included two concerning provisions in its annual budget. First, the Senate included a section that would have expanded the room occupancy tax that hotels charge guests, to the rental of private homes for less than 90 days. Under this proposal, homeowners would be required to comply with onerous business regulations and administrative burdens that were never intended for the average homeowner. A home is not a hotel and a homeowner who leases her cottage for a week or even a day would be required to abide by the requirements as detailed in the Senate proposal.

The Senate also included a provision that would have increased the Community Preservation Act surcharge on recording fees from $20 to $45 per document, resulting in an increase of hundreds of dollars. This would have further exacerbated the inequitable manner of funding the CPA with recording fee surcharges. In effect, purchasers of homes and other properties are paying to fund the CPA, which provides benefits to the entire community.

We are happy to report that, because of MAR’s advocacy on these issues, the budget compromise agreed to by the House and Senate does not contain either of these proposals. It is important to note, however, that both proposals still exist as separate legislation and are currently working their way through the legislative process.

ROOM OCCUPANCY
In addition to addressing the proposed room occupancy tax provision in the Senate budget, the Joint Committee on Financial Services also held three hearings on a different bill that would tax short term rentals at varying tax rates. Realtors® from across the Commonwealth testified at hearings in Lenox, Barnstable, and Boston on the impact that such a tax would have on homeowners who only occasionally rent their homes. This will continue to be a big issue as the legislature heads towards an August recess. Thank you to all of the Realtors® that showed up to testify at the hearings.

H.O.M.E. BILL HEARING
The legislature held two hearings on An Act improving housing opportunities and the Massachusetts economy, the H.O.M.E. Bill. President Paul Yorkis, MAR Legislative & Regulatory Counsel, Justin Davidson and representatives from the Greater Boston Real Estate Board testified first before the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and highlighted some of the key provisions of the bill that would aid in the production of much needed housing in Massachusetts. Just a few weeks later, President Yorkis, Government Affairs Committee Chair Steve Medeiros, and MAR Past President Corinne Fitzgerald testified before the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business, once again advocating for the passage of the H.O.M.E Bill.

TRANSFER TAX
On June 13th MAR General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, Michael McDonagh testified before the Joint Committee on Revenue in opposition to proposals to create a transfer tax on the sale of real estate. Transfer taxes would create an entrance or exit fee to homeownership and would have serious implications for the Massachusetts housing economy. These taxes single out home buyers and sellers and raise the bottom line price of many homes by thousands of dollars.

TITLE 5 WORK GROUP
President Yorkis continued to represent Realtors® at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Title 5 Stakeholder meetings. The purpose of the meetings is to have outside experts and interested parties that represent a variety of interests and viewpoints provide advice to MassDEP on what modifications should be considered.

LEAD PAINT
In June, the Governor’s Lead Paint Advisory Commission met to discuss proposed changes to the lead regulations in the Commonwealth. The proposed amendments are intended to improve organization, clarify regulatory requirements, rescind unnecessary or outdated requirements, and implement a standard for lead poisoning and a blood lead level of concern used by the CDC and most states. Of note to those in the deleading field, they also propose to remove the deleading standard for a small number of surfaces, specifically some surfaces currently considered “accessible/mouthable”, which could substantially reduce deleading costs.

NAR MID YEAR
In May, thousands of Realtors® attended the 2017 Realtors® Legislative Meetings and Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. It has never been more important for Realtors® to remain engaged in advocacy initiatives and have our unified message and voice heard on Capitol Hill. As long as Realtors® continue to remain steadfast in working together, great strides will be made to protect the American Dream of property ownership and the real estate industry. This year Realtors® met with members of Congress to discuss tax reform, flood insurance, and protecting sustainable homeownership.

BOARD OF REGISTRATION
At its May 10th meeting, the Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons once again discussed the use of the new Massachusetts Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure form. MAR had requested clarification regarding use of the old form once the new form was released. The Board confirmed that there will be a two-year grace period before any action would be taken against agents using the old form during a transaction. Despite the approved grace period, MAR still strongly suggests that all agents use the new form released by the Board in January of this year.

MARGARET C. CARLSON REALTOR® DAY ON BEACON HILL
Over 400 Massachusetts Realtor® -members traveled to the State House on Wednesday June 14th to participate in the 32nd annual Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill. The annual lobbying day gave Realtors® the opportunity to discuss with their legislators the key issues that impact consumers, housing and the economy. State Senator Karen Spilka (D – Ashland), Chair of the Senate Ways & Means Committee, provided the 2017 keynote address. Thank you to all who attended.

2017 PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS AWARD
Kevin Sears of Springfield was awarded the 2017 Private Property Rights Award at Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill on June 14th. The award is given to Massachusetts Realtors® whose outstanding efforts in advocacy have helped the Association achieve its objectives of increased access to homeownership and preservation of private property rights. Congratulations to Kevin.

HOUSING PRODUCTION HEARING
Proponents of efforts to increase housing production in Massachusetts crowded the hearing room at the State House on June 20th when the Joint Committee on Housing held a hearing on bills relative to production. President Yorkis delivered testimony that not only emphasized the housing supply shortage but also highlighted the revenue to the state and municipalities that goes along with housing production.

Massachusetts Pending Sales and Median Price Up Again in June

Single-family pending home sales were up over nine percent in June from last year. Pending condominium sales were also up more than 12 percent. The median price for both single-family homes and condos saw a hike, with the single-family median price rising over the $400,000 mark. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices dipped slightly in June.

June Pending Sales:

Single Family June 2017 June 2016 % Change
Sales 6,723 6,128 9.7%
Median Price $410,000 $380,000 7.9%
  • Pending sales have been up 51 of the last 52 months
Condominium June 2017 June 2016 % Change
Sales 2,596 2,307 12.5%
Median Price $370,000 $349,900 2.9%
  • Pending sales have been up or flat 20 of the last 22 months

Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index June 2017 June 2016 %Change
Market 80.73 80.97 -0.29%
Price 71.79 73.87 -2.82
  • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index went down for the first time in 27 months
  • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index went down for the first time in six 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 June 2017 Future Indicators Report.