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.

Online Harassment and You: A Guide for Realtors

Cybersecurity of network of connected devices and personal data security, concept on virtual interface with consultant in background

We live and work in a world increasingly defined and informed by our online presence. In the wake of acts of physical violence carried out against Realtors®, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has made Realtor® Safety a priority issue.  However, it’s important to remember that online harassment and threats can have effects just as devastating on your life and livelihood as physical violence. It’s more vital than ever to be aware of the risks and do what you can to limit exposure to this new workplace danger.

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Inside MAR’s Committee Selection Process

It’s that time of year again; requests for placement on the 2018 MAR Committees are now available. Committee service is one of the primary ways our members help shape and guide the association’s agenda. We thought we’d provide a look into how that process works, along with a reminder of how you can volunteer.

MAR’s 2018 committee request form is available on our website, marealtor.com. You’ll need to log in in the upper right-hand corner. Once you’re logged in, click on “Committees” in your menu.

The committees page has descriptions of all the MAR committees that are available for volunteer requests in 2018. Have a look at them, and when you’re ready, you may click on the text at the top to go to the Volunteer Request Form page.

It’s important that you log in to access this page. You’ll notice your current MAR email address in the last field – this is how your responses get populated to your record. If there’s no address in that field, please fill it in. If the address in the field is incorrect, contact your local board to correct it.

In the form, you’ll put rankings next to the committees you would like to volunteer for. Your rankings are based on your priority; the number “1” means that committee is your top priority, “2” is your second-highest priority, and so on. You may volunteer for as many committees as you like.

When you’re satisfied with your choices, click the “submit” button at the bottom of the page.

Once you’ve submitted your choices, they’ll be entered in our system with your name. If you change your mind, you are welcome to resubmit the rankings as many times as you like, but remember that only your most recent submission will be used to assign committees. You should receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of submitting your rankings.

When it’s time for leadership to evaluate volunteers and form 2018 committees, we’ll use your rankings to inform our choices and assign members to the most appropriate committees. Being specific with your rankings and ranking as many committees as you’re interested in will help greatly in assembling committees for 2018. You might not always get your first choice, but MAR will always try to put our volunteers in positions that will both interest and engage them, and benefit the membership as a whole.

10 Ways Realtors® Are Like Life Coaches

You have life goals and you see yourself achieving those goals, but you don’t quite know how to get there. Sometimes all it takes is a gentle push by your real estate life coach (Coach Realtor® to you) to make it happen. The home buying life game starts now!

1. Your four-hour daily commute is soul-sucking

2. You’re running out of room in your current crib

3. The roommates are cramping your style and making you feel like a third wheel

4. You know you need to make a change

5. Coach Realtor® will help you set a goal

6. Stay focused on what’s possible

7. Explain the process so you can understand it

8. Build your confidence

9. Help you take the leap

10. Hand you the keys to a new life

Achieving home buying Zen is possible if you find the right coach. Focus on your breathing and go to www.marealtor.com/findARealtor

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.