Dip in Closed Home Sales for Month of May as Median Prices Hit All-Time High

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn DecorationsToday both single-family and condominium saw a slight dip in sales in May from last year. Despite the drop, median home prices for both single-family homes and condominiums hit new all-time highs. Inventory also reached the lowest level for the month of May since MAR began recording the data in 2004.

Read more in the full May 2017 Closed Sales Release.

  • May single-family home sales went down -2.3% over last year (4,930 sales in 2017 from 5,047 sales in May 2016)
  • May single-family median prices went up 9.2% year-over-year (to $385,000 in 2017 from $352,700 in May 2016)
  • May condo sales went down -0.3% and median prices went up 7.9% (to $369,950)
  • Inventory in May went down -30.6% to 13,918 and condominiums available down -26.3% to 3,876
  • SF listings added to the market in May went up 4.1% over last year. (8,968 from 8,611 in 2016)
  • Condo listings added to the market went up 9.8% over last year. (3,125 from 2,846 in 2016)

It’s safer with the zipLogix Community

Social network - vector illustration.In today’s world, everyone is concerned about online security. This becomes even more significant when dealing with sensitive real estate transactions, client information and online signatures. There are many products that can help real estate agents be safe online, but one in particular is perfect for online transactions. It is the Community feature in the zipForm® Plus package, which is available for free to all Massachusetts brokers and agents.

The Community allows agents in single user accounts to collaborate directly with clients, giving the client the ability to log into a zipForm® portal and make changes in the zipForm® documents within their transaction. These edits are tracked under a history section within the transaction. Upon login to either the agent or client accounts, the end user will then see a notification alert making it easy to track all changes that are made by the other party.

The zipLogix® Community also allows brokers using broker accounts to collaborate with their agents on transactions and provide pre-approval on forms prior to client delivery. All partners in a transaction can communicate securely and confidently with each other, and can share things as sensitive as wire transfer instructions. Here is the zipLogix™ Community and its features at a glance:

Here are four reasons why you should try the zipLogix® Community today:

1. You stay in control. You choose who can views or edits forms, and they only have access to the forms you send them.
2. It’s free for participants. Recipients receive step-by-step instructions for creating their own free zipLogix® account when you send an invitation to collaborate.
3. Increased security. No need to send and receive forms as email attachments or share your login information.
4. There’s a paper trail. The history tab allows you to see a complete history of edits and documents views.

Every REALTOR® has access to zipLogix Community™ with their zipForm® Plus and zipTMS™ account. To get started with zipCommunity™, check out zipLogix support articles or watch YouTube video.

Continuing Buyer Demand Pushed Pending Sales Up in May

Single-family pending home sales were up over 11 percent in May from last year. Pending condominium sales were also up more than 12 percent this month. The median price for both single-family homes and condos continued to rise. Realtors® confidence both in the market and in home prices was positive in May, with both indexes making slight gains over 2016.

May Pending Sales:

Single Family May 2017 May 2016 % Change
Sales 7,280 6,530 11.5%
Median Price $385,000 $352,700 9.2%
  • Pending sales have been up 50 of the last 51 months
Condominium May 2017 May 2016 % Change
Sales 2,736 2,432 12.5%
Median Price $370,000 $343,000 7.9%
  • Pending sales have been up or flat 19 of the last 21 months

Realtor® Market and Price Confidence Indexes:

Confidence Index May 2017 May 2016 %Change
Market 83.54 81.25 3%
Price 73.94 72.46 2
  • The Realtor® Market Confidence Index has been up or flat for 26 straight months
  • The Realtor® Price Confidence Index has been up for 5 straight 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


The Escalation Clause

Hispanic Couple Viewing Potential New Home

In this market, multiple offers seem to be the norm. To distinguish their offers from others, buyers are increasingly using “escalation clauses” in many areas.

What’s an escalation clause?

An escalation clause is a term that is included in a buyer’s offer that allows the buyer to automatically increase his or her offer to a certain amount. Here at MAR, we are in the process of creating a standard form escalation clause which will be included in the MassForms Library in the near future. Because every transaction is different, we recommend that your buyer clients carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of using an escalation clause, and to always consult with an attorney before including one in an offer.

Key considerations

While the terms in an escalation clauses can vary, most escalation clauses contain the same basic features. These features include the original offer, the amount by which the buyer is willing to escalate his or her offer, the total amount that the buyer is willing to offer (the “cap”) and details about how the buyer will fund the escalated offer. In order for the escalation clause to kick-in, the seller must have received a higher bona fide offer from a competing buyer. A bona fide offer is an offer that is made in good faith and is legitimate and enforceable. At the buyer’s request, the seller must provide documentation to the buyer that the other offer was bona fide.

An escalation clause may not be right for all parties

Your buyer should consider a few things before using an escalation clause in their offer. For example, buyers should be aware that not all sellers accept offers that contain escalation clauses. Some sellers prefer to know the exact amount that a buyer is willing and able to pay for a home. In addition, escalation clauses can lead to increased paperwork and can complicate the final decision about which offer the seller accepts. The buyer should also be aware that escalation clauses reveal to the seller more information than is contained in a traditional offer. This is because the seller will know exactly how much the buyer is willing to pay. The seller could then decline the buyer’s offer and propose a counteroffer above the buyer’s cap.

Watch for the new form in the Massforms Library in the coming weeks. The form will be accompanied by a two page explanation sheet to give buyers and sellers more information to consider when using these clauses.

How to Protect Yourself from Ransomware

There was a widespread outbreak of ransomware attacks, based on a vulnerability in Windows that was released a couple months ago from NSA leaks. Ransomware typically infects a PC through a malicious website (less common) or via clicking an infected link in an email or an attachment (more common.) The infection usually encrypts the user’s files, and demands a ransom in electronic currency to recover them.

Here’s how you can protect yourself:

If you have a Windows machine, such as a personal laptop or home computer, please take a moment today to do a full round of Windows Updates and update any antivirus software you might be using. This should be a regular part of your routine. Try to turn on automatic updates and don’t delay them too often when they prompt you to install or restart – they’re important for exactly this reason.

Be careful opening email attachments, particularly if they appear to be from DropBox, DocuSign, or appear to be from a Realtor®, but contain vague instructions about a contract or financial transaction—the kind of email that looks like it might be something a Realtor sent you by accident or was intended for someone else. See example below.

In this example, the “payload” of infected code is in a link the PDF attachment. The text of the email itself has no malicious links and contains real information for an actual Realtor®. We called that member and she’s dealing with hundreds of these being delivered to her contacts and people she doesn’t know—myself included—but is at least aware of the issue and taking steps to handle it.

Unmask links in your emails to inspect them before clicking them or downloading attachments. If you hover over a link, you can see where it goes without clicking it. If the URL in the preview goes to an unfamiliar website or location (Particularly if the email you’re looking at purports to be from Dropbox or DocuSign but the domain in the URL is something totally different) Example below:

Remember that most of the effective, complex vulnerabilities that can attack even systems with good security like ours tend to rely on code being executed in other programs, like Adobe Acrobat. Many of the serious infection risks occur when a new vulnerability is discovered in how computers handle external files, like PDFs. You can mitigate a lot of risk simply by not downloading attachments from emails that appear suspicious. The whole purpose of these emails being vague and somewhat confusing is to get you to click on the attachment to see if it clarifies things.

Don’t fall for it. Just delete it and move on. If it’s legitimate or important, the sender will contact you again. If you’re not expecting it, it’s probably not something you want. This is a good thing to remember with emails you send, as well – don’t send members or other staff an email that’s just an attachment and no text, or something similar. Take a moment to write at least a one-sentence description of what the purpose of your email is, even if you just talked to the person about it. At the very least, it will help if they (or you) need to search for it later.

Here are a couple links that might be helpful:

Update your Windows systems now. Right now. – Washington Post Story

Microsoft Windows Update Instructions – via Microsoft

Microsoft Ransomware Information – via Microsoft

One additional note on ramsomware: You should always back up important files, but if you are attacked by ransomware and you have no other option, it’s worth noting that paying the ransom to decrypt the files and retrieve them usually does work. These schemes wouldn’t exist if there wasn’t a real mechanism for you to recover the files, and the hackers don’t have any motivation to leave your files encrypted—they just want to get paid.

If you have no other option to retrieve your files and are considering paying a ransomware demand, please feel free to call us to discuss the matter and we can advise you. Paying the ransom does not usually expose you to any additional infection risk. Any system compromised this way should have Windows fully re-installed from scratch anyway, so in some cases paying up might be the lesser evil. We’re here to help, and if you have any questions on the subject, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Closed Home Sales Down in April After Record Inventory Lows and Rising Prices

Front Porch Of Resedential Home With Autumn DecorationsLow inventory and rising prices caught up to the spring market, with single-family home sales decreasing over eight percent from this time last year. Both single-family and condominium prices saw a hike. Condominium sales decreased almost 10 percent from April 2016.

Read more in the full April 2017 Closed Sales Release.

  • April single-family home sales went down -8.5% over last year (3,735 sales in 2017 from 4,082 sales in April 2016)
  • April single-family median prices went up 3.6% year-over-year (to $362,500 in 2017 from $349,900 in April 2016)
  • April condo sales went down -9.5% and median prices went up 4.6% (to $345,000)
  • Inventory in April went down -31.8% to 13,234 and condominiums available down -28.4% to 3,729
  • SF listings added to the market in April went down -9.5% over last year. (7,706 from 8,513 in 2016)
  • Condo listings added to the market went down -11.1% over last year. (2,640 from 2,971 in 2016)