a product message image
{' '} {' '}
Limited time offer
SAVE % on your upgrade

Page 1

THE ISSUE

THE POWER OF BEING 'YOU' ON SOCIAL MEDIA & HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR BRAND VOICE p 4 THE LAW AND EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS p10 PUTTING THEIR FUR BABIES FIRST p14


The Edge You Need to SUCCEED

More than 40 Oꢀces More than 400 Agents More than 200 Cities and Towns 978.314.9706 realtyguild.com inez@realtyguild.com An Association for Independent Real Estate Oꢀces


THE ISSUE

THE POWER OF BEING "YOU" ON SOCIAL MEDIA & HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR BRAND VOICE p 4 EMOTIONAL SUPPORT ANIMALS p10 PUTTING THEIR FUR BABIES FIRST p14

Inside this issue of Bay State REALTOR®

More from MAR » www.marealtor.com/news

2  From the Editor My Parents were ‘Fur Parents’ First REAL ESTATE @ WORK 4 3   How to Sell a Backyard to Buyers who Have a Pet Kris Kiser

4   Real Social The Power of Being 'You' on Social Media & How to Develop Your Brand Voice Teah Hopper

6 Trending Topics: Millennials Looking For PoochPerfect Homes Sabrina Lapointe

8  Infographic: Massachusetts Profile of Home Buyers

and Sellers   

LEGAL NOTES 10

» Massachusetts Association of Realtors® Facebook

10  Legal Realtor® The Law and Emotional Support Animals   Stephen M. Perry, ESQ. 12 Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline

FEATURE 14

14    Putting Their Fur Babies First Brigett McCrea 18  Five Questions With Dr. Michelle Krieger    Keeping Your Animals' Home Happy and Safe

MEMBER VOICES 20 20  President's Message 'Be All That You Can Be!' Kurt Thompson   21  P HOTOFY + NAR + MAR

» MAR Podcasts on iTunes

  22 Congratulations to the 2019 Recipients of the MAR Gratitude Project, Calendar; MAR Podcast 23  MAR Legal Year in Review  24 Commercial Real Estate and the Agency Disclosure Form Paul Yorkis   25 Crazy Real Estate Animal Stories

   

ADVERTISER DIRECTORY Realty Guild....................................IFC RMS................................................5 MassHousing........................7 Osterman Propane..........................13 Fairway Mortgage...........................16

Weichert.......................................17 Mike Krone.......................................19 Pearl................................................21 MLS PIN........................................ .BC

March/April 2020

1


{from the editor}

My Parents were ‘Fur Parents’ First BY ERIC BERMAN If you were to ask my parents who their first child was, they wouldn’t say my name, their actual biological first-born. They would answer with the names of their golden retrievers Fetchit and Sunny. This was in the early 70s and they were “fur parents” before there was even a term for it. Regardless of the time period, growing up with pets is a great experience. My animals were the best companions. When I didn’t have a friend to play with, I always had one of my pets. Growing up on a dead-end street in the suburbs, having a pet seemed rather easy. When they needed to go to the bathroom, they’d scratch on the door and I’d let them out. They’d go do their business, then scratch to come back in. I know that’s not how we’d do it today, but my pets were part of the neighborhood and it worked at the time. However, other than having doors installed on the living room so the dogs and cats wouldn’t go in (or maybe they were put there to keep me and my brother out???), I only remember one pet-specific modification we ever made to the property. It was when we had an inground pool installed. Golden retrievers are known for three things: long hair, a great disposition, and a love of water. My parents understood that if we had an inground pool, there was going to be an excellent chance the dogs would take themselves for a swim. While the long hair in the filter might be a nuisance, their main concern was if they got in that their claws would rip the pool liner when they tried to get out. Because of that, they made sure the pool had stairs and not just ladders. Pet owners today are taking their love of their animals to a whole new level, especially when it comes to the homes they buy and live in. For that reason, you have in your hands our first-ever animal-focused edition of BSR. I also want you to know that we were intentional not to call it our “pets” issue, because service animals also play a role in the homebuying process. In this issue’s feature “Putting Their Fur Babies First” by Bridget McCrae on page 14, you’ll learn six ways you can help your clients find the best home for their furry offspring. In addition to the feature, the animal theme will run through most of the content in the issue including: Notes from the Legal Hotline, Legal Realtor®, 5QW, Trending Topics, Member Benefit Spotlight and more. And because people love their animals, every author (who has one) is pictured with their pet.

Eric with Fetchit circa 1975

P.S. I must share the official American Kennel Club names of my parents’ first two dogs, because they are too fun not to share: Barry’s Lord Fetchit and Sunshine Girl of Truell Pond. Their third dog (one of the puppies from Fetchit and Sunny’s first litter) was named Eric’s Ruff-n-Tumble. Better known as Ruff!

2

Bay State REALTOR®

THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF THE MASSACHUSETTS ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® MARCH/APRIL 2020 VOL. 67, NO.2 PRESIDENT

Kurt Thompson, CBR, CRS, LMC PRESIDENT-ELECT

Stephen Medeiros, CRS, SRES, e-Pro TREASURER

Dawn Ruffini, CHMS, CNS IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT

Anne Meczywor, ARS CBR, CRS, AHWD COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR/ EDITOR IN CHIEF

Eric Berman, RCE PRODUCTION COORDINATOR

Sabrina Lapointe ART DIRECTOR

Sharon Womble ADVERTISING SALES

Julie Lewis (508) 612-4841 (Publication No. 703-610) ISSN: 0891-5539 Published by the Massachusetts Association of Realtors®, Mailing Address: 333 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA 02451-1139 (781) 890-3700 The Bay State REALTOR® magazine is published bi-monthly (Jan./Feb., March/April, May/June, July/August, Sept./Oct., Nov./Dec.), as a member service. Subscriptions are $2.50 per year for members and are paid out of member dues. Non-member subscription rate is $40 per year. The comments and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions, views, or policies of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors®. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. Periodical postage paid at Boston, MA. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Massachusetts Association of Realtors® 333 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA 02451-1139


HOW TO SELL A BACKYARD TO BUYERS WHO HAVE A PET BY KRIS KISER, President & CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI) and the TurfMutt Foundation

Experts agree that having and spending time in green space (i.e. being an “outsider”) has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve memory, boost heart health, and offer a host of other benefits for our minds and bodies. But now a new trend is getting people desiring more green space: pet ownership. Pet ownership—and treating the pet like a favored member of the family—is a megatrend that does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, as this data proves: ■

Fifty-six percent of the U.S. population has a dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook. A third of the millennial generation say having a dog is their primary motivation for buying a home, according to this SunTrust Mortgage study. Three-fourths of homebuyers would pass up on their “dream home” if it wasn’t right for their pet indicated a realtor.com survey. And, pet owners from that same survey said a large yard (45%) and any outdoor space (36%) were the most important home features.

Savvy Bay State Realtors® can capitalize on the pet trend to support sales. Here are some tips for selling the backyard when pets are in the picture.

Focus on grass. Grass is one of the best ground coverings around because it can handle the wear and tear that comes with pets. Bermuda and buffalo grass are especially hardy varieties. But remember to install a grass species that is right for your climate zone. Not only is this environmentally friendly, but it helps save with water usage as well. Sell the shade. Dogs need a place to relax away from the sun after a day of play. A tree or bush can provide the perfect respite for Fido and his humans.

Address activity areas. It’s a good idea for pet parents to train their dogs to do their business in a certain area of the yard. Sturdy, yet soft foliage can create a natural barricade between that space and the rest of the lawn. Also, keep in mind that shrubs make a pretty—and effective—barrier for vegetable gardens.

Point out pet potential. Not every yard is set up to pamper a pet, but point out the potential to create a pet paradise. Is there room to build a pergola for additional shade? Could a fence easily be installed? Maybe there’s a perfect spot for a shallow water feature that could help hot pets cool off during the dog days of summer. A canine obstacle course can provide hours of fun if the space is available to install one.

Look for hazards. Pets do not know the difference between plants that are okay for them and those that are not. A few common toxic plants for dogs are: carnations, chrysanthemums, daffodils, hostas, hydrangea, ivy, lilies, morning glories, rhododendron, tomatoes, and tulips. For a complete list, visit ASPCA's list of nontoxic and toxic plants at www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/ dogs-plant-list. Remind buyers of health benefits. A family’s living landscape contributes to their health and well-being. And, according to a study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, dog owners are more likely to reach their fitness goals than those without a canine companion. To learn more about the benefits of the family yard for pets, people and the planet, go to TurfMutt.com.

March/April 2020

3


real estate @ work

N E W S , T R E N D S , & T O O L S F O R R E A LT O R S ®

{real social}

The Power of Being 'You' on Social Media & How to Develop Your Brand Voice BY TEAH HOPPER  o you have trouble putting yourself out there on social media? I will be the first to admit, it’s not D easy. But the most important things we do are rarely the easiest. Being vulnerable and sharing your unique thoughts and opinions can be scary, but it will make every interaction you have on social media much more meaningful.

But why, exactly, is it so important to share your voice? Well for one, I believe we have all been given unique gifts and that the world needs those gifts. In today’s world, there's no better way to share your gifts than through social media. Secondly, I think as a culture, we are craving authenticity. It's easy to be vanilla on social media and simply say what everyone else is saying. It's harder, but so much more rewarding, to really be you, to talk about the things that you're fired up about—especially if those are things that no one else is talking about. Putting yourself out there takes courage and vulnerability. As a culture, we're really disconnected and isolated, and we're craving someone to connect with. The great thing is that you have the power to make those connections. But how do you do that? It's not easy. So here are four ways that you can really be "you" on social media, lean into who you are, and develop your voice.

1. Know who you are. In order to share your voice, you have to know exactly who you are. Know your brand values and what you stand for. If you don't know your values, what you represent, and what you want to be known for, it's pretty hard to develop your voice and know what to talk about—and how to talk about it. So go back to the drawing board. What are your values? What do you want to be known for? The way you answer those questions will drive everything moving forward. Really get clear on your values, and the rest will be much easier. 4

Bay State REALTOR®

2. Brainstorm topics that you're passionate about. While brainstorming your passions, also keep in mind things that your audience is asking for. What really fires you up? What are the things that no one else is talking about? Or what are the things that everyone's talking about, but you would say a little bit differently? Start talking about those things on social media and your voice will start to develop naturally. Maybe you have a love for animals. Share pictures of your pets or you volunteering at your local animal shelter. You’ll become known for your love of furry four-legged creatures and attract people who share that same passion.

3. Create content with your voice. Now that you know the topics you want to cover, you have to decide how you’re going to talk about them. Here is the thing, you have to create content in your own


voice. If you like to write, you should blog. Start blogging and really let your own ideas and opinions come out through your writing. If you're okay being on camera, then create videos. Or better yet, go Live. If you don't necessarily want to be seen on camera, but you would rather talk, then create a podcast. The important thing is to create original content with your ideas, your own words and your own opinions. Don't just share the same things that everyone else is talking about. Put your ideas out there—people are waiting for them! (Bonus tip to create content in your voice really well: write like you talk.)

passionate about. Don't miss out on all the opportunities that Stories provide. Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb said, "Build something that 100 people love, not something that one million people kind of like." This is the perfect way to sum up this topic. When you start to be you, you’ll attract the right people. Maybe you won’t attract everybody, but you’ll attract your people, and that is the true power of social media.

4. Use Stories. Stories are a great tool to develop your voice and let people know who you are on social media. Whether it's Instagram, Facebook, or both, use Stories to let people know who you are. They’re a good way to share a behind-the-scenes look into what your life is really like. (Like when your dog insists on going to showings with you.) Let people know what it's like to work with you, the things that you enjoy doing and what you’re

March/April 2020

5


{trending topics}

Trending Topics: Millennials Looking for Pooch-Perfect Homes BY SABRINA LAPOINTE The days of the doghouse in the back yard are long gone. Well, maybe they’re still here, but decking out the doghouse isn’t the only thing homeowners are doing for their pets nowadays.

Helping clients find the home of their dreams has changed. For many, that dream now includes features for their furry (or sometimes not-so-furry) friends. Brushing up on all the latest pet-friendly home trends may just help you lead more clients to their dream home. According to the 2019 Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report by the National Association of Realtors®, millennials made up the largest share of home buyers at 37 percent. Older millennials at 26 percent and younger millennials at 11 percent of the share of homebuyers. Not only are millennials making up the majority of the buyer pool, but they also happen to be leading the way in pet ownership. Given this information, it’s a no-brainer to become wellversed in what pets need in homes. For many millennials, their animal is much more than just a pet, some would argue they are like their first-born child. When considering what they want in a home, millennials will keep their furry-friend top of mind. Avocado toast and snapchat filters, step aside. There’s a new millennial trend in town and it’s pet-friendly homes. Here are just a couple of features millennials in the market will be on the look-out for.

1. A fully fenced-in backyard Especially for us up in Massachusetts where winters can be harsh, having a fenced-in yard is key when it comes to exercising your pet. Walking your dog isn’t always practical with New England winters, so it’s important to have that space for your pet to burn off energy. 6

Bay State REALTOR®

2. Proximity to dog parks and walking paths While exercising your pet is a top priority, so is socializing your pet. Many pet owners want to make sure their dog gets exposure to other dogs and has the opportunity to play.


3. Having a mudroom Pet owners know walking their four-legged friends oftentimes comes with a very dirty price. No one wants to bring dirt and mud into their home. Having a mudroom gives pet owners a place to store wipes and towels to clean off their dog prior to entering the main living space. Some even install pet washing stations. It is clear that buyers are considering more than just their personal needs when searching for a home. It is more important than ever to understand the unique needs of these millennials or really any aged pet owner. According to a report from the National Association of Realtors®, 99% of pet owners said they consider their animal as part of their family. In the same way that clients look for a home that meets the needs for their children, millennial clients are seeking homes that fit the needs for their pets.

ꢀꢁꢂꢂꢃꢄꢅꢂꢆꢇꢈꢉꢂꢊꢋꢄꢌꢊꢍꢄꢁꢇꢊꢎꢏꢆꢐꢑꢒꢊꢍꢆꢂꢓ

ꢀꢁꢂꢃꢄꢅꢆꢇꢃꢈꢉꢉꢊꢃꢋꢇꢆꢈꢁꢌꢇꢍꢂꢌꢎꢋꢏꢋꢂꢐꢊꢇꢑꢈꢐꢊꢒꢁꢆꢊꢌꢎꢇ ꢋꢈꢇꢈꢁꢌꢇꢋꢈꢓꢇꢅꢈꢔꢉꢇꢈꢕꢂꢃꢊꢌꢎꢖ ꢀꢁꢂꢁꢃꢄꢔꢔꢔꢕꢖꢁꢂꢂꢗꢄꢅꢂꢆꢇꢈꢕꢐꢄꢖꢘꢙꢑꢇꢚꢑꢒꢂ ꢋꢗꢑꢂꢑꢊꢛꢇꢄꢔꢙꢑꢚꢈꢑꢁꢜꢙꢑꢊꢍꢎꢂꢊꢐꢁꢇꢊꢑꢝꢅꢆꢌꢊ ꢄꢅꢒꢊꢜꢅ ꢑꢒꢂꢊꢔꢆꢓꢗꢊꢓꢗꢑꢊꢀꢁꢂꢂꢃꢄꢅꢂꢆꢇꢈꢊꢙꢄꢁꢇꢊ ꢓꢗꢁꢓꢊꢆꢂꢊꢒꢆꢈꢗꢓꢊ!ꢄꢒꢊꢓꢗꢑꢖꢕꢊꢋꢗꢑ ꢊꢐꢁꢇꢊꢈꢅꢆꢚꢑꢊꢝꢅꢁꢙꢆ!ꢆꢑꢚꢊꢜꢅ ꢑꢒꢂꢊꢓꢄꢊꢌꢒꢄꢚꢅꢐꢓꢂꢊꢂꢅꢐꢗꢊꢁꢂꢊ

ꢈꢁꢌꢇꢊꢗꢓꢔꢉꢘꢊꢘꢇꢘꢈꢙꢉꢓꢔꢆꢐꢊꢉꢋꢇꢔꢎꢎꢂꢎꢋꢔꢉꢃꢊꢇꢓꢌꢈꢚꢌꢔꢐꢖ

E Q UA L H O U S I N G

O P P O RT U N I T Y

ꢀꢁꢂꢃꢄꢅꢆꢇꢈꢄꢈꢉꢊꢆꢋꢁꢌꢆꢃꢉꢍꢅꢎꢆꢎꢅꢊꢉꢎꢈꢂꢉꢈꢃꢁꢊꢆ ꢋꢏꢏꢇꢐꢑꢆꢊꢒꢓꢔꢅꢂꢉꢆꢉꢃꢆꢂꢎꢅꢌꢈꢉꢆꢋꢏꢏꢎꢃꢕꢋꢇ

March/April 2020

7


2   019 Profile of Home Buyers and

HOME BUYERS FINANCING

45% OF ALL

88%

MASSACHUSETTS BUYERS IN 2019 WERE

FINANCED THEIR FIRST HOME PURCHASE

FIRST-TIME BUYERS MEDIAN AGE:

32

51%

15

RESPONDED STUDENT LOANS MAKE DOWNPAYMENT DIFFICULT

YEARS YOUNGER THAN NATIONAL MEDIAN

MEDIAN INCOME:

$119,600

HOME SEARCH PROCESS

INCREASED $12,700 IN MA SINCE 2018 INCREASED BY $2,800 IN US OVERALL

61%

MARRIED COUPLES

15% SINGLE FEMALES

% 10 11%

UNMARRIED COUPLES

SINGLE MALES

VETERANS

14% 2%

16%

AGENT TO BE USEFUL IN HOME 87% FOUND SEARCH PROCESS 93% PURCHASED THROUGH A REAL ESTATE AGENT

CHARACTERISTICS OF HOMES PURCHASED % 40 WANTED ABILITY

ACTIVE-DUTY SERVICE MEMBERS

3% INCREASE IN MA DRIVEN BY DESIRE TO OWN 37% PURCHASE A HOME 8% HIGHER THAN THE NATIONAL AVERAGE 8

Bay State REALTOR®

FIRST STEP WAS CONTACT A REAL ESTATE AGENT

NEW HOMES

7

%

TO CUSTOMIZE DESIGN FEATURES

TYPICAL HOME WAS

MILES BETWEEN HOMES THAT RECENT BUYERS PURCHASED AND THE HOMES THAT THEY MOVED FROM

10

1,750 SQ. FT. AND BUILT IN 1964


d  S ellers Massachusetts Report  Prepared by the National Association of Realtors® Research Division

SELLERS SELLING INFLUENCES

HOME SELLERS

MEDIAN AGE

21% 16% 13

54

MEDIAN INCOME:

$138,500

YEARS

SOLD THEIR HOUSE BECAUSE IT WAS TOO SMALL DESIRE TO MOVE CLOSER TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY PEOPLE LIVED IN THEIR HOMES BEFORE SELLING

SELLING EXPERIENCE

20%

OFFERED INCENTIVES

63%

PLEASED WITH SELLING PROCESS

+$19,200

94%

MEDIAN INCOME IS UP FROM LAST YEAR

WORKED WITH A REAL ESTATE AGENT

EQUITY EARNED IN HOMES RECENTLY SOLD

HOME SELLING PROCESS

63

sellers found their agent through % aofreferral from a  friend, neighbor, or a

76

of sellers contacted only one agent % before finding the right agent to

88 73%

97,000

$

relative or used an agent they had worked with before.

60,000

$

IN MA

IN USA

work with.

% of sellers listed their home on MLS. of sellers have recommended their agent three or more times.

March/April 2020

9


legal notes T R A N S L AT I N G T H E L A W F O R Y O U

{legal Realtor ®}

Steve Perry's dog Zhu Zhu

The Law and Emotional Support Animals BY STEPHEN M. PERRY, ESQ ., Casner & Edwards, LLP Many real estate agents have heard about the Arizona broker who received a $1,200 cleaning bill because an emotional support animal twice peed on the carpet at an open house. Real estate brokers are frequently called upon to deal with emotional support or other service animals not just in connection with open houses, but also when properties are for sale or rent prohibit pets.

The widespread confusion that prevails on the subject of these assistance animals is understandable. The Department of Justice has defined very narrowly the types of “service animals” that must be accommodated under the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Under the ADA, only certain dogs and miniature horses trained to perform tasks for the disabled, such as seeing eye dogs, have to be accommodated. However, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) has taken a much broader view of things under the Fair Housing Act (“FHA”).

Applicable Laws It is the FHA and Massachusetts Fair Housing Laws (M.G.L. ch. 151B), rather than the ADA, that applies in the most important contexts: 1. rentals that bar or restrict pets; 2. sales of condominium units where the association prohibits or restricts pets; and 3. open houses for a client who does not want pets on the premises. HUD construes the FHA as requiring reasonable accommodations not just for trained service animals, but also for 10

Bay State REALTOR®

emotional support animals (“ESAs”) which may not have received training. ESAs are defined as an animal that “provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified symptoms or effects of a person's disability.”

Emotional Support Animals (ESA) An ESA is usually a cat or dog, but the law does not restrict the type of animal, so theoretically, an ESA could be any type of animal. There is no official registry or certification of ESAs. The animal does not need specialized training and is not required to wear a “Service Animal” vest or any other type of identification. Anyone can go on the Internet and buy a “service animal” coat, probably with some official-looking but phony certification, but this does not prove that the owner has a disability that the animal helps to ameliorate. For purposes of the FHA, a disability is a condition that, if not treated, would impair one or more major life activities, such as caring for oneself, sleeping, reading, concentrating, thinking, communicating, and working. Conditions such as depression and anxiety that impair sleeping,

concentrating, or working also satisfy the FHA’s definition of disabilities.

Documentation When an individual who cannot see shows up with a seeing eye dog, the need for the animal is readily apparent. In such cases, one cannot lawfully ask for documentation of the need for the animal. Often in the case of ESAs, the person’s mental or emotional disability and the disability-related need for the animal are not so apparent. In such cases, HUD guidance makes it lawful to require the owner of the animal to provide “reliable documentation from a physician, psychiatrist, social worker, or other mental health professional that the animal provides emotional support that alleviates one or more of the identified symptoms or effects of an existing disability.” Such documentation is sufficient “if it establishes that an individual has a disability and that the animal in question will provide some type of disability-related assistance or emotional support.” The FHA rules do not spell out further what constitutes reliable documentation.


Based on the guidance issued by HUD on January 28, 2020, information about a person’s disability may include: (1) A determination of disability from a government entity; (2) Receipt of disability benefits; (3) Housing assistance based on disability; or (4) information from a health care professional. Housing providers may not require the use of a specific form, notarization, or detailed information regarding a person’s mental or physical impairments. The documentation must demonstrate that the person seeking the accommodations has a disability and that the animal alleviates one or more symptoms of that person’s disability. HUD further recommends that the documentation includes: (1) the patient’s name; (2) whether the person’s impairment(s) substantially limits at least one major life activity or major bodily function; and (3) whether the patient needs the animal and the type of animal for which the accommodation is sought. If the individual provides the foregoing documentation, that is generally sufficient. There is no right to talk to the provider, to obtain specific details of the disability, or to see actual medical records.

Reasonable Accommodations Once reliable documentation has been received that an animal is indeed an ESA within the FHA and Massachusetts regulations, waiving a no pet policy or making an exemption to a pet restriction is usually required as a reasonable accommodation. There are limited exceptions to this rule: 1. the request to allow a pet would impose an undue financial and administrative burden; 2. allowing the animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider's services;

3. the specific animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others and cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation; or 4. the specific animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. These exceptions will rarely apply. HUD stated in 2006 that a hardship exception might apply if the housing provider’s insurance would be canceled because of the animal’s presence and if there were no other comparable insurances available without such a restriction. HUD also suggested that such insurance policy restrictions, when applied to an ESA, may constitute unlawful conduct on the part of the insurer. A request for an ESA cannot be denied because of the specific breed of the animal. Any denial because the animal poses a threat to people or property must be based on the known characteristics of the individual animal. This exception will rarely be applicable when there is no history of dealing with the specific animal. What should a Realtor® do in representing a housing provider with a no pets policy when a prospective tenant says their animal is an ESA? In such a case, the housing provider is entitled to request and receive the reliable documentation from a provider described above. If the housing provider rejects the ESA request in the face of seemingly adequate documentation furnished by the tenant, the Realtor® should advise their client to speak with an attorney, and, if necessary, cease

representation. Acquiescing in the wrong decision and continuing to represent the housing provider may lead to significant liability, just as it might in connection with cases of discrimination on account of race or other protected categories. Potential ESA issues are also lurking in connection with the purchase and sale of condominiums that prohibit or restrict pets. Buyers who have ESAs or service animals have the right under the FHA and Massachusetts laws to demand that the condominium association waive its pet restrictions. Realtors® should not be steering those with ESAs or service animals away from residences for sale or rent on the basis of pet restrictions. If a client says an animal is an ESA, a Realtor® should advise their client to make sure that they have the reliable documentation that will ultimately be needed to deal with the condominium association or other housing provider.

Documentation Finally, in the open house scenario, it is the owner who may require documentation of ESA status to bring a pet on the property. Realtors® should not place themselves in a situation where they are the one deciding whether to permit an animal into the property. Realtors® are required to follow the lawful instructions of their clients, but a blanket prohibition on all animals entering the property may not be a lawful instruction in the case of ESAs and service animals. When an animal enters the open house, the Realtor® should obtain the contact information of the animal’s owner so that there is recourse in case any damage occurs. March/April 2020

11


Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline BY JUSTIN DAVIDSON, ESQ., Government Affairs Director & General Counsel CATHERINE TAYLOR, ESQ., Associate Counsel JONATHAN SCHREIBER, ESQ., Legislative & Regulatory Counsel Catherine Taylor's dog Haley

Q. A tenant is asking permission to have an emotional support animal and the building does not allow pets –can I say no? A: In many situations you may be required to make an exception to a “no pets” policy for a tenant who requires an assistance animal. Under Fair Housing laws, an assistance animal is an animal that works, provides assistance, or performs tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability, or that provides emotional support that alleviates one or more identified effects of a person’s disability. An assistance animal is not a pet. Housing providers may not refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices, or services when an accommodation may be necessary to afford a person with a disability the equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling. An interactive process must take place between the housing provider and the tenant, and the housing provider must make an individualized assessment for each request for a reasonable accommodation. Breed, size, and weight limitations may not be applied to an assistance animal, nor may a housing provider impose an additional financial burden on the tenant for having an assistance animal in the property. The interactive process is triggered when a request is received by or for a person with a disability. The request must be supported by reliable disability-related information if the need for the assistance animal is not 12

Bay State REALTOR®

readily apparent. A housing provider may not ask an applicant or tenant to provide access to medical records or medical providers to provide detailed or extensive information or documentation of a person's physical or mental impairments. For additional information on what a housing provider may request from an individual seeking a reasonable accommodation, please see the HUD’s Notice issued on January 28, 2020: “Assessing a Person’s Request to Have an Animal as a Reasonable Accommodation Under the Fair Housing Act.” Additionally, there is no requirement that an assistance animal be specifically trained, certified, or registered. When a tenant or applicant has provided information demonstrating the need for an assistance animal, there are only very limited circumstances where the request for a reasonable accommodation may be denied: 1. Allowing the animal would impose an undue financial and administrative burden on the Housing Provider; 2. Allowing the animal would fundamentally alter the nature of the housing provider’s services; 3. The specific animal in question poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others and cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation; or 4. The specific animal in question would cause substantial physical damage to the property of others that cannot be reduced or eliminated by another reasonable accommodation. A housing provider may require the assistance animal to be up-to-date on appropriate vaccines and to be registered with the city or town, if necessary. The tenant may also be required to clean up after the animal, keep it properly restrained, and keep it under control. The tenant may be financially responsible for the cost of repairing any damage caused by the animal, as well. It is always recommended to seek legal counsel prior to denying an accommodation request.


Q: We have a signed offer, but no deposit check from the buyer–do we have a contract? A. A contract to purchase real estate is binding if there is a written offer, acceptance, and consideration. “Consideration,” while commonly thought to be the equivalent of money, simply means “something of value,” which may be an act, a forbearance, a material item, or some other form of compensation. In real estate, agreements to purchase property are bilateral contracts in which there is a mutual exchange of promises, whereby the promises themselves act as the consideration necessary to bind the contract–i.e. the buyer has promised to purchase the property for a set price and the seller has accepted this offer by promising to sell. A deposit typically serves to demonstrate good faith and adds a layer of protection for the seller in the event of a buyer’s default. If the contract to purchase specifically calls for the remittance of a deposit to bind the offer, such as MAR’s Contract to Purchase, failure on the part of the buyer to deliver a deposit as specified in the contract would result in

no binding contract being formed. However, if the contract to purchase does not state that a deposit is required to bind the offer, a buyer’s failure to remit a deposit would likely constitute a breach of the contract, but a binding contract would still exist. Written by: by Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; and Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel. Service provided through the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorneyclient relationship. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service. The Massachusetts Association of Realtors® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics, authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at legalhotline@marealtor.com.

March/April 2020

13


Putting Their

Fur Babies First

®

By Bridget McCrea

More homebuyers are putting their beloved animals first in the home selection process. Here are six ways Realtors® can help them get what they want while also keeping their furry and feathered friends happy. As the golden retriever cautiously worked her way over to the edge of the deck and saw the stairway she’d have to walk down to get out to the backyard, it was immediately clear that Kara wasn’t going to make the descent willingly. The property was perfect in all other ways, having met all of the new homeowner’s expectations. What that new homeowner didn’t anticipate was that her fur baby would almost make her regret her buying decision. “My buyer was downsizing to a single-level home, so I found her the perfect house in a good walking neighborhood for her dog,” says Allison Atwood, a Realtor® and Certified Estate Manager at Kinlin Grover Real Estate in Yarmouth Port. The home had a fenced-in backyard, but a walkout basement setup required anyone going outside to use the staircase—dogs included. “We didn’t think that would be a big deal,” she continues, “but that stairway spooked her.” 14

Bay State REALTOR®

With a frustrated homeowner on her hands, Atwood sprang into action. Knowing a thing or two about canine habits based on her experience— both as a pet owner and through the volunteer work she does with her certified therapy dog—she invited some of Kara’s buddies over to play

Allison Atwood

and to (hopefully) show her how to walk down the stairs. Before long the whole group was using the stairway without a problem. “The owner was really devasted because she thought she’d found the perfect home,” says Atwood. “Luckily, the dog made the adjustment and learned that the stairs were friendly, and not scary.”

A Penchant for Pets Atwood’s experience is just one of many examples of how pet owners are making their furry and feathered friends a part of the home-buying conversation. The trend is playing out with all generations of homeowners, but is especially prevalent (and reported on) among millennials. Now aged 24 to 39, this group has a penchant for pets and isn’t afraid to put their animals first when shopping for homes. According to TD Ameritrade, seven out of 10 millennials own a pet, with 56% of them owning dogs and 36% owning cats. Collectively, these individuals spend $67 billion on their dogs and $33.5 billion on their cats every year. According to realtor. com’s latest count, 89% of millennial homebuyers own pets and 79% of them say they’d pass on an otherwise perfect home if that property didn’t meet those pets’ needs.


Bill Gassett of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Hopkinton says he’s seeing a “keen sense of awareness” among pet owners who want homes that will accommodate their animals. “They keep this in mind when looking for properties; there’s no doubt about that,” says Gassett, who pays attention to homeowners’ association rules, breed restrictions, and other requirements that might impact pet owners’ ability to buy in certain neighborhoods or buildings. “’Do you have any pets?” is one of the first things I ask about when I start working with a new client.”

A National Trend Homebuyers in Massachusetts aren’t the only ones putting their pets first. According to Courtney Keene, director of operations at homeowner-contractor marketplace MyRoofingPal, millennials as a whole appear to be driving the trend. “They're waiting later and later to have kids, so their pets (and especially their dogs) are a part of their families,” says Keene, “and you wouldn't buy a home without considering your kids’ needs.” She says this under-40 demographic is also more vocal about its needs, so they're approaching Realtors®, looking for their input and expertise on which homes would be best for their pets. “What I've found is that millennials with pets—and especially with large dogs—will tend to make them a priority,” says Keene. “When shopping for a home or condo, pet owners are looking at all the usual things, but they also specifically seeking out dogfriendly properties and areas.” Yard space is another obvious must-have for dog owners, says Keene. “Listings with fenced in front and back yards are far more marketable to dog owners, since it means the dog has to be taken on less walks, and can exercise freely on the property,” she points out. “Another huge thing (for me especially, having large dogs who will just destroy everything if given half a chance) is a home that's low maintenance.” For example, Keene says tile or

hardwood floors that are easy to clean, baseboards that stand up to claws, and doors that can't be chewed through are all selling points for homeowners that are marketing to pet owners. “One final thing that’s often overlooked is the need for single-story homes for people who have senior pets,” says Keene. “Stairs are incredibly hard on the joints, and homeowners taking care of senior pets want to know their home is going to be as comfortable as possible.”

Finding the Purr-fect Property From their vantage points as trusted advisors during the home-buying process, Realtors® are in a great position to help their clients find properties that not only meet their requirements, but are also petfriendly and accommodating. Here are six strategies that all agents can use when working with pet owners: ■ Learn how to talk the “pet friendly” language. “Pet friendly is about more than just having some yard space,” Keene points out. Look at homes that you or other Realtors® have sold to people who have large dogs and consider why those properties sold. Ask your clients with pets what they specifically need in a home, she adds, and don't be afraid to bring up the topic even if they don't. “They'll appreciate the consideration,” says Keene, “and you'll be more likely to make a sale because you’ll be meeting their specific needs.” ■ Love all, serve all. It’s not just dogs that are getting all of the attention in the real estate world right now. People also have cats, birds, iguanas, horses, and myriad other pets that have to be factored into their buying decisions. Atwood—who often features her “fluffy Cape Cod Corgi” Phoebe in her marketing materials and social media—helps buyers understand the environment in her area (i.e., in Cape Cod there are some coyotes that could be a threat to outside cats) and the creature comforts that they should be looking for in their new homes. An indoor cat, for example, might enjoy a screened-in porch that allows the enjoyment of the outdoors without actually being outside. For homes

lacking this feature, Atwood talks to buyers about adding a small, screened-in “outdoor condo” to accommodate their cats. “Sometimes all it takes is a minor adjustment to make everyone happy,” she says. ■ Work from the outdoors in. If the home has a fenced-in yard with room to roam in it, it’s probably a good candidate for a dog owner. If it doesn’t, check whether there are restrictions for clearing more land and creating that type of space. “Research wetlands or conservation requirements as they can prohibit a homeowner from expanding a home’s yard space,” Gassett advises. Other important considerations include the neighborhood itself, how easy it will be to walk a pet (e.g., are there sidewalks? Is it well-lit at night?), and whether amenities like dog parks are within close proximity. ■ Ask the right questions (and listen to the answers). Listen and compassionately understand the needs of a buyer with a canine friend, as the pet is a part of the family, says Atwood. The health and comfort of a pet can range from a factor in deciding on a new home, to the guiding reason for a decision. We find the field of service dogs has grown and the requirements for this buyer may be specifically different in terms of property type. There are buyers with emotional support dogs and as with the service dog, if this buyer is looking at a condominium purchase it is paramount the condo association understands this category thoroughly as the association cannot refuse them entrance. ■ Know the rules and regulations. Being based in Toronto, Ara Mamourian runs into some interesting challenges when matching homebuyers with properties, many of which are high-rise condos. He and his dog “Cody the Closer” put extra time into finding the most pet-friendly properties in the city, checking out the newest dog parks, and learning the rules and regulations that could impact buyers and their fur babies. “There are some places that restrict the number of pets that someone can have or the weight of those March/April 2020

15


pets,” says Mamourian, a broker with Property.ca Realty, Inc., who uses Cody on his marketing materials and considers him a part of this family. “When potential clients see Cody and see that my pets are important to me, they know that I’ll always look out for their best interests as pet owners.”

Estate in Sandwich, says she noticed that the abode had a separate laundry room that led right out into a fenced yard. Eyeing up the utility sink, Rezendes thought to herself, “this home would be great for someone who had a small, crate-trained dog.” She shared this thought with the listing Realtor®, who loved it and worked it into her marketing spiel. Rezendes says highlighting this and other pet-friendly features can be great selling tools for homeowners. “Look at the whole family— pets included,” she says, “and how the house can accommodate them.”

Final Words of Wisdom

Karen Rezendez ■ Work “pet-friendly” features into your sales pitches. The fact that more buyers are putting their furry friends first when selecting homes opens the doors for sellers that want to market to this group of buyers. While on a recent tour of homes for sale, Karen Rezendes of Kinlin Grover Real

16

Bay State REALTOR®

Nationally, 67% of U.S. households (or about 85 million families) own a pet, up from 56% in 1988. As the ranks of pet owners continues to grow, the opportunity to serve the homebuyers and sellers among them is expanding exponentially. To agents that want to do a better job of working with these clients, Gassett says a good first step is to simply listen to what they want and need—both for themselves and for their beloved pets.

“Sometimes buyers will keep things in the back of their minds that they're looking for, but they don't express them,” says Gassett. “It’s up to us to glean that information and use it in the buyer’s best interest. This also helps avoid time wasted showing properties that just don’t make sense.” Keene tells agents to think creatively when showing properties that aren’t “purr-fect” matches, and particularly when the buyer is downsizing or moving to an urban setting. “We’re seeing a trend of people needing to get by with less space. It's just the nature of our cities and suburbs right now, and you're not always going to be able to offer the big, fenced-in yard,” she explains. “However, what you can offer is a home on a safe, well-lit street with sidewalks on both sides of the road and a house that—while smaller—is easier for a busy pet owner to clean and maintain.”


5QW

Five Questions With Dr. Michelle Krieger

Keeping Your Animals' Home Happy and Safe Dr. Krieger is a small animal veterinarian and certified acupuncturist with over 23 years of experience. She is a current associate of the At Home Veterinary group which is a mobile practice serving Greater Boston and Metrowest.

Q1.

How can someone make their new home more animal friendly?

A. To make a new home more animal friendly, first and foremost cat/dog proof your new home as you would for a baby. Make sure there is no exposure to chemicals, such as cleaning products, rat/ant baits, lead paint, toxic plants, human foods, certain essential oils, exposed wires, nails etc. I would actually bring an old toy, blanket, bed, or old piece of clothing to the new home, so the pet feels more secure.

Q4.

What’s the one item you would get for your animal if you were moving into a new home?

A. One item I would get for my pet moving into a new home is ironically an old toy or bed. Your pet will enjoy something that has comforting smells from their previous environment. For a cat, I would get a tall scratching post with a high landing so the cat can get away from the stress of a new environment.

Q3.

 ow can someone make H the moving process more

comfortable for their animals?

Q2.

What is a safety feature you think all animals-owners should  have in their homes?

A. There are a few safety features that all pet owners should have in their home. Smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and even some overthe-counter medications are helpful in an emergency setting. Benadryl for allergic reactions, styptic powder to stop bleeding, and hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting for toxic ingestions. Please check with your veterinarian before using any of these medications.

18

Bay State REALTOR®

A. To make the moving process more comfortable for your pets, I would recommend boarding them during the actual move. I would purchase some natural remedies for stress/anxiety such as Adaptil collars for dogs and Feliway pheromone products for cats. There are also prescription medications that can be helpful for anxiety/stress as well. Your veterinarian can dispense these medications if appropriate.

Q5.

What home feature(s) would be problematic for animals that buyers should avoid?

A. A few home features that could be problematic for some pets include living on a busy street if you have an anxious dog/cat or one that likes to bark when he/she hears voices and sounds.Lack of a backyard or a fence can be problematic for a very active dog if multiple walks per day is not an option. For older animals, hardwood and tile floors can be very slippery. Multiple steps going into the home or steep staircases can also pose a problem to a geriatric dog or cat as well. Cats love to walk on beams and railings so beware of those in a home if you have adventurous cats!


member voices R E A LT O R ® V I E W S

{president’s message}

'Be All That You Can Be!' BY KURT THOMPSON

Kurt Thompson's dog Thea

Many of you will remember that famous Army jingle playing on your radio or television. That highly memorable and catchy slogan ran for 21 years from 1980 through 2001. It personally resonated with me as a young man, and also led many other young adults to seek our higher selves through service to the country. It was a promise that if you joined something that was bigger than yourself, destiny would lead you to becoming your best self. 2020 is going to be a fantastic year, and I want to call upon you to “be all that you can be.” Specifically, I want you to be the best Realtor® you can be! I strongly believe that when you truly feel the charge of being a Realtor®, you live your professional life in service to your clients, your fellow Realtors® and the industry. This uplifts your life and leaves both the industry and the world a better place. Seek to be the best you can be in 2020 in three important areas:

1 . Seek to become your best self. Strive to do everything at a higher level and seek personal improvement daily. You are the source of all of your success, and challenging yourself to be better is often a hard thing to do. I try to live by a philosophy that everything can be improved. To never be satisfied with “good” when it can be “great.” Each day, work hard to get just a little bit stronger or become just one percent better in each of the areas that you seek to improve.

2 . Seek exceptional client experiences. Improve the way you deliver services and seek to enrich the client experience. It is easy to become comfortable with how you practice. When you get to a certain level of knowledge and experience, many times you just operate on autopilot. You must break through that comfort level and ask every day, “How can I make the client experience even better?” Endeavor not only to successfully get the client to the finish line in their

20

Bay State REALTOR®

transaction, but to also have it be the best experience they have ever had with a Realtor®!

3 . Seek and engage your fellow Realtors®. Engage a community where friendly “Coop-atition” is the norm and not the exception. A community where you live not only by the rules of the Code of Ethics, but also by the spirit of its lofty ideas. Where you seek to create an environment of professionalism, respect, and operate with best practices at the heart of all you do. To strive each day to live by the ‘Golden Rule’ and create the culture in which you want to practice. I believe 2020 is your year! Not only for explosive personal and professional growth, but the year where you reach out to your Realtor® Association, connect with your fellow Realtors® and engage with an industry that has so much to offer you. The Realtor® Association is calling you and wants you to “Be the best Realtor® you can be!”


PHOTOFY + NAR + MAR BY SHELBY O'HARE In February of 2019, NAR launched a marketing campaign inspired by the Code of Ethics titled “That’s Who We R®.” The campaign aimed to highlight what it means to be a Realtor® and the continuous impact Realtors® have as property owner advocates, engaged community members, and trusted industry experts. You may have used these videos yourself, or seen MAR’s co-branded ads on Facebook or Instagram. With a reach of over 400,000 people, MAR was able to get out the word by telling compelling stories that underscore the Realtor® promise, displaying Realtors® and their commitment to their clients’ futures, their neighborhoods, and their own futures. NAR has partnered with Photofy to create an NAR-branded app that makes it simple for members to personalize a selection of campaign content with their photo, logo, or contact information. You can easily connect

your social media accounts in just a few taps and you can start sharing and leveraging the power of the That’s Who We R® campaign within your network. The app comes pre-loaded with sharable content like social media graphics to videos. You’ll get updates when new content becomes available, so you’ll always stay relevant. You can sign up at photofy.com/nar for free access to Photofy's exclusive toolset for NAR members and start leveraging the national ad campaign on social media.

March/April 2020

21


Congratulations to the 2019 Recipients of the MAR Gratitude Project The MAR Gratitude Project was created by the 2018-2019 Leadership Academy as a way to recognize the unsung heroes of the Realtor® community. Honorees must be Massachusetts Association of Realtors® members and must have engaged in or performed a discernable act of kindness/charity/service outside of their ordinary duties as a real estate professional. Those recognized will receive a small token of gratitude in the mail along with a personalized thank-you card from the MAR President. The following people have been named Gratitude Project recipients in 2019: Vanessa Anamisis, Coco Early & Associates in Haverhill Nancy Castagna, OPEN DOOR Real Estate in Sterling Laurie Drucker, RTN Realty Advisors in Brookline Sara Gasparrini, RE/MAX Professional Associates in Sturbridge ■ Michael Giovangelo, Keller Williams Realty in Framingham ■ Jasmine Jina Ortiz, Keller Williams Realty Pinnacle Center in Worcester ■ Eileen Jonah-Daly, Century 21 Tradition in Lynn ■ Peter Keane, Jr., William Raveis in Plymouth ■ Jeanne Lillie, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Worcester ■ Debra Manning, High Pointe Properties in Swansea ■ Maureen Mansfield, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Scituate ■ Marion Mason, Real Living Realty Professionals in Longmeadow ■ Nicole Moore, Keller Williams Realty Northampton in Northampton ■ Denise Olivares-Molina, Coco Early & Associates Olivares and Molina Division in Haverhill ■ Catherine Parker, Carrington Real Estate Service in Wakefield ■ George Raymond, Herbert W. Raymond & Son, Realtors® in Weymouth ■ Peter Ruffini, Keller Williams Realty Longmeadow in Longmeadow ■ Lisa Sprague, Realtor® Association of Central MA, in Auburn ■ Leslie Storrs, Lamacchia Realty in Leominster ■ Bob Sullivan, Bay Market Real Estate in Swansea ■ Patrick Sweeney, RE/MAX Professional in Sturbridge ■ Harold Taylor, Portside Real Estate in Duxbury ■ Amy Troup, Molisse Realty Group in Marshfield ■ John Vaillancourt, MA Homes LLC In Brimfield ■ Amy Wallick, J. Barrett & Company in Prides Crossing Do you know a Realtor® who has gone out of their way to make their community or their association a little better? Have you ever wanted to recognize th——at person formally but weren’t sure how? Please visit www.marealtor. com/gratitude and fill out a short form to nominate a Realtor® you know for this recognition. ■ ■ ■ ■

22

Bay State REALTOR®

CALENDAR March 19 & 25 GRI 102: Managing Risk and Avoiding Lawsuits (CE-6) MAR HQ, 333 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA Students learn to acknowledge environmental issues, avoid liability, keep accurate records, properly disclose information, and reduce risk. March 19: Andy Consoli 8:00 am – 12:15 pm Anita Hill 1:15 pm – 5:30 pm

April 21 & 28 GRI 301: Technology (CE-2) MAR HQ, 333 Wyman Street, Waltham, MA Students learn to use tech tools and sell real estate, produce video and market real estate online. April 21: Kim Allard 8:00 am – 5:30 pm April 28: Kim Allard 8:00 am – 4:30 pm

Subscribe to MAR Podcasts MAR is back on its podcast game. We are producing episodes each month about legal information, housing market updates, government affairs updates, as well as uploading our webinars in the form of a podcast. To subscribe to our podcasts, go to bit.ly/marpodcasts. You can also go to marealtor.com/pod for additional show notes. Happy listening!


Save the Date:

2020 Margaret C. Carlson Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill Wednesday, June 16, 2020 Massachusetts State House

2019 MAR Legal Year in Review Choosing our top moments is a lot like asking a proud parent to pick their favorite child, but we’ll do our best to be brief. Some of our key 2019 accomplishments included: ■

Attend Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill to get up close and personal with legislators and make an impact. Hear from MAR staff and an exciting key note speaker (TBA) about the key legislative issues that will affect the real estate industry and private property rights. Local associations and Realtors® are encouraged to meet with their legislators after the speaking program. Do not miss out on this grassroots opportunity to show that Realtors® are directly involved in the legislative process. Contact your local association for details.

■ ■

■ ■

Securing exemption for Realtors® from the new Paid Family and Medical Leave Tax; Supporting the GreenWorks climate change resiliency bill that unanimously passed the House; Enacting desperately needed legislation to bring Massachusetts into federal compliance on appraisal management company licensing; Successfully advocating for several legislative and regulatory clarifications to help members more easily comply with the new Short-Term Rental statute; Arranging a meet-and-greet with Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for 30 members in Washington, D.C.; Providing legal updates, advice, and relevant forms for several thousand Realtors®; and Creating the “First $500” early recognition program for MA RPAC investors.

2020 brings with it the promise of further accomplishments. We are especially excited about the official launch of our new legal podcast, Sidebar, and at the end of the two-year legislative cycle, which often brings forth a flurry of legislative activity.

Woman Up Comes to Boston Join MAR at the WomanUP!® New England Conference on March 18th at the Boston Marriott Newton. If you are a woman in leadership in our industry, a woman who wants to be, or you are someone who believes in supporting and advocating for women leaders, this is the event for you! At this event you will find brokerage owners, industry executives, successful agents, association leaders, technology trailblazers, business consultants and coaches, mortgage brokers, attorneys, and more. Register early to save $50. To register, go to bit.ly/womanupregistration

March/April 2020

23


Commercial Real Estate and the Agency Disclosure Form BY PAUL YORKIS, 2020 PRESIDENT, REALTORS® COMMERCIAL ALLIANCE OF MASSACHUSETTS

From time to time in discussions—with experienced as well as newer Realtors®—I talk about when the Massachusetts Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure Form (Agency Disclosure Form) must be used. Some fellow Realtors® have indicated that they always provide the agency form to residential consumers but don’t ever give the form out when listing or showing commercial real estate. I have discussed this issue with MAR’s Associate Counsel, Catherine Taylor on more than one occasion, so we thought it would be a good idea to share with members of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® when the agency form is required to be presented to a consumer. Paul: Catherine, under the licensing regulations pertaining to agency is there a difference between residential consumers and commercial consumers? Catherine: Yes, there are specific scenarios where the licensing regulations distinguish residential and commercial real estate. 254 CMR 3.13(a) discusses agency in a general sense and is applicable to all real estate relationships – commercial and residential. When you get to sections (b) and (c), the regulations specify the requirements for dual and designated agency depending on the type of property involved in the transaction, but neither of these sections eliminate the need for the underlying agency disclosure at the inception of the relationship with a prospective buyer or seller. Paul: When showing a commercial space to a client, are Realtors® and other licensees required to provide them with a signed copy of the agency form?

24

Bay State REALTOR®

Catherine: Based upon a recent decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), which is the highest court in Massachusetts, our recommendation is that an agency disclosure form be provided to a prospective purchaser or seller in a commercial transaction at the time of the first in-person meeting to discuss a specific property. In Michael Thomann v. Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salesmen, the Board alleged that Thomann had bought and sold real estate on behalf of clients through an unlicensed limited liability company (LLC) and that he violated the regulations by failing to provide a proper notice of agency disclosure to the seller in a commercial transaction. Thomann’s 10-day license suspension was upheld by the SJC for both the unlicensed LLC and the failure to provide the agency disclosure. The agency disclosure must be signed by the broker or salesperson, but the prospective purchaser or seller may decline to sign the form, in which case the broker or salesperson must check the appropriate box at the bottom of the form indicating the refusal to sign. The only exception to this is for open houses in which a placard may be displayed in lieu of providing the agency disclosure to each prospective purchaser. Paul: When showing land to a developer client, should a Realtor® provide an agency form? Catherine: Yes, I think the Thomann case underscores the importance of providing an appropriately completed agency

disclosure to prospective purchasers and sellers in every type of real estate transaction. Paul: When showing an apartment building to three buyers/investors do all three need to sign the agency form or just one in their capacity as a corporate officer? Catherine: Details are particularly important in these types of situations. The agency disclosure only needs to be provided to prospective purchasers, so any person present who is not a prospective purchaser does not need to be provided with the agency disclosure. As the agent in the transaction, it is important to be clear as to who actually has the authority to enter into a contract to purchase or sell the property. This information would likely be contained in the Articles of Incorporation for a corporate entity. Paul: Catherine, is there any time, other than an open house, that an agency form is not required? Catherine: As noted previously, the open house exception is very narrow and does not fully eliminate the need for an agency disclosure. This exception simplifies the process by which prospective purchasers must be made aware of the capacity in which the licensee is working with the buyer, but that disclosure must still be made. Keep in mind that the Mandatory Agency Disclosure only applies to purchase transactions. If a rental is involved—commercial or residential—the agency disclosure form is not required.


Crazy Real Estate Animal Stories Schuyler Bull Minckler Keller Williams Realty North Central (Leominster, MA) “No joke, a few months ago, I had a client call me after a showing. Long story about why, but they had personally chosen to show the buyers around. I specialize in horse property, so part of the tour includes showing the stables. The seller walks into the barn and begins explaining the amenities, etc. and notices, to her horror, that her very old horse is dead in the stall!!! However, she was so calm, that the buyers never noticed. In fact, they ended up buying the house! But oh boy, thank goodness she’s a nurse and used to dealing with life under pressure, because it sure could have been a disaster!!!”

Kymberlee Albertelli Keller Williams Realty Boston Northwest (Concord, MA) “First-time buyers were looking at homesteading properties. We've seen several, and this one has a sweet plot of land with fenced gardening area, pens for goats or such, and even a barn. We are beside ourselves at our good fortune as this shapes up to be an amazing match (even though the house is "meh") and the barn door is discovered open, with about 30, maybe 40 empty water jugs strewn about. It's approaching dusk, and me, the ever-prepared Realtor®, pulls out my flashlight, so into the dark shadows we plunder. To see a pair of very much deceased hens. Still on my "I think we have a match" high, I say, "we'll be sure to have them remove those before closing," and just keep right on going. My buyers, who bought that property, later confessed that they were a wee bit shocked to think how completely unfazed I was to see that and move on so nonchalantly. "What does she SEE in her travels??”

Madison Pyburn Coco, Early & Associates (Methuen, MA) “Oh man! I took a buyer to a showing and in the lockbox instructions it said there was a cat and to not let the cat outside. Well my buyer and I show up and as we are leaving, we see the cat outside the front door. So, I run after it. Cat runs away, I’m chasing it down. Eventually I have to crawl under a bush and grab the cat and to carry it back inside the house where I see the actual cat sitting calmly on the sofa. It was the neighbors cat who was a similar color and I literally brought the wrong cat back. Cat was safe inside the whole time."

Member Benefit Spotlight BY SABRINA LAPOINTE You come home from a busy day at work, several grocery bags hanging from your arms, when suddenly you feel your phone buzzing. It’s your broker calling, something is wrong with a deal you’re about to close. So, you drop all your bags on the coffee table and sprint up to your office. Your furry-legged friend begins plotting his unknowing demise. He sniffs from one bag to the next until his nose is overwhelmed with scent. He pulls out of a bag of dark chocolate truffles and beings chomping away. You come back downstairs after not even five minutes to see the chaos that has unfolded. You quickly clip on his leash, sprint out to the car, race over to the vet to explain what has happened. Although scary and stressful, you can rest assured this incident won’t be a huge financial burden thanks to your Pet Health Insurance. With American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Pet Health Insurance you can enjoy the comfort of knowing your pet has coverage when they need it most. We know your pet is part of your family, Complete Coverage from ASPCA allows you to take the financial worry out going to the vet. It’s stressful enough when your pet needs medical attention, pick a plan that fits with your budget and needs to make going to the vet more tolerable. As a member of Massachusetts Association of Realtors®, you are eligible to receive discounted rates on pet insurance through ASPCA. This insurance will cover your furry family members in the event of an illness, injury, or medical emergency. You can learn more about this coverage and even purchase a policy online. We know unexpected illness and accidents can happen and that veterinary bills can add up quickly. Make sure you are prepared when something happens. Go to mylifeprotected.com/pet-insurance to start your quote today.


Profile for BayStateRealtor

Bay State Realtor® Magazine – March/April 2020