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Inside this issue of Bay State REALTOR®

More from MAR » www.marealtor.com/news

2 Message from the CEO Marketing Issue REAL ESTATE @ WORK 4 3   How to Market Yourself at a Conference Sabrina Lapointe

4   Real Social How to Repurpose Your Content Teah Hopper

6 Real Estate Marketing Trends Lauren Antone

8 Infographic: Participate in the 2020 Census 9 Five Questions With Leslie Mayer


LEGAL NOTES 10    10    Legal Realtor® Careful What You Say Stephen M. Perry, ESQ.

» Massachusetts Association of Realtors® Facebook

12 Notes from the MAR Legal Hotline  14 Legislative Priorities Justin Davidson

FEATURE 16   16    Customer Relationship Management  Save Time, Close More Deals Diane M. Sterrett  

MEMBER VOICES 20  20 President's Message Realtor® Resiliency   Kurt Thompson

» Twitter.com/MARealtors

 22  Are You Grateful for a Realtor® You Know?; Week of Advocacy Recap  23 Calendar; MAR New Home in Foxboro  24 Member Benefit Spotlight Sabrina Lapointe; Coronavirus Updates; 2020 C2EX Challenge   25 The New Commercial Real Estate Reality Paul Yorkis ADVERTISER DIRECTORY MLS PIN................................................IFC RMS................................................5 Osterman Propane..................................7 Fairway Mortgage..................................19 MAR COVID-19 Podcast.........................21

NEREN MLS...........................................21 A to Z Moving & Storage........................22 Accustar.........................................22 Weichert........................................BC

July/August 2020



Marketing Issue BY THERESA HATTON Greetings, Realtor® Family, In this issue we focus on marketing…a favorite topic of mine since my early career which inspired me to earn an MBA with a specialization in marketing. Connecting ideas and people together is the way that we can all collaborate to bring success, whether it is through finding a future home or new policy initiatives, if we aren’t communicating with others there is no way to bring a successful outcome. MAR is currently in the process of changing the way we communicate with our members, industry partners, and consumers. We are in the process of changing our CRM to make it easier for you to connect with MAR and help us learn more about your concerns, needs, and resources that could help you in your business. MAR is currently working on a new website, where you will be able to find information easily. The site is browser-neutral, mobile responsive, and will have the ability for you to select the areas in which you practice and provide consumers with a member search. MAR has also engaged a public relations firm to help us share your stories with the media. You don’t just sell houses, you build communities, connections, and neighborhoods. We are looking forward to discussing more than numbers and really communicate the value of Realtors® to our economies and community resiliency. Enjoy this issue and I look forward to connecting with you soon!

Theresa Hatton MAR CEO



Stephen Medeiros, CRS, SRES, e-Pro TREASURER


Anne Meczywor, ARS CBR, CRS, AHWD CEO


Sabrina Lapointe ART DIRECTOR


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


Bay State REALTOR®


Although many conferences are postponed this year, we still wanted to help prepare you for when things are back up to speed. Since this is the marketing issue, we thought it would be fitting to give you some tips and tricks on how to market yourself while attending a conference whether it's an in-person conference or a virtual one. While conferences alone have a lot to offer you, you also have a lot you can offer the conference! Conferences allow you to take advantage of a huge networking opportunity. Enhance your next conference experience by taking some or all the steps below.

Connect with the Speakers

Take Notes for Content Ideas

You will typically find a list of speakers on the website for whatever conference you’re attending. Be sure to follow the speakers and connect with them on social media before the event. This allows you to hear from the speaker, read about their journey; and see if they are someone you might want to try to connect with before/ after their presentation. These speakers are here as a resource for you. Take advantage of being in the same room as these individuals and try to engage with them, you might even develop a professional relationship with them.

Attending conferences will give you plenty of ideas for your editorial calendar. You will learn what’s new and trending in the real estate industry. You can then take the information you learned from the conference and apply it to your content. Whether that be in the form of a newsletter, article for your print publication or a blog post, knowing what’s new and exciting in the industry gives you an edge over your competition.

Pass Out Your Business Cards Now this might sound old school but hear me out, there’s something about that face-to-face interaction that’s more memorable than simply connecting digitally, like on LinkedIn. Make sure you’re selective about who you hand your cards out to. Be sure to only hand them out to people you spoke with that you would like to stay in touch with. Chances are you’ll get some business cards in return. Keep all those cards together and once the conference is over, you now have their social media handles and emails to stay connected. We all know how important it is in this industry to build your network, this is a great and fun way of doing that.

Bonus Tip: Virtual Conferences It’s no surprise that given our current circumstances, virtual conferences aren’t uncommon. Apply the same mentality as you would at an in-person conference. Be prepared, do your homework, know what sessions you want to attend. Just because you’re behind a computer screen doesn’t mean you can’t be engaged! Ask questions, connect with other attendees, make the most out of what the conference has to offer. Follow up with speakers, and look into the additional resources provided. After all, the conference is there to help YOU be the best Realtor® you can be.

Post to Social Media During the Conference Let your followers know what you’re up to. Just because you’re away from your desk doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with your followers. Scheduling content to go out throughout the conference will help keep you on track. If your clients follow you on social media, this will show them your dedication to your job as a Realtor® and how you’re working to further your industry knowledge. Amplify your reach by making cool and engaging posts on social media.

Attending conferences is always a good way to expand your industry knowledge. Taking these small steps to better market yourself at any conference you attend will help enhance your experience even more. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there, after all, you speak to all kinds of people every day – it’s just the nature of your job. Having a game plan for how you’re going to approach your experience at a conference will help maximize your value. Create your schedule, pack your business cards, wear a name tag, and sharpen your communication skills, you will thank yourself afterwards. July/August 2020


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}

How to Repurpose Your Content BY TEAH HOPPER Marketing your real estate business can feel like a full-time job in itself. You have to maintain your social media accounts, your website, your email newsletter, among other things. With so much to juggle, digital marketing can quickly become overwhelming. Luckily, there’s one easy way to reduce the stress: Repurpose your content.

Repurposing content allows you to maximize the time you spend on digital marketing. Instead of constantly creating more and more content, you’ll create less content that's more valuable. Then you’ll break that piece of content down into five, 10 or even 15 other pieces of content. When you repurpose your content – whether into a different format or on a different channel – you’ll not only save a lot of time, but you will also get more eyes on your content. Here are three steps to follow to help you successfully repurpose your content. 1. Create one piece of longer-form content. I say “longer”-form because it doesn't have to be super long. Three minutes is considered a long video these days. This could look like a video, a blog, a vlog or a podcast. Just be sure it’s original content – you create it with your own voice and your own ideas.

2. Create shorter content from longer-form content. Break that longer-form content into shorter, bite-sized pieces of content. This could look like an article, meme, graphic, image, infographic, quote, or even just other posts. The more you can break it down, the better!

3. Distribute all of that content across all marketing channels. Start sharing these pieces of content on your social media channels. You can likely use them across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Be sure that you’re hitting all the platforms that you're on - but do be mindful of each channel, how they differ from one another and repurpose thoughtfully. Beyond social media, you can share this same content on your website and in your email newsletters. Not everyone is on social media so take the extra step to deliver the content you are creating to their email inbox. There are two tools that will help you do this seamlessly. The first is a CRM, or customer relationship management system. A CRM will ensure that all your clients are seeing your content, and it will seamlessly connect all your marketing channels. A CRM is a great investment. Remember that we don’t own Facebook or Instagram and the “rules” on these platforms change all the time.


Bay State REALTOR®

If Facebook was gone tomorrow, would you have a way to contact your clients or leads? With a CRM, you have their contact information and aren’t relying on an algorithm to ensure they see your message.

{ BONUS TIP } Create evergreen content. Instead of creating content that's only going to be relevant for a few weeks, create content that is going to be relevant for months - or even years. For example, a blog with staging tips will withstand the test of time, while a blog post about paint color trends will only be relevant for a short season.

The second is a content calendar. Use a content calendar to plan out your content and when it will hit each marketing channel. This will help you stay organized, plan ahead and be strategic. Grab a how-to guide, with step-by-step instructions on how to set up your own content calendar here: https://www.teahhopper.com/content-calendar-ebook.

Ready to get started? A great first step to repurposing content is to go back and look at what evergreen content you’ve already created. Then, reshare it – or repurpose and share it in a different format. The goal is to extend the life of your content, and, in the end, save yourself time!

July/August 2020


{trending topics}

Real Estate Marketing Trends BY LAUREN ANTONE – Senior Marketing and Events Coordinator Real estate agents are the jacks of all trades; not only are you the CEO of your own business, but you’re also in charge of accounting, customer service, transaction management, negotiation, and so much more. It’s no wonder that adding marketing to your toolbelt can seem so daunting. And yet, time and time again, you hear how important and essential it is for your business’ success.

So, how do you keep up with it all? The best way to begin is to stay ahead of the curve and take note of the top marketing techniques in the industry. To give you a head start, here are three top marketing trends for 2020 that you can implement in your business plan this year.

Voice Activated Searches First, let’s talk about something new and different: voice-activated searches. Most of us have an Alexa or Google Home in our houses and offices, as do most of your clients. They are small, portable devices that interact with you by answering your questions, giving you updates or reminders, and so much more. Wouldn’t it be amazing if your client could ask, “Alexa, real estate agents near me,” and your name and information would spill out of the device on command? That’s entirely possible now, and in fact, gaining serious traction in the marketing world.


Bay State REALTOR®

Of course, this futuristic technology might seem difficult or time consuming. I’m sure you’re wondering, “how many hours will be spent on the other line of Alexa’s customer service to get this accomplished?” Good news: it’s easier than you think. It’s as simple as making sure your Google Profile is as up to date as possible. Make sure your name, address, and phone number are accurate, so that potential clients around you can easily be notified with your information

Incorporate Video You all know the importance of having good quality photos. Why not take it one step further with video? Many real estate video courses will have you believe that you need to invest in a nice camera, complete with tripod and lighting. While this is great for someone serious about video, all you really need is your smartphone. Take a video of you walking in the neighborhood of a home you're selling. Maybe it has a nice walking path or is close to your favorite shop. Talk about that. Maybe it’s your client’s birthday or home-anniversary, take a couple minutes to record a nice message and send it their way. Small thoughtful gestures will show how much you care. There are a million little ways you can incorporate video into your business, it just requires a little creative thinking. Other ideas include tips for first-time homebuyers, how to prepare for an open house, drone footage of a property, your designations and why they are important, a day in your life, testimonials, and so on. If you think it would be valuable to your client, it is worth the effort to capture it and upload it to your social media. Video has higher engagement levels than photos, which will draw more people to your social channels and website.

Virtual Tours Virtual tours are a crowd favorite because they allow clients to visualize what it’s like to truly be in the home. It’s time to embrace everything Zillow has to offer. In a perfect world, a client will start and end their search with you, but with today’s tech-savvy individuals, most clients start with a Google search before even talking to an agent. This means that pictures are not enough anymore. Make it a priority to record virtual tours so that they can be available to the potential clients scoping out your properties. It’s as simple as using the Zillow 3D Home App on your smart phone and following the virtual tour instructions. It will have you walk

through the house and take panoramas of each room. Then you can edit and upload them to your listing. You now have an interactive element for clients to get a sense of how they feel in the home. While this all may seem overwhelming, I encourage you to start small. After all, marketing is one of the best ways to increase your business profitablity, which can help you for years to come. For example, as many as 73% of homebuyers say they are more likely to use a Realtor® who uses video. That alone can help your business tremendously this year! So go out there and take advantage of these marketing techniques – it's never too late

July/August 2020



Five Questions With Leslie Mayer

How to Step Up Your Marketing Game Leslie Mayer is the Director of Member Engagement and Marketing for MAR. She joined the organization in January, 2020 and is responsible for leading the initiative to deepen member engagement through projects such as the new MAR website, branding, and database. She leads the MAR marketing team in the areas of digital, content, events, and strategy. Leslie comes to the organization with over 20 years of experience in membership marketing, client service, branding, media, and event planning. She lives in Rhode Island and when not working, enjoys vacationing to tropical destinations, re-finishing furniture, and being a dance mom to her 16-year-old daughter.


What would you say are the three most important aspects of successful marketing to you?

A: ■ The ability to track and measure ■ Understanding your audience and

giving them relevant content that serves their needs; and ■ The ability to pivot based on

changing business needs.


How did you first get into marketing?

A. I had an internship at a small ad agency in Providence, RI in the mid 90’s which turned into a permanent job when I graduated. During my five years there, I learned the ropes and so much about client service. I started as a media coordinator and then became an account executive where I did marketing planning and strategy and project management. I was considered a jack of all trades and learned about buying media, and how to produce TV, Radio, and print production from some very bright talent. I also learned how to collaborate with many different personalities (creatives, planners, strategists) to come up with the best plans to meet our clients' needs. My clients ran the gamut from car dealerships, malls, tech recruitment companies, and to even an amusement park.


What are some tools everyone should have in their marketing toolbox?

A: ■ Some sort of workflow management tool to keep track of your project status and assign tasks related to your marketing objectives; ■ A network of solid contacts if you

don’t have an in-house marketing staff (writers, designers, digital experts);

have a nice research tool for members and a forum for best practices. The Association of National Advertisers has some great learning tools for their members as well. I also download and save white papers that are of interest and refer back to them when I’m ready. I listen to podcasts and subscribe to email newsletters. In addition, one of the most meaningful things I do is keep in touch with former colleagues. We continue to learn from each other and share best practices and pitfalls as we move through our careers. Are there any websites, blogs, or marketing gurus you follow for inspiration? A: Some of the old school agency folks from the 80’s and 90’s are brilliant. Their focus was on ideas, not technology. A brilliant campaign always needs to start with a great idea.


■ A solid CRM system to keep track

of prospects, help manage

Bonus Question

customer data and deliver actionable insights; and ■ A social media monitoring tool like

Hootsuite, Hubspot, or Talkwalker. How do you keep up with changes in the field? A: I get a lot of great content from listening to webinars from the InHouse Agency forum. They also


Is there anything you would like to add? A: Marketing is all about making your customers/members feel like they are the most important thing to your business. You always need to think about “What’s in it for them” and what value they are getting from giving you their business. If you always keep that in the front of your mind, you can’t go wrong. And always remember you need to stand behind the marketing claims you make!


July/August 2020


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 ®}

Careful What You Say BY STEPHEN M. PERRY, ESQ ., Casner & Edwards, LLP It’s an agent’s worst nightmare. You’ve procured the listing, successfully executed your marketing plan, and closed on the sale to a demanding buyer. And then, months or even years later, you find out that in some important respect the property was allegedly not as advertised. You learn of this in the most unpleasant way imaginable, by receiving a Chapter 93A letter from the buyer’s attorney demanding extortionate amounts of money. Your brokerage firm receives an identical Chapter 93A letter.

As every real estate licensee is taught, M.G.L. c. 93A, section 9, permits a consumer to recover damages and attorneys’ fees for harm caused by “unfair or deceptive conduct” perpetrated by a business, including a real estate agent. Before going to court, the aggrieved individual must make a written demand for relief that identifies the allegedly unfair or deceptive conduct and specifies the damages. The recipient of the letter has thirty days to make a reasonable offer of settlement. The failure to do so when the claim has merit may lead to an award of treble damages and payment of the claimants’ attorneys’ fees. It seems to be a longstanding tradition among attorneys to make these c. 93A demand letters as obnoxious as possible. The letters may embellish or distort the facts, mischaracterize good faith conduct as deliberate fraud, and inflate the claimed damages. While many chapter 93A claims can be successfully defended, it is best to avoid receiving such a demand letter in the first place. Even if a claim lacks merit, defending it is stressful and costs time and money. 10

Bay State REALTOR®

It is well understood that chapter 93A mandates the disclosure to prospective buyers of any known issues or problems that would be material to a reasonable buyer of the property. But there can also be liability under chapter 93A and at common law for things that the broker did not know, if the broker has made statements in the course of marketing the property that turn out to be untrue. It is not necessarily a defense that the information came to the broker from the seller and that the broker believed the statements to be accurate. Where the broker has repeated these statements as facts while listing or marketing the property, the issue will be whether the broker acted reasonably in doing so. Many 93A claims based on alleged marketing misrepresentations concern how a property can be used or is zoned. For example, a property may be advertised as having an in-law apartment that turns out to be unlawful under local zoning ordinances. A property may be advertised as having four bedrooms, but wastewater regulations allow

only two. A property may be marketed as a two-family when only one unit is lawful. A room in the basement or attic advertised as an extra bedroom may fail to meet code requirements for windows or dimensions. The list goes on and on. There was a time when real estate agents could take comfort in a general rule that zoning questions were for lawyers, not real estate agents. In Quinlan v. Clasby, 71 Mass. App. Ct. 97, 103 (2008), the broker marketed a property as a three-family residence. Having looked at the property and at the municipality’s tax records the broker believed the use to be lawful. As it turned out, the property had a variance that allowed three-family use, but only if the units were on the first floor. The upstairs units were being used unlawfully, as the buyer discovered years later when she tried to sell the property and had two deals fall through. The buyer sued both the seller and the broker for the lost market value she had incurred. On appeal of a decision against the broker, the Appeals Court reversed. The court stated that the broker did “all that was legally required”

when he inspected the unit and looked at the tax documents. The court observed that, had the buyers engaged an attorney when they first purchased the property, the zoning issue presumably would have been identified. This victory for the brokerage industry was undercut a few years later by the case of Dewolfe v. Hingham Center Ltd, 464 Mass. 795 (2013). There the seller had informed the broker that a property located in a residential neighborhood was zoned for “Business B” uses. That was not actually a zoning category in the town, but the broker passed this information along and marketed the property as being permissible for business uses. The buyer, Dewolfe, intended to use a portion of the premises for a hair salon, only to learn, after the closing, that the property in fact could not be used for such purposes. Distinguishing the case from Quinlan, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the broker should have suspected that

the zoning information was inaccurate and was obliged to investigate further. The Court summed things up as follows: “Where it is reasonable in the circumstances for a broker to rely on information provided by the seller, the broker will not be liable for conveying such information to prospective buyers without conducting further investigation. . . . By contrast, where it is unreasonable in the circumstances for a broker to rely on information provided by the seller, the broker has a duty to investigate further before conveying such information to prospective buyers.” The Court stated that the reasonableness of the broker’s conduct presented an issue for the jury. Where does this leave us? In many cases it will be for a jury to decide whether a broker acted reasonably in making a statement about a property’s attributes, zoning status, or permissible uses that has turned out to be incorrect. To avoid being on the wrong side of

a 93A letter, or leaving one’s fate to a jury, a listing broker should undertake reasonable due diligence before marketing a property. If the property is going to be marketed as containing an in-law unit or as multi-family property, the broker should take reasonable steps to determine whether this is consistent with local zoning laws. If there is a bedroom in the basement or crammed in the attic it should not be described as a bedroom or included in the bedroom count without making a reasonable inquiry into whether it is a lawful bedroom. If there is doubt on any of these issues, the broker would be welladvised not to describe the questionable attribute as a fact in the listing or marketing materials and to disclose to the buyer in a prominent way, in writing, that the broker has not independently verified the lawfulness of the specific use in question. In situations such as these, it is better to be safe than sorry.

July/August 2020


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 Attorney The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt real estate transactions and has raised many questions from our members. These are just a few of the many question we know you have. MAR is here to help you navigate through these uncertain times with the latest information and updates. Please watch for emails from MAR and check www. MARCOVID19.com for all the latest news. Let us know what other concerns you have and any problems you are seeing in the marketplace as a result of the pandemic. Most importantly, stay safe.

Q. What are the requirements for reopening my real estate office? A: Although real estate was named an essential service by the Governor, many real estate brokers elected to close their physical offices. Now that we have entered Phase 1, many offices are considering reopening their brick and mortar locations. If you choose to open your brick and mortar workspace, you must, at a minimum, adhere to the following protocols: ■N  o more than 25% of the maximum occupancy of the

building or the typical occupancy. This allows for both workers and clients to be in the office so long as all protocols are met. ■S  ocial distancing of at least 6 feet between individuals. ■W  orkers must wear face coverings when social distancing is

not possible. ■D  esignate assigned work areas and avoid sharing office

materials. ■S  tagger work schedules, if possible. ■U  se enhanced hygiene protocols – frequent handwashing

and daily cleaning of high-touch surfaces. ■E  stablish a COVID-19 Prevention Plan describing how the

workplace will prevent the spread of COVID-19. ■H  ang the required posters in a place that is visible to

workers and visitors. ■K  eep a log of all persons who enter the building. ■D  isplay signs in the workplace describing the rules

pertaining to social distancing, hygiene protocols, cleaning, and disinfecting. Detailed safety standards and mandatory reopening materials can be found on www.mass.gov. Some cities and towns are also adding their own re-opening rules, so be certain to check with your local government before opening. 12

Bay State REALTOR®

Q. W  hen am I required to provide the Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure if I am assisting someone virtually? A: There have been no modifications to the requirements of providing the Mandatory Real Estate Licensee-Consumer Relationship Disclosure (Agency disclosure) as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic. The Regulations require you to provide the agency disclosure at the first in-person meeting to discuss a specific property. There may be situations, particularly now, where you may be conducting a large portion of your business with clients virtually and acting in an agency capacity without having met the client in person. In these situations, provide the agency disclosure as soon as possible in the relationship, but no later than the signing of a contract to purchase.

Q. C  an a buyer be denied a showing if they refuse to sign a health questionnaire or waiver? A: Probably. Sellers may restrict access to the property based upon certain criteria, such as signing a health questionnaire, so long as that criteria is not discriminatory. A buyer’s refusal to provide information may restrict their ability to view that property. If a buyer provides the requested information and indicates they have or might have COVID-19, it may implicate the Fair Housing Act. While it remains a novel question whether having COVID-19 is a disability protected by the Fair Housing Act., the National Association of Realtors® recommends treating individuals who have COVID-19 as being covered by federal disability protections. If you find yourself faced with this situation, discuss with the buyer or their Realtor® whether a reasonable accommodation that can be implemented without posing a threat to the health and safety of others. As with any analysis of a request for a reasonable accommodation, this determination must be based upon an individualized assessment of the situation and through an interactive process with the person seeking the accommodation. If any potential reasonable accommodation would threaten the health and safety risk to others, the broker may decline the showing to the infected individual.

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 attorney-client 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 legalhotline@marealtor.com.

July/August 2020


Legislative Priorities BY JUSTIN DAVIDSON – MAR General Counsel At the 35th Annual Margaret C Carlson Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill this past June, Realtors® met remotely with their state legislators to discuss MAR’s 2019-2020 legislative priorities. It is important for you to know what MAR supports and opposes so you’re able to discuss it with your clients, neighbors, and friends.

Realtors® Support An Act to promote housing choices (H.4263) – MAR supports this bill as part of a diverse coalition of real estate interest groups. The bill promotes community-supported development, aligning Massachusetts with national norms as we are one of only ten states that require a supermajority to change local zoning rules. H.4263 changes local voting requirements from a 2/3rds super majority to a simple majority for 10 zoning changes that promote best practices for housing growth. Examples of the 10 zoning changes include: ■ Increasing housing production options for smart growth zoning districts, such as allowing cluster development and accessory dwelling units (ADUs). ■ Enhancing community ability to add housing with 10% affordable units in commercial centers and near public transportation. ■ Promoting starter home and resource protection zoning districts. ■ Reducing parking requirements. First-Time Homebuyer Savings Accounts (H.2456 and S.1628) – First-time homebuyers face unprecedented challenges such as record highs in home prices and student loan debt. First-time homebuyer savings accounts will help expand access to the American dream of homeownership. They allow future homebuyers or their families to deposit up to $5,000/year into a savings account and claim it as an income tax deduction. Gains are tax exempt and deductions are permitted for up to 15 years and $50,000. Incentivizing homeownership has many benefits. Homeownership contributes to community responsibility; civic, 14

Bay State REALTOR®

economic, business and employment stability; family security and wellbeing. In addition, new homebuyers average $75,000 in related expenditures. GreenWorks Climate Resiliency Bill (H.3997) – This bill unanimously passed the House on July 24, 2019. It funds $1.25 billion in climate resiliency measures through bonding, spreading the burden of paying for this community-wide benefit to everyone in Massachusetts. The bill lays out several measures to help climate resiliency efforts including encouraging electrification of vehicle fleets and helping municipalities take key climate resiliency steps with funds and personnel. RAFT Expansion – The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program provides funds for households facing instability as a result of COVID-19-related loss of wages or increases in expenses. The severe economic impacts of the COVID-19 state of emergency have taken an immense toll on the real estate industry. Unprecedented numbers of homeowners and renters have fallen behind on their rent and mortgage payments. While they benefitted from temporary protections in the emergency housing law, loss of wages and jobs will have a longer-term impact that only access to additional funds through the

RAFT program can repair. Expanding access to and funding for this key program will go a long way to protecting housing stability and transitioning back to a fully functioning economy after the state of emergency. Permit Extension --COVID-19 has caused significant and unforeseen development delays. However, building permit clocks requiring developers to break ground within 6 months of issuance continue to run. In normal times, this assures that projects move along in a timely manner, but today it will likely mean that many are abandoned. To address this issue and encourage much needed housing expansion, MAR supports extensions of building permits. Many projects were prohibited from starting because of construction moratoriums and development costs continue to balloon. COVID-19 economic and safety issues that undermined the start of projects were not the fault of developers or town officials who granted permits. Instead, they were the result of unprecedented circumstances. With development already facing incredibly high burdens in Massachusetts and the state in desperate need of additional housing to help address its longstanding housing crisis, permit extensions are a simple solution.

They will give developers the time they need to adapt to new norms and continue their important work.

Realtors® Oppose Transfer Taxes - Transfer taxes impose a sales tax on homes. They exacerbate Massachusetts's longstanding housing affordability crisis by increasing the price of homeownership, often by thousands of dollars. This raises the barrier to homeownership many families already face due to the high cost of housing in Massachusetts. Rentals are also impacted, as increased tax costs will be passed along to tenants. Transfer taxes also undermine the basic tenet of fairness in tax policy by forcing home buyers and sellers, about 2.5% of the population per year, to be the sole direct funders of community-wide responsibilities. Finally, they are not a stable funding source. The housing market is at best cyclical and often volatile. While MAR works to foster the strongest possible real estate market, it is unrealistic to expect stable funding from transfer taxes. Rent Control – MAR opposes H.1316 and rent control in all forms. Rent control reduces the quality and quantity of available housing. It disincentivizes property owners and developers from investing in multifamily projects and properties because they will be unable to make those funds back. In addition,

while it is designed to help those in need, it actually unlevels the playing field, harming lower income individuals who will find units in disrepair and shrinking inventory. Finally, rent control is unfair. The costs of affordable housing should be borne by the entire community, rather than a small segment of private property owners. Mandatory Home Energy Audits – MAR opposes S.1983 and S.1922 requiring home energy audits. Instead, we support a property owner’s ability to voluntarily obtain an energy inspection. Low audit scores stigmatize properties, with a disparate impact on older homes. Massachusetts has some of the oldest housing in the country, much of them located in less affluent communities where residents have fewer resources to invest in expensive energy efficiency measures. In addition, mandatory energy scoring causes delays, disruptions, and increased costs. The market already accounts for energy efficiency, driven by consumers and Realtors®, with optional audits and MLS listing information. Finally, mandatory energy scoring violates property rights and raises Constitutional concerns by requiring 3rd parties to enter a home.

COVID-19 Response MAR sprang into action in early March with the declaration of a state of emergency in Massachusetts. With our standard legislative priorities on-hold, we advocated on behalf of our members to maximize their health and safety while minimizing negative impacts of the pandemic on real estate. We are proud to share the following accomplishments: ■ Securing smoke and carbon monoxide detector inspection deferrals through an emergency order and providing a contract addendum for members. ■ Adding real estate to the essential industry list, helping members to continue working and permitting brick-and-mortar offices to remain open during the state of emergency. ■ Working with the Department of Unemployment to assure Realtors® qualify for unemployment benefits created by the CARES Act. ■ Including 180-days of mortgage forbearance to protect homeowners in the COVID-19 housing law. ■ Successfully advocating for enactment of a remote online notarization law to maximize health and safety in the homebuying process. ■ Providing guidance and forms for the short-term rental industry impacted by emergency orders limiting their recreational use.

July/August 2020




Real estate is a high-touch, relationship-based business. But when you’re juggling a busy career and family life, it’s easy to lose track of things. What if there was a technology that could help you find more leads, make more follow-ups, deliver more personalized service and ultimately, close more sales? Want to know more? Read on!

What is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System? CRMs were developed to manage a company's interaction with current and potential customers using data analysis about customers' history, focusing on customer retention and driving sales growth. At a very basic level, CRM systems can help you organize data and track leads. As they get more sophisticated, you’ll encounter more features that deliver sales insights, automate marketing efforts, and integrate with other aspects of your business such as your email and web presence. They are all geared toward helping you be more efficient and profitable. “CRM is so much more than having your Rolodex online,” says Trent Warner, co-founder of NYB Creative, a Boston-based marketing and consulting agency that focuses on helping real estate firms. 16

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“It looks at the full picture of user’s online experience and tracks interactions so you can provide more personalized service. In my experience, I have found that most Realtors® are using CRM, but the majority are not using it to its full potential.” Say, for example, you have a new prospect, Sue, who is interested in working with you, but not ready to move forward until after the school year. You put her information into your CRM system, including all the notes you took during your conversation such as what size home she’s looking for, how old her kids are, where she likes to sail. A few weeks later, your CRM system notifies you Sue is back on your website. You give her a quick follow-up call and spend a few minutes chatting about the upcoming sailing season, then deliver your sales pitch and email her links to a few properties you just know she’ll love. She soon signs a contract with you.

CRM Benefit #1: Lead nurturing According to InsideSales.com, 50% of sales happen after the fifth touch. CRM’s lead nurturing feature can send the right message to the right prospect at precisely the right time. A robust CRM makes it easy to segment your prospect list by a wide range of factors, including tracking what stage of the buying cycle they’re in. So instead of sending generic messages, you send a more targeted one with a customized drip campaign that makes it clear you go above and beyond. Result: increased conversion rates.

CRM Benefit #2: Efficiency Before CRM, Realtors® often complained about spending too much time looking for information – was that prospect note you jotted down in your spreadsheet? Or was it on that sticky note you threw away last week? With smart CRM and consistent data inputting, everything is organized in one place, easily accessible by agents, transaction managers and team leaders. Result: more time spent on revenue-generating activity.

A Realtor®’s View Eileen Mason, a 15-year veteran of ReMax Executive Realty covering MetroWest offered her insights on CRMs. “A CRM is very helpful as long as you enter the data for each client and keep up with it. Be specific, and put in as much detail as you can as you’re setting up your client. The more you use it and the more data you give it, the more it will work for you. It makes life easier; it’s like your go-to list of things to do each day.” Mason has used several CRM tools, starting with the MLS Property Information Network (PIN) for Massachusetts. “It’s not a full CRM, but you can enter all your prospect/client info and what they are looking for, then it sends them a constant drip of what’s on the market through the MLS as properties become available. I’ve used that for a long time and it’s very helpful for getting property information out quickly.”

Contactually, a CRM built just for real estate professionals, is another CRM tool she has used for a long time. “It was very advanced, and connected with email. I could pull up a contact and see the history of my conversation with that contact.” Last year her firm transitioned to booj, a custom-built technology platform with a fully integrated suite of products and CRM at its core. booj streamlines tasks from initial lead generation through post-close nurturing. Mason was just beginning to transfer her data at the end of March when COVID-19 hit, giving her extra down time to get set up. “It allows me to design and send any kind of campaign I want, for example, drip campaigns for people inquiring but not ready to move forward right away, or if they’re past clients and I want to keep in touch. It gives me reminders to follow up which is good. I can also put in a lot more demographics about the client, information about the family, who they are, birthdays, pet’s names, activities, all that stuff is stored in one place.” Since it’s cloud-based, software is automatically updated when there is a new feature, and agents can access their data from anywhere, another important feature for Realtors®. Mason appreciates booj’s reporting functions for insights into listing trends and tracking preferences. But the bottom line is the time savings. “As business grows, it would be difficult to do all these functions manually again.”

CRM Product Options There are three main categories for CRM systems, all requiring different levels of investment of both time and money. First, are the very basic, sometimes free platforms that will get your feet wet, such as Revolve, Pipedrive and LessAnnoyingCRM. “These collect data and pair with your website, but they have limited capability. They do not analyze the behavior metrics of a web user and provide a logical next step through automation,” Warner says. The middle tier is usually a true CRM with marketing automation, such as HubSpot or SharpSpring. These platforms give you the capability to integrate your data with automated social media campaigns, emails, landing pages, and blogs, and give you a cadenced method to push out all that content. These July/August 2020


definitely take more time, and real estate firms will often have a dedicated team member or outsourced marketing agency to help deploy the product, build the email and calls to action, and create the forms. These companies are usually quicker to adapt to changing trends and have more robust R&D. The top tier is comprised of products like Salesforce, which Warner calls the behemoth of the CRM industry. “It takes a minimum of $100,000 per year, right out of the box. In addition, you need a salesforce engineer to build workflows on the back end, to create frameworks for data input, and to create the workflow for utilization, ensuring your MLS is associated with it. It is in no way formatted for you to take and play with it yourself.”

and decide if it’s worth purchasing a higher tier just to get that feature. “There are some features hidden in upper tiers that can be incredibly useful, but you have to decide if it’s worth paying extra to buy up into that tier. Or, can you use a plug-in with a lower tier and make them work together?” Warner asks. Costs, both initial and ongoing, are also a consideration. The cost of implementation and training will be the most expensive, but they are one-time costs. Then there’s the cost to keep the system running, both subscription fees and staff needed to run it. Pay attention to user reviews, they can have valuable information from people using the product. For instance, Warner says some of the lower-end products’ emails have been blacklisted by major email providers like Yahoo and Gmail. The beauty of CRM is there is no one-size-fits-all solution – you choose the size and feature level that fits your business. If you don’t have a dedicated technology person or department to guide you, a consulting firm can help. “We are SharpSpring partners at NYB Creative and have been for a while now, but we will work with whatever system a customer has in place,” Warner says. “We think SharpSpring is one of the most affordable and product inclusive tools for the majority of real estate agencies. But it’s not for everyone: I wouldn't try to fit a 100+ person sales staff onto SharpSpring, I'd recommend SalesForce. I’ve also been a HubSpot vendor, and if an agency had a pretty robust internal marketing team, I may recommend that. It’s a good tool but cannot be operated by sales people right out of the box, even their terminology is drastically different than other companies.”

How to Choose?

Top Tips for using a CRM

Your choice of CRM depends on several factors. First of which is the size of your agency as well as the size of your marketing team. If you’re a solo-preneur or small firm, you may want to start with a basic product such as Pipedrive. The upside is a low cost of entry ($12.50 per user per month to start), but the downside is a limited number of emails allowed. If you’re a bigger firm operating in multiple states and touching 100+ clients per month, you’ll likely want something with automation built in like HubSpot or SharpSpring. However, some of the lower-end products have contracts that make it difficult and expensive to leave. “I had one client whose CRM was so intertwined with their business and billing system, they lost over $100,000 in disruptive billing, and they had to pay to pull away,” Warner says. Next think about your goals and where you want to be five years from now. Consider a tiered product that will grow with your business both in features and in capacity. That way you don’t have to switch products and face another learning curve when you grow out of a CRM. It can also be helpful to make a list of the features you want 18

Bay State REALTOR®

CRM can make or break a customer relationship. Warner offers his top seven tips for getting the most out of a CRM. 1. Integration. Make sure it’s as integrated in your sales process as your email and phone, and check in with it multiple times per day. 2. Discipline. Keep on top of entering your data. If you’re consistently getting leads, you can’t let them pile up. 3. Action. CRM is incredibly rich in data so use it for actionable meetings. You can see where the leads are coming from and where the sale process is breaking down: are you showing the wrong houses or do you just not have the inventory? 4. Value. A robust CRM can associate various marketing efforts such as Facebook campaigns and Google ads with leads and with dollar amounts closed. So, you can associate a lead with a closed/won business, which gives you the true value of a lead, not just its cost. Then you can evaluate which marketing platforms are bringing you the most value.

5. F  ollow up/remarket. CRMs can compile a list of leads that didn’t pan out for one reason or another (closed/lost), perhaps the prospect just wasn’t ready to buy. Set up an email campaign to reach out to them when it’s logical. 6. Information. A CRM is only as good as the data you put in. Look at your product offering and understand the different categories you can put a lead in – home value, zip codes, single/married, anything, really – that makes for more targeted follow-ups.

Text is becoming the most-used form of business communication and lead conversion. In the future, text messaging could begin to integrate with CRMs, just like email does now. Lastly, Warner is curious to see how the Artificial Intelligence (AI) aspect of live chat will integrate with CRMs to begin compiling a customer profile as they’re interacting with the chat function.

7. S  pelling (and uniformity) counts. All CRMs should have ability to fill out custom fields that can be sliced and diced any way you want. But beware when you’re inputting – to the back end of a CRM system, Southie is not the same as Southy, or South Boston.

What’s Next? Cookies (not the chocolate chip kind) help marketers and CRMs do a better job, but the online privacy movement could put that in jeopardy. “The pressure is on for companies like HubSpot and SharpSpring to adapt and provide value. If your website looks like it was built two decades ago, people will be less likely to accept cookies. You need a site that looks and acts securely,” Warner advises.

July/August 2020


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

{president’s message}

Realtor® Resiliency BY KURT THOMPSON It’s safe to say none of us could have predicted what 2020 would bring. We all know the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it challenges never seen before. It’s important to also note the good that has come out of these circumstances. These challenging times have revealed the true resiliency and character of YOU – our members. MAR has been advocating, and will continue to advocate on behalf of our Realtor® members and their needs during this time. Throughout this pandemic, several forms have been added to our library to help you navigate through and address transactional issues directly related to COVID-19. These forms can be accessed on www.MARCOVID19.com. Additionally, the MAR legal team developed three addendums for your use during these changing times. We understand things are always changing, and that is why we are working hard keep you up-to-date and informed with best practices and guidance. What I have seen during this unprecedented time is that our Massachusetts Realtors® are built to overcome adversity. I strongly believe that all Realtors® share a common trait: resiliency. Being a Realtor® means you possess a ‘can-do’ attitude, and always find a way to continue to serve your clients and your communities. I encourage you all to remind yourself of the incredible traits you possess individually, and how they have, and will continue, to help you get through these times.


Bay State REALTOR®

Here are some of the traits you possess as a Realtor®, and how you can apply them to overcoming challenging times.

1.Your ability to be innovative. These challenging times have certainly forced us to look at new ways to conduct our business. It’s safe to say we’re probably all masters at Zoom calls, video conferencing, and online documents. One thing is certain: we have all adapted to new ways of working. Some of what we have learned, we are likely to continue using well after we return to normal.

2. You have a problem solver   mindset. A huge part of what you do every single day is solve problems for your clients. You are constantly working with clients to help them reach solutions to their unique issues. Problem solving skills are critical right now. We are all operating in ways we have never done before. Running into problems is inevitable. I am confident each one of you is equipped with the right problem-solving mindset to help you solve any task at hand. Remember, problem solving is part of your DNA!

3. You have excellent  communication skills If there was ever a time to have excellent communication skills, that time is now! You have already developed strong communication skills working your business in person, and now you can apply those skills online. Your strong communicative skills allow you to deliver information in a concise and effective manner, and still connect at a personal level with your clients. There are so many questions floating around, the more you can help answer those questions and give clear guidance, the more you can assist people. We have already accomplished so much during this time and have proven we can overcome even the toughest of circumstances. The creativity, drive, and will to succeed I have seen from so many of our Realtor® members is certainly something to be proud of. You have all shown your ability to adapt to new challenges. It is my hope that we can all say that we learned something valuable during this unique time in our lives. That we can say that we as Realtors® did not just survive, but thrived!

MAR Podcast COVID-19 Mini-Series Get the latest pandemic-related information for your real estate business Go to marealtor.com/pod to listen to the whole series

Subscribe to MAR Podcasts on iTunes

July/August 2020


Are You Grateful for a Realtor® You Know? Do you know a Realtor® that goes above and beyond? The MAR Gratitude Project might be the perfect way to honor them. The MAR Gratitude Project aims to recognize the unsung heroes of the Realtor® community. Honorees will receive a personally signed notecard and "Thank You" tile from the MAR President for their volunteer efforts either within their community or for the Realtor® Association. Nominations will be screened by a group of Gratitude Project Task Force Realtor® volunteers, who will meet monthly to select recipients. 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. Nominate a Realtor® you know today! To nominate someone, go to https://bit.ly/2RuOu1j

Week of Advocacy Recap MAR held its very first virtual Realtor® Day on Beacon Hill on June 15-19, 2020. Realtors® from across Massachusetts virtually gathered to advocate for homeownership and private property rights. The event featured a virtual keynote session with legislative leaders and NAR's leading economists. Realtors® also got to meet with their legislators about the key legislative issues affecting the real estate industry and private property. The event gave members the chance to get directly involved at the grassroots level - without leaving the safety of their own home. There were also sessions held for local associations as well as legislative and priorities updates from Justin Davidson, MAR General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs.


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CALENDAR Virtual Courses GRI 102: Managing Risk and Avoiding Lawsuits

Anita Hill – July 27 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm ■ Andy Consoli – July 28 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm ■ Anita Hill – July 29 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm ■ Anita Hill – July 30 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm

* In-person at this time, but subject to change

GRI 101: Skills for Success ■ Tom Matthews – August 19 & 20 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm ■ Deb Agliano – August 25 & 26 from 9:00 am–1:00 pm

GRI 301: Technology ■ Kim Allard – Date TBD

In-Person Courses

GRI 201: Tools of the Trade* October 15 & 20 ■ Tom Matthews ■ Paula Savard ■ Nelson Zide GRI 202: Building a Foundation* November 4 & 10 ■ Peter West ■ Gary Bourque ■ Andy Consoli

July/August 2020


Coronavirus Updates Member Benefit Spotlight BY SABRINA LAPOINTE

Realtor® Team Store There is a chance that every day you pass by a complete stranger that is in need of your services as a Realtor®. Whether someone is looking to purchase a home, sell a home, or rent a home, we all have a need for housing. There is no set uniform for Realtors® but what if there was something you could wear to help identify you? This is where Realtor® Team Store® comes in. Realtor® Team Store® is MAR's supplier of Realtor® premium incentive products, offering a wide array of promotional items, including lapel pins, bags, hats, shirts, decals, folders, jackets and more. Promotional products are extremely useful as they are essentially a walking advertisement. What raises brand awareness more than someone walking around with your Realty company’s logo on their reusable grocery bag or as their beach bag? Nowadays you can pretty much put your logo on anything – flags, t-shirts, balloons, pins, mugs, pens, bumper stickers, folders, and cups just to name a few. As we protect ourselves from coronavirus, you can even print your logo on masks, hand sanitizers, and gloves. Consider keeping a box of promotional items lying around your office to hand out to people as they come in. People may not remember your face or what you said however, they will remember your name and logo if its staring at them on a daily basis. This is a cheap way to advertise yourself and requires very little work on your end. Never miss an opportunity and let prospective clients know who you are – a Realtor®.


Bay State REALTOR®

Stay informed about all coronavirus updates by visiting our microsite at marcovid19.com. You will find information on transacting business including government office and business closings, open houses, etc. You will learn how to keep your license current and find remote continuing education opportunities. We have also included language to use in forms and contracts and resources and guidance for brokerage firms and independent contractors. Additionally, you will find more resources to help your business during these changing times and guidance from the National Association of Realtors®. This is a resource for all members to use as we navigate through these changing times. Check back daily for new updates.

MAR's New Home in Foxboro MAR will have a new headquarters coming on 18 Washington St. (Rt. 1) in Foxborough, Mass. Located three quarters of a mile north of Gillette Stadium, the building has 20,000 square feet of office space on two levels along with 128 parking spots. A former medical office facility, the build out will include offices, conference and classrooms, and potential retail space. MAR and professional staff will begin the move to the new location by the end of 2020.

The New Commercial Real Estate Reality BY PAUL YORKIS, 2020 President, Realtors® Commercial Alliance of Massachusetts

When I was installed as President of the Realtors® Commercial Alliance of Massachusetts (RCAMA) in December, I outlined an ambitious list of objectives for myself, the leadership team, and our membership. None of the objectives included dealing with and responding to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 virus, because I, like most other people, had no idea that it even existed. The hurdles presented by Covid-19 to Massachusetts local real estate boards as well as the Massachusetts Association of Realtors® (MAR) have been challenging to say the least as we all have previously conducted association business face-to-face or by conference calls. No more. At least not for the foreseeable future. At RCAMA we are retooling using Zoom meetings and preparing to offer continuing education courses online. We, like the other local boards, MAR, and the National Association of Realtors® are in the process of further using technology to keep our members involved and informed. What no one knows is what will the new normal be. Residential and Commercial Realtors® are now using virtual tours to market properties. Will this become the new standard? Will Realtors® include more details about their listings in the state's three multiple listing services so fellow Realtors® and consumers will have a better understanding of the property? It is frustrating when I look at a property in MLS PIN and the listing agent has

not supplied the relevant information. My hope, as it relates to MLS PIN, is that the changes to the commercial platform, that have been delayed but will take place in the future, will make it easier and more accurate for subscribers to provide the necessary information. I understand the MLS PIN is making adjustments to its platform relative to marketing and open house features to address the impact of Covid-19 delaying some of the commercial changes. But there may be a much more profound change in the future of commercial real estate market that no one could have predicted. It is a basic fundamental change. With companies realizing the productivity of their workforce has remained relatively high during the work from home era, and with companies laying off some of their workforce, what will be the impact on commercial office buildings? Do companies really need all that office space? Will the technology, medical and bio-pharma industries in Massachusetts downsize their office workspace while keeping their

laboratory and manufacturing spaces? Is the day of the large commercial or residential real estate office over? I have seen large shopping centers add apartment complexes to their mix of tenants and have seen grocery stores being added where big box retailers closed. Will property owners seek zoning changes that don’t just allow but encourage the transformation of office buildings to mixed use buildings providing housing, basic retail services, and offices in buildings that were exclusively for corporate offices? How well will Realtors® advocate for these kind of changes at the local level? The challenges our clients, fellow Realtors®, and communities face are still unchartered. I am confident that the problemsolving skills we each possess and the advocacy skills we use on a day-to-day basis will help us succeed in the coming months of challenge. Our industry has overcome great challenges in the past. We will overcome the Covid-19 challenge too. Be smart. Be safe. Be well.

July/August 2020


Profile for BayStateRealtor

Bay State Realtor® Magazine – July/August 2020  

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