Thank you to all who attended our first ever, virtual annual meeting of the Board of REALTORS and the MLS. We sure did cover a lot of information over the course of one hour so the pace was fast and furious! We had 144 on our call, and 155 voting members of the Board and 31 voting members of the MLS cast their ballots, exceeding our required quorum.
During the discussion, links were being posted in the chat section on Zoom. For those in attendance, and those who couldn’t make it, we’re providing a recap of that discussion and all the links are included in the text below. Here is the full 1-hr video, or if you’d prefer, a written summary.
Congratulations to our 2021 leadership who were elected into their respective offices. At the helm for the Berkshire Board of REALTORS in 2021 are:
And leading the Multiple Listing Service in 2021:
We’re looking forward to all their hard work on your behalf in the coming year, and thank everyone elected yesterday for their volunteer time and their diligent efforts!!
Homesnap: We were pleased to welcome Joseph McDermott, Business Development Associate and Homesnap to speak about the homesnap pro and pro+ apps available to Berkshire REALTORS. The MLS has contracted with Homesnap to provide the homesnap pro app to you, but moving forward there will be a financial commitment on behalf of the MLS – so we are asking that you please download the app and try it for yourself. We’re eager to hear your feedback. To learn more about Homesnap Pro please visit the Homesnap website.
Thanks to Joseph, we were able to raffle off 5 homesnap Pro+ accounts ($599 retail value, each). The lucky winners are: Jen Capala, Doug Goudey, Danielle Giulian, Tucker Welch and John Ciepiela. Congratulations!
MLS Bylaw Change: By a vote of the MLS Participants, the following bylaw change was approved and will be placed into effect immediately: Should an officer or Director of the MLS change firms during their elected term that results in more than 1 Board member serving from the same agency, the transferring member would no longer be eligible to serve on the Board of Directors, and a replacement would be appointed according to the bylaws of the service. Note: This change is structured going forward only, so those with current, unexpired terms who were duly elected according to the bylaw provisions in place at the time shall continue until their term expires.
State of the Market: If you’ve been feeling tired, it’s no wonder why! You have been busy, busy, busy. The market is on fire! The October Market Watch will be released next week, so please be sure to mark your under agreement, pending and closed listings ASAP.
In the meantime, to see the September Market Watch report, please view it here.
As with everything Covid, we had to change the delivery method of our New Member Orientation to online. We have welcomed 21 new offices so far this year, and Linda is busy adding new members still. The membership continues to grow! Currently, there are 536 REALTOR members in the Board – that’s up from 513 last year. and, 636 users of the MLS, up from 626 last year. We have fabulous affiliate members this year: 7 basic, 4 advertising and 6 platinum. Speaking of affiliates, their generosity knows no bounds. Thank you to the following affiliates and congratulations to the winners of raffle prizes they donated!!
Raffle winners for gift cards to Mazzeo’s: Celeste Cano, Donna Thomas and Conor Meehan
Raffle winners for $100 gift cards: Margaret Apkin-Freer and Charlie Sawyer
Raffle winner to The Proprietor’s Lodge: Sheila McKenna
Raffle winner for $100 VISA gift card: Tracy Crawford
Raffle winner for $250 TJ Maxx/Homegoods/Marshalls gift card: Barney Stein
Raffle winner for $100 AMEX gift card: Deb DiMassimo
COVID Reopening: The Board was very proactive addressing the pandemic this year, and still we stress to be extremely careful moving forward and to make sure you have a solid plan in place with how you will do so and what you’ll do if a seller, buyer or agent becomes ill. A COVID reopening plan must be in place should a brokerage become part of a state-wide audit. What’s your plan? View these COVID Reopening Safety Standards.
We Miss You! But, staff is not going to let COVID stop us from connecting with you. As a matter of fact, from Jan – Oct we connected 6228 times through phone calls, emails and texts. This doesn’t include our Friday recap posts, birthday greetings, license renewal notices or special announcements. These were unique questions or concerns that were addressed on an individual basis. We added more education, professional development and support than ever. One major change for staff is a new membership database called GrowthZone that we expect will help us track and stay more in tuned to your needs.
Contracts and Forms: The contracts and forms committee has been kept on its toes this year. They quickly developed COVID forms (addendum and smoke certificate delay) and have created 6 new forms (for clear cooperation, coming soon, delayed dissemination and office exclusives). They have also been busy working on updates to the purchase and sale agreement, purchase and sale land, contact worksheet, termination form and a sample commission statement. All of these updates will be explained and the forms released at our next meeting, scheduled for November 10th at 9:00 a.m., via Zoom. You can register for this and all of our upcoming education and events through our Calendar of Events.
NAR Conference and Tradeshow: This year’s conference and trade show are going virtual. The NAR Leadership Team held a Facebook Live sneak peak of what’s to come.. You can view that event, and can register for the conference here.
Clear Cooperation: MLS President, Pam Roberts, reported that most are doing well with the new policies. However, the MLS Board has had two members and their DRs appear before them for administrative review, resulting in disciplinary action. The staff frequently receives calls or emails about lawn signs or Facebook posts. We encourage you to communicate with the staff if you have concerns about marketing or have questions about the policies. And, advise you to watch or re-watch the Clear Cooperation Video if you are unsure of what these marketing changes are!
While we’re talking about marketing, are you sure you’re doing it right? Staff also receives copies or calls on blind ads. There are very specific requirements of what must appear in marketing. And, just one, is your BROKERAGE name! Blind ads are a violation of license law. Not sure? Watch this per-recorded CE program on advertising. Not only will you be equipped with the knowledge to properly advertise, but if you notify Sue when you complete the class you will also receive 2 hours of CE credit!
Safety: Unfortunately, we have to remind everyone about safety and safety procedures. Safety always includes your personal safety and the safety of your customers and clients. But, it also includes cyber safety as well. It’s extremely important that you have a safety plan in place, as a brokerage and as a individual. The NAR has great safety tips, here, that we encourage you to review and put into practice. Sherry Street was the lucky winner of an Invisawear Person Safety Silver Keychain. Congratulations!
Where’d the Full Search Go?: If you haven’t heard, October 31st is the last day that the Full Search will be available in Flex. They are removing outdated functionality and converting all saved searches over to the Quick Search. President, Eric Steuernagle, ensured us that learning to use the Quick Search doesn’t take long and that we’ll never miss the old Full Search. Not familiar with Quick Search? Watch this quick training video from Flex to get up to speed.
Website Audits: The MLS Board is resurrecting website audits to ensure IDX rules and regulations compliance. We’re seeking volunteers who are willing to randomly audit sites according to an outlined procedure. We will train you – it doesn’t take long to learn! We anticipate this to be a 2 to 5 hour commitment per month, depending on the number of volunteers we have. Please contact Sandy if you have any comments, questions or wish to volunteer. Thank you!
IDX and Syndication: A change to how Zillow is operating in the marketplace is on its way. Rather than syndication, they will be joining MLSs and receiving an IDX feed, like brokerages and their agents do. Will your home still show on Zillow? Yes, it will! The MLS Board has also engaged in a syndication partnership with Homes.com. You’ll now see that Homes.com appears on the brokerage distribution tab in Flex. There are other seekers of syndication partnerships as well. The MLS BOD will review these on an individual basis as they are approached and keep you advised if opportunities for syndication become available to you. While we are putting together the website audit taskforce, we encourage you to review IDX rules and regulations for yourself to ensure your site is in compliance.
Berkshire REALTOR Raffle: Boy, do we have a great event planned to benefit the Berkshire Housing Trust and local food pantries! Buy your raffle tickets now for our Berkshire Realtor Raffle. Raffle prizes include a 13′ Macbook, Blackstone Griddle, Smart TV and so much more cool stuff with a total retail value over $2000. We ask: please, please, please share this event with your family, friends, clients and social networking sphere. The more, the better!!
That’s Who We R: The Board is going to piggy back on the NAR’s That’s Who We R public relations campaign and anticipates creating materials that will relay to the public what value a REALTOR brings to their transaction, and materials that you can share to help explain your value. There is a class action lawsuit that the NAR is currently defending filed on behalf of two Connecticut homeowners and alleges that NAR policies have inflated buyer broker commissions. As Katie Johnson, NAR Chief Counsel said, “It’s not just your value being challenged. It’s being trivialized and degraded. We’ll work to prevail in court, but we need your help to prevail in the court of public opinion” You can review the NAR’s value statement here, and FAQ’s on Antitrust lawsuits here.
Small Talk = Big Problems: There was a Fair Housing lawsuit brought against a REALTOR resulting from nonchalant small talk that took place at a showing. So, where are you from? Do you have kids? Why are you relocating? These seemingly benign questions can get you into Big Trouble. That buyer who was asked, “Where are you from?”, and then didn’t prevail in a bidding war accused the REALTOR of discrimination based on national origin! Because we have no ill intent, we don’t always understand the way our comments or questions are perceived. Take this Harvard University implicit bias challenge and make sure you’re not mistaken! The Mass Association held a 3-part seminar that is available for all, but especially valuable to brokers. You can watch that here.
Professional Standards Change: The Professional Standards Advisory Board recommends significant changes in online discourse with the adoption of a new Standard of Practice, 10-5. Realtors must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation or gender identity. A REALTOR is on record stating that she should be able to say whatever she wants on her personal social media profile, that it doesn’t impact her ability to do her job and that what she says there should not be subject to the Code of Ethics – this is going too far. NAR responded in a nutshell, “You can choose not to be a member if you don’t agree with the rules and the Code of Ethics.” More on this can be found in this FAQ.
Legislative Accomplishments: Wow! What a year. 111 Bills advocated – 50 supported, 45 opposed, 15 neutral! There are too many to mention here, but you can find the NAR Advocacy Issues from A-Z here! And, who can we thank for that? Well, let’s start with 255 Berkshire REALTORS who invested $25 or more to the Political Advocacy Fund in 2020. And a special thanks to our RPAC Major Investors: Pam Roberts, Anne Meczywor, Barbara Osborne and Tom Doyle. And, drum roll please… a debt of gratitude to Debbie Dwyer who is newly inducted into the RPAC Hall of Fame for $25,000 lifetime contributions to RPAC.
Always be Changing: The MLS Board is reviewing a number of providers for potential additional or add on services to the MLS, such as: showing software, floor plans, video services, agent ratings and flood maps. Currently we provide our contracts and forms to zipLogix, dotloop and Docusign. The National Association is not providing the service of zipLogix to agents as part of their benefits package past 2021.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!! We had two big raffle winners at the end of our meeting. Both were present on the Zoom, a requirement to accept the prize. Thank you for your support!!
MLS year of services in 2021 – valued at $372….. Chris Vecchia and 2021 Berkshire REALTORS Membership valued at $600… Dan Alden!! Congratulations Chris and Dan!
Whew, that was a lot in one hour…and so much information available at your fingertips. Please reach out to Eric, Pam, Sandy or Sue and Linda if you have questions.