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National Real Estate Association Guidelines

The National Association of Realtors® announced new, pro-consumer changes to its guidance for local Multiple Listing Service broker marketplaces. These changes are meant to increase transparency for buyers and will take effect on Jan. 1, 2022. They are, according to NAR, as follows:

1. Reinforce that local marketplace participants do not represent brokerage services as free. While Realtors® always have been required to advertise their services accurately and truthfully, this change creates a bright line rule on the use of the word “free” that is easy to follow and enforce.

2. Ensure disclosure of compensation offered to buyer agents. The change bolsters transparency and Realtors®’ existing duties and practices to talk with their clients about what services they provide and how they are compensated.

3. Ensure listings aren’t excluded from search results based on the amount of compensation offered to buyer agents. This changes wording to reiterate Realtors®’ existing duty to inform clients about all relevant properties meeting their criteria.

Commenting on the intention of these new guidelines, NAR President Charlie Oppler said in a press release that the association is “Grounded in our commitment to act in the best interests of buyers and sellers… These latest changes more explicitly state what is already the spirit and intent of the NAR Code of Ethics and local broker marketplace guidance regarding consumer transparency and broker participation.”

Oppler added: “These latest changes more explicitly state what is already the spirit and intent of the NAR Code of Ethics and local broker marketplace guidance regarding consumer transparency and broker participation.” The official rule changes put to paper what’s already been broadly accepted as good real estate practice.

Boston Condos for Sale and Apartment Rentals

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Ford Realty Inc., Boston Real Estate for Sale

Ford Realty Inc., Boston Real Estate for Sale

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Updated: Boston Real Estate 2021

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Boston Condos for Sale and Apartment Rentals

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National Real Estate Association Guideline Regarding the Coronavirus

The following are NAR guidelines for Boston real estate brokers regarding the Coronavirus:

What unique issues does coronavirus present to the real estate industry?

When an infectious disease, such as coronavirus, is associated with a specific population or nationality, fear and anxiety may lead to social stigma and potential discrimination. REALTORS® must be mindful of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act, and be sure not to discriminate against any particular segment of the population. While the coronavirus outbreak began in Wuhan, China, that does not provide a basis for treating Chinese persons or persons of Asian descent differently.

May I ask clients or others I interact with in my real estate business if they have traveled recently, or have any signs of respiratory illness?

Yes, you may ask clients or others about their recent travel, particularly to areas identified as having an increased risk of coronavirus. To avoid potential fair housing issues, be sure to ask all clients the same screening questions based on current, factual information from public health authorities.

I typically drive my clients to showings. May I refuse to drive potential clients to see homes?

Yes. However, be sure that any change to your business practices is applied equally to all clients. You may refuse to drive clients who show signs of illness or reveal recent travel to areas of increased risk of coronavirus, or you may instead decide to stop driving clients in your car altogether, and simply arrange to meet clients at a property. If you do continue to drive clients in your car, it is a good idea to frequently clean and disinfect surfaces like door handles and seat belt latches, and to ask clients to use hand sanitizer when getting in and out of the car.

Should I still conduct open houses on my listed properties?

Speak openly and honestly with your seller about the pros and cons of holding an open house. Assess the risk based on your specific location, and direct your clients to local and state health authorities for specific information about the severity of the risk in your area. You could also propose alternative marketing opportunities for your seller’s consideration, such as video tours and other methods to virtually tour a property. If you do hold an open house, consider requiring all visitors to disinfect their hands upon entering the home, limiting the amount of people in the home and providing alcohol-based hand sanitizers at the entryway, as well as soap and disposable towels in bathrooms. If you decide to do any cleaning at your client’s home, be sure to check with your client in advance about any products you plan to use. After the open house, recommend that your client clean and disinfect their home, especially commonly touched areas like doorknobs and faucet handles.

What precautions should brokers consider taking in their offices?

Brokers should use their best judgment when formulating a plan. In addition to performing regular environmental cleaning with special attention paid to frequently touched surfaces, brokers should implement a mandatory “stay-home” policy for any staff member or agent exhibiting any sign of illness. Brokers may want to consider imposing a mandatory or maximum flexibility remote work policy for employees and instructing agents to stay out of the office. In addition, in the wake of the CDC’s recent guidance recommending that in-person events consisting of 50 or more people be cancelled or postponed, brokers should take measures to hold virtual meetings when possible, and potentially postpone or cancel in-person meetings or events to take to limit close contact between individuals.

Be sure to monitor updates from the CDC, as well as your state and local health authorities for additional information and guidance on holding meetings or events. For travel considerations, review NAR’s “Coronavirus: A Guide for REALTOR® Associations“.

Finally, do not panic, stay informed, and use your best judgment. The situation is rapidly changing, so focus on putting policies and procedures in place to keep your employees and agents informed, safe, and to avoid business disruption in the event the situation worsens. The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers(link is external) is a helpful resource.

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