Massachusetts law prohibits a real estate broker or salesperson from representing or negotiating on behalf of a buyer unless a buyer has an agreement (either written or verbal) to allow the broker or salesperson to act on the buyer’s behalf. For the protection of consumers, Massachusetts law encourages that all business relationships be defined in writing.

The state of Massachusetts requires that real estate agents provide this disclosure to home buyers and sellers. MGL Ch 112 Sec 87AAA½.

The purpose of this disclosure is to enable you to make informed choices before working with real estate licensees. It must be provided at the first personal meeting that you have with an agent to discuss a specific property. THIS IS NOT A CONTRACT. It is a disclosure notice for your information and protection. BE SURE TO READ THE DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF AGENCY REPRESENTATION AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS DISCLOSURE.

  1. Whether you are the buyer or the seller you can choose to have the advice, assistance and representation of your own agent. Do not assume that a broker is acting on your behalf unless you have contracted with that broker to represent you.
  2. All real estate licensees must, by law, present properties honestly and accurately.
  3. If you are a seller you may authorize your listing agent to cooperate with agents from other firms to help sell your property. These cooperating agents may be subagents who work for the seller or buyer’s agents.
  4. If you are the buyer you have the option of working with seller’s or buyer’s agents. This decision will depend on the types of services you want from a real estate agent. A buyer should tell seller’s agents, including subagents, only what he/she would tell the seller directly.

When a seller engages the services of a listing broker, that seller becomes the broker’s client. This means the broker, and his/her subagents represent the seller. They owe the seller undivided loyalty, utmost care, disclosure, obedience to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability. They must put the seller’s interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for their client, the seller. (The seller may also authorize subagents to represent him/her in marketing the property to buyers).

When a buyer engages the services of a broker then that buyer becomes the broker’s client. This means the broker represents the buyer. The broker owes the buyer undivided loyalty, utmost care, disclosure, obedient to lawful instruction, confidentiality and accountability. The broker must put the buyer’s interest first and negotiate for the best price and terms for his/her client, the buyer. (The buyer may also authorize subagents to represent him/her in locating property.)

When a real estate agent works as a facilitator that agent assists the seller and buyer in reaching as agreement but does not represent either the seller or buyer in the transaction. The facilitator and the broker with whom the facilitator is affiliated owe the seller and buyer a duty to present each property honestly and accurately by disclosing known material defects about the property and owe a duty to account for funds. Unless otherwise agreed, the facilitator has no duty to keep information received from a seller or buyer confidential. The role of facilitator applies only to the seller and buyer in the particular property transaction involving the seller and buyer. Should the seller and buyer expressly agree a facilitator relationship can be changed to become an exclusive agency relationship with either the seller or the buyer.

A broker can work for both the buyer and the seller on the same property provided such broker obtains the informed consent of both parties. The broker is then considered a disclosed dual agent. This broker owes the seller and the buyer a duty to deal with them fairly and honestly. In this type of agency relationship the broker does not represent either the seller or buyer exclusively and they cannot expect the broker’s undivided loyalty. Also undisclosed dual agency is illegal.

The duties of a real estate licensee do not relieve the consumer of the responsibility to protect his/her own interest. Consumers with questions on whether and how real estate agents share fees should pose them to the agent. If you need advice for legal, tax, insurance or other matters it is your responsibility to consult a professional in those areas.

Unless contracted to serve as an agent of either the SELLER or the BUYER of real property, Jane Brown Associates and all affiliated agents conducts business as a non-agent facilitator. Jane Brown Associates does not permit sub-agency as defined by Massachusetts law.

Under Massachusetts and federal law, owners and real estate agents must comply with Lead Paint Property Transfer Notification requirements when a prospective buyer or tenant with an option to buy is about to purchase a home built before 1978.

The aim of this requirement is to inform prospective buyers about: To comply with both state and federal requirements, sellers and real estate agents must provide the Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification to a prospective buyer before signing a purchase and sale agreement, a lease with an option to purchase, or a memorandum of agreement used in foreclosure sales. In addition, they must: Sellers or real estate agents who fail to comply with Property Transfer Lead Paint Notification requirements are subject to civil penalty under Massachusetts law, and both civil and criminal penalties under federal law.

A fee of two percent of the purchase price is imposed upon the transfer of any real estate situated in a member town at the time of transfer. The fee is the responsibility of the purchaser. Any agreement between the purchaser and the seller or any other party with reference to the allocation of the responsibility for bearing said fee shall not affect such liability of the purchaser.

The State Legislature, with Chapter 736 of the Acts of 1985, and the Towns of Martha’s Vineyard, with voter approval in 1986, established the Dukes County Land Bank, to be administered by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission for the purpose of acquiring, holding and managing land and interests in land. The land to be acquired shall be situated in a member town and may consist of any of the following: (a) land to protect existing and future well fields, aquifers and recharge areas; (b) agricultural lands; (c) forest land; (d) fresh and salt water marshes and other wetlands; (e) ocean and pond frontage, beaches, dunes and adjoining backlands, to protect their natural and scenic resources; (f) land to protect scenic vistas; (g) land for nature or wildlife preserves; (h) easements for trails and for publicly owned lands; and (i) land for passive recreational use. The land bank commission shall retain any real property interest acquired pursuant to this act predominantly in its natural, scenic or open condition, and shall not restrict access to any property interest on the basis of residency or domicile.

Real estate agents are not trained to find structural, electrical, plumbing, septic and other problems with a home or land and do not guarantee the condition of property they sell.

As of May 2001, home inspectors are required to be licensed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. A home inspector’s license can be verified with the Board of Registration of Home Inspectors website or by calling the Board at (617) 727- 4459. A standard home inspection is a visual examination of the physical structure and major interior systems of a residential building consisting of one to four dwelling units. It should be clearly understood that a home inspection is not to be confused with an appraisal, a building code inspection, a guarantee of any kind, and/or an insurance policy on the condition of the property.

During an inspection, the inspector will review the readily accessible exposed portions of the structure of the home, including the roof, the attic, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, doors, basement, and foundation as well as the heating/air conditioning systems, interior plumbing and electrical systems for potential problems. Home inspections are not intended to point out every small problem or any invisible or latent defect in a home. Most minor or cosmetic flaws, for example, should be apparent to the buyer without the aid of a professional.

A home inspector is typically hired by a potential homebuyer right after the offer to purchase real estate contract is signed, prior to executing the final purchase and sales agreement. However, before the potential buyer signs the offer to purchase contract, he/she should be sure that there is an inspection clause in the contract making the purchase obligation contingent upon the findings of a professional home inspection. This clause should specify the terms to which both the buyer and seller are obligated.

Real estate brokers and salesmen may not directly recommend a specific home inspection company or home inspector unless representing the buyer as a buyer’s broker. Brokers, however, may provide assistance to buyers in accessing information on licensed home inspectors. Good referral sources for home inspection services are friends, neighbors, or business acquaintances who have been satisfied with a home inspector. In addition, lawyers and mortgage brokers may also recommend a home inspector. The names of local inspectors can be found by searching the Division of Professional Licensure home inspectors website, or in the Yellow Pages where many advertise under “Building Inspection Service” or “Home Inspection Service.”

It is strongly recommended that potential buyers consider having the following inspections and/or tests performed prior to signing the final purchase agreement: lead paint, pests, wood destroying insects, including termites, and air quality including radon gas. While some home inspectors are qualified to offer these services, these inspections and tests are not part of the basic home inspection and should be contracted through qualified licensed professionals in those fields. It should also be noted that the seller is required, under 105 CMR 651.010, to provide the potential buyer with an affidavit disclosing the presence of Urea Formaldehyde Insulation if it exists. In addition, the seller under 105 CMR 460.750(A) shall disclose if the property has been inspected for lead paint and provide copies of any lead paint reports concerning the residential premises or any dwelling unit therein.
Licensed Local Inspectors
PO Box 266-K
Tisbury, MA 02568
T 508-693-9216

PO Box 54
Edgartown, MA 02539
T 508-627-7802

Massachusetts environmental regulations require that a property which is serviced by a septic system, cesspool or other private waste disposal system be inspected within two (2) years before sale (three (3) years if pumped at least once each year) or within six (6) months after sale (if weather conditions prevent a pre-sale inspection). Only licensed inspectors and soil evaluators may conduct such inspections. Should a system fail an inspection, the buyer and seller may negotiate who will pay to repair or replace the system or, if the agreement for sale contains a contingency, the buyer may decide to withdraw. The fact that a system passes a Title 5 inspection is not a guarantee that the system will continue to function properly. Even a properly maintained system may only last an average of 15 to 20 years.

Massachusetts law requires that all residential structures be equipped with approved smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors upon sale. The local fire department will issue a certificate to prove compliance.

BANK OF MARTHA’S VINEYARD, A Division of Sovereign Bank
Contact: Jeannie Ogden
T 508-696-4463
[email protected]
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Contact: Tim Lowe
T 508-693-0161
[email protected]
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Contact: John Washbrook
T 508-627-1123 / 800-627-1123
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Contact: Polly K. Bassett and Carol J. Borselle
T 508-696-1801
F 508-696-1803
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Contact: Sheila Adams
T 508-696-7676 / 800-640-4333
[email protected]
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Contact: Scott Gannon
T 617-928-5467
[email protected]
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