Bahamian Billionaire Acquires Boston Waterfront Parcels

A Bahamian investment company has acquired a 90 percent interest in two parcels for $10 million on Commercial Wharf in Boston’s North End, where it’s signaled an interest in a “complex redevelopment plan” including the nearby Joe’s American Bar & Grill restaurant site.

Founded by 80-year-old British businessman Joseph Lewis, whose net worth is pegged by Fortune at $5.7 billion, Tavistock Group owns hundreds of companies and properties globally, including the Premiere League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur. Lewis’s 250-foot yacht, the Aviva, was spotted docked at the neighboring Boston Yacht Club marina in 2013, according to a North End Waterfront report.
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Tavistock Group acquired two properties at 88-89 and 90-91 Commercial Wharf East on Nov. 8. The parcels totaling 15,834 square feet contain a pair of mixed-use buildings.

Atlantic Waterfront LLC, a company affiliated with Tavistock Managing Director Jefferson Voss, paid $5.6 million in 2011 for a 9,109-square-foot parcel at 100-104 Atlantic Ave., which contains the Joe’s American Bar & Grill restaurant.

Tavistock’s website states the company has a “complex redevelopment plan” in store, including redevelopment of the existing restaurant and new public spaces and walkways connecting to the Commercial Wharf Pier and Christopher Columbus Park.

The wharf also includes the separately owned 100-slip Boston Yacht Haven Inn & Marina property, acquired by Newburyport developers Charles and Ann Lagasse in 2007. The Lagasses renovated the inn’s guest rooms and added 30 slips capable of accommodating mega-yachts up to 225 feet, according to published reports.

Does building homes crowd schools?

From Tim Logan of The Boston Globe

It’s long been a truism thrown about during suburban housing debates: More homes in a town means more kids in the schools.bus

But is it true?

The regional planning agency, which generally advocates for more suburban housing development to counter the high housing costs in Greater Boston, combed enrollment data for 234 school districts across the state and found no correlation between growth in the number of housing units and growth in the number of students in public and charter schools.

Indeed, the MAPC found that school enrollment fell from 2010 to 2016 in most districts in Greater Boston, with an overall drop of 2 percent.

Enrollment was down 7 percent in 23 “developing’’ suburbs, such as Ipswich and Franklin, and 3 percent in 43 “maturing’’ suburbs, including Acton and Braintree.

But it grew 7 percent in 16 districts at the core of the region — including Boston, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Arlington, and Watertown — as many of those municipalities attracted more families.

In most cases, the MAPC argues, this all has little to do with housing development.

Hopkinton, for instance, added 935 housing units from 2010 to 2016 — an 18 percent increase in its housing stock — but its schools added only eight students. Meanwhile, Revere’s student population grew by almost 20 percent, with virtually no new building.

“There is little real connection between housing growth and student growth,’’ said Marc Draisen, the MAPC’s executive director. “Yet impact on schools is one of the biggest arguments we hear against new housing in many communities.’’

It’s a common refrain in a variety of places. Some Brookline officials, for instance, pointed to growing school enrollment last year as an argument to halt affordable-housing development. Fierce debates have flared up from Cambridge to Plymouth over whether schools can absorb large numbers of newcomers moving into condominium and apartment developments.

Towns that do have growing student populations tend to be close to job centers and fall into one of two categories, the report says.

Some have strong school districts, which make them attractive to affluent families, who bid up home prices — places like Brookline, Lexington, and Lincoln. Those towns could use more housing to meet the demand, the MAPC says. Others — including Everett, Revere, and Lynn — have lower test scores but are relatively affordable.

Most towns, however, have aging populations and relatively stable prices. They have added some housing but few if any students, as baby boomers’ children have aged out of schools, while younger families have been slow to move in.

There’s not much reason, Draisen said, to believe a little more development will flood the schools with children they can’t support.

“Building apartments is not what causes kids,’’ Draisen said.

Big plans for Union Point

LStar Ventures and GE want to make the old South Weymouth Naval Air Station a test lab for ‘smart city’ ideas

Those futuristic cities you see in sci-fi movies? Where traffic lights miraculously turn green, parking spaces are easy to find, and sidewalks that melt snow?

One is starting to take shape on the South Shore.

The old South Weymouth Naval Air Station, a sprawling site being redeveloped into a new community known as Union Point, will become a test lab for General Electric’s far-flung ideas for “smart cities’’ of the future.

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Boston-based GE has signed a deal with the project’s developer, LStar Ventures, to install experimental technologies in street lights, power equipment, and other urban fixtures as the 1,550-acre property gets built out. Sensors on lights could monitor traffic and direct drivers to less-congested routes or available parking, for example, or digesters could turn waste from restaurants into energy and fertilizer for rooftop farms.

The new deal with GE was highlighted in the proposal LStar just submitted to Amazon to host the online retailing giant’s second headquarters on a 100-acre section of Union Point. The GE name also provides LStar with an instantly recognizable brand as it markets Union Point — which straddles the Weymouth, Abington, and Rockland borders — to other commercial tenants and housing developers.

“In the conversation of Massachusetts being a hotbed of innovation, this is a part of it,’’ said Brian Swett, director of cities and sustainable real estate at Arup, an engineering firm working with LStar. “Being able to test things on a scale like that, it’s relatively unique. It’s a special site, and the stars are aligned to do something that we think will be globally significant.’’

The marketing materials for Union Point show a gleaming city rising above a suburban flatland. But so far, only a small portion of the vast site has been redeveloped. About 850 housing units are occupied right now, with about 2,000 residents living there. But that represents less than one-quarter of the site’s potential for residential development.

LStar chief executive Kyle Corkum said his plan also envisions at least 10 million square feet of commercial development, spread among dozens of buildings. LStar expects to break ground on its first new commercial building, a robotics factory for Prodrive Technologies, in November.

It’s still early in the GE-LStar relationship; the companies don’t yet know which GE technologies will be tested or put to use in LStar’s burgeoning mini-city. GE’s relatively new lighting and energy startup, called Current and also based in Boston, likely will be involved, in part to install “smart lighting’’ on Union Point streets. LStar hopes to harness GE’s renewable energy technologies as well.

For example, GE could develop ways to convert food waste at the site into electricity, through anaerobic digestion plants, and into fertilizer for rooftop farms, where produce would be grown for Union Point residents. Wind turbines and solar panels — made or installed by GE — would serve residents and businesses there. GE may also build a backup power system, tapping into a gas line through the Union Point property.

Meanwhile,through another one of its engineering firms, Corkum said LStar is exploring new technologies that could be used to melt snow on sidewalks.

This fall, Corkum said LStar will start installing GE sensors in street lights at Union Point. These sensors, which can track how many vehicles are on the streets and how fast they’re moving, have the potential to direct drivers to less-congested streets or to open parking spaces.

“It’s more than just buying products from them,’’ Corkum said of the GE partnership. “It’s taking a product and tinkering with it in a real-world environment.’’

GE has worked with other communities to roll out “smart city’’ technologies, including street light projects in Jacksonville and San Diego.

But Abby Abel, global director of GE’s Ecomagination group, said the LStar arrangement involves many more of GE’s various business lines than those used in previous municipal partnerships.

“This is about applying our technologies to achieve a vision of innovation and sustainability that is a first for us, from an urban standpoint,’’ Abel said. “The whole concept is, how do we work together to innovate new technologies that will improve people’s lives?’’

One question that looms over the new GE-LStar partnership: What will GE chief executive John Flannery’s cost-cutting moves mean for its future? Flannery, who became CEO in August, is in the process of identifying billions of dollars worth of businesses to be spun off, and at least $2 billion in expense reductions. Flannery is scheduled to unveil his plans in November.

Corkum said he doesn’t expect Flannery’s budget review to negatively affect the research the company will do at Union Point.

Nick Heymann, an analyst with investment bank William Blair & Co. who follows GE closely, said it can be tough for GE and its peers to integrate these technologies into fully built cities where utilities and other systems have been installed over time. The cities were not designed to be interconnected.

“Taking existing cities and retrofitting this capability for them to ‘become smart’ is a challenge,’’ Heymann said.

But places such as the South Weymouth air base offer a blank canvas. “You almost start with a fresh sheet of paper,’’ he said.

Sean Becker, a former manager with GE’s energy division, said he sees a number of ways the LStar-GE relationship could benefit both companies, particularly because of Union Point’s close proximity to GE’s Boston operations.

“It’s not just PR. You want to test this stuff out, and you want to test everything as it works together,’’said Becker, who now runs energy storage startup Sparkplug Power in Somerville. “GE’s Current is still struggling to bring all the things that GE does and can do, and put it into a useful package. Here is a place where they can do that.’’

Red Sox Hall Of Famer Buys Hingham Luxury Condo

Legendary Sox catcher and former team captain Jason Varitek and his wife, Catherine Varitek, closed on an $1.8 million home in Hingham’s Residences at Black Rock earlier this month.

Varitek played two summers with the Hyannis Mets in the Cape Cod League, then spent his entire major league career (1997-2011) with the Boston Red Sox wearing the number 33. The three-time All-Star helped the Sox bring home two world championships and has played in more post-season games than any other Red Sox player in history.
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The 138 residences at Black Rock overlook the fairways of the Black Rock Country Club. Residences have access to the club’s swimming pools, fitness rooms, luxury clubhouse, tennis courts, and other amenities. While the interiors of residences are personalized, the exteriors feature cedar shingles, mahogany decks and brick walkways.

Varitek is currently an assistant to Dave Dombrowski, the Red Sox’s president of baseball operations.

If you’re buying or selling you’ll get hall of fame worthy representation from Fitzgerald Law Offices. Call us today. 781-924-5326.

Local Businesses And Selectmen Rally For Hanover Mall Redevelopment

FROM BANKER & TRADESMAN

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Numerous local businesses and two chambers of commerce have gone on record in favor of a June 19 Hanover Special Town Meeting article that, if approved by voters, would grant the Hanover Mall a tax increment financing (TIF), allowing the new owners of the mall to redevelop and revitalize the 46-year-old shopping center.

Generally, a TIF allows municipalities to divert future property tax revenue increases from a defined district – or in this case, a property – toward an economic development project.
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Since PECO Real Estate Partners (PREP), the new owners of the Hanover Mall, and its Hanover-based management team began meeting with local officials and community members to discuss the TIF proposal, several businesses and organizations have gone public in their endorsement. The Hanover selectmen voted unanimously in support of the TIF on May 24, as has the planning board, at a meeting on June 6. PREP contends the TIF is necessary to complete the redevelopment plan for the mall to become “Hanover Crossing,” the proposed name for the redeveloped property.

Both the Hanover and South Shore chambers of commerce have endorsed the proposal and encouraged voters to support it. Hanover Chamber President Patrick Kelleher said in a statement that he is excited “about the economic boost the new mall will give to our community.”

Under the terms of the proposed TIF, PREP will commit to investing a minimum of $40 million in redeveloping the mall – which is the town’s single largest taxpayer – while maintaining the level of property tax payments annually based on its purchase price.

PREP has agreed to pay real estate taxes based on its purchase price of nearly $40 million, prior to and during the construction period. In recent years, its assessed valuation has declined. The TIF agreement would stop that slide while allowing the owners the time to invest in improvements and attract new tenants.

The redevelopment will provide an estimated 700 full-time, part-time and construction jobs; under the agreement, PREP is required to use best efforts to hire Hanover residents.

“We look at this article as a ‘win-win,’ since it will move the Hanover Mall revitalization forward, as well as provide the community a stable tax payment over the next 15 years,” Hanover Mall General Manager Ed Callahan said in a statement.

LIKE Fitzgerald Law Offices Facebook Page for updates on local commercial and residential Real Estate

Fed Rate Hike Unlikely To Move Mass. Market

FROM BANKER & TRADESMAN

The Fed’s decision yesterday to inch the federal funds rate upward signaled its cautious confidence in the U.S. economy, but it ruffled few feathers in the Massachusetts real estate market.

In remarks to reporters following the Fed’s announcement that it would raise the federal funds rate to between 0.75 percent and 1 percent, Chairwoman Janet L. Yellen said the decision “does not represent a reassessment of the economic outlook” and signaled that the Fed would most likely pursue gradual increases to the federal funds rate.

for sale“Today’s decision also reflects our view that waiting too long to scale back some accommodation could potentially require us to raise rates rapidly somewhere down the road, which in turn could risk disrupting financial markets and pushing the economy into recession,” she said.

The stock market reacted to the Fed’s announcement with enthusiasm, though bankers were a bit more tempered in their reactions.

“The recovery seems to have gained some tailwind and we’re seeing growth start to accelerate globally and inflation pressures in the U.S. economy and abroad, so it is not surprising that the Fed followed through on their broadly signaled rate increase at this month’s meeting,” Tony Bedikian, head of global markets at Citizens Bank, said in a statement. “What remains to be seen is whether we see consistent economic progress this year and how many additional rate increases will result.”

Several banks, including Citizens, Citibank, BB&T and M&T Bank, raised their prime lending rates from 3.75 percent to 4 percent.

The Massachusetts real estate market is unlikely to feel much impact from the rate increase. It is, after all, just 25 basis points and in the grand scheme of things, rates are still around historic lows. And local lenders, many of whom have seen the longest refinance boom of their careers, have been shifting their focus to the purchase market for some time. Rates weren’t going to stay this low forever.

Chip Poli, founder and president of Poli Mortgage in Canton, wasn’t especially surprised by the Fed’s decision. Where his own business is concerned, Poli said he’s seen some potential buyers moving a little bit faster in anticipation of future rate hikes, and he even had a few customers trying to lock in rates ahead of Wednesday’s announcement. This week’s rate increase means that some buyers will have a little bit less purchasing power than they might have a year ago, but he doesn’t see this latest increase shaking many buyers out of the market.

“I think we’re in good shape right now. I don’t know what the next two will do, but I do believe Boston and Massachusetts in general are really strong markets,” he said. “People just need to digest that and be educated about it.”

A Blizzard in March?!?! Move to Jimmy Buffet’s Latitude Margaritaville

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Jimmy Buffett’s always been quite the entrepreneur, and now he’s getting into the business of senior housing. His Margaritaville lifestyle brand, which includes Buffett-inspired hotels, casinos, and restaurants, is about to open a chain of retirement communities.

The first one will be located in Daytona Beach, Fla., and more locations are expected to be announced soon.

Latitude Margaritaville is being marketed as senior living “for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up.’’ It will essentially be a walkable neighborhood for older adults with a “no worries, tropical vibe’’ and will feature exercise facilities, an indoor lap pool, a band shell for live performances, and indoor and outdoor dining areas where Parrotheads can kick back and enjoy Margaritaville-branded food and drinks. According to the Latitude Margaritaville website, the sales center at Daytona Beach is scheduled to open this fall, and model homes should be ready early next year. You can sign up for more information here: www.latitudemargaritaville.com.

Enjoy the snow!

City Increases Parking Space Requirements in Southie

From today’s Boston Globe….

South Boston rarely takes kindly to change, no matter how well-intentioned. Think about the short-lived wine bar off Perkins Square, or the fleeting attempt to adopt one-way streets.

But City Hall recently adopted a major change that even hidebound residents might embrace: new zoning regulations that will affect virtually the entire neighborhood, from the yuppies on A Street to the senior citizens in City Point.

The rules are an attempt to restore order to a booming neighborhood that can feel like a giant construction site and a sense of fairness to a development and permitting process often shaped by influence and special exemptions.

Proponents hope the code changes, which took effect last month, will bring a steep decline in variances granted by the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals, and in the community meetings, politically connected consultants, and development lawyers that usually come with them.
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Sharply curbing variances, which are exceptions to the zoning code, would also eliminate a bureaucratic bottleneck in the permitting process that, as the Globe has reported, can be exploited by developers, civic associations, neighbors, and organized labor.

“All of that will be diminished,’’ said City Councilor Bill Linehan, who helped spearhead the two-year reform effort, which included a dozen community meetings. “It will be a much more even playing field for all neighbors and all residents. . . . The amount of time and energy that government and the community had to spend regulating property development was absurd.’’
The new rules are not without controversy. Developers will now be required to build two-thirds more off-street parking than before, a mandate that runs counter to a prevailing urban planning model to reduce cars in favor of cycling and public transit.

“They should be reducing these parking minimums,’’ said Brendan Kearney, communications manager for the pedestrian advocacy group WalkBoston. “The city of Buffalo just removed parking requirements entirely. You don’t think of Buffalo as a paragon of forward urban thinking, but if Buffalo can do it, why not Boston?’’

The new parking requirements will also increase building costs, making some projects prohibitively expensive. That could slowthe pace of construction in what has been the hottest neighborhood in Boston’s building boom.

“I’ve been told by developers that it will slow down the development in South Boston, which is probably a good thing because we are getting oversaturated,’’ said Joanne McDevitt, president of the City Point Neighborhood Association. “But I don’t think it’s going to solve the problem of parking.’’

For the regulations to have an effect, they must be strictly enforced, meaning the Zoning Board of Appeals will have to issue far fewer variances. “That is the question,’’ said Donna Brown, executive director of the South Boston Neighborhood Development Corp., an affordable housing nonprofit. “Will the ZBA decline requests for variances? Will the [Boston Planning & Development Agency] recommend against requests for variances when people apply?’’

Mayor Martin J. Walsh indicated that City Hall will take a hard line to enforce the new zoning. In a statement, Walsh’s office said it was “unlikely to speak in support of requests for variances before the Zoning Board of Appeals in order to allow the zoning to mature and have the intended impact on the neighborhood.’’

By slowing development, the new zoning bylaws could also create more affordable housing, supporters say.
Many senior citizens and other longtime residents have been pushed out of their homes in recent years as developers buy three-story apartment houses to convert them into luxury condominiums.

Because of soaring real estate prices, the development corporation has not been able to buy a building since 2011, Brown said.
“If the parking requirement results in a softening of the triple-decker market, that would make it easier for us as a nonprofit to purchase a building and keep it as anaffordable or moderate priced rental,’’ Brown said. “We want to keep people in their housing.’’

Kvetching about parking is a popular pastime in South Boston. An influx of new residents, many of them young professionals, has increased the number of cars competing for on-street spots, and longtime residents have been clamoring for a fix.

Under the new zoning rules, each new unit must come with 1.5 parking spots, up from 0.9 spaces. Because parking requirements are always rounded up, a new building with three two-bedroom apartments must include five parking spots. (Studio and one-bedroom units need only one space.)

Like all zoning rules, there are caveats. The requirements only apply to new construction or projects that involve a major change, such as adding a unit. The rules do not apply to standard renovations.

The regulations also allow a new maximum height of 40 feet for much of the neighborhood, compared with 35 to 50 feet under the old system.

Officials at the Boston Planning & Development Agency, which reviews larger projects, said the new regulations will help preserve the neighborhood’s character while accommodating new growth.

The agency’s community affairs liaison, Mark McGonagle, said the changes seek to shape the neighborhood’s future on a broad scale to “get away from what many in the community termed parcel by parcel development.’’

The rezoning joins another effort in South Boston that designates the Dorchester Avenue corridor as a transit-oriented growth zone. That process, although not finalized, could result in reduced parking requirements for developments near subway stations and buildings as tall as 300 feet in certain locations.

The overall goal is simple.

“The rezoning of South Boston is designed to restore predictability to the process so that the rules are understood and fairly applied to all,’’ said City Councilor Michael F. Flaherty of South Boston, who pushed for the new regulations. “Our hope is to eliminate the need for variances, the guessing game, and the hocus pocus that plays out at the Zoning Board of Appeals.’’

Looking for a Property Portfolio?

From todays’ Boston Globe……

One of Boston’s old-school landlords says he’s cashing in his chips. Again.

James Batmasian, a South Florida real estate mogul who launched his empire in 1970 by purchasing a Cambridge three-decker, ¬recently put his 33 Boston-area buildings up for sale. They house 444 apartments, in properties ranging from two-families in Watertown to a shuttered motel in Revere to an elegant 75-unit building on the Riverway in ¬Mission Hill.

It can all be yours, for $166 million.

This sort of move — putting an entire portfolio of properties on the market at once — is rare in Boston, where real estate empires are amassed over generations and usually remain in the same hands.
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Batmasian’s decision to sell could be a sign of the market nearing its peak, a chance for him to cash out at top dollar. Some rivals suspect he might just be fishing for a buyer at a too-high price, but happy to keep holding if no one bites. As for Batmasian himself, he says it’s simple: He left town decades ago and is finally ready to close the book on Boston.

“I’m approaching 70,’’ he said. “I started in Boston when I was 21, and I’d like not to wait until I’m in a wheelchair to cash out.’’

Batmasian, who has lived in Boca Raton, Fla., since 1983, said he gets to Boston for only a few days a year and wants to focus on a charitable foundation he recently started.

Before he was one of the biggest real estate owners in the ritzy Florida city, Batmasian was a lawyer in Boston, having graduated from Harvard Law School. In the 1970s and ‘80s, he and his wife, Marta, began accumulating rental properties in Arlington, Cambridge, and Somerville. Their firm, Investments Limited, still manages them from a small storefront on Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge.

After leaving Boston, Batmasian became one of the most colorful characters on South Florida’s real estate scene. Using the same buy-and-hold strategies he honed here, he accumulated a property empire worth more than $1 billion. He also earned a felony conviction in 2008 for tax evasion and served a brief stint in federal prison. He weathered the most recent real estate crash, as well as sexual harassment lawsuits by former employees. All the while, Batmasian has been collecting rent checks from a few dozen small buildings around Greater Boston.

Now, though, Batmasian is fully focused fully on Florida, he said, and too old to have to worry about his scattered portfolio far to the north.

But some would-be buyers who have dealt with Batmasian aren’t convinced he’s really exiting the Boston market.

They say that several times over the past few decades Batmasian has listed his holdings for sale and has gone relatively far down the road in negotiations before pulling out of deals.
It’s just his way of testing the market, said Carl Valeri, president of Hamilton Co., one of Boston’s largest privately owned landlords.

“I’ve just seen this story so many times,’’ Valeri said. “He’s probably done this five times in the last 25 years. I wouldn’t expect a sale to go off, in the end.’’

Robert Eisen, a spokesman for Batmasian, acknowledged the portfolio has been up for sale before, and that there have been negotiations with suitors. But, he said, no prospective buyer ever agreed to Batmasian’s asking price. This time, Eisen said in an e-mail to the Globe, his client is “very serious’’ about selling.

Either way, he’s likely to receive healthy offers, said Travis D’Amato, a broker in Boston for the real estate firm JLL who specializes in apartment building sales. Rents are surging on lower-priced apartments, he said, especially for in-demand markets such as Cambridge and Somerville. Some of Batmasian’s smaller buildings could be converted to condominiums and sold. Larger buildings might be spruced up to capture higher rents. There’s a lot of demand from big investors who want a piece of Boston’s housing market.

“I think he’d do very well,’’ D’Amato said. “Guys like him don’t sell in a bad market.’’

Indeed, Batmasian notes, there’s nothing happening in the market that’s pushing him to sell. It’s just that the timing is right for him, he said. The timing may also be right for buyers. Batmasian said he received 40 calls in the first three days after putting his holdings up for sale.

Attorney General Levels the Playing Field in Nantucket

The Massachusetts Attorney General has made a bold step toward helping consumers by forging an agreement with the Nantucket Association of Real Estate Brokers Inc. that effectively opens up the pool of prospective agents.
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Prior to Nov. 14, the association and its Multiple Listing Service made it nearly impossible for off-island realtors to list homes there. Requirements for membership pretty much excluded off-island agents from the market unless they had a physical office there, were involved in the community, and paid a $5,000 membership fee. The state alleged the restrained competition violated Massachusetts consumer protection and antitrust laws.

“Competition is important to our markets and helps to ensure better results for consumers,’’ Attorney General Maura Healy said. “Organizations should not use membership rules or requirements to limit competitors where there is no basis to do so.’’

The November agreement between Healy’s office and the Nantucket association opened membership to off-island brokers and reduced the initiation fee from $5,000 to $500. The agreement also eliminated the requirement that brokers be actively involved in the community.

What does the agreement mean to the home buyer or seller? Without access to their listing service, nonmember agents were virtually boxed out of the competition, limiting consumer choices on who should represent them. It’s not to say that island brokers haven’t been providing quality services to their clients, but people on Nantucket are going to be better served by having the ability to choose from a wider pool of agents based on track record, experience, knowledge, and fees.

As it stands, of the 24 sales on the island this year, six were by off-island brokers. That’s a quarter of the real estate transactions in 11 months. It’s evident that island residents have been trying to expand their options to find other agents to work with beyond Nantucket. This appears to be demonstrative of the evolving world of real estate. Technology has expanded regional limitations on the state and national level, and now we’re seeing it on Nantucket.

The world of real estate continually evolves hand in hand with technological advancements. Years ago, for example, there were more than 15 Multiple Listing Services in Massachusetts. Now the largest, Massachusetts Multiple Listing Service, covers all of the state, but there are some areas such as Cape Cod where other MLS systems are used in addition to the state one. This evolution to centralizing listing services enables realtors to sell property effectively anywhere. A more holistic system is changing the game for real estate, and there is no reason that agents should be prevented from working anywhere in the state in which they’re licensed. Homes are sold online. As long as you price a home correctly — which isn’t hard because you can pull comparable sales figures off MLS — you can sell it. I could sell a home here in Watertown as well as I can sell one in Holden.

Real estate transactions are one of the largest financial decisions people make, and now island residents are better able to choose the agent they feel comfortable having manage this sometimes overwhelming experience.