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Ins and Outs of Photos

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 16th, 2016

Photos are one of the most important aspects to attracting potential buyer’s online. A quick list of do’s and don’ts below.

  1. Submit your photos prior to sending in your listing paperwork. You can do this online via our prelisting manager portal or email the photos to us at info@congressrealty.com
  2. We can always reduce photo sizes but we can’t increase the photo size. Thus, when in doubt, email us the larger photos and we can reduce them to fit the MLS standards for you.
  3. Front elevation photos matter. Take a photo that is bright and inviting and free of objects such as power lines or trash cans.
  4. Try not to take vertical shots. Quite often, MLS’s will rotate these sideways.
  5. Most all MLS’s will not allow writing or text on the photos.
  6. We can easily accommodate a request to put photos in a specific order. The easiest way to go about this is to label your photos 1.jpg, 2.jpg, etc…
  7. If your photos are too large for you to email, use hosting sites like Dropbox. However, if you password protect your dropbox file, please remember to give us access.
  8. Many sellers take the approach of ordering the photos in a way that resembles the potential buyer walking through the house. We recommend putting your best and most attractive photos first.  The reason? Not all buyer’s are going to flip through 50 photos to get to your beautiful Las Vegas Strip View… Lead with your best features.
  9. The # 1 problem I see with photos that we receive is interior photos are too dark. There is nothing less attractive when it comes to photos than dark interior shots. Really focus on getting windows open, lights on, timing the photos with the proper sunlight, etc… to amplify the brightness of the home.
  10. If you hire a professional photographer, consider having your photos taken around twilight time. (unless your home is naturally dark inside)

Realtors Referring business to Congress Realty

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
October 13th, 2016

This is something that gives me great pride. No one knows Real Estate quite like Realtors(R) who live and breath Real Estate each and every day. I’ve written before about word of mouth being our best form of advertisement but this is something that goes beyond word of mouth. We have had an increase this year in the # of listings referred to our firm through other Realtors(R). It’s a pretty incredible thing when you think about it. In the last month alone, the following 3 scenarios have occurred:

  1. Realtor in Phoenix has a sister in Flagstaff that needs to sell their Flagstaff home. B/c the Realtor is not a Flagstaff MLS member, the Realtor told her sister to use our firm to sell the Flagstaff home instead of her company office in Flagstaff.
  2.  An owner of a mobile home in Dewey, AZ gave us a call after a local Realtor in Prescott gave him our information. The Realtor was concerned the seller did not have enough equity in the home to pay her 6% fee. As a Professional gesture, she gave the owner our info as the best alternative to her standard 6% commission.
  3. A Realtor in Phoenix with a Tucson 2nd home listed the home with our firm on the TARMLS system instead of using their own firm out of Tucson.

I know the reputation is that all Realtors hate discounters, but the reality is that this isn’t true. When it comes to their own wallets and their families wallets, many Realtors are recommending the Congress Realty way of selling a home b/c it works and b/c it saves money. We are incredibly grateful and appreciative of our fellow Realtors(R) using our service and promoting our service within their communities to value conscious property owners. It is one of the very best compliments we can receive.

Photos -Rules to Follow

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
September 9th, 2016

The biggest thing to remember is the photos need to be your property/work. This means that you either need to have taken the photos yourself or you need permission from the party who took the photos to use the photos. The mistake sellers make is that they will take the photos from when they bought the house and submit them as their own work. Eventually, the original agent who took the photos gets upset, files a complaint, with the MLS, etc… and we then have to take them down. Thus, it’s always best if you only submit your own photos or photos that you have permission to use.


How does this pertain to Virtual Tours or hiring a photographer? Anytime you pay someone for pictures, 99.9% of the time they are going to give you permission to use these photos and post these photos to help aid you in the sale of your property. If you ever have any doubt, just ask the party you paid for the photos. Any virtual tour ordered through Congress Realty directly will always give you the right to use these photos for marketing purposes of your home.


Other tips – If you have trouble getting your photos to web sized images, email the larger photos to info@congressrealty.com and we will take care of this for you. We can always shrink photos. However, we can’t increase the size. As a result, when in doubt, email us the larger photos and let us handle the sizing for you.

Photos should always be submitted in jpeg format.

Buyer Rebate through Congress Realty

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
July 21st, 2016

The idea is simple – When you find a property you want to buy, allow our firm to be the buyer’s agent and we will rebate you 2/3rds of whatever commission is paid. Many times, this will cover all of your closing cost and then some…  What is the cost to you, the buyer? Zero, Zilch, Not a Penny.

Originally, this is something we did for close friends and family members to help offset the cost of the moving, closing cost, etc… We’ve opened this program up to our clients and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. In today’s market, most homebuyer’s are online shopping themselves. They have access to all of the properties out there through Redfin, Zillow, etc… So why not get paid for your research and effort?

Is it legal? – Yes. If you are financing the property through a lender, you simply need to inform the lender upfront that you are receiving a credit from Congress Realty at closing.

How much money can I really get back? It depends upon the purchase price. To provide a real world example… I have a buyer deal in escrow right now. The purchase price is just over 600k. The buyer is literally receiving a credit at closing from Congress Realty for just over $12,000.

New Construction – Does this work the same way? It’s honestly easier with new construction. We have 2 new construction deals through this program under contract as I write this blog entry.

Besides the rebate, why else do I want to consider this program? It is a full service based program. We provide all of the services a typical buyer’s agent provides when it comes to negotiations. We will handle the purchase agreement, counter offers, opening the escrow, coordinating inspections, drafting inspection responses, etc… all the way until closing.

How can having Congress Realty on my side as a buyer agent help me? The fact is that Donald and myself handle more deals and see more deals in a few months than most agents handle in their lifetime. It’s a fact. It’s the dirty secret no full service Realtor(R) wants to admit to… If you are hiring an attorney… do you want to employ someone who handles 3 cases a years similar to yours or someone who handles 3,000? We’ve seen it all. We’ve been involved in every situation you can think of. Most importantly, we’ve seen it from the seller side as well.

How do I get more info – Email info@congressrealty.com or call 800 657 6579

Full Service – What is it and Do I need it???

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
April 12th, 2016

The full service option can be a savior for some and not needed for others. It all comes down to time, experience, and peace of mind for the seller.

First – What is the Congress Realty Full Service Option:

Once a seller receives an offer, we review the offer in detail. We fwd this offer to the seller and then call the seller to review the offer. We will answer any questions the seller may have. In addition, we will provide our opinion of the offer and we will point out any pitfalls that we see. Our hope is that we can help reduce the # of escrows that fall a part by warning the seller of what we see in advance. Once the seller understands the positives and negatives of the offer, we will then formulate a response and convey that response to the buyer or their broker. This can be in the form of a counter offer, conversation, etc… it varies on a case to case basis. When an agreement is reached, we do all of the little things… For example, verify the EMD is deposited, ensure disclosures are on time, resale packages are on time, and so forth… In addition, we negotiate the buyer inspection request/response on behalf of the seller. (via the same process as the initial offer, we call the seller to review, formulate a response, etc…) We periodically check in with the lender during the escrow, etc… Prior to closing, we review the settlement statement to ensure all of the #’s are correct prior to the seller signing their final docs.


Second – Do I need it?

If you’ve sold multiple properties on your own, you probably don’t need the FSO option. We are not in the business of trying to sell someone a service they don’t need. However, if you are new to this or simply don’t have the time to deal with the process, we can do everything for you. That said, the most common reason people go with our full service option is peace of mind. They simply want myself or Donnie to review the offer and ensure everything is up to speed. In addition, Donnie and myself have been directly involved in over 10,000 transactions. Rarely, if ever do we come across something we haven’t seen before. The average Realtor(R) is involved in 3-4 transactions per year…. and they charge anywhere from 5-6% for their “expertise”…stemming from their experience…. Very few, if any have more experience than myself or Donald.

Example –

We recently just closed on the following property via our full service option. In this instance, Donald was able to negotiate a rent back for the owner so that she could remain in the property while her townhouse was being completed. Donald negotiated the rent down to a number that is well below market rent. In addition, Donald was able to negotiate/acquire $25,000 more than what the seller had told Donald she was happy with.





ABQ, NM New Electronic Lockboxes

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
February 20th, 2016

The Greater ABQ Association of Realtors(R) has jumped on the bandwagon of upgrading the Supra lockboxes for the ABQ area. The new boxes have a variety of functions for Realtor(R), including blue tooth functionality. We are proud to announce that the ABQ Association will be shipping Congress Realty a handful of the new upgraded Lockboxes. We will have these in our office available for lease by the end of February 2016!

Making sense of the Baton Rouge and GSREIN Data Exchange

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
January 18th, 2016

In the 4th quarter of 2015, GSREIN announced a data coop with Baton Rouge coming in late Feb 2016. What does this really mean and how does it affect Realtors(R) and homeowners?

For Realtors(R) – Lockbox keys now work for both Baton Rouge based MLS listings and New Orleans based listings. A Realtor(R) does not have to subscribe and pay for 2 different keys. (as they would have before in order to work both markets) In addition to this, All Baton Rouge listings are visible to all NOMAR members through the Data Co-op feature. (and vice versa for Baton Rouge members)


For Homeowners – We need to wait and see how effective the coop tool really is from a search stand point. I am curious to see if the Baton Rouge listings only show up in the coop based search… or if the generic search feature will bring back all of the Baton Rouge listings. If it does, it means that homeowners may be able to list Baton Rouge properties directly into the NOMAR system. (allowing Baton Rouge Realtors(R) to have access to these listings)

More to come in late Feb when this is rolled out by the Associations.

Cons to watch out for

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 17th, 2015

Our goal is to help property owners sell real estate w/out paying high fees. Many properties that we list, sell quickly, however, the reality is that not every property sells in the first 30 days. Over the years, we have seen a pretty clear trend with other full priced Realtors(R) soliciting our property owners. The most common example is as follows:


Homeowner list the property with Congress Realty. The property sits on the market for one reason or another. The full priced Realtor approaches the homeowner and tries to develop a relationship. The Realtor(R) begins to plant the seed with the owner that the problem is with the listing, not the property. Slowly but surely the full priced Realtor(R) convinces the seller to cancel the listing with our firm and to list with the full priced Realtor(R). The new Realtor(R) takes the listing and makes all sorts of promises to the home owner. Eventually, after a few weeks, the Realtor(R) begins to push the seller down on price…. Typically, at about this point in time, the seller realizes they’ve been conned by the Realtor(R).


If you’re asking yourself how often this happens… the answer is… all of the time. It is the # 1 feedback we receive from sellers who have previously cancelled with our firm and went to another Realtor(R). I went back and tracked in the Phx market all of our previous listings who cancelled and listed with a full service Realtor(R) for the last 12 months. Of these listings, not 1 single listing sold with the new Realtor(R) at the most recent price the seller had listed with our firm. Every single sale that occurred could be directly tied to a substantial price reduction.


Do not be conned by a Realtor(R) into thinking they have a magic solution to get your home sold. They rely upon the same MLS system and buyer agents that Congress Realty relies upon.


One more con to watch out for…  This recently happened in Austin, TX. A high end Westlake listing cancelled with our firm and listed the property with a Realtor(R) who had convinced him that all high end Real Estate had to be sold through her firm in the Westlake area. The seller was initially impressed by the amount of traffic he had from “local Realtors(R)” over the first 30-45 days of the listing. After about 45 days, the agent demanded the seller reduce the price. This agent based this recommendation upon the feedback she had received from the ‘showings”… It took about 90 days for the seller to realize what had happened. The agent simply had other agents from her office walk through the property to give the appearance of actual showings and previews. While in reality, the agent had produced little to zero legitimate buyer traffic. The agent had simply placed the property in the MLS and hoped someone else would sell the listing.

Change for Realtor.com

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
October 8th, 2015

Years ago, the only properties you would find listed on Realtor.com were properties currently on the market. Today, you will notice that Realtor.com has created individual pages for each address, regardless of whether or not the property is on the market. If you search your address on Realtor.com, you will find that Realtor.com will pull back a generic page for your property with basic tax roll information. In the top right corner, they will also list an average price for homes in your area. I’m curious to see what Realtor.com plans to do with this. Right now, it just looks like a poor attempt to create a B minus version of the Zillow platform. We will have to wait and see if Realtor.com has a bigger idea looming and this is just the beginning of a more well thought out plan.

ARMLS Lockbox Exchange

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
September 9th, 2015

ARMLS has recently gone through a lockbox exchange via SUPRA. As with many other markets in recent months, Supra has introduced the blue tooth functional “I” boxes to the ARMLS market. We currently have about 10 in stock. If you have an old box and would like to exchange it, please email us at info@congressrealty.com or call us at 800 657 6579 ext 1.


** ARMLS is the MLS system for Phoenix, Scottsdale, and surrounding markets.