Flat Fee MLS Listings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota,
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How does someone contact me… the seller?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
March 14th, 2017

# 1 question we get when people call to inquire about listing a property with Congress Realty

The MLS listing has the seller phone # listed directly and instructs the other agent to call the seller directly at their phone #. It’s pretty much impossible for an agent to miss the seller phone # in the listing.

3rd party websites are a different story. Please keep in mind that this is true for ALL Listing companies. This is not specific to just Congress Realty. 3rd party websites like Realtor.com will not display an owner phone #. It’s impossible. No company can put an owner phone # on Realtor.com. What makes Congress Realty unique is our phone forwarding system. Realtor.com WILL post our forwarding #. If the seller opts for the forwarding system, the phone system will route the call to the seller directly, similar to an operator.

Why don’t other companies tell sellers upfront that their # will not appear on Realtor.com? Simply put, I don’t know. The rule has been in place for Realtor.com for years.

90% or more of your activity comes from the MLS directly. When a buyer goes to Zillow or Redfin, etc… typically they do their own search, find what interest them, and then contact their Realtor(R). The Realtor(R) then goes to the MLS to find the price, info, commission being paid, etc… and then the Realtor(R) schedules the showing. Inman news just reported that NAR was citing 90% of all buyers who bought a property in 2016 used a buyer’s agent. (Realtor(R)) The fact is… the MLS is the # 1 location to sell a home and the seller phone # is listed right there for the agent to call to show.

Zillow Rumors and Thoughts

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
March 8th, 2017

Zillow has struggled over the years with the ability to post accurate data. In addition, Zillow has also struggled with getting updated data well after sites like Realtor.com… For example, Zillow is the last to post new listings, new price updates, etc… when compared to sites like Redfin or Realtor.com.

First question… Why? Zillow doesn’t have agreements with every MLS in the United States to pull data directly from the MLS feed. Realtor.com does… This results in Realtor.com being first to post updated data. In markets where Zillow doesn’t get the information automatically, they rely upon the agents to update the Zillow site. Agents always update the MLS before they update Zillow and many simply don’t update Zillow. The reason? Real Estate still starts and finishes with the MLS for 99% of all Realtors(R).

Second Question – Why does Zillow struggle to get accurate data in markets where they DO have agreements with the MLS? The answer here is a bit more complicated. Even if your MLS syndicates data to Zillow, an agent has to authorize and “opt in” to the Zillow sharing feed. Some agents choose not to do this and other agents just simply don’t know how to go about it.

So how is Zillow going to fix this problem? They really can’t do anything that is 100% guaranteed to fix the problem but they are certainly trying. After a few weeks of rumors, Zillow finally announced they will no longer allow an agent to post a single listing directly onto the Zillow website. (as of May 1st) All listings from agents posted on Zillow must come from the MLS. The thinking behind this is that if you force agents to submit data to Zillow through the MLS, the information will be much more timely and accurate. The negative… if you force agents to opt into the Zillow syndication feed from the MLS, will this cause friction b/w agents and Zillow?

What’s next for Zillow? Zillow has a serious problem with FSBO’s and they are searching for answers on how to fix this. The rumor floating around right now is that Zillow is going to simply ban FSBO’s from posting directly to the Zillow site. The reason is that FSBO’s are much more likely to post a listing for sale and then simply forget about it.. This results in all sorts of anger directed at Zillow. Look at it this way, you just bought a FSBO home and moved in… you notice people driving by your home, looking through your windows, and possibly even knocking on your door. You discover Zillow still shows the home you just bought active for sale b/c the previous owner never updated the Zillow website, you’re going to be very upset.

Could Zillow really ban FSBO’s? I find it very unlikely but understand the reason Zillow is considering this action. Not only would it clean up the data, it would possibly build a better relationship with Realtors b/c it gives Realtors one more advantage to convince a FSBO to list with that agent…. Meaning, if you want to post your home on Zillow, you have to employ the services of an agent. Again, I’d be surprised if this really develops but the rumor is definitely floating out there.

For what it’s worth, Zillow is publicly denying that their is any truth to the rumor of no longer accepting FSBO listings as of this morning. That said, FSBO’s are finding it harder than ever to post a listing on the Zillow site. For the last week, Zillow has been giving server errors to countless homeowners’ trying to post their listing. In addition, those that do get it listed are having to wait days for Zillow to approve the listing and post it live. Zillow’s response? They review every listing for legitimacy before allowing it to go live on the Zillow website. Zillow’s claims they are simply slammed with listings to review and this is causing the delay.

E Lockboxes for White Mtn Area in Arizona now available

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
February 22nd, 2017

We recently received a shipment of WMAR lockboxes. This is the first time in years we have had these available for the White Mtn area. These are the brand new blue tooth enabled Supra boxes programmed exclusively for the WMAR MLS. (used by all traditional 6% Realtors in the area) Currently, we have E boxes available in all cities throughout Arizona with the one exception of Flagstaff. To order, please contact us via phone or via email at english@congressrealty.com

 

Online Sign up is Here!!!!

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
January 24th, 2017

We are proud to announce that we have everything up and going for our online signup process.

How does the process work:

Online Sign up Location:

When you click the list now icon from the homepage, you simply check the services you’d like. You will be brought to a screen that will ask you a few basic questions. Once you complete these questions, you will receive an email immediately with our listing agreement. You can digitally sign your listing agreement right from your computer. Once you do this, you will then receive an email with access to your MLS profile sheet. Once you complete this document online, you simply upload your photos using our photo tool and you’re done! We will have the listing up and active within about 1 day from that point.

What makes our process different? We took the time to upload every single specific MLS data sheet for every area we cover and every type of property. (land, SFR, condo, multi family, etc…) We converted every one of these into an electronic format and uploaded to our server . No one else in the industry has done this to our knowledge. We did it this way because details matter.  Creating a generic template doesn’t allow a seller to select the details that are important to buyers looking in their local market. For example, in Las Vegas, under the view icon, the Strip View is a very popular search feature for buyers. It is important that our Vegas sellers have the opportunity to take advantage of these types of details. Now, no matter what market you are in, you not only have the ease and convenience of electronic input, you have the same exact profile docs that full service Realtors use in your specific MLS.

What if I prefer to sign up the old fashion way? Let’s say you’re a repeat Congress Realty client and you liked the old way of doing things. Not a problem, you can still download the old forms from the site or we can email these to you directly. The link below will take you to the old way of listing with Congress Realty.

http://www.congressrealty.com/Flat-Fee-MLS-Listings/ListingAgreements/default.aspx

Online Sign up coming soon to Congress Realty

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
December 7th, 2016

We are really excited about our new online platform that will be rolled out in a few weeks. This new platform is going to allow homeowners to sign up for our service electronically. This will speed up the listing process and make it easier than ever to get your property listed on the MLS through Congress Realty. For those clients who prefer to list a property the old fashioned way, this option will still be available as well.

The new platform is going to allow clients to select the services they want and pay for these services through a secure server via Congress Realty. In addition, the Congress Realty listing agreement can now be signed right from your computer. We’ve also made changes to our pre listing manager, allowing for larger photos to be submitted than ever before.

In some of our major markets, such as the Phoenix, DFW, and Vegas area, we intend to have online MLS profile docs formatted so that these also can be filled out completely online through the Congress Realty website.

Be on the lookout for these changes and others coming in late 2016/early 2017!

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.

http://www.congressrealty.com/Buyers/Our-Listings/435788.aspx