Flat Fee MLS Listings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Minnesota,
Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington

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New San Antonio Blue Tooth Lockboxes

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 17th, 2017

SABOR is going through their lockbox swap this month. (San Antonio Board of Realtors) We should have the new lockboxes in stock sometime in the next 3 weeks. These new boxes are manufactured by SUPRA and have a longer battery life than the previous boxes. (about 5-7 years worth of battery) The boxes will also have the double release shackle and allow access to any Realtor through the use of their Smart Phone. As before, they will also track who goes in the property, what time they went into the property, the phone # of the person who entered the property, and the name of their employing brokerage. The old boxes will no longer work as of early Spring 2018. (new boxes work immediately)



I’m in Arizona… I’ve accepted an offer… Now What?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
November 1st, 2017

What happens next? I’ve signed my name on the dotted line…

The first thing that needs to happen is you want to ensure the escrow is opened within 1 business day. To open the escrow, any party to the transaction needs to get a fully signed contract to the escrow officer. You can walk it into their office or email the documents. In addition, the buyer must deposit the earnest money with the title/escrow company. This should happen within 24-48  hours of acceptance of the offer. As a seller, you can confirm the earnest money has been deposited through the earnest money receipt provided by the escrow officer.

Once the escrow is open and the EMD is deposited, you want to ensure you have the SPDS to the buyer or their agent no later than 5 days from acceptance. The term SPDS simply refers to the seller disclosures. As of this blog posting, you want to use the updated 2017 version. You can find these and download these at anytime through our private client area by clicking on State Files. Once you provide these to the buyer or their agent, they will review and they should initial and sign the SPDS AND return a copy to you. It is very important you have a signed copy from the buyer. The next step is the CLUE report. Essentially, this is a 5 year claims history on the property concerning insurance. It tells the buyer if the seller has made an insurance claim on the property over the specified time period. A CLUE report can be obtained online or you can contact your insurance provider and let them know what you need. Claim reports are almost always free from your insurance provider and you can get them within about 2 days of requesting. At this time, it’s also necessary to provide your buyer with any other agreed upon disclosures per the purchase contract that you signed. For example, this could include the LBP disclosure, mold disclosures, etc…

From that point, you are on your way to the inspection and BINSR period. We will update the blog to go over the BINSR in our next posting.

Ranking of the top 100 agents in all of Las Vegas Metro Area according the GLVAR statistics

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
October 6th, 2017

GLVAR Ranking of the top 100 Agents

Attached is a list of the top 100 agents in the Las Vegas area according the GLVAR in 2017.  A few things to keep in mind:.

  1. These #’s are factual and can not be disputed.
  2. From what I can see, I am the only flat fee broker who made the list.
  3. There are about 15,000 to 20,000 total agents in the Las Vegas area that are eligible to make this list
  4. While we are pleased to be ranked in the top 40, we believe we will finish in the top 30 by the end of the year. (if you remove the teams, we would easily crack the top 20 of individual agents)
  5. This list has nothing to do with what a Realtor(R) simply listed for sale… It is solely determined by what that Realtor(R) actually SOLD.

Analysis… if a friend or neighbor in the Las Vegas area tries to tell you that you can’t sell your home through a Flat Fee Broker, we advise you to print off this list and hand it to them. Once again, the factual data shows that Flat Fee Listings are shown and sold just like 6% competing listings.

Congress Realty in the Press Recently for SOLD Listings

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
September 29th, 2017

We are pleased to announce that the Phoenix Business Journal did include myself in the list of the top 35 agents by sold Volume. The Phoenix Business Journal uses sold data from the MLS to compile these rankings. The wonderful thing about these rankings is that they are based upon factual sold data. They are not based upon what a Realtor may want you to believe. We should know where exactly we placed in the upcoming days but it looks like we will fall in the #10 to #15 range. To put this in perspective, this is out of about 25,000 Realtors in the Phx metro area. Despite this, we realize that competing Full service Realtors(R) will continue to tell our clients that the only way to sell a home is to use a traditional full priced Realtor. Once again, the facts say otherwise. This is not our first appearance in the rankings. Donald Plunkett, founder of Congress Realty, peaked in the Phoenix Business Journal at the #1 position. Yes, you read that correctly, he finished #1 a few years ago.

In the New Orleans area, I was recently interviewed by New Orleans City Business Publication. This publication/article focuses on the highest sold listing in the New Orleans Metro area over a given time frame. The article should be released in the next 2-3 weeks but it will document that Congress Realty during this time period sold the highest priced listing in the entire New Orleans Real Estate Market. On the sale, we saved the seller approximately $80,000 on listing commissions. We are looking forward to the article and will try to publish with the authors permission when available.

Houston Sellers – Harvey Flood Option added to the MLS

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

HAR has added a non required field to the MLS concerning Harvey Flooding. If your home did or did not flood and you want this disclosed on your HAR MLS listing, please email us at info@congressrealty.com with the request and we will update the MLS listing for you. Please keep in mind this does not alleviate any state required disclosure regarding flooding and/or damage to a subject property upon sale.


Competitors changing their company name and why?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
September 7th, 2017

We try to keep things positive but we also want the public to be educated on the different tricks of competing firms. A popular trend has been for other discount firms to change their company name every few years. So why is this happening? Admittedly, not all online reviews are created equal. Sites like Google do a great job of ensuring posted reviews are real actual reviews. The BBB is also great about ensuring all reviews posted are real. On the flip side, sites like Zillow allow anyone to post anything w/out any sort of monitoring process. Now that said, back to the original topic… Why do certain Discount Real Estate companies change their name? 9 times of out 10 is has to do with poor online reviews. One of our competitors had 37 filed complaints with the BBB over a 12 month span… So what did they do? They changed their name. Problem solved. This trick is becoming all too common and can be extremely frustrating for a company like ours. Anyone can type in the term Congress Realty and get nearly 15 years worth of reviews and customer feedback regarding our company. Another trick being used… companies switching to extremely generic terms as their company name. Why would they do this? B/c if you google a generic term like “American Real Estate”… (fictitious example) countless results will come back that don’t reflect the actual company you were searching for. It allows a company to hide their reviews and customer experiences.

With any online purchase…whether it be Real Estate, Ebay, whatever… always do your research before paying your hard earned money.

Interested to know the name of the company with 37 BBB complaints who simply changed their name? Call us and we can provide the info. (including another large flat fee company that has changed their name 3 times in the last 5 years)

Don’t get tricked into cancelling by Traditional Full Service Realtors(R)

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

One of my goals with the blog is to be able to write about topics that help real people make real decisions. In doing so, this can ruffle feathers on occasion but I’m hopeful that putting real information out there will help sellers in the future.

Today I had a phone call from a past seller in the Houston area. She had cancelled her listing with our firm in early June b/c she had been convinced by a friend of hers that she had to use a traditional full service Realtor to sell her home. At that time, our seller did not have much traffic on her property and she believed the sales pitch from her “friend”. What was that sales pitch? Her friend informed her that she wasn’t getting traffic b/c it was listed through a flat fee brokerage and that her full service firm could sell the home, etc…

So why did the seller call me today? She was kind enough to let us know that her friend couldn’t sell the home and was interested in re-listing the property with our firm. So what happened? The other Realtor secured the listing and priced the property at the same price she had it listed with our firm. 2 weeks went by and the Realtor pressured the seller to drop the price… 2 more weeks went by and… you see where this is going… The Realtor(R) took the listing that she knew was overpriced and knew that was the reason it wasn’t getting action… but did so with the intent of slowly but surely forcing the seller the to drop the price. To the seller’s credit, she figured it out and called her friend/Realtor out on it….

So how often does this happen? All of the time unfortunately. B/c of this phone call today, I went back and tracked our recent Houston cancellations over the last 5 months. What I was looking for was simple… If a seller cancelled with Congress Realty, did they re list it with a traditional Realtor? And if so, did they list it at the same price they had it listed at with Congress Realty… From there. Who sold their homes and at what price? Pretty simple stuff right? If I am to believe the traditional Realtor sales pitch, then we should be able to find some examples of cancelled Congress Realty listings that eventually sold with traditional Realtors.  Again, pretty simple stuff and easy to track b/c of the MLS data being available to all members.

We have the parameters… so let’s look at the data. How many cancelled listings in the last 5 months in the Houston area did Congress Realty have? 6 total. Of these, how many listed with traditional Realtors? 5 of the 6. How many are either under contract or sold? 1 out of these 5 that were re-listed.

So 1 out of the 5 sold with a traditional Realtor… but here’s the catch… That 1 property that sold… the seller dropped the price according to the MLS by over $65,000 in order to sell it.

Where am I going with this…. The MLS is the MLS. A traditional Realtor rarely gives a seller a better chance of selling. Price and location are what matters. The data supports this. Don’t get tricked by friends and other Realtors(R) into believing they have a magic way to sell your home. They don’t. The data proves this.

Would this hold true in other markets? Over the next few weeks I will post a similar comparison in other markets like Phoenix and Las Vegas.

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
August 1st, 2017

Recently, Inman posted an article detailing the risk of selling by yourself. While I typically enjoy the Inman website, the article below falls under the category of scare tactics. It’s a common tactic used by Realtors who are terrified the marketplace is changing. First, a link to the article:


Now, let’s take a look at the 8 things they have listed.

1) Knowledge – Very rarely do I speak with a homeowner who isn’t aware of every sale in the subdivision. Homeowners live in the community. They see moving trucks, when signs go in the yard, home repair companies, pool builders, etc… well before a Realtor(R) ever sees this. The truth is that most homeowners I speak with are much more knowledgable about their local community than any other 3rd party.

2) Time – The article outlines scheduling showings and requesting feedback so I will tackle these two specifically. Most MLS’s now use an online showing system, thus, scheduling a showing literally doesn’t take more than 1 click. In the event you want to set up your own showings, all it takes is answering 1 thirty second phone call. Feedback – Again, this is now done online in most markets. If a showing service is used, they will request feedback automatically. The same is true with electronic lockboxes. The agent literally has to do nothing to request feedback.

3) Presentation – Realtors are not professional home stagers. Regardless, presentation quite often is more about common sense. Remove clutter from the property, keep the property clean, keep the front landscape in idea condition, etc… All of these things are items the homeowner is responsible for regardless. I haven’t seen too many Realtors(R) mopping the kitchen or cutting the lawn prior to an open house.

4) Marketing – This one is simple – you need the MLS. Realtors(R) rely upon the MLS for everything when it comes to marketing.

5) Negotiation Experience – This one is a hot topic and I feel that I’m in a unique position to give my opinion simply b/c of the # of homeowners we see negotiating their own deals. From my experience, many homeowners are better at negotiating by themselves w/out the use of a traditional Realtor(R) b/c they don’t fall prey to sales pressure. If I am a Realtor(R) selling a 1 million dollar home and an offer comes in at 950k… I stand to make about $28,500 if I can convince the seller to take that offer at 950k. Why would I fight for every penny and risk losing my $28,500 paycheck? On the flip side, the homeowner looks at it differently… The difference in 950k and 1million is a cool $50,000. I’m telling you from experience, I’ve seen some homeowners fight to the death at the negotiation table.

6) Inspection and Repair know How – This one is just ridiculous. Realtors do not inspect homes. In addition, they don’t hire inspectors. Lastly, they don’t repair homes either. Again, this is something that falls upon the buyer and seller. It has nothing to do with a Realtor.

7) Transaction Management – Finally, we have gotten to an area where a Realtor can add value. Ensuring you provide the buyer with the proper disclosures in the proper amount of time is important and Realtors do provide assistance with this. Now, that said, so do attorneys, flat fee MLS providers like Congress Realty, etc… but to be fair, this at least something Realtors do.

8) Closing Finesse – Ok… now this is just ridiculous / borderline just making things up. I feel confident that homeowners know what condition they are to leave the home in at closing. In addition, I have never met a homeowner who didn’t know when they needed to move out.

Realtors absolutely serve a purpose. Buyer’s agents in particular are worth their weight in gold in many transactions. However, the article above is simply using scare tactics to try and scare a seller into using a traditional listing agent. 7 of the 8 arguments posted simply aren’t true or are greatly exaggerated.


Do Congress Realty Listings Sell?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
July 13th, 2017


Short Answer – Yes

Long Answer – The most common tactic used by a Realtor trying to take 6% of your equity is to make the claim that “discount listings do not sell”… “No one will show them”… etc… The problem with this statement is that the MLS tracks sold data… and very very meticulously. In the upcoming months, the Phoenix Business Journal will release a list of the top Arizona brokers by sales volume… and once again, Congress Realty will be near the very top of the list. (of 25,000 agents or so, we will crack the top 25) So where does the Phoenix Business Journal get their data?  The data is supported by the MLS sold data. What’s really amazing about the MLS in any area (not just Phoenix) is that sold data by broker is searchable. What this means is that I can log into the MLS in the DFW area (or any area for that matter) and run a report on any agent I choose. This report will show me what that agent has listed, sold, etc… over any time frame.

So how much Real Estate did Congress Realty sell in 2016? We are still gathering the final #’s but it appears we will near $200,000,000 mark.  Of this 200 million… over 150 million will be in the states of Arizona, Texas, and Nevada alone.

The next time a Realtor tries to tell you discount listings don’t sell… ask them to provide you with an MLS printout of their sold listings alongside a printout of our sold listings… As more and more data becomes available to the public… more and more people are choosing Congress Realty.

To give you an idea of what a report of sold data looks like… I uploaded the first 100 from the NTREIS MLS system to this post via a PDF file. Note: I am only uploading the first 100…. there are obviously more… This is a report that I ran on myself in the NTREIS MLS for the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex. It represents what I have sold since January 1st, 2016 according to the MLS statistics. (Only in the DFW market) (again, I’m only uploading the first 100) How many other agents in the DFW area have closed 100 deals in the last 18 months….? If you take out REO brokers…. you’re looking at less than 50 out of over over 40,000 local Realtors.




How does Congress Realty cover all of these states directly?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
June 21st, 2017

The first thing to keep in mind is that we don’t 3rd party anything out. What this means is that when you call Congress Realty and speak to Andrew or Donald… you are speaking to the person who will actually list your property. We do not refer it to another company or agent. Both myself and Donald are licensed in every state we operate and we are members of the MLS’s we cover directly. What this means is that if you call the Prescott Board of Realtors and ask to verify if Congress Realty is a member of their MLS… they will say yes. The same is true of Green Valley, Fort Worth, Austin, San Diego, Las Vegas, etc…

So how do we do it? Over the years, we simply have done the work to acquire a brokers license in every state that we operate. In addition, we have joined each of these MLS’s directly. This means that we have gone through the hoops and hurdles set forth by each MLS to acquire membership. This includes sitting through orientation classes required by MLS’s… amongst other requirements to obtain membership.

Why does this matter to the consumer? We are the direct source. You have one contact with Congress Realty. As a consumer myself, I always prefer to deal directly with the party that is performing the work and service that I have paid for. I don’t like the idea of paying one company but relying upon another company that I didn’t choose. Things go much more smoothly when the consumer is able to rely upon the company that they chose themselves.