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

Archive for April, 2008

Lake Tahoe, CA MLS

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Congress Realty is extremely pleased to announce that we will be added to the Lake Tahoe, CA MLS system by the end of this week. This MLS is referred to as the Tahoe Sierra Association of Realtors® and covers Lake Tahoe, Truckee, Donner Lake, Northstar, etc.. This is an area that we have received multiple requests and we are pleased to now offer this local MLS to our clients. If you have any questions regarding this MLS or coverage area, please call Andrew at 800 657 6579. Congress Realty is currently in the process of continuing to expanding into Oregon and Nebraska.

Austin Real Estate

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

If you have picked up a paper or even attempted to find information on Real Estate Markets that are bucking the national trend, then certainly you have heard about Austin, TX and its stable Real Estate Market. It has become a bit of a fad in my opinion for the press to include Austin in its list of best seller markets. If you look at the actual current statistics, the market is quite healthy, but far from a red hot seller’s market. Below is the data I collected comparing last week 2008 versus the same week 2007.
New listings were up 21.5%.
Pendings were down 61.75%.
Solds decreased by 22.75%.

In 2007 on this date, 9,221 properties were active on the market. Today, you will find 11,865 active properties or sale. While this # may seem like a small increase, nearly 30% in one year is quite a large increase.

The reality is that the Austin Real Estate Market is extremely healthy for sellers. However, we should continue to watch the continuing growth of supply over the next 12 months. If supply continues to increase at this rate, prices will eventually fall.

Las Vegas MLS Statistics

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, April 28th, 2008

Active Properties in Las Vegas/Henderson – 21,701

Pending Properties in Las Vegas Henderson – 5,888

Active Under 300k asking price – 13,260

Pending under 300k asking price – 4,363

Fairly predictable numbers/data for those who follow the Vegas market closely. A couple of observations below:

The number of properties currently listed under 300k has increased dramatically over the last 12 months. While over all supply is no longer increasing at an alarming rate, the supply of properties under 300k has tripled within the last 18 months. This is a direct result of the former glut of properties between 350-450k dropping below the 300k mark. (many of which are now lender owned and back on the MLS at substantially lower prices)

The 21% pending/active ratio is slightly higher than I would have anticipated and supports my previous post that properties are selling in Las Vegas since the start of the year.

When will my listing be active on the MLS?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, April 25th, 2008

We list each property by the following business day with respect to the date we receive your listing documents. Any listing that comes in on Friday, we try to have up on that same day or first thing Saturday. However, please keep in mind that if you fax your listing agreement on Friday at 5pm, it is unlikely to go up on Friday. In order to have your property listed for the weekend, the best thing to do is fax the agreement anytime before Friday morning.

Why are so many other “Discount Brokerages” going out of business?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, April 24th, 2008

Why are so many other “Discount Brokerages” going out of business?

It really amazes me how many phone calls we get from sellers who had their property listed with another brokerage that just went out of business. When I speak to new prospective clients, I try to warn them about “fly by night” companies that may or may not be in business next week. This is something that can be very difficult to decipher from a web page, thus, I have included a couple of obvious signs to watch out for.

How long has the company been offering the Flat Fee Model and how many listings have they procured within the last 12 months in my area? (Keep in mind discount brokerages operate on volume, w/out it, they can not stay in business)

Did the Broker/Agent previously offer a different type of service model before offering the Flat Fee Model? (this is the quickest way to decipher if a problem may arise in the future / if the broker/agent failed at a previous service model, it is highly likely they will fail in the flat fee area/ meaning, if the agent started at offering 6% listings, moved to 4% listings, then moved to flat fee listings, they will eventually move right out of Real Estate, most likely sooner than later)

Does this brokerage cover more than just my area? (Meaning, do they belong to multiple MLS’s) (It would be impossible for a flat fee brokerage to survive over time just covering one small area)

Using the 3 questions above, below is how Congress Realty would respond the questions.

Congress Realty:

Congress Realty has over 6 years of experience offering the Flat Fee Model. Over the past 12 months, we have listed literally thousands of properties in the states that we cover. (Literally thousands) Our brokerage was originally founded and designed with the intent of offering the Flat Fee Model. We did not dabble in other areas of Real Estate or try the full service model. Our brokerage was focused on the Flat Fee model from day 1. Furthermore, Congress Realty belongs to every large MLS and most small MLS’s in every state that we cover. We continue to list more properties on the MLS than other Flat Fee Brokerage in the US.

NAR and Realtor® Education

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

First, keep in mind that licensing requirements are set by the state, not NAR. However, NAR has a history of doing absolutely nothing to support more rigorous academic standards for licensees. Understand that no one benefits more than NAR from an increase in state licensees. Here is why, if you wish to have access to the MLS and join your local Board of Realtors®, you must join NAR and pay dues. Naturally, NAR benefits from more members paying dues. The more members, the more lobbying power NAR has for its own interest. (Most brokers will require you to become a member of NAR prior to employment) So, to summarize, what real incentive does NAR have to encourage stricter license requirements? What bothers me is that NAR has an amazing amount of lobbying power; however, rarely do they ever use this for the benefit of the public. Instead, they waste their time and member’s money by continuing to fight the DOJ on issues that hurt the public, not help. To top it off, NAR has recently started requiring that all members contribute to the Realtor® Image Campaign. NAR already has the ability to begin the process of changing the public perception of Realtors®, they just choose not to do it. But it is interesting they are collecting money for a “Realtor Image Campaign”. A few ideas below that might dramatically shift the public perception:

Lobby for stricter salesperson requirements

Lobby for more rigorous audits for broker trust accounts

Lobby for longer tenure requirements for Corporate Brokers

Put in education programs to help Realtors® understand current trends: Such as Short Sales, Loan Fraud, etc..

Why Buyer Agents Become Frustrated with Incorrect MLS Data

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

The most common complaint I receive from buyer agents concerns the accuracy of the MLS listing data. Agents who cart buyers around depend upon the listing information to be 100% accurate. They assume when they show a listing to their buyer, the information they are relaying is accurate. If something proves to be incorrect, they become very upset very quickly. The reason is simple, bad data makes the buyer agent look bad. The buyers only point of contact is their agent. If the agent tells them one thing and then must come back and correct this, the buyer agent is the one who takes the brunt of the heat. (possibly even losing the client)

A couple of common mistakes:

Occupancy Status
Short Sale versus Lender Owned
Counting a Den as a Bedroom
Counting un-permitted sq ft in your total sq ft
Improper Lockbox Info within the listing. (wrong code, etc)

As a seller, provide accurate data. It is essential to selling your home. If you are unsure about something, give us a call and we can usually point you in the right direction.

Mapping Features from the MLS

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, April 21st, 2008

Each MLS uses a mapping feature to plot the various properties for sale. The point of the mapping feature is to allow Realtors® to search by map. Basically, the Realtor® boxes in the area on the map they wish to search. This style of searching is relatively rare because of the numerous errors with the MLS mapping features. The biggest problem is simply inconsistency. For example, it is not uncommon for properties on the same street to return very different results. One property may map correctly and one may return a “can not be found” error. Because of this inconsistency, most MLS’s have gone to 3rd party providers for this mapping feature. The most common is the Microsoft mapping system. As a property owner, if you are concerned about you property being displayed accurately through the mapping system, try to ensure your property can be mapped correctly through Mapquest, Google, Yahoo, etc… If the property shows correctly on these sites, the MLS mapping feature should display your property correctly on their map.


J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, April 18th, 2008


Selling Your Home In a Market Full of Foreclosures

Author –  Phoebe Chongchua

Above is a link to an article taken from RealtyTimes this morning: RealtyTimes has a history of publishing very pro Full Service Realtor® related opinion pieces. However, I find the article above to be both quite informative and intriguing. You’ll notice that this is mainly a piece featuring a series of quotations from Chris Heller of Keller Williams.

Through her comments, Chris makes a very strong argument for a la carte Real Estate services. (I can assure you this was not her intent) In the process of doing so, she also destroys the typical full service sales pitch of “additional advertising”. She is explaining what everyone in the industry already knows, magazine ads, etc.. don’t sell houses.

A few quotes from the article:

“Nowadays, advertising isn’t really important because every buyer has access to almost complete information via the Internet — everyone can find the properties.” (Chris Heller, President of The Heller Real Estate Group, Inc. at Keller Williams)

“Advertising used to be important when buyers didn’t have access to the property or a way of finding the property, but now buyers can do their own shopping, searching, and finding. They’re going to do that based on their perception of value and how it’s priced based on the other properties that they are looking at,” explains Heller. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have virtual tours and lots of pictures loaded on websites that feature your home — buyers like to preview before they actually see the home in person. (Chris Heller)

I think consumers want to know what they are paying for, as well as knowing how the dollars they are paying are going to help sell their property. Consumers do not want to pay for advertising that has proven to be ineffective. It amazes me that many Full Service Realtors(R) are able to trick consumers into paying a premium for services they just don’t need. (such as the additional advertising so perfectly pointed out by Chris)

Update on the # offers received by Congress Realty

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

Because of our high # of listings, it is always interesting to look at the total # of offers that come in on properties we have listed. Our listings cover a very wide range of states, thus, it is very easy to see certain trends. For example, when 10 offers come into our office within a given week and 9 are all within one certain area, activity in that area is obviously picking up for a reason. We then can look at the MLS statistics to see if this pattern is holding true across the area, and even break this down further into sub categories. (such as subdivision, price points, etc) The past 15 days have been quite interesting because of the enormous increase in offers received in all of our markets. Certainly, part of this is seasonal, but I do think in many areas buyers are beginning to slowly begin the process of investing back into Real Estate. Four specific areas are worth noting that have really yielded a high increase with respect to the # of offers received. Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, and DFW have yielded more than 50 offers since April 1st, 2008. (on just Congress Realty Listings) It will be interesting to see if these numbers stay steady throughout the late spring and early summer.