Flat Fee MLS Listings in Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana,
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Archive for August, 2008

“Million Dollar Producer”

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, August 29th, 2008

http://www.inman.com/opinion/guest-perspective/2008/08/19/the-myth-million-dollar-producer

A must read for homeowners planning on interviewing potential agents in the future. The real question is what do all of these designations mean and how do they benefit the consumer. In the example used in the article, the term million dollar producer adds absolutely no value to the client. It is nothing more than a term certain agents use to help advertise themselves. That being said, there are a few very legitimate designations that show expertise in certain areas. In the commercial field, CCIM is highly respected, on the other hand, CRS in the residential field is greatly respected.

So why do agents continue to put various designations after their name on their business cards, emails, etc.. Realtors(R) are constantly tagged in the professional world as those individuals with the highest potential for income but with the lowest level of education. As a result, rather than actually require stricter educational requirements, NAR sponsors many different designations to help hide the real problem. I’ll give you an example, the designation e Pro is earned by sitting through a 2 hour online tutorial. Any agent can pay the fee and sit through the class. The tutoriol consist of right and left clicking your mouse. At the completion, you’ve earned your e Pro designation!

The point of this entry is to help consumers not be fooled by agents. We wants homeowners to be able to tell the difference in a legitimate expert in their field versus a part time agent trying to make a few dollars on the side selling real estate randomly. The terms million dollar producer, GRI, e Pro, and most others designations used in the Realtor(R) profession rarely equate to a symbol of true expertise.

Not everyone wants to be helped

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, August 28th, 2008

The Hope Now Coalition refuses to take into consideration that many homeowners don’t want help. CNN recently published an article that focused on the millions of Americans who are not taking advantage of the programs available to them to avoid foreclosure. The Hope Now team repeatedly has claimed that we need to do more to make everyone aware of the options available to them. Here is the problem, about 80% of every homeowner contacted by the Hope Now Coalition ignores them. (they are contacted after the foreclosure process has started) So why would a homeowner not want help?

Let’s say you are 100k+ upside down in your home. You see no future signs of the market turning. Is it possible you would be hurting yourself more by keeping the property? Yes, it is. Each situation is different and many homeowners feel that by keeping the property, they will only be continuing to get deeper and deeper in debt. The media, the Hope Now Coalition, and others.. need to realize that while it may not be ethical, many homeowners are better offer losing their home to foreclosure than piling on more debt in order to keep a depreciating asset.

Not all Flat Fee MLS Listing Companies are the same

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

What is the biggest difference in listing my home with Congress Realty versus other MLS listing services?

The first difference is that we actually input all of our listngs ourselves. We are the licensed brokerage and actual members of each MLS we represent. 90% of our competitors simply take the sellers money and then try to send the client to the “local” broker who actually inputs the listing. The problem with this is that the “national” company isn’t held accountable for the services they promise. Essentially, they can promise whatever they like to try and secure the listing. After they secure the listing, they shop around looking for anyone who is willing to input the listing, hoping they will also provide the services the national company promised. As a result, most services promised by national companies are never actually provided.

How do I avoid this problem as a client?
Simple, ask for the name of the broker and brokerage who inputs the listing. If the name of the brokerage doesn’t match the URL or company name of the company you have called, they are a referral service. If they won’t tell you who is inputting the listing, take your business elsewhere.

The newest online scam from these referral companies involves the use of the word “direct”. Sellers have caught on to the terms, “we are the direct source, we list your home directly on the local MLS”, etc.. these national companies use the word “direct” over and over again to try and confuse the seller into not knowing who is actually inputting the listing. These companies do a marvelous job of masking the fact that they don’t actually do any of the work. They simply try and find someone else who will. The problem with this is again the national company has no accountability to the client.

Lastly, other small local brokers who participate in the Flat Fee MLS market are many times simply agents who failed at the 6% model, then the 5% model, and so forth…… and eventually they will fail with the flat fee model. The turnover in this business is quite high, thus, brokerages you see online today many times are gone by the end of the week. Congress Realty has been offering flat fee listing for nearly 7 years. We continue to grow and have every intention of continuing to take on new states. Be leery of any brokerage that does not publish their own listings on their website for you to review. They do this for one reason, they simply don’t have any listings to display.

How do I avoid this problem as a potential client?
Ask for a direct link from Realtor.com showing each and every listing from the brokerage you have called. If they won’t provide this, take your business elsewhere.

J. Andrew English

CNN Real Estate Headline = Misleading

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

http://money.cnn.com/2008/08/26/real_estate/Case_Shiller_home_price_report/index.htm?postversion=2008082611

This is a great example of what I consider to be yesterday’s news. These #’s are reported against annual figures, usually compared by quarters. This means that homeowners are already aware of the information reported above. For example, today’s prices reflect the estimated % drop referenced in the article. These #’s in the article provide absolutely no value what so ever to the pubic, other than shock value to entice reading. Reading annual reports in the real estate market is similar to the stock market, if you are reading about a “trend” in the newspaper with everyone else, you’ve already actually missed trend.

In two other bits of more useful news – the # of complaints of mortgage fraud has been increasing. On the one hand I find this surprising because of stricter under writing policies, however, with loan officers desperate for business and applications at an 8 yr low, it does make sense that these individuals would be more likely to qualify individuals who should not be in the market.

Secondly, new home sales are up 2.4%.

Realtor.com Searches Up

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, August 25th, 2008

http://www.inman.com/news/2008/08/22/realtorcom-sees-search-surge-in-some-markets

This is a great read for those interested in potential future trends. As expected, buyers are beginning to show more and more interest in distressed markets. Las Vegas, Oakland, etc… are seeing a surge in buyer activity and will most likely continue to do so. Certainly many online lookers are not qualified buyers looking to purchase today, however, the article does show us that there are many people out there on the fence or at least interested in getting back into the market in the future. Looking at the other side of the coin, Realtor.com just released their new search feature and they are planning on publishing their Beta Search in the upcoming months. With competition high between Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, Craigslist, etc.. Realtor.com will take advantage of every opportunity for press coverage.

FHA Loans

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, August 22nd, 2008

FHA Loans are government insured loans that have recently become increasingly popular. 3-5 years ago, 100% financing was available everywhere to almost everyone. These programs resulted in a decrease in the number of FHA transactions because they eliminated the need for the FHA loans. In the past 18 months, 100% financing has almost all but vanished for those with anything less than perfect credit. Skip forward to today, FHA financing allows a buyer with decent to good credit to acquire financing with minimal down payment. (typically 3%) Rates for these programs are extremely competitive to those of your typical 80/20 30 yr fixed notes. Historically, FHA programs help serve as a catalyst to get first time home buyers into the market. As a seller, if your home falls within the FHA loan limits, expect to see offers that feature this type of financing. You can find an enormous amount of information about these programs online or by calling us at 800 657 6579.

J. Andrew English

Phoenix Update

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, August 21st, 2008

http://www.azcentral.com/realestate/articles/2008/08/20/20080820biz-housing0821-ON.html

This article is a bit optimistic, mainly because the # of foreclosures over the next 6 months is probably not going to decrease substantially. The positive to take away from this is that there are resales out there moving, thus, there must be buyers out there purchasing these properties. Also, while everyone is quick to blame the # of foreclosures out there, the positive of this is that these foreclosures do sell. (and usually quickly) Nearly 8,000 transfers of SFR homes in the Valley in a month is a substantial increase from June of 07. Before things get better, inventory must decrease. The more sales you see, the better.

Title Insurance Fees

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

http://www.inman.com/news/2008/08/20/hud-wont-withdraw-proposed-respa-rule-changes

The article above is an interesting read for those interested in Respa and the relationship between Title Insurance, Loan Fees, and so forth. The idea that title insurance and other title fees can be set by the state continues to baffle me. In certain areas, title insurance rates are set by the government. Title companies may not compete with each other on price, only service. As a result, this is why Realtors(R) get bombarded with little gifts from title officers trying to encourage Realtors(R) to push business their way. Another example is during Realtor(R) orientation. The local Association will actually allow Title Reps to come pitch their services to brand new Realtors(R). The problem is that the consumers are the ones paying for these fees set by the govt. (Not Realtors(R)) If Title companies had any interest in better serviving the consumer they would market to the consumer and stop preying on Realtors(R) for business. Secondly, Title Fees should be negotiable, just as Realtor(R) commissions. It only benefits the consumer to open up competition. I happen to think that a reduction in Title Fees would help produce a small jolt to the market. Title Insurance and Fees in many areas can exceed 1% of the purchase price. Furthermore, in states like Texas, you are forced to pay attorney doc fees in the amount of about $350 per side. Not only is the fee not negotiable, it’s completely useless. Lets stop nickel and diming buyers and sellers to death on title fees and we might see more people interested in getting back in the market.

E Lockboxes

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

Congress Realty is proud to offer electronic lockboxes in Northern Nevada and Alaska at this time. This highly anticipated additional service is immediately available to all current and future clients in these markets. If you are interested in adding a lockbox to your listing, please call 800 657 6579 and we will get this out to you right away. E-boxes track who goes in and out of the property, what date, what time, etc.. They serve as a great way to acquire feedback because sellers have access to who showed the property and when. These boxes can also be set to timed access, meaning, you can set the box to only function at certain times of the day. As a result, there is no need to worry about early morning showings or late night showings, etc.. The box simply will not allow anyone access during non showing times. Lockboxes are a great addition to help increase your # of showings.

The first of more to come in Austin

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, August 18th, 2008

http://www.statesman.com/business/content/business/stories/realestate/08/14/0814magnolia.html

If you have been in downtown Austin within the last 6-12 months, you can’t help but notice the large vacant condos perched above the city. Much debate has been made over how many $400k+ condos the Austin economy can support, however, common sense tells us that the astounding # of vacant units is certainly not a good sign for the future.  I continue to be a supporter of the responsible development of these luxury high rises. However, Austin is headed down the wrong path. It goes without saying that you will see more high rise developments in Austin bite the dust within the next year.