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Archive for October, 2008

What is LoopNet and why do we offer this service?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, October 30th, 2008

LoopNet is a online portal that gives any member of the public the ability to search for commercial properties. This can be expanded to vacant land zoned for industrial use, commercial use, etc… It is a great tool to reach buyers scouring the net for non residential properties. (although some residential income properties are placed here) Our account with Loop Net is considered to be a “premium account”. This means that our listings can have seller phone #’s, show up on search results with top priority, have multiple photos, etc.. Loop Net is a great place to start the listing process for many non traditional residential listings. The greatest advantage to Loop Net is that anyone can search the site. (not just licensees)

Offers in Southern California Skyrocketing

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

The # of offers in Southern California are absolutely skyrocketing. I have spoken with a handful of buyer agents in San Diego up to Northern Orange County about this trend. The most common complaint I am hearing is that buyers want to offer lower than asking price, regardless if a property is priced well. The end result is the buyer doesn’t get the property. I read a great blog about a buyer who was interested in a property in Oceanside. The buyer was made aware the seller had multiple offers, however, the buyer still wrote an offer tens of thousands below list price. The agent of course was extremely frustrated, as she was unable to explain to the buyer that the property was going to sell for thousands above list price.

Watch the 4th quarter #’s for 2008 when they are released in So California. I think you will see an enormous spike in activity as compared to the 4th quarter of 2007.

New Realtor.com has launched

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, October 27th, 2008

Realtor.com for months has been tweaking and preparing for the launch of the new Realtor.com. (previously available under Beta) Today, it finally launched. The new layout and features are designed primarily to compete with Zillow and Trulia for the internet savvy consumer. Realtor.com has added a few new features, one that allows consumers to track recent sold information, as well as increasing the size of the photos that are displayed for the viewer. However, outside of these two changes and a new layout, the consumer will notice very few other changes. The initial feedback I have seen published critizices Realtor.com for putting too much emphasis on selling Realtors(R) ad space. As a result, this interferes with users web experience.
My overall opinion is that the website will do little to deter web surfers from visiting other competing sites. The new Realtor.com site offers nothing new or fresh for the consumer.

Do buyer agents offer value to their client?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, October 24th, 2008

I love buyer agents, don’t get me wrong. Our listing program is dependent upon buyer agents showing and selling our listings. The value of the buyer agent is that they bring the buyer to the deal. From the seller point of view, this service of bringing the buyer is valuable. However, I want to look at the flip side, how valuable is the buyer agent to the actual buyer?

I recently was notified of a lawsuit filed by a buyer against their buyer agent. Basically, the buyer was blaming the buyer agent for not being aware of the boundary lines between two properties. In this instance, the Realtor(R) is citing that she is not responsible for verifying boundary lines. This got me thinking… what does the buyer agent actually do for the buyer? Buyer Agents can not and do not provide legal advice. They can not provide inspection advice as to the condition of a property. They can not provide tax advice. They can not provide advice with regards to surveys, etc… Essentially, they do absolutely nothing with regards to anything that would provide “legal” value to their client. If a buyer has a question, typically the buyer agents job is to refer them to an expert. (whether it be roofing, HVAC, etc..) Realtors(R) are taught to give very bland answers and also refer their client to an expert. Essentially, Realtors(R) are taught to take absolutely no risk at all in a transaction.

As a buyer, I can’t think of any real service the buyer agent provides me that is valuable. With the internet, I have access to all listings myself and I have the sold data from the county recorders office for comparables. Also, as a buyer, if I go straight to the listing broker, I know that I will be able to negotiate a lower price based upon the seller not having to pay a buyer broker fee. (if you negotiate this in your offer)

The concept of accepting a fee for a service without taking any responsibility or liability for the service you provided is quite upsetting to many buyers. It’s just something to think about. This could explain why historically, sellers pay the buyer broker fee….. not the buyer. 

If buyers paid the buyer broker fee entirely at close of escrow…. would buyer agents become obsolete?

So Cal MLS

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

So Cal MLS is growing and growing rapidly. Originally So Cal MLS was designed to serve Orange County and its local Realtors(R). At that time, CLAW, CrisNet, SouthBay, and SandiCor were all major players. Within the last 12-18 months, CrisNet ceased competing with CLAW and joined together with So Cal MLS. CrisNet originally served North LA. As a result, you now have So CAL as the primary MLS for Orange County and North LA. If we take this a step further and look at South Bay, you will notice further growth for So Cal. South Bay MLS began losing listings quickly to So Cal MLS about 12-18 months ago. For whatever reason, South Bay joined with MRMLS. The problem is that local agents are not putting the South Bay properties in MRMLS, as was the original plan. Instead, they are putting these properties in So Cal MLS because of the proximity and additional exposure So Cal has to offer. To take this a step further, So Cal’s coverage area has already crept farther south than Oceanside. Yep, you guessed it, just north of San Diego has become So Cal MLS territory.

CLAW, also known as the “The MLS”, has serviced LA and west LA for many years. However, So Cal MLS has essentially engulfed the entire surrounding area. Today, you will find many LA listings double listed in both CLAW and So Cal MLS. It is very likely in the upcoming 1-2 years you will see a merger between the two of some sort or another. I can’t think of anything that is going to stop this from happening, however, what I find most interesting will be if the Beverly Hills Association of Realtors(R) (or other high end niche area) opts to not participate, and instead, produce their own small MLS just for Beverly Hills or Malibu, etc… Will Beverly Hills brokerages want to share data with agents from  Orange County if they do not absolutely have to?

Longview, Texas added to our coverage.

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

We have added Longview, TX to our coverage area as of this afternoon. We will be updating our website to reflect this addition later today. We are very pleased to bring our Flat Fee MLS model to Longview property owners. We will continue to add various MLS’s throughout the western and southwestern United States in the upcoming months. If you do not see your area listed on our coverage map, give us a call and we will work to add it as soon as possible.

We have added Oregon!

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, October 20th, 2008

Congress Realty is proud to announce that the Oregon Real Estate Commission has issued license # 200804165 to Jared Andrew English of Congress Realty. We will be updating our site to reflect the addition of Oregon and will soon be offering Oregon Flat Fee MLS Listings throughout the state. Over the next few weeks, we will be joining various MLS’s across Oregon. For questions, please contact Andrew at 800 657 6579 ext 1.

Bank of America and Countrywide

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, October 17th, 2008

http://money.cnn.com/2008/10/06/real_estate/Drastic_plan_slashes_mortgage_costs/index.htm?postversion=2008100917

Recently, I was asked by a friend of mine who had just been laid off why he should keep making his mortgage payment. As a responsible individual, he is greatly concerned about his credit, thus, despite his increased financial difficulties, he continues to make his payments. He is upset that government, media, and lenders are focusing on those individuals who are at risk of foreclosure. Essentially, those individuals who choose to not make payments are being rewarded with various opportunities to stay in their homes. His question is this, why aren’t we trying to help those homeowners who are just barely getting by… especially those who have maintained their sense of responsibility by honoring the debt they promised to repay?

Looking back on the conversation, I do begin to wonder if the bailouts are making thing worse by giving homeowners who are struggling less incentive to keep make their payments. You hear each and every day about programs designed to assist owners in re-negotiating their rates and even asking for re-evaluations of value. At some point, every struggling homeowner is going to quit making payments and ask for the same assistance that is being given to those who have not honored their promise to repay.

Virtual Tours

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, October 13th, 2008

The biggest advantage of ordering a tour through our brokerage is that we can ensure that the tour is linked correctly to Realtor.com and that updates are made to the virtual tour as the seller makes changes to the listing. When we order the tour through our provider, the provider provides access online to edit the tour, link the tour correctly, and so forth.. If a seller chooses to have their own tour done, we can not edit their tour. The VT provider of their choice may or may not allow for editing and may or may not link the tour to Realtor.com. A tour ordered through Congress Realty will be linked correctly to Realtor.com each and every time. (In the form of the Red Spinning House Icon prominently displayed on Realtor.com)

A seller should not be discouraged from using their own provider. If a seller has a virtual tour already completed, we will upload their VT link to the MLS for them at no cost.

Las Cruces Association of Realtors(R)

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, October 10th, 2008

The Las Cruces Association of Realtors(R) presented a check this past week to the Ruidoso Board of Realtors(R) as their contribution to the disaster relief effort for the recent flooding within the county. The Ruidoso board has decided to place these funds towards shelter, food, and assistance to those residents who were displaced from their homes. All funds collected by the Las Cruces Assc came directly as the result of gifts from its members.