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Archive for the ‘Flat Fee MLS’ Category

Mechanical versus Electronic Lockboxes

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, July 22nd, 2019

An Electronic Lockbox is a lockbox that is accessible to all Realtors through the use of their key fob or smart phone. The Electronic box is sometimes referred to as a Supra Box or Sentrilock box. (depending upon your area) This is the type of lockbox that would be used by any Full service traditional Realtor with a listing on the MLS. The advantages of using an Electronic box include a more professional appearance during a showing, tracking who goes in and out of the property, tracking how long someone is in the property, and greater security in that a non Realtor(R) can not access the box.


Mechanical lockboxes are accessible via anyone who has the code to that lockbox. This includes Realtors and members of the public. Advantages of mechanical boxes include being able to get contractors in and out of the property easily and a much lower cost when compared to the Electronic boxes. Disadvantages include: They can be much easier to break into. Most banks and REO vendors utilize mechanical lockboxes, which some sellers do not want to be associated with. Anyone with the code has access  to the box and mechanical lockboxes will not track activity. Lastly, some MLS’s will not allow a code to be published in the MLS. Thus, each showing agent may have to contact you and speak with you to acquire the code. This could result in missed showings in you are unavailable to answer your phone.


Other notes – For the markets of NWMLS in the Seattle area, Prospector in the Sacramento area, and NNRMLS in the Reno area, the MLS will only allow a mechanical box to be on the property if an MLS issued Electronic box is also on the property. These particular MLS’s claim this is for the safety and security of the property. It is important to note that this is not our rule. These 3 MLS’s enforce this rule for all listings from all agencies who list a property in that particular MLS.

Showing Time –

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, July 11th, 2019

Showing time is an application used by agents to set up and manage showings electronically. It has become extremely popular in Arizona and New Mexico over the last year. In addition, it is gaining traction in part of NV, ID, and AK.

On the MLS listing, an agent can click on showing time to make an appt on a particular listing. When the agent does this, showing time will send us the showing request via email. We then fwd the email to your email address. When you receive this email, you will see a blue icon that says “Action Required”. When you click this, showing time will give you the option to accept, decline, or propose a new showing time.

At the request of the homeowner, we can add your email to showing time. This will allow you to receive the showing time request in real time versus having our firm fwd the request to you manually.

Another positive of showing time is the app will automatically ask the showing Realtor for feedback after the showing is complete. We are happy to fwd this feedback to you upon receipt.

If an owner does not want to use showing time, we can shut it off completely but would need written instructions from the owner to do so. We highly recommend against shutting off showing time but will do with a written request from the owner.

Showing Time is included at no additional cost on all of our MLS listings. (in areas where showing time is offered by the MLS)



Forwarded Emails

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

From time to time, a seller will receive a forwarded email from our firm during the duration of their listing. The most common occurrence might be a Realtor emailing to ask a simple question about the property. For example, what level is the master bedroom located on? When this happens, we fwd the email to the seller. As a seller, when you receive a forwarded email, you want to reply to the original party who made the request. You don’t want to reply to Congress Realty directly. By replying to the inquiring party directly, you will be providing the information to this party in the most timely manner possible. While the MLS listing does instruct agents to contact the owner, it does happen where the agent will email us with this type of inquiry on rare occasion. As a part of our service at no additional cost, we will always fwd these types of requests to the owner that same day and many times within just minutes of receipt.

The same is true if we fwd a lead from a 3rd party website like Zillow. You always want to reply to the prospective buyer directly. The buyer info will be included in the forwarded message.


Step By Step Tutorial of our listing process

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Friday, December 28th, 2018

We are excited to announce the publication of a new video via Congress Realty. This video will allow a first time user of our program to virtually walk through our listing process. We have created a new video that will show you exactly what to expect through our online platform when placing a listing with Congress Realty. The video is similar to a tutorial. The video can be viewed in the top left hand corner of the order page by clicking on the video. A direct link to the video –  https://list.congressrealty.com/product/flat-fee-mls-listing/

Temporarily off Market versus Cancelled Status

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, November 7th, 2018

Often around this time of year, a seller considers taking their property off the market and bringing it back during the spring. This brings up 2 options in most MLS’s. Do you want to  cancel the listing entirely or just take it temporarily off the market. A few pros and cons to consider.

Temp Off market – The listing stays in the MLS but doesn’t show up under an active search. When you bring the property back to market, the MLS # will stay the same and the days on market will not reset. Congress Realty does not charge a fee for this service.

Cancelled – We are literally cancelling the listing entirely. The listing will show cancelled in the MLS. To bring the listing back in the future under a new MLS # and new listing, there is a fee for doing so. The positive of this status is that the Days on Market will reset to 0. (assuming the listing is off the market for the proper amount of time. This amount of time varies by MLS. For example, in ARMLS, it is 90 days. In some markets like Vegas, it is just 1 day)

Advice on Selling your home?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Monday, November 5th, 2018

It never fails. Each week we receive multiple emails commending our flat fee service and thanking us for the quick sale of the clients home. At the same time, there is always someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. They want to know why they aren’t getting phone calls, showings, etc…  The truth is that we use the same platform and techniques for each property. We constantly are marking properties under contract and/or sold each week. So why do so many properties sell through our system and some do not?

The property itself is the # 1 factor. Certain markets are hotter than others. However, let’s dive deeper into this and look at a few mistakes that a seller wants to avoid.

  1. Overpricing the property from the start. Understandably, a seller might overprice the property at the start with the idea that they can always come down on price later. The problem with this is that historically, you will get the highest price and best terms for your property within the first 3 weeks of listing. By overpricing your property, you are potentially losing out on your best possible foot traffic.
  2. Offering a lower buyer agent commission at the start of the listing with the intent of changing it later if needed. The problem with this is simple. To see the MLS stated commission, a buyer’s agent has to physically go into your listing and view the details. Once they have done this, there is no guarantee they will go back into your listing in the future to see if the commission was changed.
  3. Photos – I have seen it all when it comes to photos. I have seen a seller change photos weekly to a seller uploading over 100 photos, etc… When it comes to photos, nothing shocks me. A few notes to consider. Buyer’s often look for a reason to say “no”. As a seller, you want to have a solid # of high quality attractive photos, however, too many photos can work against you. In addition, you don’t want to constantly change your photos. There are many reasons why but one reason is that you wind up confusing 3rd party sites like Zillow. This can lead to duplicates, missing photos, etc.. on 3rd party platforms. Photo size is also important. You really want bright, clear photos. Submitting photos that are too small can appear grainy and distorted. Lastly, keep pets and people out of photos.
  4. Not being available to show. Lockboxes are your friend. The easier you make a property to show, the more likely it will be shown. I can’t tell you how many times a seller has told me that they “are always home”… and don’t need a lockbox. It is absolutely ok to not use a lockbox. You should only use a lockbox when you are comfortable with using a lockbox. However, there is a lot of evidence to support the idea that houses with lockboxes get shown more often than those without.
  5. Too many phone #’s in a listing. Don’t confuse buyer agents. Use your best phone # in the listing to contact you and leave it at that. I have seen listings with 4 different phone #’s listed and it caused extreme frustration for a buyer’s agent.
  6. Remarks – Your remarks should describe the highlights of the property and provide your best marketing pitch. You really really really don’t want to write a 3 page essay. Why? Because buyer’s simply won’t read it. Make your remarks short and sweet but impactful.

We will add to this list in the future to try and help any way that we can. In addition, I will examine a few properties that sold within a few weeks of publication and provide specific examples of what the seller did right in that instance and what factors contributed to the sale.

Upcoming additions to the Congress Realty website this winter

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, October 25th, 2018

A few notes for the upcoming winter. We have had a few past clients volunteer to do a video testimonial. We are going to try and get at least 1-2 up on the homepage by the end of the year. Another project we are working on is doing a video tutorial ourselves of how to use the new online ordering system. I’d like to set up a video explaining exactly what happens when you click the list now icon from start to finish. In addition, we are considering adding a few new territories that we will cover with local MLS listings. Most recently, Tehama County in CA has been added.  Lastly, we want to thank everyone who has written reviews of our firm online. Between Google, Yelp, And Zillow, we have over 50 Five Star Reviews. We are incredibly grateful to those that have taken the time to spread the word about firm and employees.

Earnest Money

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

First, what is earnest money? Earnest money is commonly referred to as good faith money. These are the funds deposited by the buyer to open the escrow. In states like Nevada and Arizona, earnest money serves as liquidated damages to a seller in the event of a buyer default. Earnest money should always appear on the 1st page of the purchase contract. This will tell you the exact amount the buyer is placing into escrow should the buyer offer be accepted.

So how much Earnest Money is a fair amount? The answer really depends upon the property but a general answer would be 1% of the purchase price.

Can Earnest Money be increased during the transaction? Absolutely, and this happens more often than you might think. Let’s look at an example.. The buyer submits an offer that is contingent upon the sale of the buyer’s home. It wouldn’t be uncommon for the buyer to offer to increase the EMD (earnest money deposit) once the contingency is met. (IE, buyer home closes)  Another example might be when the buyer asks for an extension of close of escrow. Let’s say closing was supposed to occur on August 1st but the buyer has asked for an extension until August 15th. The seller might say ok to the extension under the agreement that the buyer increases the earnest money deposited with the escrow officer.

How can the seller retain the earnest money if the buyer defaults? The key here is the phrase “buyer default”. To retain EMD by the seller, the buyer must default in some way. Beyond that, the answer to this question will vary by your specific state. If you have questions about your state, just give us a call or consult with your attorney.

Public Remarks – What you can and can’t say

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Wednesday, May 9th, 2018

Public remarks are a part of every MLS listing. We highly recommend taking the time to draft your public remarks in an attempt to put forth your best sales pitch for the property. The MLS has very specific rules regarding public remarks that pertain to all listings in the MLS. Thus, whether you are Remax, Congress Realty, Ebby, West USA, etc… we all have to play by the same rules when it comes to the MLS public remarks.

The first thing to keep in mind is that you want the remarks to be in paragraph format. You don’t want to use bullet points. In addition, each MLS has a very strict character count limit. This means that once you reach a certain point, the MLS will cut you off. This character count varies from MLS to MLS, thus, if you aren’t certain of the # of characters allowed, just ask us. The next thing to keep in mind is that the public remarks must only describe the property for sale. We can’t list information that doesn’t actually describe the property for sale. This means that we can’t put phone #’s, URL’s, email addresses, etc… into the public remarks. (No one can, it’s literally impossible) Lastly, keep in mind that Fair Housing laws need to be respected in your public remarks. Be careful of using words such as children, family, referencing places of worship, etc..

So where do I list my phone #? The MLS will have a very specific area for owner phone #. In addition, the agent remarks will also include the owner phone # and be visible to all agents.


Reminder to upload your photos BEFORE the MLS listing is posted

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Tuesday, April 10th, 2018

We always recommend uploading your photos before sending back your MLS documents. How do you upload photos? 2 ways. You can email the photos to info@congressrealty.com or you can use our pre listing manager link:  https://www.congressrealty.com/FileManagement/PreListingControl/default.aspx

We highly recommend NOT waiting to upload your photos.

If you aren’t sure if we have your photos, call us or email us and we will be happy to confirm.