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Archive for the ‘Flat Fee MLS’ Category

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.


Congress Realty forwarded me an email – What next?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, February 22nd, 2018

We get a lot of emails from agents, prospective buyers, title companies, lenders, you name it… The majority of these emails relate to a property that we have listed. When we receive an email on a given property, we automatically forward this email to the homeowner. When a seller receives the email, typically, they don’t want to reply to Congress Realty but instead they want to reply to the party that sent the original request. For example, let’s say a property is under contract and an escrow officer emails us to ask for the seller payoff information. We will fwd that email to the homeowner. The homeowner should then reach out directly to the escrow officer to provide them with the requested information.

So the next logical question is why are they emailing Congress Realty initially? The answer for this is that it really depends upon the situation and who is sending the request. If it’s a Realtor inquiring, typically it’s b/c they didn’t read the listing and simply emailed us before reading to contact the owner directly. That said, it’s not a big deal. We are happy to fwd these types of emails to the seller. With regards to title companies, typically, they do not have the seller contact information initially unless the seller has reached out to them directly. It all really just depends. The most important thing to realize is that if we fwd an email to you, you want to open it quickly and reply to the party who submitted the initial request.


Competitors changing their company name and why?

J. Andrew English J. Andrew English
Thursday, 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)