Posts by: ARMLS

November Market Update


Each month Tom Ruff of The Information Market gives his stellar commentary on the housing market. Tom is armed with Pending data of which others do not have access. His insights are below. Read the full issue of STAT for the accompanying graphs.

For the first time in 15 months the number of monthly sold listings has improved year-over-year, with 6,154 closed this October compared to 6,041 in October 2013. The last time we saw an improvement in this metric was in July 2013. As we’ve talked often in STAT, July 2013 marked the end of a two year period of rapid price appreciation and heavy investor demand as our market bounced off its 2011 bottom. With that said, the market is still much the same and while our volume numbers are better year-over-year, demand is still extremely low.

With the financial crisis and subprime mortgage bust receding further into history, government regulators are looking to inject more life into the still-recovering housing market. In October there was a lot of chatter in the media, and that chatter focused on two primary subjects: making loans easier to obtain and the need for more jobs as well as better paying jobs. The government has named its effort “L.I.F.T.” after the four ingredients they say are critical for housing success:

“…the Labor, Income, Fixed investment and Trust required to lift the economy toward robust sustainable growth are still lacking the necessary thrust.”

The L.I.F.T Program (Labor, Income, Fixed investment and Trust)
The new program was released with a video preview, along with the complete October 2014 U.S. Economic and Housing Market Outlook found here. If you prefer a man in a bow tie, watch this Video. Outlook highlights from the report included:

• Projecting the unemployment rate to average around 5.7 percent next year as many of the missing 25-54 year olds who have dropped out of the labor market start to return, driving participation rates up.

• A faster GDP growth rate is the essential step to getting broad-based income growth. Unfortunately, the economy can’t perform at its highest level until this happens.

• Fixed investment has picked up, but as a share of total GDP it is still about 2 percentage points below the levels reached prior to the Great Recession. Housing’s share of this investment is particularly lagging.

• Long-run demand means new home construction needs to ramp up to a pace of 1.7 million additional housing units each year. Over the past 12 months, there have been about 1 million housing starts.

• The final ingredient we need for lift off is arguably the most fragile today. Fortunately, headlines about fiscal and monetary policy have ebbed and total economic policy uncertainty is near the lowest level since the end of the Great Recession.

Industry critics say that tough lending standards are preventing the housing market from making a full recovery because of the many would-be homeowners that are being excluded. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is working to expand availability for mortgage credit and is working out risk with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. FHFA is working with GSEs (Government-Sponsored Enterprises) to develop guidelines for LTR ratios between 96 and 97.

Federal regulators are proceeding with new rules that ease guidelines for banks selling mortgage securities and could mean fewer borrowers will need to make hefty down payments. These changes coming in the next year will make a difference.

Is our market poised to lift off?
It’s possible with clearer lending policies, lower down payment requirements and an improving job market coupled with pent-up demand (for example: Millennials and boomerang buyers). In fact, we’re predicting that 2015 will be the lift off and 2016 will be a break out year.

ARMLS® Pending Price Index (PPI)
The PPI projected the median sales price in October to be $191,000 with the actual median price coming in at $192,500. Our median sales price projections came within .8%. Prices remain stable and flat. On the sales volume side we had our biggest miss of the year as we failed to account for an additional business day in October. Our projected 5,850 sales were 304 sales lower than the actual sales figure of 6,154.

Over the past few months our projections have been trending slightly more pessimistic than the actual reported results. Looking ahead to November, the PPI is projecting minimal declines in both the median sales price as well as the average sales price. Status quo will best define November home prices, STAT is projecting a median sales price of $190,000 with sales volume of 5,309. We expect the typical historical pattern for home sales this time of year with a fall from October to November with sales rising in December.

On October 28, with the help of internet giant Google, announced the launch of Nowcast to predict housing market trends as they are occurring. In their own words, “The new report is based on data modeling developed by Google Chief Economist Hal Varian, who defines ‘Nowcasting’ as ‘contemporaneous forecasting’ – basically an ability to predict what is happening as it occurs”. I want STAT readers to know we will never back down from a little competition and are well aware of “contemporaneous forecasting” and feel our own in-house methodology, “countin’ better” is and will remain the superior model.

What’s a CBS Code?

A CBS (Call Before Showing) code, is a code enabled on a Supra lockbox by the listing agent to control access to a listing. When you show a listing where the lockbox has a CBS code, you must call/text/write the listing agent to get the code to open the lockbox in conjunction with your ActiveKey/eKey. See the links below for more details:

ActiveKey CBS code instructions

eKey CBS code instructions

Thanks to Subscriber Patrick B for the blog post idea. Do you have an ARMLS blog post idea? Send it here:

ActiveKey Tutorial:

Read The Plano Before Entering

We’re not a big fan of being stern on our blog as this is normally a fun place for ideas, but there is a serious issue we must address today. The plano (planogram), officially known as the Listing Detail Report, gives showing instructions that must be followed prior to entering a property.

Reading the plano before entering a property is a requirement.


Your safety, the security of the property and Tenants Rights may depend on gaining proper permission to enter a listing if required on the plano.

But you can’t get showing instructions on mobile?
Actually, you can – visit this link to learn how:

Monsoon Update: Flood Zones & More

Today, Monsoon 1.31 went live. You’ll find a better comp experience, a better Add/Modify Field screen and a Map Display Options dialog with a flood zone overlay.

Clicking on Map Options will bring up a new box where flood zones can be turned on / off:


Try Monsoon 1.31 here.

Watch Out For The Operators


Have you ever run a Quick Search and noticed the count went up when you were expecting the count to fall when you added more selections? Here’s a typical scenario on how / why that happens. Imagine this: a Quick Search has 168 results before Kitchen Features that the client requested are added. The first feature is Range/Oven Gas, the count now shows:


The count is now 23.Next, the Granite Countertops box is selected:


The count went up??? Yes, by default each selection is an “or” statement, selections meaning this or that (Range/Oven Gas or Granite Countertops). Often what you want is this and that (Range/Oven Gas and Granite Countertops). Simply change the “or” options to “and” by clicking on them:


We Can’t Rewrite History

The history of a listing is unchangeable, even when mistakes are made. The history must reflect the true history of a listing. If an incorrect value is entered, if even for a second, that was the true state of the listing at that time. The ARMLS Data Integrity department can’t change history items. Banners / flags also fall into this category, see this post on how to use them.


Local Email Client Option

When emailing out of flexmls, there is an option to send using the email program on your computer. This is known as the “local e-mail client” in flexmls. It’s an alternative to using the flexmls servers to send messages.


On Monday, the option will be renamed and moved on the screen.


October Market Update


Each month Tom Ruff of The Information Market gives his stellar commentary on the housing market. Tom is armed with Pending data, which others do not have access. His insights are below.Read the full issue of STAT for the accompanying graphs.

Tome RuffAs we expected, there were no surprises this month. Sales volume in September came in as expected while prices remained flat. Sales volume for this year had been running 14% lower than 2013, but the sales volume this month was only 1% lower than September 2013. There were 6,252 sales this September compared to 6,314 sales for September 2013. Keep in mind there were 21 working days this September compared to 20 working days in September 2013. Discounting the number of working days, the year-over-year sales volumes were very similar.

With year-over-year sales volumes being in lockstep, we are afforded a clear picture of the year-over-year changes as to the composition of sales. Normal/traditional sales are up, distressed/investor sales are down. With September defined as more of the same, I thought it would be a perfect time to do some additional number crunching based on a question I saw on Facebook.

The Facebook question went something like this: “What’s the difference in sales prices between using a Realtor and selling a home via FSBO?” The question started a chain of calculations where we went from exploring off-market sales (see: Using a Subscriber vs. Not) to where we ended up calculating the added value of using an ARMLS Subscriber (see: The Value of a Subscriber).

First, taking the question at face value, it’s a series of calculations and simple enough. But diving deeper it’s a question spawned by the constant threat REALTORS perceive when a disruptive real estate venture moves into the market. Predictions of the demise of the real estate industry rain down whenever a new real estate venture, new business model or syndication du jour launches. Lay on the couch, everything is going to be okay. The REALTOR® / MLS model isn’t going anywhere. The numbers have your back.

Using a Subscriber vs. Not
Second, we can do the calculation we were asked as The Information Market compiles public records data and then matches it to MLS data, giving us a unique database. We looked at single-family sales this year from January to September for Maricopa and Pinal counties. We removed new construction as our comparison will be of the resale market. Here are the findings:

83.76% of all resale homes sold using an ARMLS Subscriber and the MLS
90% of all resale homes that sold over the median price used an ARMLS Subscriber and the MLS
• Single men are slightly less likely to use a Subscriber and the MLS but did 82.53% of the time
• Single women fit the norm using a Subscriber and the MLS 84% of the time
• Married couples are more likely to use a Subscriber and the MLS at 86.08% of the time

Fix & flip investors used an ARMLS® Subscriber 84.34% of the time. These investors clearly know how to value property and their price points as their livelihood depends on buying low and selling high. They don’t need an agent to tell them property values but they need a Subscriber to ensure arms-length transactions. This should be a shock to you! The perception of many is that they don’t use REALTORS®.

The Value of a Subscriber
Subscribers were used in 84% of transactions – but did they add value? It would be easy but flawed to look at the median and average sales prices of MLS vs. Non-MLS sales like the Facebook question above suggests. To show why, we did the calculation for August with new construction and distressed properties removed:

Non-MLS MLS Difference
Median Sales Price $161,000 $218,000 + 35%
Average Sales Price $210,537 $271,716 + 29%
Price per SqFt: $107.15 $126.26 + 17.8%


The numbers above are flawed because it is more common for owners at lower price points to attempt a FBSO while it is less common for FSBOs to be attempted at higher price points. This is a natural bias we must account for.

There is a fair solution to remove the bias, by using the Full Cash Value Ratio (FCVR), where we compare the sold price versus the county tax assessor’s value. A property that was valued at $100,000 by the assessor and sold for $100,000 would have a FCVR of 100%. In our calculation, the FCVR acts like an index, giving a more accurate picture when we make our comparison. Looking at the same August sales for single-family homes and removing new construction and distressed properties we feel confident in saying using an ARMLS Subscriber increases value for the seller by 9.6%.

FSBO 210,573 174,978 1.203426
REALTOR 271,716 206,150 1.318051


The Pending Price Index
The PPI projected the median sales price in September to be $190,000 with the actual median price coming in at $194,000. Home prices can best be described as stable and flat. Our sales volume projection for September came within 1.6%. We projected 6,150 sales and the actual sales for the month landed at 6,252. Our projections have been trending slightly more pessimistic than the actual reported results.

Looking ahead, the ARMLS Pending Price Index is projecting declines in both the median sales price as well as the average sales price. Anticipated declines in October can be attributed to modest downward pricing pressure as well as seasonable patterns. We’re projecting a median sales price of $191,000 with sales volume of 5,850.

Incomplete Listings + Documents

Documents can now be added to incomplete listings in flexmls. The option appears below photos on the Change Listing screen. Screenshot below:


It’s a long-overdue requested feature, but don’t celebrate too hard:

Showing Info on Mobile

Being able to easily see showing information while in the field is a big feature. The flexmls mobile site ( and the flexmls by FBS iPhone app now make this information easy to access.

On the listing detail screen, many will see an eye icon. Others will see an ” i ” with a circle around it. Both do the same thing when tapped, display showing instructions.


This is the showing information screen (the layout and fields shown may differ on your device depending on the selections made by the Listing Agent):

On the showing info screen, tapping on the Listing Member will bring up their contact info:

Mobile Torque is an ARMLS® blog post series dedicated to advancing mobile and educating Subscribers on mobile and mobile MLS access.
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