ARMLS News

What Goes in the Public Remarks Section?

Binder full of rules

Seeing inappropriate comments in the Public Remarks section of a listing is a right of passage for most Subscribers. But what you might not know is those comments are not only obnoxious, they can often be in direct violation of the Rules and Regulations.

Section 11.6 of the Rules and Regulations provides a clear description of what the Public Remarks section is for and what is appropriate to put within this section.

Public Remarks

What to Post
The public remarks section should only be used for describing the property, for example:

“Great home in a gated community.”

What NOT to Post
Do not post any personal/promotional information within this section, including:
Your name
Phone number
Email
Brokerage

If you have any questions regarding this or any other rule in the ARMLS rule book or Inappropriate Language policy you can get answers by reaching us at 480-303-7249 or by email.

How to Avoid or Fix a Lockbox Jam

cartoon man on knees in despair with jammed lockbox

There are few things more embarrassing to a real estate agent than taking a client to a home and encountering a jammed lockbox.

If this has happened to you before, we feel your pain. If this hasn’t happened to you, here are a few suggestions on how to make sure it never happens—saving you time, money and many headaches.

Where to Place the Key
The key pouch is marked with a green sticker key image, indicating that this is the correct area to place your key(s).

Lockbox key pouch

Where NOT to Place the Key
On the back of the box is an image of a key with a circle and line cutting through it. This indicates that you should not place the key back there whatsoever, as this can jam the lockbox.

non key pouch on a Lockbox

Jammed Lockbox Encounters
Should you encounter a stuck lockbox, Supra has provided a few tips on how to get things working again.

“Grasp the keybox with one hand, then reach under the keybox and try to wiggle the key container to loosen it, then try to obtain the key again. If it appears that a house key is jammed between the keybox and the key container, AND the keybox is yours, try sliding a thin strong object such as a metal fingernail file up between the inside of the keybox and the key container, to dislodge it.

If you are unable to loosen the key container, AND the keybox is yours, remove the keybox from the listing and contact your Association/MLS for further instructions.

Note: If the keybox is NOT yours, please contact the listing agent and let them know there is a problem with the keybox. Please do not attempt anything that could cause damages to someone else’s keybox.”

Obstructed lockboxes are a real thing that can happen to anyone at any time. While misplacing a key seems innocent, it can easily delay or spoil a listing for the next agent. Remember, only you can prevent jammed lockboxes.

Boot Camp Progress

Boot Camp Badges

Whether you’re new to ARMLS or just want to brush up on Flexmls, our one day Boot Camp class can help you become a pro on the system. The Boot Camp class is held at various locations throughout the Valley and is a full day of learning!

Some of the tools you will learn in Boot Camp include: searching basics, tips and tricks, how to effectively search using the map, subscriptions and portals for your clients, CMAs, listings and more!

How can I sign up for Boot Camp?
You can find our Boot Camp class on ARMLS.com under the Training and Events tab. Click on Classes and then pick the Boot Camp location and time that best suits you.

What if the Boot Camp is full? 
If the Boot Camp class you’d like to take is full, you can email us at Training@ARMLS.com to request to be put on a wait list. Two days prior to class the instructor will reach out to you if a cancellation has occurred.

Stay tuned for our exciting new e-courses which will allow you to take Boot Camp or any other ARMLS class right from your home, coming early 2017.

Hope to see you in class!

Help! I Need to Upload a Photo in the MLS

Faceless cartoon people

How to upload your photo
To upload your photo or logo into Flexmls, click on the Preferences tab then My Profile. In the bottom left-hand corner, select Personal Photo and Logo Maintenance.

screenshot of MLS

Once you browse your device and find your picture, you’ll need to make sure to enter a description or it will not save. After your photo is uploaded, you can adjust the sizing with the tool below.

Where will my photo show up?
By uploading your head shot into Flexmls, it will be seen on all email correspondence you send to your clients from Flexmls, as well as any Portals you’ve set up for your clients. You can also see your photo on detail reports and flyers created in the system. Remember, if you do not want to use a picture of yourself, you can upload your company or Team logo.

What is an IDX? How Do I Get One?

Finding homes on a map

What is an IDX?  How do I get one?
IDX stands for “internet data exchange” and covers a wide range of software products manufactured by third-party vendors for MLS subscribers. While some details may differ between IDX products, they are all public-facing tools that allow clients to search MLS data. This is done through a feed that goes out to IDX participants (other ARMLS subscribers).  IDXs were once known as “broker data share” or “broker reciprocity” because they were a way for brokers to advertise each other’s listings.

How do I get an IDX website or IDX on my website? Is there a vendor list?
MLS Subscribers have the option of putting an IDX software product on their website or having a vendor build a website to allow their clients to search the MLS. 
Contact an IDX vendor from our IDX vendor list.

Note from the editor – the IDX vendor list is not an endorsement of vendors but a list of vendor choices. The IDX solutions below range from simple websites to full scale relationship software. The free frame that ARMLS provides is through Diverse Solutions (http://armls.diversesolutions.com/).This list was last updated on 10/17/2016.

A La Mode – http://www.alamode.com/
AgentJet – http://agentjet.com/solutions/
BlueRoof360 – https://web.blueroof360.com/
BoomTown – http://boomtownroi.com/
BrokerCloud – http://home.reliancenetwork.com/
BX3 – https://www.bx3.com/web-integration.html
Cinc – http://www.commissionsinc.com/
Constellation Web Solutions – http://www.constellationws.com/products/
CoreLogic – http://www.corelogic.com/products/agentachieve.aspx
Dakno – http://www.dakno.com/
Diverse Solutions – http://armls.diversesolutions.com/
Dynamic Page Solutions – http://www.dynamicpagesolutions.com/
Firepoint – http://firepoint.net/
Flexmls IDX – https://www.flexmls.com/products/flexmls-idx/
Home Junction – http://www.homejunction.com/
HomeASAP – https://about.homeasap.com/
Homefinder – http://www.ihomefinder.com
Homes.com – http://connect.homes.com/agents/responsive-idx-website/
IDX Broker – http://www.idxbroker.com
iHOUSEweb – https://www.ihouseweb.com/idxpro/
Kunversion – http://www.kunversion.com
Market Leader – http://www.marketleader.com/
Placester – https://placester.com/
Positioning4Profits – http://www.p4prealestate.com/
ProAgent Websites – http://sur.ly/o/proagentwebsites.com/AA001293
Pro-Found Marketing – http://foundwithprofound.com/
Real Estate Digital – http://realestatedigital.com/
Real Estate Webmasters – http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/
Real Geeks – http://www.realgeeks.com/
Showcase IDX – https://showcaseidx.com/
Smarter Agent – http://www.smarteragent.com/
SuccessWebsite – http://www.successwebsite.com/default.asp
Superlative – http://www.superlative.com/
Tigerlead – http://www.tigerlead.com/products/integrated-idx-home-search/
Total Expert – http://totalexpertinc.com/for-agents/
Trend Websites – http://trendwebsites.com/real-estate-websites
Websitebox – https://www.websitebox.com/
WolfNet – http://wolfnet.com/
Zillow – http://www.zillow.com/agent-websites/

What’s the Safe Sender List?

Sending and receiving email illustration

Not getting all your emails from Flexmls? Your email provider could be to blame. Email providers like Gmail, Yahoo, MSN and others will stop showing you emails they think you won’t like. To make sure all of your emails make it through, add these four email addresses as “Contacts” in your email account address book:

listings@flexmail.flexmls.com
msgsys@flexmail.flexmls.com
notify@flexmail.flexmls.com
listingupdates@flexmail.flexmls.com

Why Does This Happen?
In most cases, your email provider tries to clean up your inbox by monitoring which emails you open and which ones you don’t. If enough emails from the same sender aren’t opened (or deleted without being opened), your email provider may begin directing those emails to your junk folder and/or “bounce” them back to the sender so they never reach your account. This is called suppression.

How Can I Fix Suppression?
Give a call into our Helpdesk at 480-303-7020, where we can verify if suppression is occurring and reactivate your emails.

How Can I Prevent Suppression? 
Adding the four Flexmls email addresses to your contacts is the best way to make sure you get your messages. Another proactive step is to ensure you open your Flexmls emails. This will prevent your email provider from registering these communications as spam. If you’re getting too many emails from Flexmls, you can edit your account settings in Flexmls.

How Do I Buy a New Lockbox?

Trex munching on a lockbox

If you’ve gained a new client or had a lockbox bite the dust, you may find the need for a new lockbox. There are a few things to know before you head to ARMLS:

Supra Lockboxes can be purchased at any one of our ARMLS Support Centers.
ARMLS Support Center representatives can be reached at 480-303-7249 or SC@ARMLS.comAll locations are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The Tempe office is also open on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

New lockboxes cost $120 plus tax.
If you’re not looking for a new lockbox, we sell used lockboxes in good and fair condition starting at a discounted rate of $50. Call ahead to your local Support Center to check inventory on used boxes as used lockbox have limited availability. We accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, as well as checks. No cash please!

Make sure you bring your ID…
When you go to purchase a new lockbox, you will need a form of government-issued photo ID along with your MLS login (Agent ID).

…and your shackle codes.
It is helpful to bring the CBS and shackle codes along with access times that you would like programmed into the box. For your convenience, you can use the same CBS and shackle codes for all of your Supra lockboxes.

Frequently Asked Questions
Can my assistant purchase a new lockbox for me?
Yes, a third party may purchase a lockbox for you as long as a signed permission letter is accompanied.

Can I transfer my lockbox to another person?
Yes, just bring a completed and signed Lockbox Transfer Form (available on our website).

How long will it take to purchase a Lockbox?
On average, a simple Lockbox purchase should take no longer than 10 minutes.

For more information and FAQs, visit our lockbox and key FAQ page. 

Notify Lister vs Lister Permission Required

Lockbox and notify lister

Showing Instructions can be a delicate issue. Gaining access without proper permission could result in a violation and fine, not to mention unhappy agents. Flexmls has two different permission options agents can place on their listing- Notify Lister and Lister Permission Required. Let’s look at these two similar yet very different options.

Notify Lister field

Notify Lister
Notify Lister means a buyer’s agent must let the listing agent know they are going to show the property before they show it but they don’t have to wait for a response (unless dictated in remarks). Be sure to check the notes for additional criteria, for example, how the listing agent would like to be contacted.

Lister Permission Required
Lister Permission Required means permission must be requested and given by the lister before a buyer’s agent views/shows the property. A response back is required from the lister before showing.

If a showing agent fails to comply with the Showing Instructions, a violation can occur under section 13.4 of the Rules and Regulations. A Subscriber may use a Lockbox to retrieve the listing key to gain access to a property only with the consent of the listing agent.

Green Fields: How to Find Listings with Reduced Energy Costs

Solar panels

Do you know what feels good?

Saving money (in the long-run) and reducing your carbon footprint while increasing the resale value on your home. Energy efficient updates are highly sought after additions for future and current homeowners. Nationwide, these are some of the most requested updates.

Solar Panels
Solar panels are probably the most thought of eco-friendly feature someone can add to their home. According to the National Association of REALTORS, 11% of recent home buyers said it was important or somewhat important their new house obtained solar panels.

Not all solar panels are created equally. The two different types of solar panels operate in different ways, so make sure you and your client are aware of the differences.

Ceiling Fans
Ceiling fans often get overlooked when discussing energy efficient updates to a home. According to the United States Department of Energy, when using both an AC and a ceiling fan, you can raise the thermostat setting up four degrees with no reduction in comfort. This can result in a cost savings of between 15% and 40% on your electric bill during the hot summer months.

You can even use ceiling fans to help reduce your heating bill by 10% during the colder months. While heat rises from your furnace or fire place, using the reverse switch to push the heat down can help keep your rooms feeling warm and toasty.

Energy Star Products
If you’re looking for products made to help lower your cost of living and reduce your carbon footprint, then look no further than Energy Star products. Governed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), appliances that tout the Energy Star logo must meet a wide range of strict standards. While the typical upfront investment might be more than the average appliance, owners stand to gain a significant savings. In 2014 alone, American families and businesses saved $34 billion on utility bills and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equal to the annual electricity use of more than 63 million vehicles.

What are Arizonan Buyers Looking For?
The desert presents a particular set of challenges for energy efficient homeowners. According to saved Flexmls searches, these are the most selected fields in the Green Features category.

Solar panels (259 listings)
Ceiling fans (82 listings)
Multi-pane windows (80 listings)
Solar heaters (46 listings)
Energy Star Certified products (44 listings)

In this day and age, every cent counts. Environmentally friendly home products can help save money on yearly utility bills, while reducing the overall carbon footprint. It’s a win-win for both the buyer and Mother Nature.

STAT Market Update: August 2016

Desert landscape

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.

Over the past two months, we’ve shared our thoughts and prognostications on how the July and August 2016 housing numbers would come out and what others would say about them. Now with the actual numbers out, there is no one better than our good friend Michael Orr of the Cromford Report to explain what actually happened:

“Just as we predicted last month, August was a very robust month for sales, up almost 14% from August last year in stark contrast to the uninspiring numbers in July (down over 3% from July 2015). We have already seen countless headlines about weak sales in July and no doubt we will see as many stories about the very strong recovery in August once the numbers are widely distributed. However all these headlines serve to do is illustrate that reporters (and even some real estate analysts) have a hard time properly understanding the effect of the Gregorian calendar on monthly real estate numbers.

July 2015 had 22 working days
July 2016 had 20 working days (10% fewer)
August 2015 had 21 working days
August 2016 had 23 working days (10% more)

“All the variation in monthly sales counts in July & August are due to the above facts and had nothing to do with conditions in the real estate market which remained very similar throughout the period. It is amusing to see all the analysts trying to explain the July numbers with ‘low inventory’ and ‘poor affordability’ the favorite excuses. Nope. The correct reason was ‘there was a weekend at both ends of July’. It will be interesting to see what explanations are used for the August bounce, because inventory has moved lower still and affordability did not improve at all. If we combined July and August in both 2015 and 2016 we get 43 working days in both years and the numbers match properly again. Then we see that the two month sales count rose 4.6% over last year. We have been seeing a similar volume improvement in the ARMLS numbers all year. Nothing unusual has gone on in July or August. However, sales have increased much more than this among new homes, just as they have all year. New homes are poorly represented among ARMLS listings since about 90% of them sell outside of ARMLS. In public recordings however, we are seeing new home growth rates far in excess of the growth rates for re-sale homes.”

Confessions of an AVM Modeler

Automated Valuation Models (AVMs), whether we love them or hate them, are here to stay. Over the past few months we’ve been working on our own model through continual testing and improvement. We hit upon this topic in STAT last month but it’s big enough to drive an RV through and therefore worthy of another write-up.

By analyzing all past sales we are able to calculate an estimated value for nearly all 1.25 million homes in Maricopa County. Our model is tested by comparing new sales as they occur to our previously calculated estimated value with the thought being that the price for which the home sells is its true value. We then ran our test against the last 10,384 sales. The historical data used to calculate the AVM were from home sales occurring prior to the 10,384 sales used in the test – no listing data was used.

Our test results read as follows:

47.5% of estimated values were within 5%
75.2% within 10%
88.3% within 15%

The full test results are displayed on the chart below.

Public Records Only AVM Accuracy

Chart of test results

Going one step further, we can break down the percentage differences between the actual sales price and our AVM. When we test our model against MLS sales only, properties that were sold using a real estate agent via the MLS sell between 8.5% and 9.0% higher than properties not listed on the MLS.

When we view the public remarks sections of the listings in our sample, it gives us further insights into both the properties the AVM undervalued as well as overvalued.

For the properties overvalued by more than 20% we see phrases such as: “great fix & flip”, “property offered as is”, “fix up needed”, “handyman special”, and “no loans/cash only/as is.”

When we categorize the properties overvalued by the AVM the following groups reoccur: incorrect data, houses that burned down, houses that were torn down, partial interest, mobile homes, wholesale properties, hard money loans, investor buys, fixer uppers, REOs, properties in foreclosure, short sales and non-MLS sales.

For the properties undervalued by more than 20% we see these comments in the MLS: “painstakingly restored”, “completely reconstructed master suite added”, “master architect rebuild”, “beautifully remodeled”, “stunning high quality remodel” and “beautifully upgraded.”

When we categorize the properties undervalued by our AVM the following groups reoccur: sold on the MLS, partially renovated, added square footage, custom homes, complete remodels, new construction on previous tear downs, suspected fraud, extraordinary properties and incorrect data.

MLS Listing Data Model

The AVM discussed earlier was built without using listing data. If we factor the listing price into our model, our accuracy scores go up dramatically! Further proof that if you want to know what your home is worth, ask an ARMLS Subscriber

84.6% of estimated values were within 5%
94.2% within 10%
96.8% within 15%

The full test results are displayed on the chart below.

Chart of test results

On a final note, we have found that by using our AVM to audit the reported sales price we can identify data errors that we would have had no other way of identifying. Comparing our AVM to the actual sales price is now an intrinsic part of our data cleanup.

ARMLS Pending Price Index (PPI)

Last month STAT projected a median sales price for August of $225,000. As has been the trend this year, our mathematical projections were slightly lower than the actual results. The reported median sales price for August was $230,000, 2.2% higher than the $225,000 projected by our model. Looking ahead to September 2016, we expect little change in the median sales price. The ARMLS Pending Price Index projects a median sales price of $227,000. A betting man would wager on $230,000.

MLS sales volume in August 2016 was 7,843, which was 11.9% higher than the total last year of 7,010. STAT had expected August sales volume that resulted in strong year-over-year gains, as there were 23 business days this year compared to 21 business days in 2015. We begin September with 6,388 pending and 3,644 UCB listings giving us a total of 10,032 residential listings practically under contract – this compares to 9,596 of the same type of listings at this time last year. There were 21 business days in both years. MLS sales volume in October 2016 will be comparable to last year’s total of 6,935 where STAT is projecting 7,175 sales. We have now reached the point in the year where monthly sales volume begins its annual descent, with declines each month through November. Sales volume for the first eight months of 2016 might best be described as 2015 revisited with ARMLS reporting 60,564 sales this year compared to 58,958 sales last year.

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