Buying a home is a massive life step. It is a new beginning and brings worthwhile challenges. Buying a house requires investing time and money, making it critical to have someone in your corner to guide you through the process: a realtor.
Selecting a quality realtor is essential in finding the right home for your needs. You need someone who looks out for your best interests, not their own checkbook. Below are the ten crucial questions to ask your Orlando realtor, which will give you a good idea if they are the right fit.
1. What Are Your Real Estate Credentials?
Real estate designations and certifications are effective ways for real estate professionals to showcase their expertise, credentials, and knowledge in different areas.
Several real estate organizations issue these certifications and serve as the proof behind the credentials. Knowing this information will give you an idea of what an Orlando realtor will bring to the table.
Here are ten of the most common certifications for real estate professionals.
- Certified Residential Specialist – expertise in residential property sales
- Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist – expertise in residential luxury home space
- Resort and Second-Home Property Specialist – specialization in buying, selling, and overseeing vacation homes
- Certified Commercial Investment Member – expertise in commercial real estate
- Certified Property Manager – expertise in property management
- Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager – an exclusive designation that only 3% of realtors are eligible for
- Accredited Buyer’s Representative – expertise in representing home buyers
- Seller Representative Specialist – represents individuals who want to sell a property
- Accredited Land Consultant – advise and consult on land transactions
- Real Estate Negotiation Expert – earned after a two-day course where people enhance their negotiation skills
2. How Long Have You Been in the Real Estate Industry?
Education and certifications are an effective way to differentiate the best Orlando realtors. However, experience speaks volumes about someone’s expertise. Learning through experience will equip realtors with the tools to tackle future obstacles.
The longer a real estate agent works within the space, the more unique insights they will be able to provide. The real estate professional points out non-obvious things on a house tour, explains unclear contract components, and focuses on a specific property. They can also guide you through the transaction process when buying a new home.
New or inexperienced realtors are not bad. However, an experienced realtor will be a more reliable option for a client pursuing a situation or transaction that is more complicated. If the real estate agent is newer, perform due diligence on other areas of their offering: their network of contacts, local real estate market knowledge, and search and marketing plan.
3. What Types of Properties Do You Specialize In?
Real estate clients will want to partner with a realtor who specializes in the type of home they want to buy or sell. When an agent is more familiar with a property, they will guide you through the process much more smoothly.
As an expert in a specific property type, the realtor will understand the positives and red flags to look for in a potential listing. They will understand the competitive landscape, contract process, and other future decisions a home buyer may make with the type of property.
The two types of properties they might specialize in are commercial and residential. Residential real estate realtors work with residential properties, while a commercial real estate agent is certified to work with both residential and commercial properties.
Commercial real estate agents deal with more massive properties, such as shopping centers, apartment buildings, and other places of commerce. Commercial real estate agents usually have a background in finance or business to deal with these complex transactions.
4. How Well Do You Know the Orlando Area?
This might be one of the most important questions to ask your Orlando realtor, especially for people unfamiliar with the Orlando area. The home you buy should satisfy your personal goals, but it should also be located in a high-value or high-potential area of town. Your home is an investment, making it critical to find a location where its value will appreciate.
The real estate agent’s role is to work with you in finding your home in the right area. A quality real estate agent will educate you on the great, good, and bad areas of town to live. When you ask the realtor this question, they should have some areas picked out and why they are valuable. A few things that increase the value of an area:
- Future or current schools
- Future or current parks
- Future or current hospitals
- Future or current public transportation
- Future or current civic infrastructure
- Commercial or residential development
From the jump, the real estate agent will outline a road map based on your home buying or selling goals. If you are buying, the agent will collaborate with you on parameters for an ideal location. Based on the bullet points outlined above, they will identify the best areas of town and clue you in on why certain areas are better.
5. What Is Your Average Listing-Price-to-Sell Ratio?
First, we must define the listing-price-to-sell ratio. Divide the home’s sales price by the latest list price. If the figure is more than 100%, the home was sold for a value higher than the list price. However, if it’s less than 100%, the home was sold for lower than the list price.
For example, a home listed for $400,000 sells for $410,000; therefore, the list-to-sell ratio is 102.5%.
So, why is the list-to-sell ratio important when evaluating an Orlando realtor? First, a higher list-to-sell ratio means the realtor utilizes accurate sales data to price the home accurately for the supply and demand of a neighborhood or market.
Sellers want to achieve 100% or more of the amount they list their home for, so an agent with a >100% ratio will be someone favorable to work with.
The final sales price will likely differ from what the home was previously listed for. So, the deviation from the 100% ratio also explains how negotiations concluded. Regardless of what happens, this ratio will depend on current market conditions. However, it could also indicate the realtor’s capabilities at negotiating a lower price for buyers or a higher price for sellers.
6. What Is Your Search/Marketing Plan?
As a buyer, you want a realtor on your side who finds the best properties for your needs. A realtor should not only find quality properties, but find them before the rest of the market. To accomplish this, the realtor needs a versatile set of strategies to locate hidden listings. Ask your realtor about some of the strategies used. A few creative tactics include:
- Leveraging a network of top-producing agents
- Constantly prospecting expired listings
- Conducting a search of abandoned properties
- Expanding inventory by partnering with homebuilders
- Signing up for alerts on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)
- Signing up for alerts on mobile applications such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Redfin, and more
As a seller, you want to collaborate with a realtor who knows how to market your property effectively. If the market is hot, or a seller’s market, you may not need to worry much about marketing. However, it is good to have a solid, proven method to tell the world about your listing and get it sold quicker. Ask your agent how they market properties for clients. A few strategies include:
- Leveraging a website
- Having a solid email marketing campaign
- Strategic signage on the road or neighborhood to promote an open house
- Partnering with local businesses
- Launching social media paid promotions
- Utilizing drone technology or video to create a “virtual” listing
7. How Much Commission Do You Charge?
This question is essential to ask up front. Your agent will need to get paid for the services rendered. So it’s critical to understand the fees that come on top of the commissions.
The realtor’s commission is a percentage of the sales price that gets applied in the final calculations. If the buyer and seller have different agents, they will most likely earn the same percentage in commissions. However, if the buyer and seller have the same agent, you could always negotiate a lower rate.
When you ask the realtor about additional fees, here are some areas where you might pay extra for the overall process:
- Home inspection
- Closing costs
8. How Long Do You Estimate It Will Take to Find/Sell a Property?
When you ask the realtor this question, be careful about “too good to be true” promises. They should be straightforward and honest about current market conditions.
The realtor should provide a realistic snapshot of how quickly houses are getting sold and the competitiveness of today’s landscape. Realtors work with people daily, so they should draw off what they have experienced in the past.
9. What’s the Best Way to Contact You?
Establishing a reliable communication channel with your realtor is critical. Ideally, you want to find a house as soon as possible, making it essential for you and the realtor to message each other when a new listing pops up online. Knowing how to contact your realtor will allow you to schedule a showing and put an offer in as soon as possible.
When you meet with a realtor for the first time, ask them how they stay in touch with their clients through the process. Texting is the most effective method, but the realtor should tailor it to your communication style.
10. What Sets You Apart from Other Orlando Realtors?
An open-ended question like this will allow you to get to know the realtor. It will also give you an accurate gauge to see if the realtor is the best fit for your needs. Some short examples to watch for:
- Available and accessible
Summary of Questions to Ask Your Orlando Realtor
Partnering with a realtor is an important decision. The questions to ask your Orlando realtor above will ensure you did your due diligence throughout the process.
- Always ask about credentials and experience; these will give you a good indication of their expertise.
- Ask what types of properties they sell and how well they know the Orlando area, to ensure they will be able to find a property that meets your specific needs.
- Asking about their average listing-price-to-sell ratio and commission fees will help you keep track of your finances.
- Ask them about their search/marketing plan and how long it will take so you can have an approximate timeline.
- Ask about the best way to contact them, so you’re always up to date.
- Ask what sets them apart from other Orlando realtors to get to know your realtor better.
If you’re looking for a realtor in the Orlando area, get started today!