What Should You Look For In A Real Estate Agent?

Selling or buying a home can be challenging and will also be one of the biggest financial decisions of your lifetime. Finding the right real estate agent that has the experience for what you need is crucial.

Having a good real estate agent in your corner will is important whether you’re buying or selling. In the state of Florida alone there are almost 300,000 active real estate agents.

Everywhere you look there are advertisements for real estate agents; billboards, bus stop benches, radio ads, etc… So how do you choose the best one for you? Follow these steps on hiring the perfect real estate agent for your needs.

Tips On Finding A Real Estate Agent

Speak To A Lender Before Hiring An Agent

One of the biggest mistakes a potential home buyer makes is to start looking for homes without knowing how much they can afford to pay for a home. There’s nothing more disheartening to fall in love with a home only to find out that you can’t afford it.

By getting pre-approved for a mortgage, you’ll know exactly how much home you can afford as well as address any issues with your credit if needed well ahead of time. Having your pre-approval letter ready will also show potential buyers’ agents and sellers that you are serious about buying. When you’re in a competitive market, sellers may not even consider an offer without a pre-approval letter from a lender.

Get Recommendations

A good way to start on your agent search is by asking friends and family members if they can recommend a real estate agent they’ve had a good experience with. You should hire an agent that specializes in whatever your real estate goals are. For example; If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you should hire an agent that specializes in first-time homebuyers as opposed to an agent that works with investment properties or short sales.

It’s also a good idea to hire an agent who is a Realtor. This means they are a member of the National Association of Realtors aka [NAR] and are held to a higher standard as specified in the organization’s code of ethics. Many Realtors hold special certifications to demonstrate they’ve completed training in specific areas of real estate. These are some of the designations:

CDPE [Certified Distressed Property Expert]: Completed specialized training in short sales and foreclosure prevention. CRS [Certified Residential Specialist]: Completed special training in working with buyers of residential real estate. ABR [Accredited Buyer’s Representative]: Trained in representing buyers in transactions.
SRES [Seniors Real Estate Specialist]: trained in helping buyers and sellers aged 50 and over.

Research Potential Agents

Always begin with online research. Start by checking their website and any social media accounts they may have. You should be able to find reviews, current listing information and get an overall feel for the person through their online presence. If they have no online presence then move on to the next candidate.

Interview 3 Real Estate Agents… at Least

Remember, you’re going to be communicating with this person for the next several weeks or even months until you’ve accomplished your real estate goals. An “in-person” interview will be a chance for you to get a feel for the agent’s experience and style. You want to work with an agent who understands what you’re looking to accomplish and be very familiar with the area you’re buying or selling in.

This is also a chance for you to see firsthand how professional they are. The more effort they put into a presentation for you is a good indication of the effort they’ll put in when they’re working for you. Interviews are also a great way for you to establish a preferred way of communication moving forward whether it be texting email or phone calls.

Ask For References

When you’re interviewing potential real estate agents, request to see their references. Ask the agent to

provide the information on any homes they’ve recently sold [in the past year]. You should also ask them to provide the contact information from any of their recent clients. Be sure to call those clients and find out what their overall experience was with the agent…Ask them if they would work with the agent again.

Trust Your Gut

Once you’ve followed the tips on finding the best agent, you still might have to choose between 2 or 3 of them. At this point, you should go with your gut. Remember, you’ll be in constant communication with this person so you should feel comfortable around them and be able to tell them everything.

It’s kind of like dating… sometimes it comes down to the chemistry… or lack of chemistry. If you have an agent and everything checks out, but you’re still not feeling the vibe, don’t hire them. Keep looking until you find the right fit for you, it will be worth the extra effort.

Read The Contract Carefully

Your contract should spell out all the terms to which you have agreed… including the commission. Typically, the seller pays all of the commission which is usually about 5-6% to be split between the listing agent and buyer’s agent. You should also pay close attention to the length of the contract. If your home hasn’t sold in 6 months or you haven’t found a house to buy in that time, then you’ll probably want to find a new real estate agent.

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Orlando Home Buyers Guide 2015

First-time Orlando home buyers are always bursting with questions about the home buying process, and they should be. Buying a home is one of the most if not the most important decisions of your life, especially if it’s your first time. For most people, the process can be overwhelming and even discouraging at times.


In a perfect world, your first home buying experience should be stress-free and enjoyable but chances are there will be a few bumps on the road to the closing table. However, with the right Orlando realtor in your corner, you can rest assured that any problems or issues that may arise will be handled diligently and professionally. 


Over the years, I’ve helped hundreds of first-time Orlando homebuyers through the process so I decided to put together a list of questions and suggestions designed to people prepare to buy that first home.

6 Steps To The Closing Table

  1. Pre-Qualify for a loan
  2. Find a house
  3. Submit an offer
  4. Secure your financing
  5. Appraisal & Inspections
  6. Close the deal


How Much Can You Afford?

The answer to this question is different for everyone. Lending institutions resolve how much you can afford by looking at your monthly gross income, existing debts, and your monthly mortgage payment by using 2 ratios. The first one is the front-end ratio which compares how much your monthly mortgage payment will deduct from your monthly income. The back-end ratio compares how much your entire debt payment will deduct from your monthly income.


The ratios differ a bit from lender to lender but a high credit rating may help you to get a larger loan than would be normally allowed. I would advise any potential home buyers to consult with several lenders to see which one has the best rates and fees.


How Much $ Will You Have To Bring To The Closing?

The dollar amount that you will have to come up with to buy the house depends largely on the type of loan and the purchase price of the home. The first fee that you will be hit with is an earnest money deposit when your offer gets accepted. Inspections are also the responsibility of the buyer which can cost between $200-$800 depending on the size of the home and what kind of an inspection it is.


The down payment on your loan will be by far the biggest out-of-pocket expense. This is the percentage amount of the purchase price that you have to pay in order to receive the loan. There are several loan options available depending on which one you qualify. Buyers are typically required to pay for part of the closing costs on the transaction. These are fees associated with the processing of all the paperwork, notary fees, and other odds and ends provided by the title company. It’s common practice for the mortgage broker to provide you with an example of what the closing costs will be based on the size of the loan they qualified for.


 I always suggest that when homebuyers sit down with a mortgage specialist that they ask to be shown an example of what their closing costs would look like, based on what they qualify for.


  Make Your Wishlist

Put on paper what the perfect home will look like for you. Things like location, square footage, number of bedrooms, and bathrooms should be at the top of the list. Don’t let everything on the list be a deal-breaker. You don’t want to let your dream house slip away from you because the downstairs bathroom is a bit small when the rest of the house was wonderful. Remember that anything can be renovated to meet your taste eventually.


 What Will My Orlando Real Estate Agent Do For Me?

Your Orlando realtor is there to assist you during the home buying process from A to Z. Their job is to scour the MLS until they find you a list of homes that meet your needs based on your wishlist. Depending on the inventory that’s available, they will show you any homes that meet the criteria. When they do find a home that you love, it’s their job to negotiate the price on your behalf to make sure that you get the best deal possible. They will also prepare the purchase contract to make sure that it’s in your best interest. It’s your realtor’s responsibility to work directly with the title company, mortgage company, listing agent, inspectors, etc. to make sure that all the pieces of the puzzle fit together perfectly. They should keep you in the loop every step of the way while answering any questions you may have.

What Won’t My Agent Do For Me?

A real estate agent is not qualified to provide you with legal advice and should refer you to a real estate attorney if the situation requires it. A realtor won’t provide you with financial advice either like how much you should spend on a home. Realtors are there to provide advice, give you facts about the market and provide you with all the information you need for you to make an educated decision.


At the end of the day, you the home buyer will be the one paying the mortgage, not your realtor, so the final decision has to rest with you. If your agent is doing anything to make you feel uncomfortable or pressured to make a decision, then either set them straight or hire another realtor.


Closing Costs, What’s That?

Closing costs are fees that are associated with the closing of the transaction not including your down payment. These costs include title ins policies, recording costs, appraisal, courier fees, lender fees, etc. Typically closing costs will run anywhere from two to three percent of the home’s purchase price. Closing costs are usually paid for by the seller and the buyer depending on what was agreed upon.


Inspections And Appraisals

A buyer should always have a home inspection done as soon as the contract has been accepted. The home inspector should address all the structural components of the home as well as things like the electrical, plumbing, A/C, roof, insulation, and appliances. This will give you peace of mind of knowing if everything’s in good shape or not.

Appraisals are a much more in-depth version of an inspection and it’s used to determine the value of a home. Many times, the value and the sale price don’t match up. The appraisal also ensures that the home meets FHA standards and is fully functional. This is beneficial for the buyer and also helps to protect the bank’s money.

What About Down Payment Assistance?

There are several down payment assistance programs available in Florida, one of the most common in Orlando is through Orange County.  The amount of assistance available is from $7,500 to $10,000 and applicants have to complete a homebuyer’s education program, as well as secure a first mortgage and the property must be located in Orange County.

As an Orlando real estate agent, I have helped countless first-time home buyers reach their goal of homeownership. If you need help finding your Orlando dream home contact me, Jenny Zamora at https://orlandorealtyconsultants.com/contact/



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Downtown Orlando to Get New Apartment Complex

Work is scheduled to start during the third week of June on a nine-story apartment building complex in uptown Orlando. The area close to Lake Eola has been subjected to minimal development after the crash in Orlando real estate about seven years ago.

Development by Jefferson Apartment Group

Two acres of land were purchased at South Osceola Avenue and East Church Street by Jefferson Apartment Group during the first week of June this year. The seller was an investor based in Ohio. According to the Jefferson Apartment Group spokesperson, work on the complex is expected to begin immediately with the placeholder name 420 Church. The complex is expected to have 299 units.

The southern flank of Lake Eola saw a number of apartment and condominium buildings come up before the real estate market took a turn for the worse in 2007. Since then, the area has seen three complexes being constructed.

The 420 Church construction plan includes about 9,000 square feet, destined for retail at the ground level. About one-third of the total area is to be transformed into an art gallery on a lease basis. It will also include10 studios at the ground level which can be used by the artists.

According to Mike Mulhalli, Regional Partner, Jefferson Apartment Group, the company strives to create an arts district near Eola. The property, in addition to the proposed art gallery, will consist of three secured parking levels with the fifth-floor housing a pool deck.

Built for renters

According to Mulhali, notwithstanding the fact that the urban core of Orlando is predominantly rentals, the uptown area of the city continues to attract renters who have the ability to pay in the region of $1,200 per month for kinds of apartments that have more than adequate amenities. The concept envisioned by Jefferson Apartment Group changed after it started planning for the project about five years ago.

Mulhali said that the Orlando Realtor is also developing a different site located to the south of the city. He confirmed that the company has a contract nearer to South Street. He was reluctant to give out more details. According to Susan Morris of Colliers International, a real estate firm, Jefferson is one of many apartment complexes in the final planning phases for uptown Orlando.

Another uptown project in the process of taking shape is The Sevens. It is scheduled to be set up on a property located at North Orange Avenue.


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Short Sales Run Parallel to Foreclosure

There is a common myth in the world of short sales that once you begin the short sale process, it stops the foreclosure process. I’ve been doing short sales in Orlando since 2005 and I can tell you from experience that it’s just not true. Don’t get me wrong… in some situations, it can happen and often does happen, where the lender suspends foreclosure proceedings if a house is in the short sale process and they want to see how it plays out. However, some people have the impression that starting a short sale with their lender will automatically stop the foreclosure process and the truth is that nothing can be further from the truth. The fact of the matter is that the foreclosure process and the short sale process run parallel to each other and sometimes it just comes down to a race to see which situation arrives first.

Although we have an outstanding track record when it comes to getting short sales done, even with a pending auction date, I will still tell my clients that nothing is guaranteed. And anyone who tells you differently is either lying or they’re just ignorant on the subject. The problem occurs when a real estate agent tells someone that they guarantee to complete their short sale just to get them locked in as a client and the property ends up getting sold at the auction anyway.

When I hear about this happening to someone, it makes me absolutely furious because a short sale is only one of many options to avoiding foreclosure. Not only that but sometimes it’s not even the best option for someone, especially if the seller wants to try and keep the house. It’s true that realtors get paid a commission when they complete a short sale but this is no reason to try and steer somebody into this situation when they know that another option may suit them better.

Here are some alternatives to short sales.

1- Loan Modification- This is when we try to get the terms of your loan adjusted thus making it more affordable to the homeowner.


2- Deed-in-Lieu- A deed-in-lieu occurs when you sign the house back over to the lender as opposed to going through the foreclosure process.


3- Bankruptcy Chapters 7 or 13– This will offer the homeowner the opportunity to either buy some time and try to get reorganized or eliminate their debt as well as their assets in order to satisfy their outstanding debts once and for all. Bankruptcy situations should be discussed with a bankruptcy attorney.

I learned 9 years ago when I first started in the real estate business, that to be a successful real estate agent you should always, always do what’s best for the client that you’re representing and not what’s best for your bank account. This mindset has always served me well and I truly believe that I am more successful because of it.




Orlando short sale expert

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