We have spoken time and again about how choosing a Florida Realtor to represent you is possibly the most important decision you will make as you begin your search for a Florida home. Real Estate transactions – whether you are buying or selling – are major financial and life-changing events.
Just as you would want to choose the best surgeon if you had a major health issue, or the most successful and respected lawyer if you needed representation in a case, you should be very selective in who you hire as your Realtor. Our checklist below, comes from our combined 40 years’ experience helping buyers purchase Florida homes, and can help you make the best decision.
Unlike many other countries in the world, in the U.S. buyers choose an agent to work exclusively for them. Their knowledge of the micro markets, rental incomes, and market costs within your chosen area are critical to your decision making process. Additionally, their advice on how to proceed in every stage of the process, skills in negotiating to your advantage, and responsibility to steward the entire process until the deal closes, are all factors in optimizing a positive buying experience here in Florida.
We always recommend you choose licensed Realtors in Florida. By Florida law anyone who practices real estate must be licensed, but in addition those who have chosen to earn the recognition of Realtor have undertaken extra training, are held to formal ethics standards, and have access to the MLS or Multiple Listing Service. These professionals have the up-to-date knowledge required for them to get their license from the Florida Association of Realtors and its parent organization the National Association of Realtors, allowing them to use the official title “Realtor.”
Benefits of Using Licensed Realtors in Florida
We strongly believe it is to the client’s benefit to enter into a buyer’s agent agreement with a seasoned Realtor, as this individual then becomes an integral partner. By virtue of knowing the market, the geography, and the inventory intimately, a seasoned Realtor will effectively listen to your criteria and quickly come up with the best matches for you.
This skill is honed by years of experience, providing a much more efficient (and fun!) purchase experience for buyers. A quality Realtor will keep this process as transparent as possible, and keep you informed, updated and connected, as well as pulling in their professional network and leveraging relationships to help you find the other professionals you will need.
Finding the Perfect Realtor
The first step to finding the perfect Realtor is research, research, research. Do your due diligence online, read reviews and testimonials on sites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com. Get in contact with potential Realtors by email and phone to get a sense of their ethics, personality, efficiency and professionalism.
Once you have your short list, here are our recommendations for questions to ask to make sure the Realtor you choose will meet all your Florida home buying needs.
Find the Perfect Realtor
We understand the uniqueness of international buyers’ needs and have created a system to personally match you with a local realtor that speaks your language, understands your needs, and can hand pick properties to fit your goals.
Questions to Ask When Choosing A Realtor
- How long has the agent lived and worked in the area?
- Is real estate the agent’s full-time profession?
- What types of awards, recognition or designations has the agent earned for their work?
- Does the agent have good references/recommendations? These are a really good indication of the agent’s caliber
- Does he or she have CIPS certification? When buying from abroad we always recommend choosing a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS).
- Is he or she Transnational Referral Certified?
- Does he or she have significant experience in international transactions?
- Does he or she speak your own language? This is obviously a massive help if your English isn’t top notch
- Does the agent have a good biography? It’s surprising to us how many agents don’t have a biography on their site. You want to know their depth of knowledge and experience right up front, and if it’s not there, we’d want to know why. Good agents should have very specific biographies meeting the very specific needs of their clients
- Is the agent’s own website tailored to the international market and buyer? There should at least be some information about the agent’s international experience
- Is the agent well-traveled? Not critical, but in our opinion the most travel-educated Realtors are also the Realtors with the most understanding of other cultures, and most ability to finesse cross-cultural deals
- Does the agent have a team in place? You want the agent to have a good network of experts and
professionals on hand, so you are accessing the expertise of the entire team when you hire the agent
- Does he or she own property him or herself?
The answers to these questions should give you a really thorough idea of the caliber of Realtor you’re talking to, and if their experience matches your specific needs. The quality of the relationship you have with your Realtor will define the quality of your buying experience, so trust your gut, and take the time necessary to ensure you make the right choice.