Why Choose a Realtor®?
When you're thinking about buying or selling your property, you need to ask yourself the following questions: Do you have the time, energy, sources of information, and contacts to do the job yourself? If you are one of the 'do-it-yourself' people, would the results be as good or better than they would be if you had professional assistance? Would it go smoother? Would it give you more personal time? Would you purchase for less, or sell for more, if a Realtor were involved? Read the following information and learn how a real estate agent can help you understand everything you need to know about a real estate transaction.

How Do Real Estate Agents Get Paid?
Real estate agents or brokers are generally paid through the sales commission paid by the seller when a transaction closes. Agents have expenses and financial obligations just like you, so it will be to your mutual benefit if you choose a Realtor and stick with that person. The agent will respect your loyalty and respond with a sincere commitment to you.

Why A Realtor®?
All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are properly called Realtors®. They proudly display the Realtor® logo on business cards or other marketing and sales literature.

Realtors® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. Realtors® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. An independent survey reports that 84% of home buyers would use the same Realtor® again.

You Be the Judge!
Real estate transactions involve one of the biggest financial investments most people experience in their lifetime. Transactions today usually exceed $100,000. If you had a $100,000 income tax problem, would you attempt to deal with it without the help of a CPA? If you had a $100,000 legal question, would you deal with it without the help of an attorney? Considering the small upside cost and the large downside risk, it would be foolish to consider a deal in real estate without the professional assistance of a REALTOR®!

The process of buying a home or investment generally starts with determining your buying power; that is, your financial reserves, plus your borrowing capacity. If you give a real estate agent some basic information about your available savings, income and current debt, they can refer you to lenders best qualified to help you. Most lenders -- banks and mortgage companies -- offer limited choices.

Once you know how much you can and want to invest, the next step is to find the properties that most nearly fit your needs. This is the time to choose a real estate licensee. When picking a real estate agent look for one who is also a Realtor®. A Realtor® is a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, and all members agree to abide by a 17-article Code of Ethics. A Realtor® has many resources to assist you in that search. Sometimes the property you are seeking is available but not actively advertised in the market, and it will take some investigation by your agent to find all available properties.

Your job is to make the final selection of the right property for you. This is when excitement and emotion run high. Your real estate agent can assist you in the selection process by providing objective information about each property. Agents who are Realtors® have access to a variety of informational resources. Realtors® can provide local community information on utilities, zoning. schools, etc. There are two things you'll want to know. First, will the property provide the environment you want for a home or investment? Second, will the property have resale value when you are ready to sell?

There are a myriad of negotiating factors including, but not limited to price, financing, terms, date of possession, and often the inclusion or exclusion of repairs and furnishings or equipment. The purchase agreement should also provide a period of time for you to complete appropriate inspections and investigations of the property before you are bound to complete the purchase.

Your agent can advise you as to which investigations and inspections are recommended or required.

Due Diligence
With a negotiated agreement in hand, it is time to complete the evaluation of the property.

Depending on the area and property, this could include inspections for termites, dry rot, asbestos, faulty structure, roof condition, septic tank and well tests, just to name a few. Your agent can assist you in finding qualified, responsible professionals to do most of these investigations and provide you with written reports. You will also want to see a preliminary report on the title of the property. Title indicates ownership of property and can be mired in confusing status of past owners or rights of access. The title to most properties will have some limitations; for example, easements (access rights) for utilities. Your agent, title company, or attorney can help you resolve issues that might cause problems at a later date.

As soon as you are reasonably sure the property is right for you, the process of obtaining financing begins. Your agent can help you in understanding different financing options and in identifying qualified lenders.

Closing or Settlement
Finally, there is the closing, or settlement, as it is known in different parts of the country. Every area has its own unique customs. In some areas, the title or escrow company will handle this process. In other parts of the country, an attorney does it all. Again, your real estate agent can guide you through this process and make sure everything flows together smoothly.

This process generally begins with a determination of a reasonable asking price. Your Realtor can give you up-to-date information on what is happening in the marketplace and the price, financing, terms, and condition of competing properties. These are key factors in getting your property sold at the best price quickly and with minimum hassle.

The next step is a marketing plan. Often, your agent can recommend repairs or cosmetic work that will significantly enhance the salability of the property. Marketing includes the exposure of your property to other real estate agents and the public. In many markets across the country, over 50% of real estate sales are cooperative sales; that is, a real estate agent other than yours brings in the buyer. Your agent acts as the marketing coordinator, disbursing information about your property to other real estate agents through a Multiple Listing Service or other cooperative marketing networks, open houses for agents, etc. The Realtor® Code of Ethics requires Realtors® to utilize these cooperative relationships when they benefit their clients.

Advertising is part of marketing. The choice of media and frequency of advertising depends a lot on the property and specific market. For example, in some areas, newspaper advertising generates phone calls to the real estate office but statistically has minimum effectiveness in selling a specific property. Overexposure of a property in any media may give a buyer the impression the property is distressed or the seller is desperate. Your real estate agent will know when, where, and how to advertise your property.

There is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends and family, and personal contacts.

When the property is marketed with the Realtor's help, you do not have to allow strangers into your home. Agents will generally pre-screen and accompany qualified prospects through your property.

The negotiation process deals with much the same issues for both buyers and sellers as noted above under the buying process. Your agent can help you objectively evaluate every buyer's proposal without compromising your marketing position. This initial agreement is only the beginning of a process of appraisals, inspections, and financing -- a lot of possible pitfalls. Your agent can help you write a legally binding, win-win agreement that will be more likely to make it through the process.

Monitoring, Renegotiating and Closing
Between the initial sales agreement and closing questions may arise. For example, unexpected repairs are required to obtain financing or a cloud in the title is discovered.

The required paperwork alone is overwhelming for most sellers. Your agent is the best person to objectively help you resolve these issues and move the transaction to closing.

Meet John and Angela

Why Was This List Prepared?
Surveys show that many homeowners and homebuyers are not aware of the true value they receive in the services a REALTOR® provides during the course of a real estate transaction.

At the same time, regrettably, REALTORS® have generally assumed that the expertise, professional knowledge and just plain hard work that go into bringing about a successful transaction were understood and appreciated.

Many of the most important services and steps are performed “behind the scenes” by either the REALTOR® or the brokerage staff and have been traditionally viewed simply as part of their professional responsibilities to their client. But, without them, the transaction could be placed in jeopardy.

This publication seeks to close that gap.

Listed on the following pages are nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, processes and review stages necessary for a successful residential real estate transaction and normally provided by a full service real estate brokerage and for which they are entitled to fair compensation.

Completeness of the List
The list is by no means an attempt to set forth a complete list of services as these may vary within each brokerage and each market. Many REALTORS® routinely provide a wide variety of additional services that are as varied as the nature of each transaction.

By the same token, some transactions may not require some of the steps to be successful. However, most would agree that given the unexpected complications that can arise, it’s far better to know about a step and make an intelligent, informed decision that it is not needed, than to not know the possibility even existed.

The REALTOR® Commitment
Through it all, the REALTOR®’S personal and professional commitment is to ensure that a seller and buyer are brought together in an agreement that provides each of them a “win” that is fair and equitable.

Their motivation is easy to understand. For most full-service brokerages, there is no compensation unless and until the sale closes.

By contrast, there are firms that offer “limited-services” in exchange for either an upfront flat fee or perhaps offer a menu of pay-as-you-go or “a la’ carte” services. Some even offer a sliding scale from limited to full service. In these cases, the REALTOR®’S compensation is based on the level of service they provide. In short, it’s the age-old market adage that “you get what you pay for.”

A Variety of Choices
It can truly be said the variety of brokerage business models in today’s real estate industry affords the homeowner a greater range of options than ever before.

But no matter which option homeowners choose, before signing a Listing Agreement or otherwise engaging the services of a REALTOR® and agreeing to compensate them, they should understand exactly what specific services will, or will not, be provided.

First, not every real estate agent or broker is a REALTOR®. That term and the familiar Block “R” logo are trademarked by the National Association of REALTORS® and can only be used by those who are REALTOR® members through their local association of REALTORS®.

While all REALTORS® are state-issued licenses as agents or brokers, the major difference between a “real estate licensee” and a REALTOR® is that REALTORS® have taken an oath to subscribe to a stringent, enforceable Code of Ethics with Standards of Practice that promote the fair, ethical and honest treatment of all parties in a transaction. Non-member licensees have taken no such oath and are not morally bound to the ethical practices and principles set for in the REALTOR® Code.

Listed here are the nearly 200 typical actions, research steps, procedures, processes and review stages in a successful residential real estate transaction that are normally provided by full service real estate brokerages in return for their sales commission. Depending on the transaction, some may take minutes, hours, or even days to complete, while some may not be needed.

More importantly, they reflect the level of skill, knowledge and attention to detail required in today’s real estate transaction, underscoring the importance of having help and guidance from someone who fully understands the process – a REALTOR®.

And never forget that REALTORS® are pledged to uphold the stringent, enforceable tenets of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics in their professional dealings with the public. Not every real estate licensee holds REALTOR® membership. Make sure yours does!

Pre-Listing Activities

  1. Make appointment with seller for listing presentation
  2. Send seller a written or e-mail confirmation of listing appointment and call to confirm
  3. Review pre-appointment questions
  4. Research all comparable currently listed properties
  5. Research sales activity for past 18 months from MLS and public records databases
  6. Research "Average Days on Market" for this property of this type, price range and location
  7. Download and review property tax roll information
  8. Prepare "Comparable Market Analysis" (CMA) to establish fair market value
  9. Obtain copy of subdivision plat/complex lay-out
  10. Research property's ownership & deed type
  11. Research property's public record information for lot size & dimensions
  12. Research and verify legal description
  13. Research property's land use coding and deed restrictions
  14. Research property's current use and zoning
  15. Verify legal names of owner(s) in county's public property records
  16. Prepare listing presentation package with above materials and HomeTrack™ information
  17. Perform exterior "Curb Appeal Assessment" of subject property
  18. Compile and assemble formal file on property
  19. Confirm current public schools and explain impact of schools on market value
  20. Review listing appointment checklist to ensure all steps and actions have been completed

    Listing Appointment Presentation

  21. Give seller an overview of current market conditions and projections
  22. Review agent's and company's credentials and accomplishments in the market
  23. Present company's profile and position or "niche" in the marketplace
  24. Present CMA Results To Seller, including Comparables, Solds, Current Listings & Expireds
  25. Offer pricing strategy based on professional judgment and interpretation of current market conditions
  26. Discuss Goals With Seller To Market Effectively
  27. Explain market power and benefits of Multiple Listing Service
  28. Explain market power of HomeTrack™, IDX and REALTOR.com
  29. Explain the work the brokerage and agent do "behind the scenes" and agent's availability on weekends
  30. Explain agent's role in taking all calls to screen for qualified buyers and protect seller from curiosity seekers
  31. Present and discuss strategic master marketing plan
  32. Explain different agency relationships and determine seller's preference
  33. Review and explain all clauses in Listing Contract & Addendum and obtain seller's signature

    Once Property is Under Listing Agreement

  34. Review current title information
  35. Measure overall and heated square footage
  36. Measure interior room sizes
  37. Confirm lot size via owner's copy of certified survey, if available
  38. Note any and all unrecorded property lines, agreements, easements
  39. Obtain house plans, if applicable and available
  40. Review house plans and make copy
  41. Order plat map for retention in property's listing file
  42. Prepare showing instructions for buyers' agents and agree on showing time window with seller
  43. Obtain current mortgage loan(s) information: companies and & loan account numbers
  44. Verify current loan information with lender(s)
  45. Check assumability of loan(s) and any special requirements
  46. Discuss possible buyer financing alternatives and options with seller
  47. Review current appraisal, if available
  48. Identify Home Owner Association manager, if applicable
  49. Verify Home Owner Association Fees with manager - mandatory or optional and current annual fee
  50. Order copy of Homeowner Association bylaws, if applicable
  51. Research electricity availability and supplier's name and phone number
  52. Calculate average utility usage from last 12 months of bills
  53. Research and verify city sewer/septic tank system
  54. Water System: Calculate average water fees or rates from last 12 months of bills
  55. Well Water: Confirm well status, depth and output from Well Report
  56. Natural Gas: Research/verify availability and supplier's name and phone number
  57. Verify security system, current term of service and whether owned or leased
  58. Verify if seller has transferable Termite Bond
  59. Ascertain need for lead-based paint disclosure
  60. Prepare detailed list of property amenities and assess market impact
  61. Prepare detailed list of property's "Inclusions & Conveyances with Sale"
  62. Compile list of completed repairs and maintenance items
  63. Send "Vacancy Checklist" to seller if property is vacant
  64. Explain benefits of Home Owner Warranty to seller
  65. Assist sellers with completion and submission of Home Owner Warranty Application
  66. When received, place Home Owner Warranty in property file for conveyance at time of sale
  67. Have extra key made for lockbox
  68. Verify if property has rental units involved. And if so:
  69. * Make copies of all leases for retention in listing file
  70. * Verify all rents & deposits
  71. * Inform tenants of listing and discuss how showings will be handled
  72. Arrange for installation of yard sign
  73. Assist seller with completion of Seller's Disclosure form
  74. "New Listing Checklist" Completed
  75. Review results of Curb Appeal Assessment with seller and provide suggestions to improve salability
  76. Review results of Interior Décor Assessment and suggest changes to shorten time on market
  77. Assign HomeTrack™ login and password for sellers to check progress

    Entering Property in Multiple Listing Service Database

  78. Prepare MLS Property Profile Sheet -- Agent is responsible for "quality control" and accuracy of listing data
  79. Enter property data from Profile Sheet into MLS Listing Database
  80. Proofread MLS database listing for accuracy - including proper placement in mapping function
  81. Add property to company's Active Listings list
  82. Provide seller with signed copies of Listing Agreement and MLS Profile Sheet Data Entry Form within 48 hours
  83. Take additional photos for upload into MLS and use in flyers. Discuss efficacy of panoramic photography

    Marketing The Listing

  84. Create print and Internet ads with seller's input
  85. Coordinate showings with owners, tenants, and other Realtors®. Return all calls - weekends included
  86. Install electronic lock box if authorized by owner and program with agreed-upon showing time windows
  87. Prepare mailing and contact list
  88. Generate mail-merge letters to contact list
  89. Order “Just Listed” labels & reports
  90. Prepare flyers & feedback faxes
  91. Review comparable MLS listings regularly to ensure property remains competitive in price, terms, conditions  and availability
  92. Prepare property marketing brochure for seller's review
  93. Arrange for printing or copying of supply of marketing brochures or fliers
  94. Place marketing brochures in all company agent mail boxes
  95. Upload listing to company and agent Internet site, if applicable
  96. Mail Out "Just Listed" notice to all neighborhood residents
  97. Advise Network Referral Program of listing
  98. Provide marketing data to buyers coming through international relocation networks
  99. Provide marketing data to buyers coming from referral network
  100. Provide "Special Feature" cards for marketing, if applicable
  101. Submit ads to company's participating Internet real estate sites
  102. Price changes conveyed promptly to all Internet groups
  103. Reprint/supply brochures promptly as needed
  104. Loan information reviewed and updated in MLS as required
  105. Feedback e-mails/faxes sent to buyers' agents after showings
  106. Review weekly Market Study
  107. Discuss feedback from showing agents with seller to determine if changes will accelerate the sale
  108. Place regular weekly update calls to seller to discuss marketing & pricing
  109. Promptly enter price changes in MLS listing database

    The Offer and Contract

  110. Receive and review all Offer to Purchase contracts submitted by buyers or buyer's agents.
  111. Evaluate offer(s) and prepare a "net sheet" on each for the owner for comparison purposes
  112. Counsel seller on offers. Explain merits and weakness of each component of each offer
  113. Contact buyers' agents to review buyer's qualifications and discuss offer
  114. Fax or deliver Seller's Disclosure form to buyer's agent or buyer (upon request and prior to offer being made if possible)
  115. Confirm buyer is pre-qualified by calling Loan Officer
  116. Obtain pre-qualification letter on buyer from Loan Officer
  117. Negotiate all offers on seller's behalf, setting time limit for loan approval and closing date
  118. Prepare and convey any counteroffers, acceptance or amendments to buyer's agent
  119. Fax copies of contract and all addendums to closing attorney or title company
  120. When an Offer to Purchase Contract is accepted and signed by seller, deliver signed offer to buyer's agent
  121. Record and promptly deposit buyer's earnest money in escrow account.
  122. Disseminate "Under-Contract Showing Restrictions" as seller requests
  123. Deliver copies of fully signed Offer to Purchase contract to seller
  124. Fax/deliver copies of Offer to Purchase contract to Selling Agent
  125. Fax copies of Offer to Purchase contract to lender
  126. Provide copies of signed Offer to Purchase contract for office file
  127. Advise seller in handling any additional offers to purchase that may be submitted between contract and closing
  128. Change status in MLS to "Sale Pending"
  129. Update HomeTrack™ to show "Sale Pending"
  130. Review buyer's credit report results -- Advise seller of worst and best case scenarios
  131. Provide credit report information to seller if property will be seller-financed
  132. Assist buyer with obtaining financing, if applicable and follow-up as necessary
  133. Coordinate with lender on Discount Points being locked in with dates
  134. Deliver unrecorded property information to buyer
  135. Order septic system inspection, if applicable
  136. Receive and review septic system report and assess any possible impact on sale
  137. Deliver copy of septic system inspection report lender & buyer
  138. Deliver Well Flow Test Report copies to lender & buyer and property listing file
  139. Verify termite inspection ordered
  140. Verify mold inspection ordered, if required

    Tracking the Loan Process

  141. Confirm Verifications Of Deposit & Buyer's Employment Have Been Returned
  142. Follow Loan Processing Through To The Underwriter
  143. Add lender and other service vendors to HomeTrack™ so agents, buyer and seller can track progress of sale
  144. Contact lender weekly to ensure processing is on track
  145. Relay final approval of buyer's loan application to seller

    Home Inspection

  146. Coordinate buyer's professional home inspection with seller
  147. Review home inspector's report
  148. Enter completion into HomeTrack™
  149. Explain seller's responsibilities with respect to loan limits and interpret any clauses in the contract
  150. Ensure seller's compliance with Home Inspection Clause requirements
  151. Recommend or assist seller with identifying and negotiating with trustworthy contractors to perform any required repairs
  152. Negotiate payment and oversee completion of all required repairs on seller's behalf, if needed

    The Appraisal

  153. Schedule Appraisal
  154. Provide comparable sales used in market pricing to Appraiser
  155. Follow-Up On Appraisal
  156. Enter completion into HomeTrack™
  157. Assist seller in questioning appraisal report if it seems too low

    Closing Preparations and Duties

  158. Contract Is Signed By All Parties
  159. Coordinate closing process with buyer's agent and lender
  160. Update closing forms & files
  161. Ensure all parties have all forms and information needed to close the sale
  162. Select location where closing will be held
  163. Confirm closing date and time and notify all parties
  164. Assist in solving any title problems (boundary disputes, easements, etc) or in obtaining Death Certificates
  165. Work with buyer's agent in scheduling and conducting buyer's

    Final Walk-Thru prior to closing

  166. Request final closing figures from closing agent (attorney or title company)
  167. Receive & carefully review closing figures to ensure accuracy of preparation
  168. Forward verified closing figures to buyer's agent
  169. Request copy of closing documents from closing agent
  170. Confirm buyer and buyer's agent have received title insurance commitment
  171. Provide "Home Owners Warranty" for availability at closing
  172. Reviews all closing documents carefully for errors
  173. Forward closing documents to absentee seller as requested
  174. Review documents with closing agent (attorney)
  175. Provide earnest money deposit check from escrow account to closing agent
  176. Research all tax, HOA, utility and other applicable prorations
  177. Coordinate this closing with seller's next purchase and resolve any timing problems
  178. Have a "no surprises" closing and present seller a net proceeds check at closing
  179. Refer sellers to one of the best agents at their destination, if applicable
  180. Change MLS listing status to Sold. Enter sale date and price, selling broker and agent's ID numbers, etc.
  181. Close out listing in HomeTrack™

    Follow Up After Closing

  182. Answer questions about filing claims with Home Owner Warranty company if requested
  183. Attempt to clarify and resolve any conflicts about repairs if buyer is not satisfied
  184. Respond to any follow-on calls and provide any additional information required from office files.
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Orlando Real Estate Agent John HambrickOrlando Realtor Angela Chapman
Orlando Real Estate Professionals


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Capital Realty Group Florida
138 E Colonial Dr.
Orlando, FL 32801
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