Real estate agents range from full-service, handling nearly all aspects of the sale, to discount agents, who perform only a few tasks leaving the rest for you. Likewise, selling 'by owner' runs the gamut from services that provide considerable marketing support to the 100% do-it-yourself approach. First decide if you want to do some of the work yourself to save on the listing agent's commission. Then decide what type of service you want to help you sell, from full service to no service.
Real estate agents and brokers must be licensed. An agent is a sales person with a basic knowledge of real estate. A broker oversees numerous agents. Brokers have an expanded knowledge of real estate, as verified by additional tests and certifications. Find qualified agents and brokers through the Orlando Association of Realtors.
• Reading online agent reviews
• Ask neighbors who have recently sold for recommendations
• Find out if there are agents or brokerages that specialize in your neighborhood or the type of buyer likely to be interested in your home - for example, vintage homes
• How they will market the house, beyond the standard practices of putting the listing on the local multiple listing service, Realtor.com and Craigslist.
• How long it takes for their listings to sell compared to the local average 'days on market'.
• What is their pricing strategy? How many times do they have to reduce the price before getting an offer? What is the typical sale price for their listings, as a percentage of asking price?
• What services are included in the commission? Some agents charge extra for staging and photography; others do not.
• Will the agent personally attend the appraisal and personally manage the negotiation, or will this be part of a team effort?
• Will the agent want to represent both you and the buyer, in an arrangement known as 'dual agency'? 'Dual agency' is controversial among agents because of its conflict of interest. Yet, many agents ask clients to agree to 'dual agency' on their clients, claiming that they can work both sides of the transaction. Decide what your opinion is on 'dual agency'.
• Will the agent only bring qualified buyers? Lay out in writing your expectations for how the agent will screen and qualify buyers so that your house is shown only to potential buyers who actually can buy it.
No matter who ultimately buys your house, chances are they will first see it online. If you are selling by owner, these marketing tips can help you attract buyers:
• Nearly all buyers start house hunting online. It is essential to work with a service that helps you get your home onto online real estate listing sites and your local multiple listing services.
• Your house must present well via the online listing, so photography and staging are critical.
• The listing description is also key. Think through the features of your house and neighborhood that are most appealing to buyers. List the features of the house room by room. Focus on describing the features, not on telling buyers how much they will like them. For example, describe a fireplace as a "woodburning fireplace with original art tile surround and built-in bookcases" rather than "a cozy fireplace perfect for making memories."
• Include keywords that will be picked up by search engines when buyers are looking. Specific terms are usually better than general terms. For example, list "award winning Fulton Elementary and Whittier High school districts" rather than just "award winning school districts."