Florida Real Estate Agents: Your First Point of Contact
Your tour guide.
Often the first person you meet, a real estate agent or broker can help you find the Florida property you want to buy. A good agent will work about eight to ten hours behind the scene for every hour he or she is in your presence.
A real estate "agent" is tested and licensed by the state; a "broker" has taken an additional test, and is authorized to operate a private real estate firm; a "REALTOR®" is a licensed professional and a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. For the sake of simplicity, we'll use the term "agent" as a general reference to any of the above.
What an agent does for you:
- Helps you find a Florida home that meets your needs in terms of price range, areas of town you like, number of bedrooms, etc.
- Negotiates price and terms for the home on your behalf
- Prepares purchase contract (can also be handled by a real estate attorney)
- Goes on-site for property inspections
- Coordinates the closing
- Offers referrals for other experts, such as inspectors and real estate attorneys
Keep in mind:
- A "buyer's agent" is one that represents you and your interests. A "seller's agent" is not required, or expected, to keep in confidence anything you tell them about your willingness to pay a higher price. There are also neutral transaction brokers who represent neither party. Whomever you work with, establish the terms of the relationship up-front!
- Typical commission in Florida is 6% of the home's selling price (3% to the buyer's agent, 3% to the seller's), usually paid by the seller. Be aware that the commission could be higher. You'll want to consider this when selecting an agent. Also check to see if your real estate brokerage charges an administrative fee for its services.
When interviewing agents, ask for client references and "activity lists" which reveal what types of properties the agent specializes in, whether the agent deals with homes in your price range and the geographic focus of the homes he or she has sold.