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A Guide to Hiring a Realtor When Searching for a House for Sale in Cape Coral, FL

A Guide to Hiring a Realtor When Searching for a House for Sale in Cape Coral, FL

What’s Inside:

With family-friendly neighborhoods, gorgeous parks and trails, and around 400 miles of navigable canals winding throughout this romantic city, its title of "Waterfront Wonderland" almost seems like an understatement. Cape Coral, FL is the dream destination for those in love with the sun and water. And buying your own waterfront Cape Coral home can make every day feel like a vacation getaway.

As such, it can be hard to contain your excitement at the thought of living that easygoing southwest Florida lifestyle at the soonest possible time. You may be looking up "Cape Coral, FL homes for sale" right now, reading about all the things you can do while filling up your housing wish list on the side. You may even look through the open listings and skim over the market trends in Florida.

The thrill of scrolling through potential dream houses can lead you to overestimate your capacity. You may feel like you can go through your home-buying journey alone. You may ask yourself: "Why do I have to look for a real estate agent? Can't I just look for a house myself?"

But as you browse through available houses and compare prices and neighborhoods and analyze the advantages of one house over another, you can become overwhelmed. And proceeding in this vein without a trusted real estate professional by your side can definitely end up costing you more – financially, emotionally, and mentally. In a worst-case scenario, you could even find yourself facing lawsuits.

Your dream waterfront home in Cape Coral wouldn't be a dream if it were easy. And finding the best property deal starts with finding the best Realtor. Here's our guide to working with a real estate agent in buying your Cape Coral home.


Why hiring a Realtor is important in buying a Cape Coral home

A lot of reality shows, movies, and social media posts have left many people with the impression that all real estate agents are simply "middlemen" who make a ton of money with little effort. That couldn't be further from the truth.

These are the things your Realtor will actually be doing for you:

  1. Your Realtor will research and filter information for you

    The information real estate agents provide isn't something you can look up yourself: theirs is a repository of information built on deep connections and history with the area. Any Cape Coral Realtor worth their salt would have a belt of specialized, in-depth knowledge of market conditions and trends, from Matlacha Isles to Cape Coral Pkwy / Chiquita Blvd. S.

  2. Your Realtor’s knowledge of the local area encompasses:

    • Community demographics
    • Booming industries and investment opportunities
    • Quality of nearby schools
    • Known and unknown amenities
    • Other professional contacts needed for related property transactions

    In addition to their vast store of knowledge, real estate agents also filter through the information, narrowing your options down only to properties that fulfill your needs, thus saving you time and energy.

  3. Your Realtor will study the fine print

    The paperwork involved in buying real estate is probably the most dreaded part of the whole process. It can be especially worrying because a single mistake or overlooked detail can result in additional costs and complications.

    Your real estate agent is trained to closely analyze every document involved in a real estate deal, ranging from purchase agreements to federal documents.

    Agents are also aware of the need to protect your privacy when it comes to the personal information you provide. They know which parts of the transaction’s voluminous documents need their special attention to make sure that your sensitive information remains confidential.

  4. Your Realtor will find solutions to your problems

    Say you've finally found the perfect Cape Coral home and you've made an offer, so all that's left is to close on the property. But as you start popping the champagne, your Realtor starts rolling their sleeves. Why? Because there is more work to be done. Especially when issues like home inspections pointing out hidden structural issues to discrepancies with the property's title history start to bubble up.

    Since Florida is prone to tropical storms and flooding, your Realtor should know how to address the risks they can pose to your property and the most effective ways to protect your home. Agents also see issues that you wouldn't have even thought of, like neighborhood development plans that will affect the value of the property.

  5. Your Realtor will save you money`

    The most common reason people are reluctant to hire a real estate agent is that they want to cut on closing costs. But the agents' commission – for both the seller's agent and the buyer's agent – are closing costs typically shouldered by the seller, not you. So why wouldn't you hire a real estate agent?

    And when you consider the fact that a Realtor is legally obligated to give you the most cost-effective deals in the local market, in addition to helping you avoid all the costly risks you'll run into without an agent's guidance, you'll definitely save a lot of money.

    Your Cape Coral agent will also know which neighborhoods to show you, depending on either the cost of living (if you're looking for affordable) or appreciation rates (if you're looking for a good investment).

Common home-buying mistakes you can avoid with a Realtor

Say you aren't convinced that hiring a real estate agent is the best option and you decide to go ahead with buying a home on your own. Here are four things you might do that can quickly turn your dream home into a nightmare:

1. Without a Realtor, you can make bad financial decisions

A lot of first-time homebuyers make the mistake of not getting a mortgage pre-approval, which is what a lot of real estate agents ask from clients at the very beginning. A pre-approval means that you qualify for a home loan. You might also fail to account for expenses other than the home price, such as inspections, HOA fees, maintenance costs, possible renovations or repairs, and property insurance.

But a real estate agent is expected to crunch these numbers for you, ultimately saving you from going over budget or ending up house poor, a condition in which the bulk of your income goes into homeownership – mortgage payments, maintenance, and the like.

2. Without a Realtor, you can focus on the wrong features

Buying a home is often a life-changing decision. This can cloud the judgment of any buyer. Instead of weighing the pros and cons, a buyer can fixate on a home's golden feature while ignoring the downsides.

You might end up with a property in an isolated neighborhood with few amenities or a fixer-upper that turns out to be a money pit. You might also miss out on an amazing house stymied by a bad paint job. A real estate agent will serve as your critical and objective eye.

3. Without a Realtor, you can hire the wrong people

Even if you don't hire a Realtor, you will still need to work with lenders, electricians, home inspectors, property appraisers, lawyers, the seller's listing agent, and other allied professions.

A Realtor has a ready-made network of trusted professionals whose services they can confidently recommend. You can therefore sidestep the risk of hiring unqualified or inexperienced people. And when considering mortgage options, your agent can give invaluable input on which mortgage plan works best with your ideal property.

4. Without a Realtor, you can rush to make an offer

The global pandemic has made the real estate market much more challenging for buyers. The market is hot, with a tight inventory resulting in a frantic bidding war among buyers. And while it appears like the market is forcing buyers to leap before they look, a Realtor can apply the necessary brakes so you can take a breath to clear your head.

Instead of rushing into deals, a Realtor can arrange for you to assess the home in person. Cape Coral may have a relatively balanced real estate market compared to other cities but it still leans in the seller's favor. Having a real estate agent represent you during negotiations can help you avoid getting blindsided during negotiations.

How much are Realtor fees for buyers in Florida?

Realtor fees are part of the closing costs at the end of a property deal, consisting of 5-6% of the total sale price. This 5-6% is split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent.

According to Realtor.com, the median sold home price for Cape Coral (as of May 2021) is $325,200. So, you can expect fees for both agents to be around $16,260 to $19,512.

Agent fees are usually factored in the listing or selling price of the home. While the seller pays for it officially, in a roundabout way you kind of split the fees with them when you pay for the property. A good real estate agent will negotiate for fewer closing costs on your behalf.

Other closing costs for Florida homebuyers

Crunching numbers and calculating other expenses is your real estate agent's job, but it wouldn't hurt to know where your money is going.

Here are the usual closing costs for homebuyers in Lee County, Florida:

  • Loan origination fees (including prepaid interest and application fees): between 0.5% and 1.5% of the sales price
  • Credit report fees: around $30 to $50
  • Home inspection fees: approximately $300 to $600
  • Appraisal fee: $300 to $500
  • Recording fee (for registering the sale and transfer of the property): $125 (national average)
  • Property taxes: depends on the assessment of the Lee County Property Appraisers

How to find the best Realtor for your house-buying journey

They say finding a real estate agent is a mix between dating and being a hiring manager. While their qualifications can be impeccable, they also need to be compatible with you.

Here's what you can do to make sure you find a Realtor that best fits your needs – and gets you.

1. Make sure you’re a qualified buyer

It seems like a no-brainer, but the first thing you should do (that a surprising number of people don't) is make sure that you can afford a house. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can bulldoze through three major hurdles in the home-buying process:

  • QUALIFICATION. It gives you an idea of how much money you're qualified to borrow, and pinpoint any financial issues (credit, income, debt, etc.) that should be straightened out before you consider buying a home.
  • VERIFICATION. It shows potential agents that you are serious and financially capable of buying a home, and it can narrow down your search for an agent that specializes in homes within your price range.
  • COMPETITION. A potential seller will take you more seriously if you can attach your preapproval letter with your offer letter. Other than a cash transaction, a mortgage preapproval gives you an advantage over other buyers in Cape Coral's competitive real estate market. Because, yes, you have the capacity to make good on your offer.

2. Ask friends, family, and then some

It's best to start looking for Realtors within your own personal network. Ask friends, family, or neighbors if they have worked with anyone they would recommend. If someone from your circle knows a Cape Coral realtor they worked well with, then chances are this realtor would work well with you too.

You can also look through the National Association of Realtors' official Realtor directory for professionals in your target community. Make sure to check online reviews and referrals to see what other clients' experiences were like.

3. Interview them

The rule of thumb is to interview at least three real estate agents. This way you can ask more specific questions about the kinds of properties and types of clients they typically work with. It is also a great chance to set your expectations for your ideal real estate agent and to survey whose approach is most compatible with your needs.

If all goes well, you can ask them to send you the buyer's agent agreement for review. This agreement should outline all the terms you've agreed to and how they'll be compensated, so study the contract closely before signing.

Take note that an exclusive buyer's agent agreement should be valid for 6 to 12 months – which is enough time to help you find your Cape Coral home. Contracts longer than that can be a red flag, and you should consider another candidate.

The best questions to ask a potential real estate agent

Phone calls and interviews can be nerve-wracking, even if you're not at the receiving end. To make the most out of your talk with a potential real estate agent, here's a three-part script that can help you out:

ASK: “Please tell me about yourself”

Every relationship – professional or otherwise – starts with getting to know the other party. This means you need to look for answers that can help you gauge their suitability.

Assess an agent’s experience, knowledge, and resources by asking:

  • How long have you been working in the Cape Coral real estate market?
  • What kind of properties do you specialize in? Which neighborhoods would you recommend?
  • What sets you apart from other Realtors working in the Cape Coral area?

ASK: “Can you explain the whole process for me?”

You need to evaluate an agent’s communication style, their methods for getting the job done, and the strategies they are likely to employ.

Thus, they need to be able to explain the process of finding your Cape Coral home from start to finish. Therefore, ask the following:

  • Do you have a team behind you? Who will I be working with at each stage of the process?
  • Will you be able to recommend professionals in related fields to complete the home-buying process?
  • How often will we meet?
  • How often will you update me about the status of our transaction?
  • How do you usually communicate with clients? By phone, text, email, face-to-face, Zoom meeting, etc.?
  • When are you available to take my call or reply to my inquiries?
  • Will you send me documents to review ahead of time?
  • What do you think will be the biggest problem we'll run into?

ASK: “Where do we go from here?”

If you feel satisfied with their answers, you can start asking about the next steps to take, such as:

  • What kind of guarantee can you give me?
  • Can you provide some client references for me to check?
  • How much do you charge? Would that be flexible?
  • What question about Cape Coral haven't I asked that you think I should know about?

Remember, a good Realtor is just as selective about their clients. They should make the same effort to get to know you. If the agent isn't asking any questions about you and your real estate goals, how will they know what you need?

Find your Cape Coral dream home today!

Buying a home is a significant milestone. While you may want your agent to be persistent and incisive, you also need someone who demonstrates empathy and integrity. At the end of the day, you want a fair deal for all parties concerned.

Mike Lombardo and his team of Realtors in Cape Coral, FL possess such qualities. You can be sure that they will pull out all the stops to get you the perfect home.

Mike has been working in Cape Coral real estate for over 30 years and this has given him a deep understanding of the complexities of the local market. With the help of his highly skilled team, he will utilize the best strategies under his belt to find you a property that checks all the boxes. He can also help you find homes in nearby Gateway and Fort Myers.

Looking for a house for sale in Cape Coral, FL can be backbreaking work without an expert Realtor like Mike by your side. Make your house hunting in Cape Coral as pleasant and as stress-free as possible. Give Mike Lombardo and his team a call today at 239.898.3445 or send an email at mike.mikelom@gmail.com. You can also message him here.

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