Ever seen a snake eat a spider? I have here in Naples, Florida and here’s the video!

As you probably know, I’m a REALTOR® here in Naples, Florida so most of my posts are about real estate listings and advice for buyers and sellers. Not this one. Nope. This post is about something I never knew could happen.

It’s no secret that Naples, Florida is home to some incredible animals! When I came to Naples in 1997, I was really excited when I saw my first alligator in the wild but that was just scratching the surface. I’ve seen sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, armadillos, coyotes, a bear, a bobcat and even a Florida panther.

But, nothing could have prepared me for this…

I saw a spider eating a snake. You read that right.

There is a boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary that goes for 2.25 miles and takes you through a variety of different ecosystems. While walking through the bald cypress forest, I came across this spider on the side of a tree, a little ways up from the water below. He had this snake in his grasp and was pulling it past his fangs bit by bit. It was such a lucky find and something I’ll never forget.

IMG_0084 from Chris Farrugia on Vimeo.

If you’re looking for a great activity that really is fun for all ages, it is worth the drive to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. You can walk the boardwalk on your own or take one of their guided tours.

Admission Pricing (as of 7/12/2022)

  • General admission: $17
  • Full-time college student (with valid school ID): $10
  • Children 6 to 14: $6
  • Children under six: FREE
  • Friends of Corkscrew members: FREE
  • Members of the US Military (with ID): $14
  • National Audubon Members (with ID): $14

Getting to Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

The sanctuary is located at 375 Sanctuary Rd W, Naples, FL 34120. It’s a straight shot east on Immokalee Road, past the fairgrounds and out a little ways from there.

More Information

If you’d like to read more about Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary before you visit, they have a very informative website.

Should I list my home at a price ending in 999 or use an even price?

This debate has been going on for years but there is only one correct and logical answer.

Real estate sellers often want to take $1 off of the price of their home to make it look better. So, you’ll see homes priced at $399,999 instead of $400,000. Well, which one is better? After all, $400,000 sounds like a lot of money!

To illustrate why prices ending in 999 are incorrect, let’s look at a call I received today. One of my buyers called and asked me to modify her real estate search. She said to make the minimum $850,000 and the maximum $1,300,000. Right this second, there are 47 homes on the MLS selling between $849,000 and $849,999 and she’s going to miss seeing every single one of them! 47 sellers have made a mistake that will cost them buyers!

Even sites like Realtor.com allow for a range of prices to be put in (see the screenshot). Who is going to put in $849,000 as their minimum. You can bet your bottom dollar that people will put in $850,000 even as the minimum.

Who knew $1 could cost you so much!

So there you have it! Don’t miss buyers over $1! When you list your home, keep that number round and you’ll get some extra traffic.

You have to see this updated new listing in Waterways

This is a pretty special new listing for a number of reasons in the community of Waterways of Naples. The owners have taken care of the home incredibly well and have done a number of upgrades that make this property a cut above the competition. It is located at 3385 Mystic River Drive and you can see the full listing here. It is offed either furnished or not.

The Basics

  • 4 bedrooms, 2 baths
  • 2,249 square feet under air and 4,291 square feet total
  • Saltwater swimming pool
  • Premium lot directly on the main Waterways lake
  • 2 car attached garage
  • Fenced back and side yard
  • Accordion shutters on the lanai

The Roof

So many homes still have their original roof but the roof at 3385 Mystic River Drive has been replaced after Hurricane Irma. Tile roofs can costs tens of thousands of dollars but you will not have to worry about replacing a roof for years to come.

Upgrades and Updating

There are quite a few upgrades that have been added to this home so here is the summary list:

  • New porcelain tile flooring
  • The interior and exterior have both been recently repainted
  • New hot water heater
  • Impact garage door
  • Both bathrooms fully remodeled
  • Kitchen counters and backsplash updated
  • New ceiling fans and lighting throughout
  • New saltwater pool chlorinator

Inside the Home – Upgrades are everywhere

The first thing you notice as you enter this home is the beautiful porcelain plank tile and how great it looks against the neutral tones of the freshly painted interior. Then, looking straight ahead gives you a great view of the main Waterways lake and the saltwater pool through the sliding glass doors. There are other little details like the crown moulding and new light fixtures that just make this feel a step above the other properties you may see at the same price.

One of the things I noticed and loved right away the first time I saw the home was the wainscoting in the dining room. I see so many homes where they’re empty and the walls are just bare, textured walls from floor to ceiling. I’m a sucker for wainscoting anyway but this was really well done.

The kitchen is to the right and has some really nice white cabinetry but the real stars are the counter and backsplash. The counter is epoxy and has these grey veins that look great against the tile backsplash. Plus, look at the beautiful light fixtures! There are newer stainless steel appliances as you’d expect and there’s a deep kitchen sink as well. The kitchen also has bar seating for three for casual meals.

The family room has surround sound speakers that the seller will leave for the buyer and the room has plenty of space for a sectional sofa. The wall mount stays so you can easily hang your television without the wires hanging down. This one is done right! There are sliders that lead outside to the saltwater pool as well.

I really love the master bedroom pictured above. There is a beautiful tray ceiling and you get lots of natural light from the sliders that lead to the pool & lanai. The picture doesn’t do it justice since it was taken from in the room and doesn’t show the full size of the master bedroom. But, have a look at that master bath!

I mentioned before that both bathrooms were remodeled. Well, take a look at the master bath! There’s a soaking tub and separate glass-enclosed shower. Of course there are dual vanities with lots of storage as well as an enormous, framed mirror.

Outside the Home – Pool, Lanai, Pergola and Lake

We have to start with the open-air saltwater pool. It’s a really good-sized pool and overlooks the huge lake. There’s a non-slip surface too that is easily maintained or cleaned.

The best part about the pool deck though is that the portion that is covered/shaded is huge and ready for entertaining. It is wired for cable so you can put a nice TV out there and enjoy it from the pool! It’s worth mentioning too that the lanai is protected with accordion shutters for hurricane protection.

If you’re ready to entertain or just relax by the lake, you’ll love the covered pergola. It sits right near the pool and is awesome for relaxing on cool Florida evenings. There’s a fire pit that comes with it as well. If I lived here, I’d be out at that pergola quite a bit!

See the canoe and boat to the left of the picture above? Those are included in the sale so you can really enjoy the lake. Waterways of Naples allows boats with electric motors so you can cruise around and fish for bass at your leisure. Just slide them into the water and off you go!

Final Thoughts on 3385 Mystic River Drive

There are a lot of great features that I just couldn’t fit into the article. For instance, did you know the full backyard and side yard are fenced in for your pets? There are so many of those little things that make this house stand out amongst the competition. You’re buying a house with a brand new roof that you won’t have to worry about, the painting has been done, the remodeling is complete, and you’re in one of the best neighborhoods in the area with great amenities. Top-rated schools are walking distance from the home and did you know there is a boat and RV storage lot so you can live in the neighborhood and have your toys close by for a low rental fee?

You need to see this one in person! Please feel free to contact Laney Farrugia or I to set up a private showing.

We can also be reached by phone or text at (239) 248-8171.

What do I do all day? Here’s what I do all day as a Realtor®

It seems like every person you meet in Naples is a Realtor® or knows someone that is. In fact, Florida Realtors® says that our local board has over 6,000 members! With that many people competing for their piece of the pie, I have no choice but to work incredibly hard every single day for my customers and earn their future business and referrals. So, how do I do that?

Monitor our #1 source of business

My wife and I founded the Naples, FL group on Facebook with nearly 60,000 members so that is a great source of business for us. My mornings always begin with me moderating that group and keeping it a welcoming and helpful asset to our members. Please join if you haven’t already!

Dive into the MLS

The MLS is my next stop. I look at the hot sheets (a report showing new/changed listings) to try and find properties for my buyer customers or see what new competition there is that could affect my sellers. I’ll then scour the MLS for listings that may work for my buyers that may not have showed up in their saved searches because perhaps only one of the criteria is different.

Advertise our listings

Next up, I set up (or monitor existing) advertising for my listings and track the performance of those ads. I can tell you with 100% certainty that most Realtors® put their listings on the MLS and simply wait for someone to come along and make an offer. I find this incredibly offensive. Customers pay good money to have their agent sell their home and deserve to have someone actively selling and searching for buyers. This generates a lot of leads for me to contact so that’s an ongoing daily activity.

Send out hundreds of letters

Since the market is so competitive and there isn’t much inventory at the moment, I usually have a mailing project going. I often send letters to every single homeowner in neighborhoods where my buyers want to be in order to find off-market property. Right now, I have a mailing going to Tuscany Cove in North Naples.

Keep in touch with everybody

I spend an awful lot of time in my Customer Relationship Management software following up with current customers, checking on future customers and reaching out to past customers to make sure everyone has their unique needs met. This benefits my sellers and buyers too as I can sometimes find a match that meets their needs.

Go on appointments

I often have appointments scattered throughout the day as well. Sometimes I’m touring properties with my buyer customers. Other times I’m sitting at future sellers’ dining room tables discussing the specific steps I will take to sell their home and hopefully earn their business.

Compare notes with my wife

Almost daily, my wife and I discuss our team (we sit 8 feet apart in our office!). We discuss what we could do better, what additional steps we could do to get our listings sold, and discuss the challenges we have with finding homes for our buyers. By discussing every facet of our business throughout the day, we’re able to achieve our goal of constant improvement and learn from each other which benefits our clients.
Those are the main areas of focus each day. There are a lot of other things below that pop up as well.

Other tasks along the way

  • Respond to emails and calls from clients, mortgage brokers, title companies and lawyers and anybody else that needs my assistance.
  • Attend closings. Yes, I go to every single one.
  • Write listing descriptions that showcase the unique features and benefits of our clients’ homes to encourage potential buyers to see them.
  • Hold open houses for my seller clients or work on marketing material to disseminate at the open house.
  • Attend inspections. It’s surprising how frequently the other agent isn’t there on behalf of their customer. Here’s why I attend every inspection .
  • Write blog articles that hopefully help buyers and sellers stay informed on various topics.
  • Create packets to give to appraisers to give them the information they need to give an accurate appraisal on my sellers’ homes.
  • Tour listings and do FaceTime showings for my buyer clients up north.
  • Handle necessary paperwork that is needed for a closing.
  • Attend trainings on topics that will make me a better Realtor® for my customers.
  • Write this newsletter!

These activities above keep me awfully busy but I’m never too busy to have a chat and answer your questions.

Want to discuss this further or talk about buying or selling? Give me a call at (239) 248-8171 or email me.

You are Being Watched! Is it ok for Sellers to Have Cameras on During Showings?

You’re being watched. At least that is what you should assume when you go to see properties these days. With the low cost of high-quality security cameras, it isn’t uncommon for sellers to record potential buyers as they tour the home. Plus, when you walk in or out of the home you will likely pass a Ring doorbell that is recording both video and audio! It’s all perfectly legal (it’s their home after all!).

I give my buyers a quick talk about how they shouldn’t say anything they don’t want the sellers to hear when we’re seeing their home. However, I still have buyers that have said things like, “This home is perfect” as they walk past the doorbell on their way out. That comment could cost a buyer thousands of dollars when it’s time to negotiate an offer.

When you’re looking for a new home and doing your tours, here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Do not discuss price! You don’t want to say the price is too high or too low as both could hurt you in negotiations.
  • Don’t talk about how great the home is!
  • Don’t talk about how bad the home is either. If the sellers are listening, we don’t want to offend them.
  • Leave the home in the same condition it was in when you entered.

That’s it, friends! We’ve reached a point where so many sellers are going to have recording devices in their home and it will only become more common. Be careful out there!

How to find childcare or daycare in Naples

Get on every waiting list you can while you decide

This is without a doubt step one to finding childcare in Naples. Nearly every daycare will have a waiting list and you don’t want someone else to beat you to an opening. Sure, you’ll have to make some phone calls and apologize for removing yourself from a number of lists later but you need to be on the lists early.

Check with the local schools

Once you know the part of town where you’ll be moving, reach out to the local school to see what their childcare options are. I also recommend joining the school’s Facebook group (if they have one) and ask other parents for recommendations. Ask around and you may uncover a great option.

Ask around to find an in-home provider

In-home providers are a mixed bag—some love them while others hate them. If you’re looking for traditional daycare and are running out of luck, this could be a great option. You will have to ask a lot of questions! Are they CPR trained? Is the in-home daycare in its own space or shared family space? Are they insured? Do your due diligence and see if this could be an option for you.

Hire (or share) a nanny

It may be cost-prohibitive to hire a nanny but it is worth looking into. Some come from abroad and you may be able to sponsor them and save some money. Hiring a nanny will bring a new person into your home so you’ll have to decide if you need a larger home now to accommodate that extra person.

Another option is to share a nanny. More than one family will have access to the nanny so ensure the nanny isn’t taking on more than he or she can handle.

Look for out-of-the-box ways to get child care

I recently heard a story about 5 Naples moms that watch each other’s kids in their homes in a very structured, almost businesslike way. Each mom takes a day of the week and watches all of the kids from their group so the other 4 moms can work. That gives you 4 full days to work or do what you need to do while your child is in competent hands.

Look at your family for opportunities

You may have family members that could use some extra spending money (retired grandparents maybe?) and this could be a win-win. Ask your family members and you may uncover a good option!

How to be a “Cash” buyer but still get a mortgage to buy a home

In a real estate market as competitive as ours is here in Naples, Florida, we sometimes have to pull some tricks out of our sleeve to get offers accepted. We all know that “cash is king” and when faced with similar cash and financing offers, sellers will almost always choose the cash offer. If you need to get financing, how in the world can you compete with someone paying cash?

The answer is simple… make your offer a cash offer and get financing behind the scenes. The fear here is that if the financing doesn’t go through, you’ll lose your good faith escrow deposits. We can almost guarantee that won’t happen though.

When we write an offer on the Naples contract, there is an area where we can check off if the offer is contingent on being approved for financings (and so we get our deposits back if it doesn’t go through) or it is cash with no contingencies. Here is how the cash portion reads:

METHOD OF PAYMENT – CASH/FINANCING WITHOUT CONTINGENCY: BUYER will pay cash, but may obtain a loan for the purchase of the Property; however there is no financing contingency. If BUYER elects to finance BUYER’s purchase of the Property through a creditor/lender, BUYER shall be required to timely perform all BUYER’s obligations under the Contract and to close on the Closing Date, notwithstanding any terms and conditions imposed by BUYER’s creditor/lender and/or any applicable disclosure, delivery and compliance requirements of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Integrated Mortgage Disclosure Rule (“CFPB Rule”)

This is a bit scary—if you can’t get financing by the closing date, you’ll likely be out your deposits. However, we can work around that.

The answer is simple. Have your lender do more than just write a pre-qualifiaction or pre-approval. Get fully approved by the lender’s underwriting department before you make the offer on a home. A good lender can get you nearly guaranteed to get a mortgage so you can waive your financing contingency without fear of financing not going through. Now, you’re competing on the same level as the cash buyers for your next property!

How could this go wrong?

It can go wrong without proper guidance. One of the most common ways loan applications are declined is when something changes. What if you lose your job before closing? What if you finance a new car, furniture, etc. and your debt-to-income ratio changes? These are all things that can and do happen most are easily avoidable.

Would I do it if I were a buyer?

Heck yes! First of all, it eliminates a lot of doubt and worry but more importantly, it would let me compete with the folks bringing cash. I would just be absolutely certain to not let anything happen between the time I applied and the time I close on my new home.

Who should I speak with to get approved?

Give me a call or text at (239) 248-8171 and let’s discuss some options. You can also email me at chris@listingnaples.com.

What do Homeowners Association Fees (HOA) Cover

What do HOA fees pay for?

Generally, homeowners in HOA communities will write a check to the association governing their community every quarter. The amount paid has a huge range between neighborhoods but often hover between $300-$500 a month for a non-golf subdivision. What those monthly fees cover can also vary widely with some associations paying for very little with others paying for everything! Here are some of the items commonly paid for by HOA fees:

Professional Management and Services

Every HOA is going to have part of their budget dedicated to paying the management company that oversees the neighborhood. These management companies help the neighborhood’s Board of Directors, control the fining committees, keep an eye out for items needing repair, enforce the rules of the neighborhood and more. Also, HOA’s will have an accountant and an attorney that represent the neighborhood as well.

Cable TV and Internet

One of my favorite things that HOA fees often cover are cable television and Internet. Neighborhoods negotiate a much lower bulk rate with the service provider and the homeowners receive the equipment and service as part of their quarterly dues.

Why do I love this being included? It’s simple—most of us will use both services yet paying for them as an individual consumer can be very expensive. I frequently hear of people paying $150 a month or more for cable television and Internet so by paying for it through the HOA fees, the neighborhood residents all save a little money.

Lawn and Land Maintenance

What’s better than spending your weekend mowing the lawn and taking care of the flowers and shrubs? Not into it? Neither are most of the homeowners. Your quarterly dues more often than not will include landscaping in various degrees. Some will only take care of the cutting of the grass while the owners take care of shrubs or flowers. Others take care of absolutely everything that has to do with the landscaping. Paying for this as a member of an association will help you avoid doing that tough work on your own.

I do have to mention here that landscaping is the #1 item I hear homeowners complain about. There are a few reasons why. First, some landscape companies just don’t do as good of a job as others. Some may cut corners or not pick up any debris/trash as they work. Second, landscapers tend to increase in cost year after year when working with an association. That increase gets passed down to the homeowners in their quarterly dues. Finally, I hear a lot that people ask for additional services from the landscapers or gardens cut a certain way and the landscapers refuse to do it without management approval.

All-in-all, I love that landscaping is included in my neighborhood. I really don’t want to have to purchase the equipment to do it, nor do I want to spend my time working in the sun when I could be spending it with my family or working a bit extra.

Insurance

A big expense your quarterly dues go to is insurance. However, this can be a lot different depending on if you’re in a condo or a single family home neighborhood.

Condo insurance will generally cover the buildings exterior or the “common elements.” Condo owners will usually have to purchase “content insurance” or similar for the interior of their units. There’s a grey area here because if someone were to break in a common element (such as a roof leak), the insurance should pay for the interior of your condo.

The other big insurance condo communities generally purchase is flood insurance on the building. There are a few communities, Glades Country Club for example, where the flood insurance is the responsibility of the owners. However, more often than not the flood insurance is going to be paid through the HOA fees.

Single family home neighborhoods will have insurance on the common elements of the neighborhood but owners are going to have to purchase their own homeowners insurance on top of their quarterly HOA fees.

Pest Control

Many HOA communities have exterior pest control included. You’re going to be on your own for the interior of your property but the exterior will often be maintained through the HOA fees.

Neighborhood Facilities

Do you have a clubhouse? Is there a tennis court? Fitness center? All of these items require management and upkeep which your HOA dues will cover. In fact, most of these facilities have a useful life defined before major work needs to be done. Take a pool for example—it will need to be resurfaced at a very high cost down the road. Your HOA fees are going to that project!

Security

My neighborhood has a gatehouse with a 24 hour a day guard. Who pays the guard? That’s right! Your HOA fees pay that salary.

Water

We see water paid in HOA fees most often when we’re talking about condominiums. That’s a big expense that your fees cover in some instances.

Irrigation Water

Irrigation water can come from a number of sources such as reclaimed water, using a lake as a source of irrigation, or sometimes central city water. That city water doesn’t come free so your HOA fees pay that bill so that the community’s landscaping can remain beautiful.

Repairs and Maintenance

Light post bulbs, cracked sidewalks, broken entrance gates and more will happen at any community and require some cash to repair. That money is going to come from your HOA fees!

How should I evaluate if the fees are reasonable?

It can seem a bit confusing when you look at two homes to buy and they’re in very comparable neighborhoods yet the HOA fees are very different. This happens all of the time so ask us what the HOA fees cover.

For me, the three big categories I look at are landscaping, cable television and repairs. I know that cable TV and internet is going to cost me around $150 a month from my own pocket. Plus, if my neighborhood has a lot of really great amenities, I expect to pay a lot more in HOA fees for those privileges since they must be maintained and repaired/replaced in the future. Finally, I want to have a look at the quality of the landscaping and what exactly is paid for by my HOA fees. If it is just mowing versus full landscaping, that will influence my opinion of the value of the dues.

Don’t forget to evaluate the reserve balances and contributions.

Quite simply, reserves are the money set aside every quarter from the HOA fees to cover big projects that will need financing later on.

Many neighborhoods (especially condos) will cover roof replacement on the buildings. Imagine the cost of that! In order to have that benefit, the management will need to set aside a lot of money in savings to pay for the project.

How do we know if the reserves are enough? The first thing to do is look at the neighborhood’s balance sheet and do a sanity check—are the numbers in the reserves reasonable? Then, take it a step further by seeing if the reserve contains 70% of the item’s estimated cost. Also find out if there have been special assessments that may show deteriorating conditions in the neighborhood and therefore more spending or if the special assessments were simply due to mismanagement.

4 Dirty Truths About Real Estate Teams

Let’s state the obvious and get this out of the way right now.

We are a real estate team so this article may seem odd since it is coming from us. However, not all teams are created equally and we do our very best to avoid these pitfalls below. With that disclaimer out of the way, here are some tough facts about some real estate teams.

Many real estate teams are the starting point for brand new agents.

One of the main reasons agents join a team is for the training, leads and support that the experienced team leaders provide. When you’re selling your highest valued asset or buying a new property, do you want a brand new agent to represent you? Probably not, however that’s likely what you’re going to get when you call a team to buy or sell your property.

You may never see or hear from the team leader once your home is under contract.

Team leaders are usually the big names in real estate in each town. They’re the face of the team and should be providing excellent service to customers through the members of their team. The team leader may be the reason why you chose to work with that agent or team however you may only see the leader once. Then, you will likely be working with the team members that do not have the same level of expertise. Is it a “bait and switch?” I personally think it is, especially if it is not disclosed to the customer that someone else will be doing the work for them. It’s important then when hiring a team that you ask who you will be working with from start to finish.

The sales volume number they advertise may be misleading.

Our MLS system has limitations on reporting team sales so it will normally show all sales under the sole team leader’s name and the “co” listing/selling agent will be the actual agent that you’re working with. What that means then is that the team leader boasting an absolutely astonishing amount of real estate sold may not have sold anything! It’s the team members doing the work and producing those numbers. Want higher numbers? Just hire more and more agents!

The team leader may be the only person on the “team.”

You’ll be able to spot this unethical behavior by looking at printed material from the “team” and comparing it to what you hear when you speak to the “team leader.” They might:
* Say “we” on printed material or their website but “I” when you speak to him or her.
* They refer to themselves as a “team” with “associates” they are the only name on the website.
* They cannot name any agents that are on the “team.”

My personal opinion is that agents that mislead the public in this way should instantly lose their license. If they’re that deceitful, why would anybody want to work with them?

Other people in town are members of the “team”

This is one of my major pet-peeves. Many teams leaders want their team to appear bigger than it really is so they list every person they know that is remotely connected to real estate as their team members. They will list lenders they work with, inspectors, appraisers, and even the office receptionist as “team members” just to inflate the number.

4 Reasons NOT to Hire a REALTOR®

Do not hire an agent that will not let you out of the listing agreement should you not be satisfied.

The Naples Area Board of Realtors standard contract to list property contains a section that says that should you terminate the listing for any reason, you still owe the broker commission.

If the transaction is not closed because of the refusal, failure or inability of SELLER to perform, or if SELLER fails or refuses to enter into a contract with a ready, willing and able buyer of the Property, SELLER shall pay the Compensation to BROKER in full upon demand by BROKER. In such event, this Listing Contract shall not be terminated, but shall continue in full force and effect.

What? So it doesn’t matter if you’re unhappy with the services of your agent. You’re stuck and in it for the long-haul until your listing agreement terminates.

I tell my customers that they can fire me at any time. If I have a client that is truly unhappy with my services then I want to part ways. Although, in all of these years of listing properties, I have never been fired. You can be my first!

Do not hire an agent that does not pay for professional photography.

This is one of my pet-peeves in this industry. With nearly all buyers starting their search by looking at photos of properties online, why wouldn’t an agent hire a professional photographer to really catch the eye of buyers?

The answer: These agents are dirt cheap and do not deserve to have your listing.

It is the agent’s job to pay for marketing. When you hire your next listing agent, make them put in writing that they will hire a professional real estate photographer to capture the best pictures of your home.

Do not hire an agent that works for a brokerage with a high commission split.

When you hire a REALTOR® to list your property, you agree to pay a certain commission to the brokerage. The part you may not know is that all of that money doesn’t go to your REALTOR® in many cases. Many brokers take a piece of that commission (sometimes up to 50%!) and pay the remainder out to the agent.

To be clear, let’s say you list a $500,000 home and agree to pay 6% which comes to $30,000. Of that 6%, 3% will go to the listing side and 3% will go to the buyer’s side meaning each brokerage will get $15,000. Then, a broker may keep 50% of that $15,000 and pay out the remaining $7,500 to the listing agent that listed the home.

At my brokerage, I keep 100% of my commission—the entire $15,000. Compare that to the agent that only gets $7,500—who do you think will do more advertising? Me, of course! I have a much larger budget for advertising because I’m going to keep twice what the other guy would get!

In no way is it out of line to ask REALTORS® you interview to tell you what their split is at their brokerage. Please, do so and make an informed decision on who has the budget to truly serve you in your sale.

Do not hire an agent that rents.

I’ve always found this funny. There are a lot of agents that rent their homes yet turn around and tell you that you should buy. Does that seem right to you?

I was recently discussing this with another agent and she said, “Well, maybe the REALTOR® is new to the area so they want to figure out where they’d like to buy during their lease.” Really? Now you really don’t want to hire them. They are just learning the area and completely lack expertise on the subject.

I’ve yet to come up with a reason why a REALTOR® would rent yet encourage others to buy. Maybe you can come up with one and enlighten me!