Listing Homes and Finding The Right Realtor, with Super Agent Cheri Kaplan

Cheri Kaplan is the Commercial Director at Keller Williams Legacy Weston and President of ASP Accredited Staging Professionals.  She has worked in real estate for over 15 years and is experienced in selling residential and commercial properties. 

House Heroes asked Cheri for her insight on listing homes on the MLS and finding the right realtor.  See her thoughts below!

Q:        Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Cheri.  For the readers’ background, how did you originally get involved in real estate?  Why did you become an agent?

A:         I started working part time in real estate to increase my income while working in education.  My business grew so fast that I became full time within six months.

Q:        How about your career path?  Can you let us know your work background and experience?

A:         I have a background and degree in Psychology and Spanish.  Also graduate work in Education.  The psychology of sales assists me in my real estate practice and living in South Florida, I speak Spanish about 30% of the time with buyers and sellers.

Q:        Approximately how many houses have you sold?

A:         Good question.  With over 15 years of real estate experience, probably 500-600 homes as well as commercial property and businesses.

Q:        At the outset, how does one become a licensed real estate agent in Florida?  Is on-going training necessary? 

A:         A real estate course can take only one week to complete.  Then there is the state exam.  After the first year a post licensing course and exam is required.  Then bi-annual courses and exams.  In addition courses from the Board of Realtors and brokers are necessary to keep up with changes in technology and legal matters.

Q:        Homeowners selling real estate sometimes use a realtor, and other times do a “For Sale By Owner.”  What are the advantages to using a licensed real estate agent?

A:         Homes sold by owner usually sell for lower prices than homes marketed and sold by a realtor.  The homes are strategically priced, staged and marketed by a realtor usually sell faster and close to the asking price.  Statistics indicate that staged homes normally sell within 3% of asking price.  As the President of ASP Accredited Staging Professionals, I have over ten years of experience in staging homes and commercial properties for sale. Realtors also screen Buyers for proof of funds or loan approval.  Realtors can provide input to appraisers valuable in getting the home appraised for the price the seller requires.  Even after commission is paid, the seller can net more $$$$.

Q:        Homeowners listing on the MLS need an agent.  In Miami-Dade and Broward County, there are hundreds of realtors to choose from.  What should a homeowner do to ensure they pick a top notch agent that is right for them?

A:         A nationally branded company such as Keller Williams normally has more exposure locally and globally.  The use of List Hub or other service that links the MLS Listing to the top websites for buyers looking for homes is included when you list with a good realtor and real estate company.  The MLS is for realtors.  Buyers search on the internet approximately 90% of the time even when they are using a realtor.  Staging, professional photos, key search words, community highlights, etc. allow for the buyers to find the seller’s home and get the best first impression.

Q:        Does it matter if the homeowner is selling a single-family house, multi-family house, or commercial property?

A:         Yes.  Single family properties, townhomes, condos are listed and sold by a residential realtor.  Multi-family properties with more than 4 units and other commercial property such as strip malls, warehouses, office buildings and space are sold by a commercial realtor.  I am the Commercial Director at Keller Williams Legacy Weston and handle both residential and commercial transactions.

Q:        What is a CMA (comparative market analysis) and are they useful?  Do you provide them to clients?

A:         A market analysis is important in pricing a property to sell.  The price and exposure the first two weeks on the market is critical for the seller to sell the home for a good market price.  Properties that linger on the market for months have a lesser chance of selling at the market value if priced too high from the beginning.  The price then must be reduced, sometimes multiple times until the property is often sold under the market value.  CMA’s and appraisals are very subjective.  Appraisers use various valuations when considering the value of a property such as the cost approach, sales comparison and income capitalization approach.  CMA’s are adjusted for square footage, location, amenities, etc.

Q:        Should homeowners ask an agent for references?  Why or why not?

A: I think that asking an agent for knowledge about the neighborhood, where they have sold homes and the addresses or locations is more important.

Q:        Can you describe how agents are paid?  What are the rates?

A:         Agents are normally compensated as a listing agent or selling agent.  A standard listing is usually 6% which is split between listing and selling agent.  The agent then splits the commission with the broker’s office at various splits.  Listings can be from 5% to 12% depending on the transaction.

Q:        In our business, we often come across homeowners just beginning to think about selling their home.   What should a homeowner do prior to putting up their house for sale?

A:         Sometimes I get calls from perspective sellers that just want to know the market value of their home to make the determination to sell.  Prior to selling the home a homeowner should meet with a licensed realtor to evaluate the property.  Market value, pricing and staging are important.  Keeping the property clean, neat, neutral and fixing minor items that have been overlooked will put more money in the seller’s pocket.  Buyers like to envision themselves in the home and often cannot look beyond clutter, repair and smells.

Q:        As an experienced realtor, what are your biggest challenges?

A:         Properties that are subject to a loan would be the biggest challenge.  Getting the property to appraise is important in substantiation of the contract price and loan.  Also inspections can be a deal breaker.  A roof or air conditioner that are older or need replacing can kill a deal.  Keeping the roof in good repair and having the air conditioner in good working order is important.  Also a maintenance plan is helpful.  If it transfers to the buyer, if items covered cannot be repaired, they are replaced.

Q:        We’d like our readers to get to know you.  What is your favorite book – real estate related or otherwise?

A:         Good Question.  The book “Shift” written by Gary Keller is timeless.   It reflects that it is not all about the real estate market, it is about what you do.

Q:        When you’re not selling houses, what do you do in your free time?

A:         I try to keep balance in my life and work out regularly.  My favorite is yoga and I practice daily.  I also do animal rescue and am a supporter of the Wildlife Care Center in Fort Lauderdale.  In addition I have a small goat farm.

Q:        How can our readers contact you to enlist your services?

A:         Call me anytime!  I would love to hear your questions, input and would be happy to provide a complimentary market analysis of your property.  My office Keller Williams Legacy is located at:  1625 North Commerce Parkway in Weston, Florida.  My cell phone is:  954-205-5004.  Or you can email me.  My website is:  www.cherikaplan.net.  Look forward to hearing from you!

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