FAQ

General Questions
1. What is your specialty and what locations do you serve?
2. Why do I need a sales associate to help me?
3. What are your fees?
4. What is the MLS?

For Buyers
1. What are the steps in buying a home?
2. How do I get pre-qualified or pre-approved?
3. I’m relocating from out-of-state, where do I start?
4. Do I need to sell my home first before I buy my next home?
5. What types of home financing is available?
6. What kinds of relocations services do you offer?
7. I’ve heard of gated communities in the area that have CDD. What is a CDD?
8. What type of services do you offer for home buyers?
9. I see homes for sale with a warranty, what is covered and for how long?

For Sellers
1. What is involved in selling my home?
2. What is a CMA and how can I get one for my home?
3. Do I need to get my home appraised before I sell it?
4. Do I need to get my home inspected before I sell it?
5. What should I do to prepare my home before selling it?
6. What type of services do you offer for home sellers?
7. Do you give any guarantees?
8. What is a home warranty and do I need it?
9. Generally, how long does it take to sell a home?

 

Answers to General Questions

1. What is your specialty and what locations do you serve?

I specialize in helping buyers and sellers of residential real estate in both Hillsborough County and Pasco County. Residential properties include all single family homes, townhomes, and condominiums. I am a real estate sales professional who complies with the Code of Ethics and Standards of Practices established by the NAR. As a professional, it is my duty to know and adhere to Florida’s Real Estate Laws and to practice with a high code of standard and ethics. Working with me, you will have the advantage that gives you peace of mind whether you are looking to buy or sell real estate.

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2. Why do I need a sales associate to help me?

Buyers usually bypass the assistance of a sales agent. Although it can be accomplished, getting help from a sales agent should make the process much easier and faster specially if it’s not going to cost you anything. Real estate agents are more familiar with the communities they serve and can give you all the information you need to know. Getting some help always makes the whole process painless and gives you more the peace of mind whether you are buying or selling real estate.

Sellers usually try to sell their home on their own before working with a real estate professional. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) are very common but success rate is usually low. Why? Because of either limited experience and/or exposure is limited to local buyers. Forty percent of the buyers are from out-of-town. These are the people who search through the MLS or looks in the internet as their source and the ones who are usually serious. To sell your home, you need a good marketing strategy. As your sales agent, I will give your home maximum exposure through an extensive marketing plan.

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3. What are your fees?

I do not charge fees for buyers of residential real estate properties. For buyers of homes all my services are free. For sellers, real estate law dictates that seller fees are not to be  established in the Tampa real estate market which means commissions are negotiable. But bear in mind, that buyers’ agents are paid from this fees that we charge by splitting the commissions with them. This is how you can attract other agents to work on selling your home.

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4. What is the MLS?

The Multiple Listing Service is a service that allows for the sharing of all real estate properties listed for sale by brokers in a certain area or region. This is a powerful tool that is purchased and used by majority of the agents to list and search for properties. Not all real estate agents and brokers working within the area have access to the MLS. As one who have full access to it, I will either help you find your home or list your property in the MLS for a period of 6 months or more. This is one of the best way to market your property.

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Answers to Buyers Questions

1. What are the steps in buying a home?

Buying a home requires careful planning because it is one of the biggest investment one can make. It becomes more critical when you are not familiar with the area that you are moving into. Here in the Tampa area, there are many eye-catching communities that gets new home buyers really excited. But watch-out, some communities may not look what they seem. As one who is familiar with the new communities in the area, I can educate you and help you in your decision.

Whenever I am going to make a major purchase, I always check my credit history by getting a credit report through a reputable credit reporting agency like Equifax. This is assuming that your are getting a loan. I usually do this much earlier so I can buy time to fix any bad credits or unexpected discrepancies in the report. But if your are confident of your credit rating then you can walk into your lender with confidence. Next, get pre-qualified or better yet, pre-approved by a reputable financial institution or lender (most lenders give pre-approval within 24 Hours). This way, you will know how much home you can afford. If you need to sell your current home, it will be a good idea to figure out your net proceeds. This way, you will have an idea of how much you may want to put down (SeeWhat is involved in selling my home?).

Know what is important in an area or community you and/or your family are looking for. Prioritize them and then collect all information of an area that satisfies either part or all of them. Use the elimination method. Sometimes, there are things that may need to be compromised. Know the property taxes in your County. Find out the schools, utility companies, stores and nearest highways. Know what the government’s (State or County) future plans are for that city and community and see how it may affect your living as well as the appreciation of your home. Let me know if you need help in getting all this information.

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2. How do I get pre-qualified or pre-approved?

Pre-qualification and pre-approval is the process of finding out how much home one can afford depending on the type of loan one wants to get. It can be done for an FHA, VA or the common Conventional loan using different formulas. A professional real estate agent can get you pre-qualified. You can get pre-approved through a mortgage broker of your preferred financial institution. Pre-approval gives you more security and assurance. Most lenders give pre-approval within 24 Hours. Go to our Tools and Calculators section and find out more.

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3. I’m relocating from out-of-state, where do I start?

The first step is finding the right area for you and/or your family. Tampa and the surrounding areas offer better living through newer and better communities that fits your lifestyle. There are many newer communities that are popping-up in the Tampa area. Check out the New Communities section.

Second, do some research in the internet or newspapers about the city and communities your interested in. If your looking for a new home, go to our New Home Builders section to find out Tampa’s top builders of 2003. If you like golf, there are several new golf communities around the area. Pasco as well as Hillsborough Counties offer several great championship courses created by well known designers. Go to our Golf Communities section to find out more.

Thirdly, plan your trip here in Tampa and let me know the area and community your interested in looking at and I’ll be happy to bring you there. Additionally, I will tell you and show you around the best communities in the area.

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4. Do I need to sell my home first before I buy my next home?

If you intend to sell your primary residence, most new home builders offer contingencies up to the point where they are ready to put up the drywall of your new home. If your not buying a new home the seller may or may not accept a contingency. Either way, depending on your financial status and credit score the lender may or may not approve you for the loan. Also, mortgage rates are typically higher for a secondary or vacation home. Check with your mortgage broker to see what options you have. If you don’t have one, let me know I can can recommend a few.

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5. What types of home financing are available?

There are only two types types of financing of which it may be combined, owner or seller financing or through a mortgage from a financial institution. There are three types of mortgages. FHA, VA and the most common, Conventional. Then there are different types of mortgages like the common 30 year / fixed or 5  year ARM. Please consult your mortgage broker to see what type of mortgage fits your needs or just let me know and I will recommend a mortgage broker that will explain all the possible options for you.

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6. What kinds of relocation services do you offer?

I have included a Relocation Services section that contains links of well-known home movers, auto movers and storage services from around the country. Also, in this section you will find some tips to make your move go smoothly.

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7. I’ve heard of gated communities in the area that have CDD. What is a CDD?

A good number of communities or subdivision in the Tampa area, have what is called a CDD (Community Development District).  Before development of a community, a developer gets financing from the local government via interest free municipal bond, usually a 15 to 30 year bond, for the development of the community’s basic infrastructure. A board, usually 5 person, chosen by the developer is formed to oversee the development. The board issues the bonds and levies taxes and assessments to the homeowners, who pay the added fees along with their county and city taxes. CDD fees varies per community and they range from $700 to $2500 per year. These communities separate themselves from the others as it is built around a huge conservation area and/or golf course. They usually have a nicer gated entrance with 24/7 security, beautiful landscapes, a huge club house, pool area, tennis, exercise room and playgrounds that are all shared by the homeowners.

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8. What type of services do you offer for home buyers?

1. Guide and assist you in the home buying process.
2. Help you find the community that fits your needs.
3. Search the Multiple Listing Service for you everyday for homes that matches your criteria.
4. Inform you in all critical steps of the buying process to keep you reminded.
5. Set up an appointment and accompany you in viewing all the homes that suits your needs.
6. I will prepare, explain and present all offers on your behalf and represent you in the negotiations.
7. Explain all documents, including disclosures, government papers and closing documents.
8. Accompany you in the pre-closing walk-through of your home.
9. Accompany and fully represent you in the whole closing process.
10. And if it applies…. issue a rebate check to you at closing.

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9. I see homes for sale with a warranty, what is covered and for how long?

Home warranties are getting very common with sellers specially for a home that is at least 5 years old. Warranties usually cover a home’s all major working components like the water heater…furnace…built-in appliances…electrical wiring…central air conditioning…exposed duct work…interior plumbing system and fixtures from breakdown for a period of 1 year. A Home Warranty Protection Plan is available starting at around $250.00 to either the buyer or the seller. If your going to buy a home without a home warranty, you may want to purchase this plan. Coverage begins from the day of closing to a period of 1 year. If your planning on selling your home, including a home warranty makes your home more attractive and gives your buyers an incentive. From a marketing standpoint, it will give your home an advantage from other homes being sold in your area without one.

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Answers to Sellers Questions

1. What is involved in selling my home?

When we shop for a product in a department store, we examine the product, its quality, its price and its warranty before we make a decision. The buyers of your home will do the same plus more since this will be a big investment for them. To sell your home, in order to attract buyers, your home must be attractive, in good or better condition and importantly, priced fairly. Having a home warranty will be a plus. A good rule to keep in mind is to always put yourself in the buyers shoes setting aside your emotions and being as critical as possible.

If you have been living in your home for a while, there’s usually things that needs to be fixed or maybe replaced. Start with the front door. This is the first place the buyer will see. Remember, first impressions are important. Then work on the kitchen since it’s usually the focus inside the house. Clean or replace the carpet. Clean all bathrooms and make sure to fix the plumbing specially for leaks. Re-paint walls that needs repainting. I can go on-and-on but the best way to make sure that you do the essentials and not over improve is to hire an independent home inspector. Usually, this is done by the buyers before the closing but you can stay ahead of the game and possibly save yourself thousands of dollars from buyers offering a lower price due to defects found by the home inspector they hired.

Price your home fairly. This is very important. If your home is priced too high, that alone is enough for potential buyers to not look at your home. You have to look at the comparables. Make sure your home is priced competitively with similar homes that’s currently in the market. I always prepare CMA’s (Comparative Marketing Analysis) for sellers in their respective areas before listing their home. Comparables may consists of similar homes in your area that was sold in the past year; similar homes currently in the market and; that has expired in the last 12 months. This process usually involves adjustments. Not all homes are exactly identical. Finally, get your home appraised by a professional appraiser. Most home sellers do not consider this at all. They either don’t know better, they forget, or the most common reason, they don’t want to spend the money. To get your home appraised is the best and sure way to know the fair market value of your home. Why do you think banks get homes appraised first before approving a loan? Get your home appraised, this may be the best expense you could ever make.

The next important step will be to market your home effectively. FSBO’s usually is limited in marketing their home locally through lawn signs and local paper ads. This is only about sixty percent of the buyers of which are mostly investors. Forty percent of the buyers are from outside the area and/or out-of-state.

Once you have a buyer for your home, you want to make sure they are qualified. You don’t want to get all the paper-work ready and find out that your buyer is not able to pay for your home. And talk about paper-work, you will need all the necessary documents prepared for the sale and closing of your home.

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2. What is a CMA and how can I get one for my home?

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) is basically comparing similar homes in your area that has been sold for the past 12 months; homes that is currently in the market; and those that have expired for the past 12 months. Since homes are not exactly identical, appropriate adjustments are then made to bring all homes to a level to come up with a competitive listing price and fair market value. Other cases like available financing and market conditions are also considered. I always prepare a CMA for a home to help and guide the seller in deciding a competitive listing price for their home. Note that CMA’s are not to be mistaken as an appraisal.

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3. Do I need to get my home appraised before I sell it?

Although you are not required to get your home appraised before you sell it, it is advisable because it is to your advantage if you do. Spend the extra money to get your home appraised by a professional appraiser. This way, you will know the real fair market value of your home. If needed, you can use the appraisal report during negotiations. It can also save you time if a buyer is considering getting a loan.

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4. Do I need to get my home inspected before I sell it?

You are not required to get a home inspection before selling your home but it is not a bad idea. Buyers usually get the home inspected before the closing to be able to find out any hidden problems that the house may bring. Problems sometimes could be a show-stopper and is usually used for further re-negotiations. It will be better if you know ahead of time what you need to fix. Sometimes, sellers fix what they can see and overlook the most important ones like the roof shingles, plumbing, termite damage, water damage, concrete cracks caused by settlements, etc. Newer homes don’t usually have this type of problems but it will not hurt to get your home inspected by a professional home inspector to cover all bases. Other type of inspections are: Mold inspection and Termite inspection.

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5. What should I do to prepare my home before selling it?

Getting a home prepared for sale is not an easy task. Depending on the condition of your home, it may take months before your home can be ready to market. People often ask when is the right time to sell their home? I say it’s when your home has been prepared for the sale. Although, there are some exceptions like marketing your home for a lower price, usually only attracts investors and people who are handy or have the time to do the fixing. Whether you have the time or not, it’s advisable to at least do a little cleaning before you do any showing.

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6. What type of services do you offer for home sellers?

Exposure is critical for the successful sale of a home. That’s why I always implement an aggressive marketing strategy for every home that I list. Anything will be hard to sell if people can’t see it or don’t know about it. During your no-obligation appointment, you will get a marketing presentation from me to explain what I will do for you and how I will do it. Below are the things you can expect from me when you make your appointment:

1. Explain the Charles Rutenberg “Standard of Excellence” vision statement.
2. Sit down with you and find out your immediate needs for selling your home.
3. Create a CMA for your home and present you with a pricing grid to suggest a competitive listing price.
4. Explain attractive financing offers that we keep available for potential buyers.
5. Show you all the legal details we pay attention to.
6. Advice you on how to effectively prepare your home for sale.
7. Provide you ways on how I will effectively market your home.
8. Show the benefits available to you for listing your home with Charles Rutenberg.
9. Present services available for you and leave flyers and brochures for your review.
10. Present you a written guarantee of your total satisfaction as our pledge to you.

As your Charles Rutenberg sales agent, you have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Click here to see more Home Seller Tips.

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7. Do you give any guarantees?

I present my clients, both buyers and sellers a guarantee for your total satisfaction signed by both you and me that I will perform all the services that I promised to do for you. If for any reason, you feel that I am not doing those services promised, then you can cancel our contract agreement anytime – with NO penalty.

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8. What is a home warranty and do I need it?

Home warranties are getting very common with sellers specially for a home that is at least 5 years old. Warranties usually cover a home’s all major working components like the water heater…furnace…built-in appliances…electrical wiring…central air conditioning…exposed duct work…interior plumbing system and fixtures from breakdown for a period of 1 year. I can recommend a Home Warranty Protection Plan to either the buyer or the seller. Selling your home with a warranty makes your home more attractive because it gives your buyers an incentive and peace of mind. From a marketing standpoint, it will give your home an advantage from other homes being sold in your area without one.

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9. Generally, how long does it take to sell a home?

Depending on several reasons like, condition of home, location, marketing, pricing and market conditions, a home will sell between 3 days and 6 months. Pricing the home right is very critical to selling your home and is usually the reason why it either sells quick or stays in the market longer than it should. Your home must be priced fairly. This is where a home appraisal from a professional appraiser can help. I will also sit down with you to discuss all the things that will affect the sale of your home plus help you determine a fair listing price.

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