Known as the “Real Estate Lady”, Maggie DeGennaro is a savvy realtor whose expertise in real estate can only be matched by her passion for helping buyers find the perfect home.

Before discovering real estate, Maggie began her career working in sales and marketing, where she gained 32 years’ of business experience working for companies such as IBM and Arthur Andersen Consulting.

After residing in Florida, it only seemed natural that her knowledge of the area, paired with her background in sales and business, would draw her to the exciting field of real estate.

Since receiving her realtor’s license at the Institute of Florida Real Estate (IFREC), Maggie has become a realty specialist in the Florida Marketplace. She has served on several committees, including the Florida Association of Realtors and Women’s Council of Realtors.

In additionMaggie DeGennaro to her work as a realtor, Maggie enjoys spending her time supporting great organizations, such as Make a Wish Foundation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Take Stock in Children Program and more.

Maggie was kind enough to share her advice and experiences in the real estate industry, including common reasons most first-time buyers are unable to purchase a home, fraud prevention tips, ways to storm-proof a property, and how the aroma of baked goodies reminds people of home during open houses.

How did you get your start in real estate and what do you love about it?

I received my license in Florida in 2004. It made sense for me to go into real estate after spending most of my career in sales and marketing. I have lived in the Central Florida area for 45 years, so I knew the area and the communities. I love the challenge of real estate because every transaction is different. I especially love working with first-time homebuyers as they generate so much excitement and they listen to you.

When is the peak selling season in Florida? Is there an off-season, and if so, what do you do during that time that is real estate related?

March is typically the start of the real estate season here in Florida, as least in the Orlando marketplace. The off-season here is generally in the holiday period (late November to December) although I have listed property on Christmas Eve.

I am very involved at the Board of Realtors here in Orlando where I serve on committees so I am a busy lady. I am a member of the Honor Society of Realtors, so that means I take more courses than required by my license and generally do that during my off-season period.

In your experience, what is the most common factor(s) that prevents prospective buyers from purchasing a property?

Number one on my list is not having their credit in order before they go forward with the buying process. Lenders today are strict with their guidelines so you have to do your homework ahead of time.

For me, once someone contacts me and they want to purchase a home, they must have a buyer’s consultation with me. During that consultation I will make them aware of everything they should and should not do during the process (Example: Do not make a major purchase such as a car; do not show large amounts of cash taken out of your accounts; do not change jobs during the process). Many people do not realize they need money for a deposit on a property and the other fees associated with the buying process. There are times I have to refer people to a credit counselor before we can go forward. At that point, we table the buying process until credit issues are cleared up.

Do you find it gets easier to match buyers to property over time?

Generally after a buyer’s consultation I get a good feel for what a customer is looking for. I can’t say it gets easier as everyone is so different. Real estate today has changed as customers are looking online first and when they come to see you they already have 10 pictures in their hand of that perfect home.

Do Florida homeowners do anything to prepare their homes for hurricane season? What can they do to ensure their home is storm-ready?

I have lived in Orlando for the past 45 years and have learned from the past hurricanes.

Here is my list:

  • Roof: Make sure you check your roof for loose tiles and shingles. Shingles can be fixed using roof cement. If you are not able to do this yourself, it’s well worth the money to have a professional come out and fix it for you. Most claims in Florida during hurricane season come from wind and water damage.
  • Windows: Replace broken panes.
  • Doors: Check that bolts are tightened and repair any damage that might be obvious.
  • Trees and Shrubs: Cut back trees, limbs and shrubs as Florida has many live oak trees and they fall easy during a bad storm.
  • Generator: Replace old fuel and make sure it starts up. Never use a portable generator inside your home. Many homes today have whole house generators that come on automatically when the power goes off.

Why is it more beneficial for sellers to use a realtor instead of FSBO? Is there ever a situation that would be appropriate for a FSBO?

In my experience people who try to sell themselves do not want to pay the real estate commissions. So if you are very educated in real estate process and have the time available to sell yourself, you may be successful in getting the property sold. FSBO sellers still have to pay a buyer’s agent commission if there is an agent involved, which is typically 3%.

The benefits of using a real estate professional:

  • For Sale by Owners (FSBO) tend to overprice their property as they don’t know what has sold in their community. A listing agent will do a comparative marketing analysis to show the current activity in the community.
  • There are many legally mandated forms that have to be filled out correctly. Your agent will guide you through the process. A missing form could trigger a lawsuit.
  • Your home will get more exposure when you list with a professional and most likely will be sold quicker.
  • A listing agent will make sure only qualified people are looking at your property as one of the first questions I ask a buyer’s agent is, “has your buyer been pre-approved to purchase property”? In today’s world it’s just not safe to open your home to people who have not been approved to purchase property. If I list a property, I have a consultation on safety while your home is on the market.
  • Your agent will schedule appointments to view your property and handle all inquiry phone calls.
  • Your agent will review all offers and make sure things are correct on the contract. If you don’t understand what you are signing it might lead to tax issues and additional seller’s expenses.

Do you notice real estate fraud becoming more common in the industry? What precautions should people take to protect themselves?

Sadly there will always be real estate fraud and there are many players in this type of fraud. I always recommend that people check out a real estate agent’s license to make sure they are a licensed professional. Go and meet the agent in the office they work out of if at all possible, as people have forged a license and your deposit may not make it to the attorney or title company.

Next, always have a real estate attorney review your contract and make sure you understand what you are signing.

Go to a reputable lender that you trust and have built a relationship with. If something sounds too good to be true then it is possibly a scam. Predatory lenders often push buyers to get loans with high fees and very high interest rates. This applies also to title companies. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable company that does their job to make sure the title information is correct and not forged.

The group most targeted by real estate scammers is the elderly, a homeowner already in foreclosure, or people facing a short sale situation. If Mom, Dad or Grandparents are buying or selling a home, stay involved during the process. At the height of the recession, many homeowners risking foreclosure were scammed by individuals and companies who told them they could help save their home only to take their home by having them sign the property title over to them.


Lastly, I have to ask about scents and open houses/home viewings. Is it true that realtors bake cookies or use scents to increase home appeal? Have you ever done this?

Well I indeed have baked cookies at my open houses and sometimes I have baked apple pies and bread pudding as the whole house smells like home to many people.

If someone has pets I recommend using mild smelling scents such as lavender or vanilla. Overdoing scents is probably not a good idea as many people today have allergies, and people may think you are masking problems.

For more information about Maggie, visit her website or join her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

Posted by Kristy DeSmit

Kristy is a blogger, Twitter enthusiast, and company legalese interpreter.