Buying or selling a home is often the largest, most complicated financial transaction any of us will ever make. A real estate agent can be an invaluable resource in this process and can potentially make or break your home buying or selling experience. But how do you find the right person? What qualities should you look for when selecting a real estate professional?

Here is a suggested list of important qualities that your real estate professional should possess before you work with them to buy or sell a home:

  • Readily available. Real estate is not a 9-5 business. You don’t want to lose out on a purchase or sale because your agent wasn’t immediately available. Great real estate agents are extremely responsive and available 24×7 if necessary. You need someone who is comfortable with the level of communication that you want and need. That individual should be able to provide prompt replies via phone, text, or email, even after “normal” business hours. You may also want to consider working with a real professional who is affiliated with a major brokerage and/or a team, so that they will have additional support backing them up if necessary.
  • Knowledgeable about the market. Look for a local professional who has a successful track record in your Neighborhoods and cities vary considerably and great real estate agents know the ins and outs of your particular community.
  • Skilled at using local data. Your real estate professional should know how to retrieve localized data and use it effectively in helping you buy or market a property. Local data points, including housing trends (top regions, average value of similar homes, home improvement spending), can be used to price your home competitively, market appropriately, and negotiate intelligently.
  • Well connected and reputable. Look for a real estate professional who already has a list of prospective buyers or who works within a well-known and well-connected real estate brokerage company. Many homes are purchased by someone from across the country or around the world. A well-connected real estate agent can easily promote your listing through their network of out-of-state and international buyers.  The size and quality of your real estate agent’s network can greatly expand your pool of potential buyers.
  • Direct and honest. When it comes to selling your home, you want your real estate agent to be brutally honest about the price range of your home in comparison with other listings. Agents who belong to national, state and local Associations of REALTORS® are committed to acting ethically in your best interests. Don’t take it personally if suggestions are made to rip out shag carpeting or repaint the neon lime walls in your home. Your personal style preferences may not be as appealing to the majority of potential buyers.
  • Tech savvy. Gone are the days of people finding home listings merely through newspaper ads or for-sale signs in the front yard. According to a National Association of REALTORS® survey, more than four out of 10 home buyers now begin their search online and more than eight out of 10 baby boomers and millennials use the internet at some point in their home buying search. You need a real estate professional who understands the ins and outs of selling a home online. From Zillow and Trulia and every other real estate website in between, your chosen real estate agent needs to have a strong online presence to effectively market your property.

Having an experienced, knowledgeable real estate professional to help navigate the complicated home buying and selling process is critical these days. Take the time to interview several REALTORS® before choosing the right one for you. By investing a little time upfront and asking the right questions you can help ensure that your home buying or selling experience goes smoothly and is successful.