Buying or selling a home is perhaps the largest financial transaction most people will make in their lifetime.

So, it makes sense for people to do some spade work before deciding on a real estate agent.

“Choose your Realtor thoughtfully,” advises Rebecca Sprague of Shorewest.

Cathy Liebert of Realty Executives stressed advice that many in the business espouse. “Don’t work with friends or relatives. That’ll get you trouble right off the bat,” she says.

It is not surprising that Liebert and Sprague both feel experience is most important when selecting a realtor. Liebert has 40 years of experience as a Realtor, while Sprague has been a realtor for 25 years.

“Experience and networking are key elements in our industry,” said Sprague.

Liebert said that, with the favorable housing market, “so many people are jumping in” to the real estate profession. “There are so many new ones out there.”

She suggested the real estate agent you choose should have at least five years of experience. “Would you choose a heart surgeon who’s only done a few surgeries?” she asked. She added that a full-time real estate professional is best, rather than someone doing it part-time.

Both Sprague and Liebert believe a good realtor will know the community.

“You should get to know their relationship to the community and your family,” said Sprague.

Liebert said a good real estate agent is “someone who knows the area, knows the schools, shopping. Someone who’s involved in the community.”

Sprague also feels that advanced designations “add to the expertise of a realtor.” She maintains Certified Residential and Graduate Realtor Institute designations, which, she said, “have helped me with client relationships and networking nationally.”

Liebert said a good realtor should be on the Multiple Listing Service, contending, “It’s such an advantage.”

She also said it’s good to check realtors’ websites to see “what their photos are like,” since pictures are a key element to selling a home. Liebert says she has taken advantage of technology with the help of her daughter, the other half of the Liebert Team with Realty Executives, who has added “a twist on technology and social media marketing” to their real estate business.

Liebert also said that a realtor should be “a good listener, so that they don’t waste your time,” and that he or she should be “visible in the community.”

One way to meet realtors is by attending open houses in the area, Liebert says.

She added that the market is becoming very complicated and that there is so much more paperwork involved in a home transaction today than in years past, making it difficult for the client to read everything.

“There are so many details. You have to trust your realtor,” says Liebert. “No two transactions are alike.”

Considering the complexity of home transactions today, Sprague feels that realtors who are part of organizations have an advantage.

“Choose a realtor who is a member of the National Association of Realtors and is a fiduciary, holding your interest first,” she said, adding, “Choose wisely. Your home is a big investment for your family for years to come.”

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