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Whether you’re a buyer searching for the ideal home for your family or a seller wanting to get top-dollar for your property, one of the ways to increase your chances for success is to find an experienced realtor.

When you have an experienced realtor at your side, you’ll have someone working towards your best interests, guiding you through the different processes involved with buying or selling a home.

But searching for a good realtor isn’t always easy – you need to find out if he or she can help you towards achieving your goals.

One of the best ways to do this is by asking them a couple of questions. This will give you a better picture of how a realtor can fit in with your plans.

Here are some good questions to ask before you hire a realtor:

Are you a part-time or full-time Realtor? – If you’re searching for a realtor who will work closely with you by giving you (and potential buyers of your home) his full attention, it’s a better idea to go with a full-time realtor instead of someone working part-time.

How long have you been in real estate? – While a newly licensed realtor can do a great job, someone who has spent more years working in real estate has more practical experience when it comes to buying or selling properties.

How many successful sales have you completed in this area? – If you’re selling a home, you want to work with someone who’s very familiar with the local market. The more stats and data (such as prices, average days on the market, and average sale to list price ratio) a realtor can provide, the more it tells you about their selling experience in the area.

How do you plan to advertise or market my house? – Look for a realtor who can give you a marketing plan that contains both online and offline components – this will ensure your house will reach a wider spectrum of buyers.

Am I obligated to work with service providers you recommend such as inspectors or lenders? – Steer clear of any agent who answers “yes.” While some realtors can offer solid recommendations, you should never be pressured into getting their services. It’s also illegal for realtors to force clients to use a specific lender or service provider.

What is your advantage over other agents? – Remember to look past a realtor’s enthusiasm – it’s expertise you’re looking for. You want to work with someone who knows the neighborhood, has a long list of satisfied clients, and can handle any special requirements you may have.

Do you have experience in handling foreclosures or short-sale transactions? – You can find plenty of good deals on distressed properties, but they often come with increased liability and complicated paperwork. You can tell if a realtor is experienced when he or she has closed multiple deals with banks.

What happens if I’m unsatisfied with your service? – Most realtors get paid when you purchase a property, so they already have an incentive to close a deal, even if you have concerns about the quality of their service. Ask if a realtor is willing to guarantee your satisfaction, and what he or she can offer if ever you’re unsatisfied with their service.