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Among the most important steps you take on your journey toward homeownership are getting pre-approved for a loan first and finding a dynamic real estate agent.

This significant transaction of buying a home requires someone with the market and financial knowledge to guide you through the complexities and unexpected surprises that can arise.

As you begin your search for the right loan (by getting pre-approved first), you’ll also want to line up a reliable real estate agent. In order to accomplish that, here are five questions you should ask of candidates so you can find an ideal fit.

How long have you been in the real estate business?
You’ll want to partner up with an experienced real estate agent who provides the support needed to help you.

Industry knowledge and market awareness are two major sources that will assist you in making good decisions. This question will give you an idea of those qualities, and may provide peace of mind as you move ahead.

How many homes in my selected neighborhood have you worked on?
Multiple micro markets are possible in one city and are driven by different market forces and influences. It’s, therefore, important that the agent you select is well aware of the dynamics within your neighborhood of choice.

These local experts will also have a lot to say about features unique to the area, such as schools, historic districts, development, traffic and even good places to eat and hang out.

This question is of vital importance. As they say, location matters in real estate. So, get someone who knows it well.

Are your clients equally buyers and sellers?
Some agents will specialize on either end, so it’s important to see where your agent stands from an experience standpoint when it comes to helping buyers.

However, an agent who’s well versed on working on both sides will provide greater insights for valuable input.

When you make a selection, it’s important to pick someone who matches or exceeds this requirement.

How do you plan on keeping in contact with me?
Communication is key. A real estate agent who’s most effective will provide constant updates and will be available for your questions.

As you ask this question, it’s a good time to discuss your preferences for how you want to be reached. Whether it’s by phone, text, email, social media or a combination of those, get a feel for what type of communicator your agent will be.

Make it a point to lay out your expectations so there are no letdowns once it comes time to doing business.

What should I avoid in this homebuying process?
Honesty is always a good policy. Asking your potential agent about what you should avoid and being open about it will prepare you for possible disagreements down the road.

Above all, it’s important that your agent is open with you so that you can build trust. This question is designed for just that.

This trust will go far as you get into the nitty gritty of the process, long meetings and when you meet to make big decisions.