By Susan Lavery

If you’re looking for a good real estate agent, I suggest you ask friends, neighbors, accountants and attorneys you may know for a good referral. You should also look around your neighborhood and see what real estate companies and/or agents have the greatest number of listings in your area.

Once you have those names, you can then interview the agents and see if they are a good fit with you. Personalities are quite important when you choose an agent. If the agent is pushy and won’t listen to you, your relationship may be rocky from the start. If the agent says only things that please you, you may have found an agent unwilling to be honest with you.

This is especially important if you want to sell your home. In Florida, most buyers’ agents do not work under a contract with their client, but sellers’ agents do, and you may find yourself stuck in an unhappy “marriage” with someone who is not representing your interests well.

Ask other sellers who have been satisfied with the services provided by a listing agent. Don’t just ask for a name. You should also ask about what they liked about the agent, how the agent treated them, the services the agent provided, the response time to requests, feedback from showings of their homes, whether the agent did the work or had associates doing most of the chores, and whether the agent was a good advocate during the negotiations and through the closing process. And please, please don’t go with an agent simply because he or she is the relative, friend or neighbor or someone you know. Ask how many successful closings this person has had and what problems they encountered along the way.

A good real estate agent will not only give you information about properties in your area your competition — but will also tell you what’s wrong with your house to make your home sell quicker.

Good agents usually don’t simply walk through the door. You need to do some legwork to find a good one. It’s worth the effort. I will also point out that not all real estate agents or licensees are Realtors. I am a Realtor myself and I think it is time and money well-spent to maintain that designation. If you agree, make sure to ask any agent you are interviewing if he or she is a Realtor.