The internet and social media have made consumers more informed about the real estate market than ever before. But there’s more to the process of buying and selling a home than knowing your home’s value or making market comparisons – even with an overwhelming amount of information at your fingertips, the real estate industry is constantly evolving. Having the advice of a trusted real estate expert is an irreplaceable resource in the journey of buying and selling a home. Finding the right real estate agent to work with is what will ultimately make the difference in ensuring the trip is a successful and fulfilling experience. For those who are considering buying or selling a home and are looking for a real estate agent, I offer some advice:

Know your options and interview at least three real estate agents before deciding. It is important that you compare agent experiences, references, resources and what they can offer to meet your needs. Make sure you ask the right questions and understand how this agent will represent your best interests throughout the process.

Take a serious look at each agent’s experience. While your instinct may be to work with someone you have personal contact with, you can’t ignore assessing the agent’s areas of expertise, background, and credentials. Realtors work hard to obtain designations and qualifications to increase their expertise and better meet the specific needs of their clients. Connecting with an agent on a personal level is important, especially since you want to establish a comfortable and open line of communication throughout this partnership, but that should not outweigh the experience and abilities of the agent.

Marketing and strong negotiation skills are two essential parts of the process of buying and selling a home. Effective real estate marketing is more than a signpost; an excellent real estate agent will explain in detail how they can provide successful and comprehensive marketing support. The marketing of a property has a direct impact on the speed and the selling price of a property. That’s why Coldwell Banker Realty offers Affiliate Agents customizable marketing packages to create a comprehensive and effective campaign for their clients’ homes through the Listing Concierge program.

By far one of the most important factors to consider is the tools and resources the agent is equipped with to improve their level of service. Consider how the resources and support available to your agent are in turn helpful in meeting your individual needs. Do they have a strong network or database? Can they provide professional staging and photography? Do they offer a home buying program or access to a trusted lender? Assess all the resources available and how much it will cost you.

Comparing the full value proposition of real estate agents before signing a contract is essential to ensure that your best interests as a client are represented. Assessing all of this takes hard work and thought, but once you’ve established a great relationship with the right real estate agent for your trip, you have the opportunity to build a lifelong relationship and have a trusted advisor to your future real estate projects.

Duff Rubin is the president of Coldwell Banker Realty in Florida.