When buying or selling a home, finding the best Realtor or real estate agent that knows the housing market, listens to you and fits your personality is a must.

Q: We are selling our home possibly next year and would like to know how to find the right agent to represent us. We will obviously choose a few to talk to initially and see which one impresses us the most.

We are in Hoschton, Ga. and would like to know if there is any way to find the agent in our general area that has the best sales record over the last 12 months and any other criteria you may feel we should look for in an agent. Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated.

A: Choosing the right agent can make the difference between selling your home and letting it languish on the market.

As the daughter of a successful real estate agent in Chicago, Ilyce can tell you that the best agents not only have a real understanding of the housing stock, but they also have years of experience watching property come onto and off of the market. They understand why sellers sell, what motivates them, and how you can take advantage of the situation (ethically, of course).

But we find that the best agents really know how to listen to their clients. They understand what the client needs, and what goes behind a request for a specific location, housing type or even specific amenity. What you want to find is someone who sells homes that are similar to yours (price range and amenities) in your neighborhood.

When looking for an agent, you’ll want to tour your neighborhoods of choice and see which agents and which brokerage firms tend to show up in the signage most frequently. Call three or four different companies and ask to speak with the managing broker. Tell the managing broker what your price range is, describe your family and personal situation, and then ask the broker to suggest an agent who would meet your needs. Interview these three or four different agents to see which one is a good fit.

Hiring a real estate agent is a little like a short-term marriage – you’ll want someone you’re compatible with, so don’t choose a smoker if you don’t smoke, for example. If you like to handle all correspondence through email or texting, don’t choose an agent who doesn’t use a computer or email much and rarely texts. Even if the agent really knows the housing stock, you’ll want to make sure your personalities work well together, because this is the person who will be reassuring you during the dark days of your sale – and there will be dark days (hopefully not too many).

Above all, don’t sign a year-long listing agreement. Hold the agreement to 90 days, or have a 30-day out clause, so that you feel comfortably in control and can make a change if need be.

We have a lot of information about agents on our website, and encourage you to find out more.