Buying or selling real estate is one of the biggest transactions you will ever make in your life, so arming yourself with the very best person to assist you is essential.

Often, people select a real estate agent based on a recommendation from a friend or family member.

This isn’t wrong, and it certainly isn’t a bad place to start, but you should also do a bit of your own due diligence to make sure you end up choosing the right real estate agent for you and your needs.

Whether you’re buying or selling a home, here are some tips that will help you find the perfect real estate agent:

1. Meet with several real estate agents before choosing one.

Meeting and interviewing a few potential realtors gives you the opportunity to ask questions, learn about their experience and working style, and determine their areas of expertise and level of professionalism.

You want to work with someone who’s going to show up on time, has a great history of making deals happen in your market, and who will clearly address all of your questions and concerns.

Ask for a few references. Your agent should be happy to provide these, and you’ll gain valuable insights such as how long ago were these individuals were clients, what type of home they bought/or sold and what their experience was like with the agent.

[TIP: Want to check into an agent? You can visit the Real Estate Institute of Canada and perform a name search of an agent to review their qualifications and affiliations.]

2. Your agent should be an expert on the local real estate market.

Your real estate agent should be able to answer your questions about the local market with confidence.

What are the different neighbourhoods in the area like? Are there good schools and parks around? How much are the homes listing and selling for on average?

You want to make sure your agent is an expert on the neighbourhoods in which you’re most interested.

Take their answers, do a bit of your own research, and compare. An expert should be able to recommend the best price to buy or sell within your local market, which will ultimately help you make the best decisions.

3. Make sure your real estate agent can work around your schedule.

Does your agent work full- or part-time? Of course, not all agents work the same hours, but this will give you insight into their level of experience and involvement within the market.

Full-time agents will also have more time to work with you, and will likely be more willing to work around the hours that best suit your busy life. If they can’t provide you the time and flexibility you need, it’s probably worth finding another agent.

4. Pick an agent who picks up the phone.

Your agent must answer their calls or text messages, and of course reply to emails.

Whichever your preference, timeliness is important in the real estate game. You want your agent to communicate with you regularly and give you the information you need when you need it.

Your agent’s communication skills are also important because they’ll be coordinating with a number of other professionals during the process, from attorneys to home inspectors and mortgage consultants.

5. Pick a realtor who’s tech-savvy.

There are loads of great ways your agent can use technology, and strong agents will take advantage of this to be more productive and to get the best results for you.

Check out your agent's current listings on MLS. How attractive is the presentation? Most buyers start their search online, so this is very important.

Is your agent active on social media, and do they use it to market themselves and their clients’ properties? Does your agent offer you multiple ways to get in touch with them in a pinch? Do they use programs that allow for electronic signature of documents?

Buyers and sellers can often have conflicting schedules, so this can really streamline the process.

Not only will these tools and systems create efficiencies, but also they show that your agent is current and engaged with the industry.

6. Your agent should have a solid plan.

Whether you’re buying or selling, your agent should have a strategy, and they should be able to communicate what makes theirs different from other agents in the area. You may also want to ask who they see as their top competitors.

You’ll be able to evaluate how they answer this question — be it positively or negatively — and you’ll also learn a few more options for comparison.

7. Make sure you and your agent have a connection.

You’re going to have to spend some time working with your agent, so make sure the relationship feels right. A good agent will want to build a strong connection with you as well.

Does your agent listen and do they understand your budget requirements and what’s most important to you?

While experience and skills are valuable, your agent needs to understand your expectations, so find one who does.

Still wondering if you've chosen the right real estate agent? Read: Six Signs You’ve Hired the Wrong Realtor