Selecting a Realtor for the sale or purchase of your home is a big decision. Just because someone passed the real estate exam does not mean they are a good fit for your transaction. With so many to choose from, which one is right for you?

First and foremost, look up your prospective agent’s license. How long have they been in business? Have there been any disciplinary actions or complaints? This information may be posted online and will be beneficial to making an educated decision.

Check out the agent’s reviews online. Are past clients happy with their service? Or was it a complete nightmare? Obviously, you want to know what you are getting yourself into.

Choosing the most successful Realtor means you are choosing the busiest Realtor. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, if you are a first time home buyer you may want to choose someone who can take extra time to guide you along the way. Although experience and success are important factors, motivation and determination are vital characteristics of a skilled agent.

Make sure you research the Realtor’s marketing efforts. This is huge. Do they hire professional photographers to take enticing pictures of your home? Do their home descriptions make you want to view that house? Are they highly active on social media? These are all very important marketing questions that need to be answered before you choose the right agent. Proper marketing ensures a faster sale of your home.

Last but certainly not least, choose a Realtor whom you are comfortable with. This will make it easier to voice any concerns you may have. After all, communication is key. If you have to wait a while for a call or text back for basic information, chances are they won’t be available when something important happens.

Only you can determine which Realtor is the right fit for the job. Take your time and interview a few agents. Real estate is kind of like love; when you know you know.

Congratulations! After negotiation and maybe a few tears, your offer was finally accepted on your perfect home. Before you pop that bottle of champagne, make sure you follow these next steps. After all, the battle is only half over.

The first critical step to securing that dream home is depositing your escrow. You must deliver the earnest money deposit to the title company in the format and timeline agreed upon in your sales contract. Don’t be late! You do not want to be in breach of contract and risk cancellation.

The second important step is to schedule the property inspection. You want to choose a reputable inspector that will do the inspection as soon as possible to assess the home and determine if any repairs are needed. You may need multiple types of inspectors so be sure to discuss the options with your Realtor.

Next, be proactive and let your lender know you are under contract. Make sure you give them all their requested information on time. You do not want to delay and slow the closing process down or risk contract cancellation.

Once you receive the title commitment from your title company, be sure to review it and ask any questions immediately. The title commitment will provide you with the title history of the home and disclose any liens against the property. If there are liens, they will need to be resolved before closing.

The fifth step is to order the appraisal. This should be done after you have completed the inspection and resolved any issues. Your lender will do this for you to ensure that your new home is worth the loan amount that you are requesting. Buyers are typically required to pay for this, and the cost will appear on the closing disclosure as part of your closing costs.

Following the appraisal, you will need to shop around for the home owner’s insurance policy. This step is required by your lender. Research your options and choose the one that best suits your needs. Once you have selected the provider, make sure to inform your Realtor, lender, and Title Company.

The hardest parts are now finished! Your next move is to schedule the utilities to be transferred into your name and turned on before closing. The sellers will likely provide you with the utility contact information. Now it’s time to schedule the closing! Your sales contract will have an agreed upon closing date. Communicate with your Realtor and schedule the appropriate closing time with your title company. The day prior to the closing, you will need to contact the title company to verify any monetary amount needed from you to close. Most title companies require a wire transfer. Your last action before closing is to complete the final walkthrough. You want to make sure that all repairs have been made and personal belongings have been moved out.

You’ve completed your required steps; it’s finally time to close! Be sure to bring a state issued identification card such as a driver’s license or passport to the closing. All that is left to do is sign the closing documents and wait for the lender to fund the transaction. Once the deal has been funded, the house is officially yours! The process can be emotionally and physically draining but if you follow the steps above, your closing should go off without a hitch. Now is the time to pop that bottle of champagne and move into your new home!