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Buying or selling real estate is one of the biggest transactions you’ll make in your life, so having the right REALTOR® by your side is essential.

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or seller, or you’ve been through the process before, you want to be sure you’re maximizing your investment. Choosing the right Realtor can make a significant difference in how fast you find or sell a house, the price you pay or receive, and how smoothly the transaction goes.

To kick-start your Realtor research, here are five tips from Ryan DeLuca, supervisor of training and compliance at CREB®.

1. Go with a pro
A Realtor is your trusted source for all your real estate needs. Not only do they provide invaluable professional expertise, they are committed to a high standard of professional conduct focused on the consumer.

2. Stay local
Look for a Realtor who is familiar with the area you are buying or selling in. Getting a personal referral from a friend or family member in the area can also simplify your decision.

3. Research their record and reputation
There are many resources online that can help you research a Realtor. Read their customer reviews, check out their digital presence and get a feel for their overall reputation. You should also confirm that they are licensed for the type of real estate you are interested in by checking on the regulator’s website. Spending a few minutes online can help you avoid major red flags.

4. Look for a connection
You’ll be spending a lot of time working with your Realtor, so make sure the relationship feels right. They should be someone you can trust throughout the process.

5. Agree on expectations and commission
Before you sign your contract, ask any questions you have and settle on a detailed plan that includes all the steps they will take to sell or find your home. This will help manage expectations for both parties during the buying or selling process.