Not all Real estate agents are created equal. Not only because some people have that go-getter personality, the kind that makes us think creatively to accomplish a goal and save a deal while others simply lack those over-achieveing traits, but because not every real estate agent has taken the time to educate themselves to be better sales people, better deal makers and the best at what they do.

Here, you will find a few ways to help you distinguish between the good, the bad and the ugly before hiring a real estate professional:

1. First off, you should know that not every real estate agent is a Realtor. A real estate agent has a state license that allows them to sell real property in that state. In New Jersey, the class lasts 75 hours, typically taken over the course of several weeks and is followed by a school and then state exam. A Realtor however, is a member of the National Association of Realtors and someone who must abide by a strong set of ethical standards.

2. A good Realtor should be someone who thinks real estate is a serious business and treats it as a full-time profession. Ask them questions about their track record. How many homes they have listed, how many they have sold, etc.

3. Ask what kind of continued education they have,what designations they hold and what they specialize in.

4. Some Realtors specialize in commercial properties, while others in residential. The Realtor you hire should have experience in selling and buying the type of property you’ll be buying/selling.

5. Hire someone who specializes in your geographical area and knows the various subdivisions, the prices, the bargains, the nice streets, the best values, etc.

6. A Realtor who has been in the industry for a while should have established sound working realtionships with people in related fields, such as mortgage brokers, property inspectors, etc. and can recommend them to you.

7. A professional Realtor keeps abreast of current market conditions and can advise you accordingly.

8. A good Realtor should treat every transaction with skill, care and diligence. Ask for references. You ask for references before hiring a plumber, so why not before hiring the person who will help you sell your most valuable asset? make sure you call a couple of past clients to find out how the Realtor performed and whether they were happy and satisfied with their services. Ask them also if they would hire them again.

9. You should feel comfortable working with the person you are hiring, so make sure you both take the time to meet the Realtor and ask questions.

10. A Realtor should feel comfortable explaining to you the purchasing and/or selling process. Ask if they have a written guide for home buyers/sellers or any other tool you might find useful in the home buying-selling process.

11. A Realtor is someone who can answer all of your questions honestly or help you find the answer if he/she doesn’t know it.