Because this spring will be a seller's market, homeowners may believe it will be easier for them to sell a home without a real estate agent. Doing so, however, might actually hurt their sale. Without the expertise of an experienced agent who knows how to properly market, price, negotiate and fill out complex paperwork , sellers may find themselves making several unnecessary mistakes that could cost them significant amounts of time and money, not to mention a lot of additional confusion and stress. 

Agents are important to helping homeowners navigate housing market, which can be stressful and complex no matter whether it currently favors the buyer or the seller. Real estate analytics company Keeping Current Matters said those who go it alone should have an extensive understanding of online marketing as well as know how to negotiate with buyers, attorneys, home inspection companies, appraisers and more. Otherwise, it is best to leave all of that to a trustworthy agent. 

Deciding you need an agent, however, is just the beginning. You don't simply want to hire the first agent in your area who pops up on your Google search. Rather, choosing an agent should be calculated and deliberate, and you should most definitely take your time. You may be in a rush to get your home on the market, but hastily jumping into a relationship with an agent could hurt you in the long run. The more time you spend on the front end to find a qualified agent you love, the more stress, time and money you'll save later on. 

There are many questions you should ask yourself before choosing an agent to help you sell your home. 

Does this agent have knowledge of the local neighborhood and market? 

Every local housing market is different. You may know a real estate agent who does incredible work, but if that agent does not know what's going on in your neighborhood, it will be difficult for him or her to make informed decisions about how to price the home and how to best appeal to local buyers. According to Real Estate ABC, an agent does not have to live in the neighborhood to know it well. Rather, he or she should be able to offer information regarding schools, businesses, recent sales and other neighborhood amenities.

According to U.S. News and World Report, another benefit of a real estate agent who works in your neighborhood is he or she will probably have contact with nearby buyers who might be interested in looking at your home. 

How many agents have you interviewed? 

Before making a final decision, it is best to interview at least three agents to compare their strategies and ideas for how best to sell your home. The more agents you speak to, the more you will be able to get a feel for what you're looking for - and what you're not.

Beyond giving yourself a chance to feel out different people, interviewing a variety of agents can help you better identify the wrong one. U.S. News and World Report explained that the listing prices each agent suggests for your home should be relatively similar. If one agent suggests a price that is grossly out of sync with the others, you will know that agent is not the one to work with. 

Have you checked references? 

Real Estate ABC said gut feeling isn't enough. It's a start, sure, but once you think an agent might be a good fit you have to speak with others who have worked with him or her. Clients who have recently used the agent will be able to tell you exactly what he or she is like to work with, and that kind of information will be invaluable in helping you make your decision. 

Does the agent specialize in your type of home? 
HGTV said to make sure the real estate agent you choose has experience working with the type of property you want to sell. A real estate agent may have an amazing track record selling single-family homes, but what if you're selling a condo? It is best to make sure your agent's experience aligns with the type of property you want to sell. 

Have you asked all of your questions? 

U.S. News and World Report emphasized the importance of not being afraid to ask questions. You could spend a very long time working with this person, and it is important you gather as much information as you can about what that experience will be like. Find out whether the agent often communicates through email or whether you should expect a lot of phone calls. Ask about the number of homes the agent has sold in the same neighborhood and about anything else you feel is important to understand before making a commitment. 

According to legal advisory website Nolo, a real estate agent plays six key roles in the home selling process:

  1. Determining the asking price 
  2. Staging your home to appeal to buyers 
  3. Diligently marketing your home
  4. Making sure you disclose any information about which you are legally required to inform buyers 
  5. Negotiating with buyers once offers are made 
  6. Completing all tasks by the date of closing 

Before committing to an agent, make sure you understand his or her strategy for each step of the journey. Most importantly, make sure you have found an agent who will fervently advocate for your best interests.