Selling or buying a home is a crazy stressful process. It can be quick and painless or long and labored. It involves feeling every emotion you’ve ever had and probably a few new ones you didn’t even know existed. When you decide to buy or sell, it can be like adding something to an already full plate that cannot be contained. You’ve got kids, a job, a husband and an upcoming marathon sitting on the plate that makes up your life? Whatever. The magnitude of the real estate transaction can just spread itself all over everything else until it’s all you can think about. Who wants that?

I have sold more homes than I can count. I’ve sold apartments that cost insane amounts of money, and I’ve also sold studios and one-bedroom apartments to people who are just climbing aboard the wild roller coaster ride we call life. I’ve sold apartments in a day at full ask and struggled over a period of months to find a single offer for others that I thought would sell in a snap. When it comes to real estate, I am sure of one thing: No one can predict exactly how a transaction will go down.

It is also impossible to predict everything that could possibly go wrong. I’ve had buyers get arrested. I’ve had sellers go missing for extended periods of time. I’ve had to convince landlords to include a clause in a lease so that a client could keep a beloved marsupial as a pet. Crazy. Things. Happen. This is why if you want to keep your plate from toppling over and shattering into a million pieces during this process you need to work with a broker who is right for you. Your friend may highly recommend someone, or you might click with the first woman you meet about selling your home—those are great starts! However, I’ve learned that there are a few key qualities in a broker that can make the difference between having a super high stress experience and smooth sale:

Communication: How you and your broker communicate is the most important thing ever. Do you have a rapport with this person? Is this someone you feel comfortable discussing everything from your vision for your dream home to your finances? Talk to them about how they’ll communicate with you throughout the process. How often can you expect updates? How long to they usually need to respond to emails from clients (I respond within 12 hours, that’s my thing). Whenever a relationship between a broker and a client feels stressed, it’s almost always due to a problem with communication.

Partnership: I have compared the seven stages of the sale to the seven stages of grief. That’s because even the best of real estate transactions hit emotional bumps. Is your broker going to have your back and guide you through this whirlwind? Your broker works for the deal, but what that really means is she’s there to help you along the journey until papers are signed at that closing. That might mean explaining to you that while it’s beautiful that your daughter took her first steps in your house, that doesn’t mean you can reasonably ask a buyer to increase their offer by $100,000. You and your broker are partners in the journey that is getting your house sold or getting you in one you love. That means not saying yes to you every time you make a request. A broker should go above and beyond, but also know when they need to be honest with you about what’s reasonable for the sake of the sale.

Perseverance: It’s not unusual to think a deal is all tied up neatly with a pretty bow on top only to have it all fall apart. Welcome to real estate! You want a broker who isn’t afraid to get up again (and probably again, and maybe one more time) after being knocked over. How has this broker tackled challenges in the past? What’s the toughest situation they faced and how did they handle it? I saw a quote recently that I thought described a broker’s job perfectly: “A river cuts through rock, not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” Is this broker going to stick with you until the job is done no matter what happens?

Energy: While sure, an expensive suit and good shoes can help make a great first impression, ultimately, it’s all about energy. Does this person exude confidence and determination? The best suit in the world can’t mask a personality marred by fear and apprehension. Would you want to buy something from this person? Do you sense an air of excitement about the possibilities? The right energy can get buyers excited getting you closer to a sale more quickly.

Follow-up: I am obsessed with follow-up. Obsessed! I believe we can learn so much about what working with someone will be like based on how they approach follow-up. Do you receive a nice, personal email from them detailing why they want to sell your place? Do they call you to see if you have any further questions about why they are the person to help you find your next home? If they follow-up with you in a timely, personal but professional way, you’re getting a sneak preview of how they’ll treat you and respond to offers.

While I work tirelessly to get my clients great prices for their properties and help them buy their dream homes, I’ve learned that providing a positive experience for a client goes way beyond the transaction. Before selecting a broker for yourself, make sure that person will be there for you – that you’re not just another transaction. Hire someone who will be a partner in what will hopefully be a drama-free journey that ends with you getting just what you hoped for.