Many homeowners, and even many novice real estate agents, assume that once they've found a willing and able buyer, a home is as good as sold. In many cases this can't be further from the truth. While finding the right buyer can be a daunting task for certain homes, this is only the first half of the battle to the closing table. Working a contract from the initial offer, all the way to the closing table, requires quite a bit of work. And that's for the easy deals.

An experienced agent can make all the difference during this phase of the home sale. And by experienced, we mean one that not only has the marketing know-how to find that right buyer, but one that also possesses the operational soundness to guide a transaction to a smooth closing. Some of the very top agents, or at least those that are perceived to be top agents, struggle with all the ins-and-outs of properly guiding a contract through its various stages of inspections, running point to keep all parties to contract deadlines, and coordinating with the many service providers that are involved from start to finish. Conversely, there are agents that only sell a few homes a year who are exceptionally good at this process, and never miss a beat.

When interviewing potential agents for the job of selling your home, we suggest asking about both sides of the selling process. A solid, experienced agent, should have a proven marketing program to get your home seen by all potential buyers, and a strong track record of actually getting those contracts finalized at the closing table. And as always, ask for a list of referrals.