It’s no wonder that buying or selling a home ranks high on the list of the most stress-provoking events one can experience, up there with the death of a loved one and divorce. There’s a lot at stake financially when you buy or sell a home. A good or bad outcome can affect your net worth, as well as your sense well being.

There are a lot of factors involved in buying or selling a home that are beyond your control. For example, interest rates could jump unexpectedly, or an inspector might uncover a defect that you were unaware of. However, there are steps you can take to maximize your chances for a successful real estate endeavor.

The first step is to hire the right professionals to help you accomplish your goal. If you don’t already have a real estate agent, mortgage broker and closing agent that you’ve worked with successfully before, ask friends and associates for recommendations. Take the time to interview each referral carefully to make sure that there’s a good fit. Make sure to check references. If you have any doubts about a candidate, continue the search until you find qualified professionals with whom you have good rapport.

A common mistake home buyers and sellers make is to underestimate the time it takes to get the job done. Resist the urge to pile additional work on yourself while you’re in the midst of a home purchase or sale. By doing so, you’ll be better able to manage stress.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: One of the keys to ensuring that your real estate venture will have a happy ending is to make a commitment to stay involved in the process every step of the way. Even though you hire professionals to assist you, they aren’t the decision-makers. You are. Problems can arise if you relinquish control and let your real estate agent or mortgage person make decisions for you.

Let your agent know that you want to be kept informed of developments as they arise. The sooner you know about a problem, or potential problem, the sooner you can work on resolving it.

Don’t be shy about asking for an explanation of a facet of the business, or your transaction, that you don’t understand. If you don’t buy and sell real estate on a regular basis, you shouldn’t expect yourself to know the ins and outs of the business.

As tedious as it might be, it’s important to read and understand every document before you sign it. Make sure you receive copies of everything you sign. It’s a good idea to retain these documents, even after the transaction closes. If there’s a problem during or after the transaction, this documentation could prove invaluable in proving your case.

It’s also wise to keep a transaction log. This can be something as simple as a notepad on which you record important transaction-related conversations. Keep the log with your other transaction documentation in case you need to substantiate who said what later and when.

Be nice, but let your real estate team know what you expect from them. This should include periodic written or verbal updates. If you’re not receiving the service you need, let this be known. Don’t expect the people working for you to be mind readers.

You should expect that problems of some sort will arise during the course of your home purchase or sale. How you work through the problems has everything to do with the parties involved and how well you communicate with one another.

THE CLOSING: Good rapport is worth its weight in gold.

Dian Hymer is author of “House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers” and “Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide,” Chronicle Books.

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