You are ready to find the home of your dreams.

No doubt you’ve heard all kinds of home buying advice, such as starting negotiations by offering a certain amount below the asking price or making a bid that’s a specific amount less than what you’re willing to pay for the property. But when it comes to real estate, your offer should be based less on a formula and more on market conditions.

This is where an experienced real estate agent can be helpful. Using information from a variety of sources, agents can help you navigate one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make. Here’s how a real estate agent assists you in the home buying process:

1. They have access to information that you don’t.
Real estate agents have access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which is a database of all the homes for sale in your area. This means that they can see listings for homes that aren’t even on the market yet. They also have connections with other agents and can find out about homes that might be coming up for sale soon.

2. They know how to negotiate.
One of the most important parts of buying a home is negotiating the price. Real estate agents are experienced negotiators and will fight to get you the best price possible on the home you want.

3. They can help you avoid pitfalls.
There are a lot of potential pitfalls in the home-buying process, from hidden damage to zoning issues. A good real estate agent will be able to help you avoid these pitfalls.

To help your real estate agent best help you, keep these tips in mind during the home buying process:

1. Communicate your needs and wants.
Be upfront with your real estate agent about what you’re looking for in a home. This will help them narrow down their search and show you homes that fit your criteria.

2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage.
Before you start looking at homes, it’s important to get pre-approved for a mortgage. This way, you will know how much you can afford to spend on a home, which will make the home-buying process go more smoothly. You don’t want to fall in love with a house only to discover you cannot get a mortgage for it.

3. Be prepared to make an offer.
Once you’ve found a home you’re interested in, your real estate agent will help you put together an offer. Your agent will explain the current market conditions, and you should be prepared to negotiate if necessary.

4. Have realistic expectations.
It’s important to remember that the perfect home doesn’t exist. Be willing to compromise. Make a list of your must-haves and your would-like-to-haves.