This sponsored, biweekly Q&A column is written by Andrew Goodman, Associate Broker and top producing agent with Gallagher & Co. Real Estate, Inc. Based in Bethesda, Andrew serves clients in Maryland, D.C., and Northern Virginia. Please submit comments, questions, and opinions in the comments section or via email.

Question: I have purchased a home before and saw what my realtor did. I know I can do that on my own. Why should anyone hire a realtor?

As you can imagine, I have been asked this a lot. The bottom line is that good realtors add value for their clients. Choosing the right realtor is 90 percent of the battle.

A good realtor has knowledge of the current market to help a buyer know a good deal from a bad one. A good realtor will also  know how to help a seller list a property appropriately within its local market to attract as many potential buyers as possible.

Internet real estate companies don’t live or work in the actual neighborhoods like realtors do. A realtor has the experience to make sure the process flows as smoothly as possible. If a problem does arise, they know how to resolve it quickly.  In today’s market, this typically means getting into the lending process and loan approval guidelines.

Throughout my career I have seen ups and downs in the market, realtors come and go and the comfort clients feel when they have a realtor they trust. People know they are making one of, if not the single biggest investment of their lives. You don’t want to just leave it up to chance.

Knowing the ins and outs of a contract is crucial, but so is the client’s feeling of protection and support. An experienced realtor has seen hundreds or thousands of transactions in their career. They know what needs to be disclosed when listing a home and what needs to be investigated when purchasing a home to avoid lawsuits, litigation, or even health problems (lead-based paint, asbestos, radon gas, polybutylene piping, etc.). A lawsuit could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, but a realtor will only cost a small percentage of that and will avoid those potential problems.

Of course, finding the right realtor might be the hardest thing to do in a real estate transaction.

But if you look for some key attributes — experience, market knowledge and responsiveness — you won’t question using one again!