Looking for a Realtor to help you with the purchase of your dream home or to list your home? 

Following these simple guidelines might direct you to the best person for the job!

1) Get recommendations -

Family and friends who've recently purchased a home can be great sources of referrals of quality real estate professional. Find out from your source - how knowledgeable that agent is, how well that agent knows the community and its homes, and how well he or she may be able to meet your needs -- in terms of the type of property you want to buy and its price. You'll want to know whether the agent these people worked with sincerely tried to meet their needs, whether that agent did a good job in showing only homes that were in the buyer's price range and whether the agent was pleasant to work with and had enough time to devote to the buyer.

2) Look for your type -

When looking for an agent to assist you with your home search, search for one who specializes in what you are looking for. Check their designations -- through training, agents can earn designations that show they have expertise in certain areas. For example those with the "ABR" designation (Accredited Buyer Representative) are specifically trained to meet home buyers' (versus sellers') needs -- such as finding the right property, negotiating the best price and completing the purchase of a home. Agents with the Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) designation have been trained to work with clients who are 50 years of age or older, while agents with the National Association of Realtors'® New Green designation have received education on energy efficiency, environmentally sound building practices and what makes a property "green."

NAR has a list of NAR-accredited designations on its website. It may be in your best interest to hire a real estate agent who is a Realtor® and is an NAR member. Realtors® must comply with NAR's Code of Ethics and meet a standard of conduct -- not all real estate agents are Realtors®.

3) Go online - 

On the Web, Google or search for local real estate agents on Yahoo. Check for agents' advertisements in the local newspaper. You can also search for an agent using Trulia's "Find a Real Estate Professional" search, which let's house hunters and homeowners search for real estate agents, lenders, appraisers, etc., by location or keyword. Once you find a few agents who interest you, check out their websites -- on their sites you may be able to read up on their background, their business style and expertise -- whether it be first-time buyers or a particular neighborhood. The agents' websites no doubt will also provide you with several ways of contacting them -- e.g., via phone, text message or email.

4) Get face time - 

Once you narrow it down to a few agents who interest you, schedule meetings with them. Ask them about their years of experience, background, awards and designations and how long they've worked with their agency. Talk about the type of home you're interested in purchasing, your price range and the neighborhoods you like and get their feedback on how they can assist your search. Ask them how they'll keep in touch with you/update you on new homes on the market (e.g., by phone, email or text message), their hours and their current workload and availability. Keep notes so you can remember who said what when it comes time to make your decision.

5) Talk to other buyers - 

When you meet with the agents, ask for the names of some current and past clients. Interview these buyers, and ask them about their experiences working with a particular agent -- pluses and minuses of working with that agent -- and if they'd recommend him or her. Talking with actual buyers should give you a firm idea of which agent will be the best one for you.

I hope you found these tips helpful in finding the right real estate professional for you!!