Here are some tips to maximize your results when working with a real estate agent.

First off, be very clear about what you're looking for in a home. Make a list for yourself and for the agent of what your new home must have (four bedrooms, a big yard, at least two bathrooms, a bidet, etc.) and what would be nice to have (a swimming pool, a nearby polka hall). It's also useful to rank your nice-to-have items in order of importance and to make a list of features you don't want (a busy street, a very old house, etc.). These details can help your agent not waste time showing you homes that don't meet your needs and wants.

Also, honor any agreements. If you're not to use other agents, don't. If agents get wind that you're not playing by the rules, they may put a lot less effort into serving you. This goes beyond rules, too. Just be honest. If you're using two agents, let them know. (Don't feel that you have to sign any exclusive representation agreement. You might find it best to use several agents at first until you determine which one you like best.)

You can learn more about home buying in our Home Center -- we've even got some good deals on mortgage rates for you there and info on refinancing. In addition, drop by our Buying or Selling a Home discussion board to glean more tips or share experiences of your own.