Do you need to choose a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house? Here are a few ways to go about it:

  • Ask your friends and neighbors for referrals, if they live in the area.

  • If you don't know anyone in the region where you're looking, contact the Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce and ask for the names of several agents who are members. Try to call at least five of these agents and meet with at least three.

  • Interview agents. Ask each one about her background, training, and experience. Ask about homes in the region. See what questions she asks you and how well she listens. See if you trust her. You're looking for a strong agent with experience and good negotiating skills. Make sure she'll be able to recommend a few settlement lawyers and building inspectors, if you anticipate needing them.

  • Ask to be shown one house. See how the agent shows it to you and how comfortable your rapport is. Is she showing you the kind of home you're looking for?

  • Evaluate what kind of information the agent is able to give you. You don't necessarily have to be the one digging up the scoop on local schools and neighborhoods. A good agent might have handouts at the ready, or at least, a lot of information stored in her noggin.

  • If you don't find someone you like at first, keep looking. The more agents you check out, the greater the odds of finding your best fit.

You can learn more about homebuying in our Home Center -- we've even got some good deals on mortgage rates for you there.