The moment you make the exciting decision to purchase a home, the search for a Realtor should begin. Remember, the commission is usually paid by the seller, so you get to have a Realtor represent you at no cost (the exception may be if you sign a buyer/broker agreement and there is no commission offered by a seller).
There are several ways to find the perfect Realtor for you. One of the best ways (and Realtors like this too) is to ask people you trust. Did they have a good experience? What did they like about their Realtor? Did they feel like they were well represented? Be sure that you ask about Realtors that work the neighborhoods you are interested in. You might find a great Realtor, but if they are not familiar with the neighborhoods you have chosen, they will not know the idiosyncrasies of that neighborhood, which is critical. A good Realtor will tell you if they feel comfortable helping you in your selected locations. Interview several Realtors and select the one you feel you can trust.
If some of the people you ask give a bad review of an agent, you might want to listen carefully to what they are saying and ask a few more questions. Did the person take the advice of their Realtor or feel that they knew better? Were they available to look at property when their Realtor called? Did they take the advice of their Realtor when writing an offer, or did they insist on writing it their own way? Particularly regarding the offering price, the Realtor will know what it will take for the buyer to get the property. Sometimes buyers can be their own downfall.
Trust is huge in the real estate experience. Your purchase can actually be smooth and fun as long as you have a Realtor you trust...and nothing will throw an experience like a buyer and Realtor who are constantly questioning each other. If you do not feel you can trust your Realtor, then you should not hire him or her.
Search for Realtors on the internet. Read their biography. If they write blogs, read them. See if they have comments from previous clients and if so, what the clients have to say. Many times you can find where they sell homes so you know if they sell in the areas you are looking.
While it is tempting to select a Realtor according to how many of their signs you see in the location you want to buy, don't rely on this completely. Sometimes Realtors are more listing agents than selling agents, so they may not be the best Realtor for you. If you go this approach, interview them. Ask how many homes they have sold in which they represented the buyers.
Ask the Realtor you are interviewing if they have a buyers agent they use. Will you be working with the Realtor or the buyers agent? If it is the buyers agent, you may want to rethink using that Realtor...after all, the trust is with the Realtor you interviewed...not their buyers agent. If you still want to work with that Realtor, ask to interview their buyers agent.
While experience is certainly a factor, many times the newer Realtors have loads of energy, initiative and drive. If you connect with a newer Realtor, ask them if they have someone who they can call if something arises that they don't know how to handle. Most of the time, they will have a mentor or broker who will be there if the need arises.
In summary, find a Realtor as soon has you have made the decision to purchase. Make sure it is someone you feel you can trust. Do your homework. And then...have fun!!!