Can I see your references?
Like anyone put on the spot in a job interview, a real estate agent is likely to emphasize all of his positives -- sales records, qualifications, experience and so on. But what he won't be able to tell you is what it's like to work with him day to day.
For this reason, whether you're buying or selling your home, you should always ask your real estate agent for references. Call a few of the references and ask previous clients about their experiences with the agent. Were they pleased with the work he did? Was he easy to get in touch with? Did he keep them well informed? Would they recommend him to others?
In the real estate business, word of mouth recommendations are as good as gold, so a positive review from a past client will give you a good idea whether the agent is worth your time. However, be sure to ask the references if they're related to the agent -- a reference list made up of friends and relatives probably won't give an unbiased assessment of the agent's positive and negative qualities.
In addition to information about himself, the real estate agent should be able to hand over information about the neighborhood in which you're buying or selling your home. Next we'll find out how prepared he is to fill you in on the current market.