Excerpts from an article written By Reno Berkeley
Real estate agents may work exclusively with buyers or may switch between sellers and buyers, depending on preference. In some states, real estate agents must also work under a licensed broker. When you choose a buyer's agent, there are a number of things to look for to make your experience more pleasant and less stressful.
A Clear Cut Contract
Your buyer agent should offer you a contract that is clear and concise. Most agents do not require a retaining fee to work with you. The reason for this is because the agent will receive a percentage of the sales price from the selling agent. Some buyer's agents, however, do require a fee to work with you, and this should be delineated within the contract. The agent should also be upfront about any fees charged before you sign any paperwork. A fee or a lack thereof does not necessarily indicate an agent's skill or experience, and depending on your locale, a retainer may or may not be the norm.
Experience and Knowledge
A buyer agent should know how to do the following: locate and assess properties in your chosen price range, decide on the best offer amount based on fair market value, develop a negotiating strategy with you and prepare a purchase contract. Buyer agents should have your best interest in mind. Therefore, once a property is under contract, the buyer's agent should recommend the best home inspector for you if you don't already have one, and walk through the home herself to determine possible issues with the property.
•Buyer agents should have strong credentials that set them apart from uncertified agents or those without certain designations. For example, if you are looking for a home in a certain neighborhood, your best bet is to find an agent who is a neighborhood or residential specialist for that area. Most real estate agents are also Realtors. In order to be one, the agent must have a GRI designation, meaning "Graduate Realtor Institute." This entails more training and knowledge than agents who do not have this designation. Buyer agents who come with referrals from previous clients can also be a good indication of the level of service you will receive during your home search.