Picking the right real estate agent to help you find your next house could save you many hours of wading through Internet listings, viewing homes that aren't right for you, and perhaps save you $$$ in the negotiation process .
First, I would suggest selecting an agent who normally works not only in the area where you wish to purchase a home but also the price range. He/she should be up to date and knowledgeable about local listings, neighborhoods, schools and general area information. They should be up do date on recent sales in your targeted area and/or neighborhoods.
Some agents may disagree with me, but most buyers would be better served by working with a real estate agent who does real estate full time vs a part-time agent. You want an agent that makes real estate a priority. Along that same line, I would also suggest asking the agent how long they have been working in real estate. While the amount of time they have been a real estate agent doesn't guarantee their ability to do a good job, the skills needed are mostly learned while actually doing the job. So hiring an agent who makes their living by listing/selling real estate full time and have been doing so for at least a few years generally equates to a better, more knowledgeable agent.
When you contact an agent you should definitely ask whether you will work directly with that agent or will they hand you off to a member of their team. There's nothing wrong with an agent having a team, but if you are going to work with a designated buyer's agent from a team, you should really be interviewing that team member not the agent you originally contacted to see if the agent is a good fit for you.
The agents you contact should spend at least a half hour to an hour with you initially, either in person or by phone, to get a good feel as to what type of home you are specifically looking for, going into details as to your likes and dislikes. That's a good time to evaluate the agent's communication skills and whether they are really listening to your answers. The agent should ask probing, detailed questions about the features & style of home, neighborhood and other criteria important to you. They should also ask questions regarding your finances - will you be paying by cash or mortgage. If you will be getting a mortgage, the agent should go into more details with you as to what type of financing, down payments and if you are pre-approved (vs just pre-qualified) for a mortgage.
You should also ask how often they plan to keep in touch with you after your initial consultation. Will it be whenever new listings come on the market, daily, weekly? How will they contact you -- by email, phone, text?
You can also ask the agent if they can provide you with references from recent customers who have bought homes through the agent.
You may have to go thru several agents before you find the one that is a good fit for you and your situation, so don't get discouraged by the process.