Find an experience Realtor in the area you are looking. If you know someone who has bought a home in the area, ask them if they liked their Realtor and if so, ask for their name.
There are different types of buyer agency agreements. One is an agency disclosure that says who the agent is representing and the other is an exclusive right to represent. Working with an agent who is working for you in a buyer's agency capacity gives you the opportunity to go with other agents in the area. If you are satisfied with the agent I would not recommend this. It wastes everybodys time, including yours. If you sign an exclusive right to represent, then you are tied into that agent for a period of time. This can be both good and bad. It all depends on the terms of the agreement. In some instances you may have to pay the agents commission, others not. If an agent is hard working and finds you a for sale by owner that may be a bit underpriced, it may be well worth you paying the commission.
A few responses here were wrong. NEVER assume an agent works for anyone. It is a very poor assumption. The law requires that at the first substantive discussion about purchasing a home a licensed real estate salesperson in New York is REQUIRED to go over agency law. They should explain the different types of agency and how you want to be represented. You should be offered an agency disclosure form to sign explaining agency disclosure in New York. Please take a moment to read this disclosure form located on the NY DOS site at http://www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/pdfs/1736.pdf
This form should also be read, printed and memorized by those who posted to assume an agent represents the seller.
Donald A. Mituzas
Licensed Associate Broker
VP - Putnam County Association of Realtors
Instructor - New agent orientation and the Realtor Code of Ethics