The reality of short sales is that their success or failure depends primarily on the listing agent, not the buyer's agent. So, the fact that your agent does not have a lot of experience in short sales is less critical, although not altogether irrelevant.
Let me first speak to "how you find a really good agent". Referrals from friends and family rank very high. Their personal experience with the agent will give them a feel for the persons style, negotiating skills, and effectiveness. "What questions should I be asking?" There are all sorts of buyer's sites on the internet that will list 10 or 20 questions you MUST ask every realtor. Google "questions to ask a realtor" and you will get more information than you want. THE REALITY IS, the best agent for you is the one that makes you feel comfortable and confident about the home buying process.
Especially when purchasing a home in a short sale situation, this is a long drawn out process that can take 60 to 120 days. You want a realtor who will let you know what is going on, helps you deal with the anxiety of 1st time homebuying, works with a great team of real estate professionals. has a list of lenders who specialize in 1st Time Homebuyers and knows about the programs available to help you get into your new home (down payment assistance, both government and non-profit; MCC; Section 203(k) rehab programs that ride on FHA loans, etc). I would be happy to give you more information. Just contact me through my profile.
Short sales and REO's (real estate that has gone through the foreclosure process and is now owned by the lender) can be great buys. Your realtor needs to know how to walk you through the process. One of the key points in being successful in purchasing Short Sale / REO properties is keep your offer simple. Don't ask for credits, repairs, long contigency periods, etc. Do be pre-approved for your loan, not just prequalified. Do be prepared to be patient and persistent. Do be prepared to move quickly once your offer is accepted. Don't be put off by the process, let your realtor handle that. Do buy a home you can be comfortable in for the next 2 - 5 years and Dare to Dream.
Real Estate Consultant
RE/MAX Palos Verdes Realty