Then I would look for someone with a professional Designation as this indicates ones committment to the industry. A Certified Residential Specialist or CRS is a great one to have for a Realtor. The Realtor will have it at the end of their name: MikeKelly,CRS
Lastly, when you speak with the Realtor ask them for the following: The names of the clients he represented (either buyer or seller) in the last 5 transactions and the DATES of these transactions! if the transactions are over the course of 2 years get someone else!! You can't do 5 deals in two years and have any idea what you're doing.
Then also get the names of his current client's who have their HOMES NOW ON THE MARKET! This will tell you if s/he is staying in touch with their client base and if a marketing plan is being implemented by the Realtor/Licensee. Also, ask to get their web-site name or URL and see what type of on-line prescence they have. A resume is of course mandatory!
Call them all!! Don't just talk to one (could be his mother!) but all!
I think you've made the right moves to be in these discussion type sites because it shows who's in touch with reality and technology and who's not! I think past experience and certifications are all important as nicely said by my colleague, but studies show that about 80% of home buyers are searching the internet to find their homes possibly even before talking to a realtor. So I would say that someone who understands marketing esp. internet based marketing is very important, both from seller and buyer perspectives.
BUT most important of all is Pricing! You need someone who understands your local market, who understands finance and research to tell you what a particular house should be listed at to SELL, not just to list and if you're the buyer, the realtor has to understand pricing to make sure you are paying what the house is worth. The right realtor must be able to stand by his/her numbers, bottom line.
Last but not least, you have to find someone that you can work well with. Whether you are the seller or the buyer, you will be working closely with your realtor and working as a team. A successful team works together effectively to achieve the set goals.
You definately should interview 3 realtors for the job before making the decision and have your list of criteria ready. For further R.E. reading, pls check out my blog below. It has what I believe is the job of a realtor.
Other than what Michael suggested; since you will be buying and selling. I can recommend our Relocation Director to you. She handles all our outgoing referrals and has built a wonderful network of resources; with the relocation companies, international and national real estate firms.
She just handled a referral for me. My client (who just sold a house in Marin) is moving to L.A; she lives out of country so she has very limited time in hand (yes, she also has tons of friends and families to visit since she is moving out of country 1/2 time) once she sold the house here.
We found her a great Realtor in L.A., who helped her find a house, arranged for everything and the purchase will close in 21 days.
If you are interested, you can find me thru my profile.