If you’re looking to purchase a home, your next step is to hire an agent. You should seek out a real estate professional who is seasoned, highly trained, and sought-after in your community. But how do you know if an agent will be a good fit? Here are some key points to keep in mind as you seek the perfect professional to work with:

Talk with some of the agent’s recent clients.

A good real estate agent will be willing to share a contact list for homes they have listed and sold in the past year. When speaking with their past clients, try to get a feel for their overall experience with the agent. If they were selling, ask them how long their home was on the market. If they were buying, ask if they got a price they were pleased with.

Choose an agent with awards to their name.

Any peer-given award says a lot about the agent. Keep your eyes open for agents who’ve been designated “Realtor of the Year” by a state or local branch of the National Association of Realtors. That award is a tremendous endorsement.

Hire an agent with solid licensing and credentials.

You should be able to do a quick search for your agent online to assure that they are licensed in your state. This same search should reveal any disciplinary actions or complaints against the agent in question too. You also may want to choose an agent with specialized credentials that will better meet your needs. For example, a CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) will have completed additional training in handling residential real estate. An SRES (Seniors Real Estate Specialist) will be certified in helping buyers and sellers in the 50-plus age range. A MRS (Military Relocation Specialist) is certified in meeting the unique needs of military families. An agent who calls him/herself a Realtor with a capital “R” means that they are a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Find out how long the agent has been in business.

Ideally, you want to choose an agent who has been in business for at least 5 years or more. Anything less, and you may be part of their learning curve. Choosing an agent with many years of experience under their belt, and with many satisfied clients, will help ensure that you also have a great buying or selling experience.