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Ready to find your first home, or in the market for an upgrade? You’re on the right track -- we’ve got plenty of real estate advice for how to handle the house hunt, manage your mortgage, and how to tackle new home to-do’s. Our easy-to-use tools and helpful tips will help ease your way into a new place. Looking for a place to live forever, or an opportunity for real estate investing? Search thousands of listings near you with our home finder tool. Once you spot a few you like, browse our local pages to find a real estate agent who can help make your home-owning dreams a reality. Want even more help than that? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the basics of buying your first home. Use our mortgage calculator to find out how much house you can really afford. We can help you sort out the pros and cons of condos and co-ops versus houses. Learn what all those real estate terms really mean, and how to find the best interest rate on your mortgage. There’s advice and tips for every step of the way, from hitting open houses to making an offer. You can also find tips on selling your home and on real estate investing. And when you need a pick-me-up or a space to vent, you can chat with other Nesties and share real estate advice, tales from the house hunt, and more. From your first phone calls to putting up the sold sign, we’re here for you!

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9 Things to Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent

Whether you're buying or selling, here's what to ask an agent before saying "you're hired."

Whether you're buying or selling, there are a few key questions to ask an agent before saying, "You're hired." Before hiring a real estate agent, make sure to ask these questions:

1. How long have you been in the real estate business?
How long has this person been on the job (look for upward of a year), and were they full or part time? While experience is no guarantee of skill, real estate, like many other professions, is mostly learned on the job.

2. Are you a member of the National Association of Realtors?
This organization requires certain standards from its members, and you don't want to worry about having a shady agent.

3. Are you a member of MLS?
This is the Multiple Listing Service, which gives agents access to houses represented by all agencies -- not just their own. For sellers, this means your home will be posted on the list as well, which means more people will see it.

4. Do you work on weekends?
Since this is when most open houses take place, the answer to this should be yes.

5. Can you outline how you would represent us?
The answer should include your housing inspections, following through with your mortgage approval process, and being present at your closing.

6. Will you show me houses listed by other companies?
Double-check that the agent isn't partial to his or her own realty group.

7. Are you familiar with our area?
You'll want the agent to know the ins and outs of your community.

8. How many homes have you sold?
If you're in the market to sell, find out how many homes they successfully sold last year. While those numbers may be low due to market activity over the past six months, it’s a good way to compare candidates.

9. What's your business style?
Do you want a broker who calls you once a week or emails daily? Find out how the agent will keep you updated on prospects and inform them about your preferences.

Get more tips on purchasing a house with our Buying a Home Checklist.
Want to sell your home? Our Selling Your Home Checklist will get you started.

-- The Nest Editors

See More: Buying a Home , How to , Real Estate , Just Moved