Questions to ask friends or colleagues who recommend a real estate agent:

* How satisfied were you with the agent?

* Did you feel the representation was good?

* Did the agent keep you informed at each step of the process?

* Was the agent accessible and reliable?

* Was the agent helpful? In what ways?

* How well does the agent know various neighborhoods?

* What mistakes did the agent make?

* In what area did the agent lack knowledge?

Questions to ask potential real estate agents:

* Are you willing to communicate in my preferred way (phone or e-mail or both)?

* How long have you been in the business?

* How many transactions do you handle annually?

* How much time do you expect to spend with me and working on my behalf?

* What advanced training do you have? What professional awards have you won?

* Can you provide references?

Sellers can also ask:

* What advertising mediums will be used to sell the house?

* How often will open houses be held? Does the house always have to be ready for showing?

* Will the home be listed on the Internet? Will that include photos?

* How many homes have you sold in my neighborhood?

* How much do you think my home is worth and how did you come up with that number?

* How will you help me prepare my home for sale?

Buyers can also ask:

* How well do you know the area?

* Will you show me properties beyond those listed by your firm?

* Which inspectors, appraisers or mortgage bankers will you refer me to?