When you’re about to make one of the largest purchases of your life, be sure to shop around.

Consider such things as transportation, distance to work, and proximity to schools, daycare, recreational facilities, shopping, healthcare, and so on. If the listing realtor claims “10 minutes to downtown,” find out if that’s during rush-hour in a minivan or at 3:00 a.m. in a Porsche Boxster!

Next, find a real estate agent whose attitude and availability inspire your trust. Start by seeing who’s most active in your neighbourhood. An agent who makes regular sales calls and keeps you informed of listings and sales in your area probably pursues business aggressively.

Set up appointments with a few agents from different companies and assess their presentations. Are they prepared? Have they done some homework in advance?

Do they have any special affiliations or packaged discount programs with other corporations that can save you money on your mortgage, on moving costs or on purchases for your new home? Work with someone you relate to, with whom you have some chemistry, and who offers excellent service and value. Be sure to ask if the realtor is acting for a vendor or for you.