You have many things to consider when choosing an agent to help you purchase or sell a home, but the very first one is this:
Choose an agent who is familiar with the area where you plan to buy or sell.
It's easy to be lured by fancy advertising, and it's easy to give in to pressure from friends or family who want you to use someone they know or love. But if that agent isn't familiar with the homes in the area in question, you won't get the representation you deserve.
First – the listing. Your agent needs to interpret sales data to determine the proper price for your home. And while it's true that the numbers are there in MLS, if the agent has never seen any of the homes in question, he or she won't know if they are comparable to yours.
In addition, that agent may mistakenly use sales statistics from a nearby neighborhood that isn't at all comparable to the neighborhood in which you want to buy or sell.
Buyers also need an agent who is familiar with the territory. Part of the reason is for pricing. If he or she doesn't know if a price is in keeping with neighborhood values, you could pay far too much for your new home.
But there's more to it than that. An agent who knows the territory will be able to tell you if new developments are planned that could affect future values. He or she can also answer lifestyle questions such as "How far to the nearest gym?" and "Is there a dog boarding facility near here?"
Because I know Vancouver, I can answer those questions. But Cousin Joe who lives in a nearby town probably cannot. Don't choose him just because he "needs" your business or because it would make a friend or relative happy.
Real estate is far too serious and your investment far too large to entrust to someone who is not familiar with the city and who might not know the things you need to know in order to make a wise decision.