Finding the right real estate agent can make all the difference when buying a home, so it’s important for homebuyers to know what questions to ask as they screen potential agents in a particular region or neighborhood.

Although most keys to finding a good real estate agent are universal, there can be some differences depending on what region of the country one is looking to buy a home.

These similarities and differences are evident when comparing two articles on the topic on the U.S. News & World Report website, “6 Things Washington, D.C., Homebuyers Should Ask When Hiring a Real Estate Agent,” and “4 Questions Every Chicago Homebuyer Should Ask Before Hiring a Real Estate Agent.”

Some general questions to ask that apply no matter where a home is being bought include:

1. How much experience do you have? An experienced agent is better equipped to help a homebuyer throughout the process, especially when it comes to helping them compete against several other offers for a property.

“No two deals are the same,” Dan Straus, a broker with @properties, said in the Chicago article. “Once you get into a multiple offers situation, there are a million ways to skin the cat.”

2. Are you a full-time real estate agent? Unless being a real estate agent is the person’s full-time job, he or she is less likely to help a homebuyer find the perfect home, according to the Chicago article.

3. Do you know the neighborhood? In the Chicago article, it is noted that there is such a wide variety of characteristics and home types to the many unique neighborhoods in the city and suburbs, it would be impossible for an agent to be an expert in all of them. The D.C. article, suggests that homebuyers find out which brokers have offices in the neighborhoods the homebuyer is most interested in.

“Once you’ve narrowed things down to a few agents, contact them and get a feel for what they know about that neighborhood,” said Carl Bender, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, in the D.C. article.

The D.C. article also included a suggested question that applies specifically to that area:

4. Are you familiar with D.C. laws? The article explained that if a homebuyer is looking exclusively in the District of Columbia, it is important that the agent is up to date on the District’s tax abatement programs. Also, the homebuyer should make sure the agent understands local laws, such as the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act, according the article. This law gives tenants occupying the property the right to pre-empt its sale and put in their offer.

How much experience they have, how much time they dedicate to the job each day, and how familiar they are with the area and its regional laws are all key questions a potential real estate agent should be able to answer.

What other key questions do you think homebuyers should ask? Tell us in the comments below!