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Real estate agents promote themselves with yard signs, online ads, direct-mail postcards and even sponsored public benches. So, cutting through the advertising hype and finding the right agent can be tough. “We don’t have the information (about real ...

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There are ways to size up a real estate agent’s record — and potential. Real estate agents promote themselves with yard signs, online ads, direct-mail postcards and even sponsored public benches

So, cutting through the advertising hype and finding the right agent can be tough.“We don’t have the information (about real estate agents) that we have about other service professionals,” says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America.Still, there are ways to size up an agent’s record — and potential

Check out a few ways to find a great real estate agent, whether you’re buying or selling a home.• Speak with recent clients

Ask agents to provide a list of what they’ve listed and sold in the past year, with contact information.With past clients, “I’d like to know what the asking price was and then what the sales price was,” says William Poorvu, adjunct professor emeritus at Harvard Business School and co-author of “The Real Estate Game: The Intelligent Guide to Decision-Making and Investment.”• Check for license and disciplinary actions

The states license and discipline real estate agents

Check with your state’s regulatory body to find out whether an agent you’re considering is licensed and or has any disciplinary actions or complaints

That information may be posted online.• Ask about professional awards

Peer-given awards count, said Ron Phipps, a past president of the National Association of Realtors

One that really means something is “Realtor of the Year,” which is awarded by the state or local branch of the NAR.“These agents are the best as judged by their peers,” Phipps says

“That’s a huge endorsement.”• Select an agent with the right credentials

Doctors have specialties, and so do real estate agents, many of whom get additional training in particular areas

The alphabet soup after an agent’s name can indicate that the agent has taken classes in a certain area of real estate sales.If the agent calls herself a Realtor with a capital R, that means she’s a member of the NAR.• Find out how experienced an agent is

A state licensing authority often can tell you how long an agent has been in business

Or, you can ask the agent directly.“If they haven’t been in business five years, they’re learning on you and that’s not good,” says Robert Irwin, author of “Tips & Traps for Negotiating Real Estate.”• Look at the agent’s current listings

Check out an agent’s listings online, Brobeck said

Places to look include the real estate agency’s website and sites such as Realtor.com, which offer a searchable online database of properties in the multiple listing service.Most buyers start their search online, and you want an agent who uses that tool effectively

“A key thing is an attractive presentation on the web,” Brobeck says.• Gauge the agent’s knowledge of the area

A good agent should know about other properties that are available in the area

Mention a house in your area that recently sold or is for sale.If the agent knows the property and can give you a few details, that means he or she really knows your area.  Never miss a story Choose the plan that's right for you. Digital access or digital and print delivery. Subscribe Now Sign up for daily e-mails Sign up SectionsNewsSportsEntertainmentErie LivingOpinionClassifiedsCarsJobsReal EstateWeekly AdsContact UsStaff DirectoryFrequently Asked QuestionsWebsite QuestionsPlace a Classified AdCustomer ServiceAdvertise with usPay Your Ad BillSubscribeMy ProfileSubscription OptionsMembership ProgramSubscribe to TV TimesYour AccountProblems with My DeliveryRenew My SubscriptionVacation StopPay My BillChange My AddressAccount Summary