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.

1.Talk with agents’ recent clients -Ask agents to provide a list of what they’ve listed and sold in the past year, with contact information.

 2. 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.

3. Ask about professional awards -Peer-given awards count, says Ron Phipps, a past president of the National Association of Realtor.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. Look at the agent’s current listings -Check out an agent’s listings online, says Brobeck of the Consumer Federation of America. 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.

 7. Gauge the agent’s knowledge of the area -A good agent should know about other properties that are available in the area, Irwin says. Mention a house in your area that recently sold or is for sale.

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