We often tell consumers, when asked, that the best way to find a Realtor, is to ask your friends, family members or someone you trust, for their references of Realtors that they've worked with and liked.
In today's market, many of the young people are going to the internet. Sites like Angie's List, Yelp, Zillow and even our own revered Active Rain offer insights, and testimonials for consumers to review, but honestly all of those site, the reviews are from strangers that you don't know... so what is their opinion worth to you. You don't know if they're high-maintenance or low-maintenance... you don't know if their likes are your likes, or if their needs are your needs.
When soliciting a recommendation from friends and family, at least you know who you're talking to... you know what their opinion is worth to you. You know that aunt Esther is really, really picky... so if that Realtor could please her, then she must be good. Searching the internet is a good start, but don't stop there.
And when you do get a recommendation from a relative, don't just take their word for it. Interview the agent, and see if they're a good fit for you. Just because cousin Wilbur liked me, doesn't meant that you and I will be a good match.
And the problem with Realtors (or inspectors, or stock brokers, or plastic surgeons for that matter)... is that you won't know if you have a bad one, until it's probably too late.
Do your research, ask your friends or family... neighbors who just bought or sold... a good real estate agent can mean all the difference between a good transaction, or the attempted home sale from H-E-double-hockey-sticks.
And just like home inspectors, we're not all created equal. Some of us are Charlie Buell, and some are strivers, and some are phoneys (those who just "phone" it in). Don't hire the phoneys.