Geektastic: Like the Curate’s egg, agents are good in parts.
A good one is excellent and well worth the cost. The hard part is finding a good one…
We have previously worked with an agent who wasn't great. She was desperate to make the sale go through, no matter the price. When the conditional buyer had completed his due diligence he came back with an offer $150k lower than what he had originally offered. Our agent was begging us to take this offer, giving all sorts of reasons such as our house wasn't worth the original offer, that this was more realistic, the market was bad and we wouldn't find another buyer, our property had too many rocks - literally every reason under the sun to try and convince us to take it. We held firm and said we would rather walk away than reduce the price. The buyer then came back with an offer $50k lower than the original. We said, how about we split the difference and reduce the price by $25k and then we'll go unconditional. The buyer accepted. If we had listened to our agent we would have missed out on $125k - which was money we needed to get into our next house.
My advice is to find a successful agent who isn't an arrogant arsehole. There are a few of them around. We worked with one who had sold something like $150m worth of property in the previous 12 months - so he didn't really need our commission, it was chicken feed to him. But he was the nicest guy, didn't put any pressure on us, was patient and gave us plenty of his time and gave honest feedback on the property, the market, etc. If anyone needs a good agent in Auckland, I can recommend him, PM me and I'll give you his name.