Many agents are not taught to be creative when it comes do deals and commissions. If you do decide to buy and sell with a real estate agent, look for ones that are well educated investors or work with investors as well. Real Estate Investors, generally, work more creatively and sometimes they even teach the agent how to do things in ways they never considered.
That being said.....many Real Estate Agents do provide a genuine service for the public and sometimes the public doesn't realize the "behind the scene" expenses incurred by these agents. These agents work tremendously hard for their clients and should get paid for their service. A great Real Estate Agent is worth their weight in gold!
Have you thought about buying or selling your properties without an agent? There are many ways to sell/buy a property (ie...Lease Option, Lease Purchase, Taking over payments for the seller subject to the existing mortgage, etc) that don't involve agents and their commissions. As long as you do some quality research and you can find a knowledgable attorney to make sure the contracts are a win~win for both parties, you can purchase and sell properties w/o an agent and save some $$$.
Bob Bruss was a great man and Real Estate columnist who wrote tremendous articles for the public. You may want to "google" his name and articles. You'll learn quite a bit that will serve you well in the future.
Hopefully this helps you out a little bit.