Without sounding like a plug, the new Covey Speed of Trust book hits the nail on the head. You need competency and integrity. The reality is it is too easy to become an agent. The result for me has been people who don't know the market and just try to "Sales technique" their way too.
I just came off a bad experience where my real estate agent didn't see the downturn in the market (despite my nudging) and focused on landscaping. To make things worse, the landscaping they proposed was 3X the market (and what it ultimately cost) and it appeared they were getting a kickback. While the communication was great, they either did not know what they were doing OR had a lack of moral fiber.
The result is not good. Tell the truth, solve problems. Admit it is a bad market, do something about it! (Hint: hold a 4th open house is not the answer.)