Q: I just read your article in yesterday’s LA Times on how to find an agent. While I agree with much of what was in your article, I do not quite agree with your advice on new agents.

I have been a real estate agent for a year, and I feel that I have as much to offer clients as a more experienced agent. I am still learning the business, but I feel that the most important thing is customer service and looking out for your client’s best interest. That is my main goal: Caring for the client.

I’m sure you meant no harm to new agents in your article, but it’s really hard for us to break into this business, especially if people are being advised to use a more experienced agent.

Have you ever written an article about new agents and some of the advantages it may have? I’m sure a lot of newer agents would feel more comfortable about the business if they were to read an article about that.

A: Thanks for your comment. While there are some terrific agents who have just a year or less experience in the field, most agents with a good deal more experience say it takes longer than that to really learn the ropes.

A buyer or seller doesn’t necessarily need an agent with experience if he or she knows everything is going to go swimmingly in the deal. The problem is that deals often go awry. If a deal does go bad, the agent might then disavow any responsibility.

And guess what happens? It’s the buyer or seller (or attorney, if they have one – which they typically don’t in California) who is left to pick up the pieces.

I stand by my advice: Use an experienced agent who really knows the business, has worked through all kinds of deals, good and bad, and can help you make the best decision about buying or selling your single largest asset.

As for making new agents feel better about the business, I suggest they do what many top agents have done – start by working as the assistant to one of the top agents in town in order to really learn the business from the ground up.

By the time they’re ready to go out on their own, they’ll no longer be “new” agents, but will have plenty of experience, earned one day at a time.

Dec. 8, 2003.