It's important to know the crime rate, school quality, city problems, etc. Also a realtor who specializes in an area would be better than one who is not familiar with the area (if they are willing to drive all over the place for you to begin with). You can very well have different agents for different areas. You can find a lot of info by internet search or talking to Open House agents-- even sign up with them if you like them. Hot deals can be gone in 2 days...so you definitely need an agent and get prequalified if you need a loan.
Great question. Since Napa and Solano Counties are so close, you should not have any trouble finding an agent that is fluent in both areas.
The market is still moving strong since there aren't a lot of banks that are releasing there inventory. Less inventory usually stimulates more competition for what is out there. I know it can get frustrating but what you need to do is work with a Realtor that can put you onto a direct MLS search engine that works in real time. Sites like Zillow, trulia, Google, and a host of others tend to show properties as being active even after an offer has been accepted.
I do a lot of work in Solano and Napa county since my partner has quite a bit of foreclosure business with some of the banks. I would be honored to help in any way I can and get you started on the right foot.
My cell is at your disposal if you need me.
Good luck out there.
Kenneth Schrier Real Estate Group
CPS Property Advocates
cell - 707-529-4819
email - http://firstname.lastname@example.org
web - http://www.kenschrier.com