Most local real estate agents represent buyers or sellers. I do recommend that you pick an agent that doesn't represent both sides of the transaction though (meaning a buyer and seller at the same time).
I would find a real estate agent that you feel comfortable with their local knowledge, attitude, and professionalism. You can look on the Trulia "Find a Pro" directory and there a a lot of local Salem agents there. You can google "Salem Oregon real estate blogs" and read some local blogs by local agents to see if anyone is a good match for you.
The most important thing is to find an agent you feel good about. Home buying is really difficult these days due to lending conditions.
Let's try this. Oregon allows agents to work with buyers when they buy, and with sellers when they sell. So an agent can help you buy, and me sell.
There are probably a few agents who work only with buyers and never with sellers, I think that unless you've been on the other side, there's a lot you don't know about the process.
If you're interested in finding an agent who has special training in representing buyers, you would want to talk to a REALTOR who is a member of REBAC (the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council). Members have additional training and experience in representing buyers beyond that possessed by most other real estate brokers.
REBAC Members may be recognized by the ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative) designation following their names. You can find a complete list of REBAC members who represent buyers in the Salem area at the following web page: http://www.rebac.net/MembershipDirectorySearch.aspx
If this doesn't specifically answer your question, please feel free to add more detail by re-posting on this forum, or you can go to my profile for details about how to contact me directly.
Yes, Oregon is a Dual Agency state meaning that as an agent I work with buyers and sellers. It is often not in your best interest to work with an agent who represents both the buyer and seller in the same transaction or on the same property. The easiest way to find an agent is to interview a few, check out their web pages. You need to feel you have the best of faith in your agent and that they listen and understand your needs and wants in housing choices. I would be happy for you to contact me. Karen Morrison,Legacy Real Estate, email@example.com or 503-930-4030
I would agree with Melina's answer, first one in this string.
You want to work with someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Checking references are also a good step in making sure the realtor is experienced and cna help advise you in the areas you have the most concerns, whether that be good local lenders, where to find a specific kind of home, etc.
The best thing about using a buyers agent/realtor is that you don't pay them a cent, unless you are looking for a distressed home (short sale of bank owned (REO) property) and the seller is offering a lower than average commission to the selling office and the selling office requests the buyer to pay the difference as determined in a buyers agreement.