Short of it is that you need someone working on your side. You need someone familiar with all of the different situations to help you navigate the home purchase process.
My advice would be to 'interview' a few or attend some open houses and get a feel for an agent you are comfortable with. You could also ask others you know who have bought who they used for a referral.
It sounds like your main question is how you go about finding the best, most qualified professional to represent you in buying a home. I would recommend interviewing several buyer's agents or brokers. You want someone with experience who works regularly with buyers. I think it's wise to find one agent (or broker) who is a great fit for you and then work with that person exclusively. Technically you can work with more than one agent as long as you don't have a written representation agreement in place, but I think you will get the highest level of service when you hire one agent who is dedicated to helping you with your home search, negotiating the best deal, and guiding you through a smooth closing.
Approximately 80% of my business is with buyers. I give my buyers 110% of my time, attention and expertise. I do great work helping clients find the best homes in the best locations in my community. This is the start of my tenth year selling real estate as a top-producer in my community and so far not one of my buyer clients has lost their home to foreclosure or short sale. There are many really great buyer's agents out there who can truly make a difference in your home buying experience but those agents, like me, give that top-notch service to their dedicated buyers. I think it's in your best interest to find a great agent or broker and then work with him or her exclusively.
Best wishes to you in your home search!
This is a commonly misunderstood concept for non-real estate experienced people.
An agent is a state licensed sales person allowed to participate in the buying and selling of real property.
A broker is a state licensed individual allowed to participate in the buying and selling of real property AND have additional licensed persons working under their supervision buying and selling property for their company.
So, you can purchase property from either an agent or a broker. There are many real estate professionals that hold both the borker and agent license. As you consider your choices there are additional certifications that you may want to keep in mind that agents & brokers can obtain that are above and beyond regular licensing. Some examples are: GRI, ABR, ACRE, ACR, CRE, CRS, QSE, SRES. These additional training designations can greatly increase the cepth of knowledge an agent can draw from to provide services to their customers.
Hope this is helpful,
By definition, an agent is a broker. Many salespersons who work for brokers also call themselves agents when they're really sub-agents. It's a muddy distinction in the industry. Here's a blog I wrote to clear it up: http://www.archershomes.com/2011/10/the-difference-between-a
All else being equal (experience, personality, professionalism, etc.), then a broker offers the advantage of closing deals faster than salespersons. Sometimes that makes the difference between winning a deal or getting a better price.
Yes, you can use two salespersons or brokers at the same time, as long as you haven't signed an exclusive arrangement with any one. Of course, if you're not committed to one broker, the broker tends to be less committed to you. So, there are mutual benefits to be gained through an exclusive.
The best advice that I can give to someone is to interview people no matter if they are licensed as a salesperson or a broker.
A broker of an office does have supervision over the agents in their office and sometimes the broker of the office does not even sell.
I am happy to recommend a couple of fantastic agents that I know in SF that you can talk to.
You can email me email@example.com or call me at 415-683-6950.
Broker Licensed by the California DRE 01507615