Agents are worth their weight in Gold if you have a good one. Ask for help, and maybe ask for a 20-25% referral back to you. That's fair and reasonable.
Gail stepped up with her offer to help. I concur, if you need help, she sounds like a good one.
* As far as your ability to access to the broker fee when you buy, you will be practicing real estate law then... so it might be a good idea to brush up on the basics, at least. It wasn't clear if you hoped to "split" the work and fee with an agent of your own or if you hope to have access to 100% of it. Assuming you want to claim the full selling agent commission, be prepared to draft and negotiate you contract, and coordinate handling all contingencies, etc. In practice, you'll be best served to gain access to the MLS, which generally requires you have REALTOR status. You might want to hang your license at a brokerage (fees will apply, and you usually have to split part of any commission with the brokerage). This should get you insurance (yes, even representing yourself, you'll want insurance), and some other resources. I am sure you'll have to to join a local REALTOR association, which will usually require you to join the state and national association (fees will apply), before you can join the MLS (fees will apply), so that you will have access to the listings. I also understand there are several MLS systems in NY. Good luck with that, I have no idea how expensive that can be to really get access to listings. You'll still need access to the listings to show the home to yourself. You can inquire at your local board about the type of key used in the areas you plan to move, and the fees associated with obtaining that key. Be sure to form relationships with the appropriate vendors you may need for your inspections and settlement companies. It sure would be disappointing if you spent all that money to get licensed, join agencies, buy/lease a key and then overpaid for the other services, or got poor representation and ended up buying a home that was a nightmare. Or, you could skip them and do all the mechanical, structural and pest inspections yourself. Your lender might require outside people be involved, but the best way to save money in the purchase of a home is to have saved enough to buy in cash so you don't have to finance. But, then you lose the tax write off. A financial planner can assist you with evaluating pros/cons; or it may be something you can do yourself to avoid the financial planner earning any fees from your business. So long as the home is perfect and there are no contract issues, you should be fine representing yourself. As you know in law - there isn't a problem, until there's a problem.
* In NY this may be different, but here, I don't even work rentals except as a favor or because I have a free day and the timing is just right - there's no money in them. So, unless there's more money where you are in rentals, it's probably not worth your hassle to do all of this just for a small rental fee.
Okay... here's where I actually offer you some real entrepreneurial ideas that you'll like. Since you are able to collect a fee for brokerage services, that means referral fees. If you are good at finding business and referring it to someone, here's your chance. Find a local agent, actually a few since not many NY agents service large geographic areas, and start systematically referring business to them in exchange for a small cut of the commission (20-25% is standard, but again in my area, we pay no referrals on rentals, just sales). Since I am guessing that you are young, I am also guessing you're not a partner in whatever firm you work for. If you hope to be one, generating business for the firm will be a major requirement. The practice of systematically networking, and then developing those leads enough that you can then refer the business will be fabulous practice for developing your career... and will help supplement your income in the mean time. You can refer anywhere in the US, not just to NY agents, but develop the relationships where you are most likely to be able to refer business - like close by. Don't - I repeat, don't - make your friends your guinea pig by trying to be their agent - unless you really don't want them as friends any more. Your profit level will be higher, especially in consideration of the time invested, by just referring them. Plus, by the time you buy, you may have learned enough about the process that you know it's easier if you have an agent to assist you with buying... if you've sent them enough business, a GOOD agent will likely split their fee with you, AND you'll get competent representation and assistance.
Best of luck to you.
And, remember me for any Northern Virginia referrals!
As a Broker representing yourself, you are entitled to the "selling agent" commission.
If you run up against any other problems or questions, you can feel free to give me a call at 631-425-6150; I instruct Realtors at CW Post and I coach Realtors nationwide...will be glad to help.
Consider applying for a position with an established NYC Real Estate Brokerage Firm that offers an comprehensive real estate agent's training program or as an assistant to an experienced agent/broker.