Thank you for your great questions.
1) The Realtor holding the open house is NOT paid for their time there unless you decide to use their services to purchase that or some other home. Realtors are only paid at the close of a sale. All costs they incur up to that time are carried by the Realtor. As a courtesy, and to save the chance of creating 'agency' problems, you should inform the open house agent if you're working with a Realtor when you first meet them.
2) I highly recommend obtaining the services of your own Realtor that will work for you and your interests and get a 'Buyer's Agency' agreement with them. I do not recommend using the 'listing agent' as they work for the seller. The Realtor holding the open house may or may not be the listing agent.
3) It also helps if you visit the home with your Realtor. Your Realtor will not object to being with you to show you any homes you'd like to see. They will also help you find other homes that may meet your needs.
4) You may use any Realtor you wish or none at all, if that's your preference. Some find the use of a family member is uncomfortable and a problem as you may be sharing personal information with them.
5) The Realtor's commissions are normally figured into the cost of the home and is paid by the seller at closing. As a buyer, you normally do not need to pay your Realtor directly for his services.
6) 'Saving money' depends on a number of factors. What you pay in relation to the asking price, closing costs and fees, the help a Realtor gives you in finding a home in time and money. Again, it's difficult to go into completely in a forum such as this.
7) A Realtor should be more than happy to sit down with you and answer all your questions to your satisfaction and with no pressure.
I hope this helps,
I got into answering your open house question and forgot your question about how to select an agent. My apologies, so here are my recommendations.
To start with, you may want to interview several. Basically, ask the following questions:
1. How long have you been in residential real estate sales? Is it your full-time job?
2. Are you a REALTOR(r)? They must be a member of NAR (Natiional Association of Realtors) to say yes.
3. What designations do you hold? This shows a commitment to training... look for ABR, GRI, CRS & e-PRO among others.
4. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? I recommend one that represents only you...
5. Can you recommend service providers who can assist me in obtaining a mortgage, making repairs on my home, and other things I need done? This indicates an ability to provide service before, during & after the sale.
6. Does your brokerage office provide resources, support and supervision?
7. Whatâ€™s your business philosophy? This gives an insight in what is important to them in providing service to you.
8. How will you keep me informed about the progress of my transaction? How frequently? They should work with your schedule and needs.
While there are many more questions you can ask, I recommend choosing an agent who will be proactive in helping you find a home, who will listen to your concerns, who is available when you need them and who will take the time to answer your questions to your satisfaction.
I hope this helps,