I'm a mortgage broker so I think my opinion can be considered a "buyer's" or at least let's hope! I would personally work with a Realtor not only because I know of an extraordinary one but also because I know of all the benefits they offer. It cuts down tremendously on the foot work I need to do considering that I used to look online for homes at least an hour a day. I also do not have complete knowledge of the area and every neighborhood in every city is so different that it's essential to have the knowledge of a Realtor who can tell you which areas are good, which areas are bad, which areas are up and coming, and which areas are reeling from bad press.
I think that the best way for me personally is just to work with a Realtor. For both of us to work together and find properties that fit in our budget and with our needs and wants. There are going to properties that I find that my Realtor probably may not see on MLS yet and there are going to be a multitude of properties she can provide me before I even start searching online. I think it's useful that she send me a list of listings every week or every few days so I can filter through them first. Then decide which ones I'd want to see, and go view them with my Realtor.
This question was a great question! Made me think about what I would personally do in that type of situation, I've never sat down and thought about it before. Thumbs up!