Hello Gofishu2 and everyone!
It's easy to say that Realtors are simply salespeople with an incentive to get everyone to sell and everyone to buy. Truthfully, no one who is truly a real estate professional will ascribe to this particular operating procedure. I have, many times, sat down with clients and potential clients, reviewed their financial situation and--at the end--recommended that they not sell their home because their capital investment would be at risk. I have further worked with buyers on a fixed-fee basis, not as a commission, and have, plenty of times recommended to clients that they wait, that a home or area was not priced correctly, or that they consider other areas. I do this because, frankly, I am a real estate professional and am in this for the proverbial "long haul."
As for the optomistic viewpoint of many Realtors now about purchasing, I am actually a college educated, former "Big 8" CPA trained accountant who is now a Realtor. I am an avid stock investor that has, thankfully, made money in the past year, and my personal specialty is in budgeting for new and continuing housing developments. So to say that my background is heavy in finance and accounting would be accurate. Like you all, I chose to sell a home last year and purchase one this year. I did so because, for me, the financial information led me to believe that now was a good time to move up. It has proven itself to be true, and my home is currently worth $50-60K more than the day I purchased it in November, 2008. Also, we're now in a better school district, a larger home and a better town than where we had previously lived, and because my window of ownership is likely to be a decade or more, I'm not as concerned about an additional 10 percent drop in prices because I am certain that in 10 years, my investment will yield more than satisfactory returns.
So, if I sound optomistic about the market, it is because I am taking the long view of real estate for both my clients and myself.
As for finding a good Realtor, Gofishu2, you can find one that will work with you for remuneration satisfactory to both you and the agent (and his/her broker--because it is the broker who must approve all contracts and fees). Because you are working more "creatively" than most agents are accustomed in terms of a commission, you will need to interview more than a few Realtors to find the appropriate professional, but I guarantee that the proper person is out there for you.
Do take the time to look around and find your perfect home and the perfect agent. I wish you good luck in your house hunt!
Grace Morioka, SRES, e-Pro
Area Pro Realty