Benita, with this kind of request, you are likely to be "deluged" with offers to help My advice is that you:
1) post a few more specific questions to help you get started and
2) interview several Realtors when you first get here to see who may be a good fit for you, and
3) shop for a Realtor relationship you want to stick with long term, rather than simply look for a tour guide.
You may find a home your first trip here, but most buyers find it takes quite a while, even with an active weekly search. Many properties are in contract within 2 to 3 weeks of coming on-market, so the cycle can be fast.. Most buyers end up working with an agent for a long stint before they successfully purchase a home, and many have to write offers on several properties before they are successful at being the accepted offer..
The Berkeley market is quite simply much more complicated and competitive than most other markets, so who you work with can make a huge difference in your ability to get the property you want.
There are many licensed Realtors and agents here and though we often say similar things about our skills and approach to service, but not all Realtors are created equal.
What you want is an agent who listens, has deep market knowledge, is thorough, and explains each step in detail in a manageable way to help you navigate the complexity. You may have to compete in a multiple offer situation for some properties, and not have to compete at all for others, so you want an Realtor who can help you recognize the difference and position you to be successful in capturing a home you really want at the most favorable price. You want someone with a highly developed strategic sensibility and excellent negotiation skills. You will most likely need to learn quite about issues of condition in categories you may not be accustomed to: We have to consider earthquake safety combined with the fact that most of our housing stock is older & architecturally significant. It's all navigable...you just need to be sure you can have real confidence in your agent, and the patience to learn..
You don't want the friendliest agent, who acts like your new best friend. You want a wise agent, with deep knowledge, who insists that it be a good fit both ways. It will be a long relationship, and the agent who interviews you to make sure it's worthy of their time, as well as you making sure they are a fit for you...will likely negotiate best for you. And finally, be sure to choose a LOCAL agent, who knows the micromarkets of Berkeley and the East Bay.
We'd love to have you interview a Marvin Gardens agent, but either way...Good luck in your search, and welcome to Berkeley.