Many times the lots around your Real Estate will greatly impact the overall value of what you are interested in selling or buying. If there has recently been a boom than you can expect higher prices on the real estate. Conversely, if the neighborhood has been full of foreclosures than you can expect that to decrease the price.
Is it possible to work with real estate without using an agent? Well, technically it is, but it is generally not recommended. You are not merely paying an agent for their expertise, but more importantly for their network. With the contacts they have, your real estate will receive much greater exposure and will sell considerably quicker.
Although the opposing party is not your friend, there are a few times when you will want to work together if possible. After you have both done your inspections, it can be worthwhile to get together for coffee to compare notes. If you find a discrepancy, one or both of your inspectors were probably not completely thorough.