If you have a good idea of what you want, and you're shopping for boat that's far away, you might try making a low-ball offer sight unseen (contingent on your own inspection as well as survey and sea-trial). Only once you've come to terms on the boat in question do you take the time (and incurr the expense) to travel to the boat and check it out. Make sure that your purchase agreement says that if the boat doesn't live up to your expectations on this visit, you can walk. For this approach to work, you have to know what you want, you have to be realistic in your expectations about the boat's condition, and you have to get what you feel is a good price, given your realistic expectations regarding the condition.
As for finding a surveyor, I've written up my experience at: http://sailing.thorpeallen.net/Greyh...Selection.html