I've only considered going to small claims court once in my real estate career: Nice young clients were in contract to sell their 600 sf condo in 2005 to a young man who apparently was trying to buy the home with pretty much no money down. At the closing table, he was short--he and his agent assumed he could use part of a credit from the seller against his first month of mortgage interest and the our side knew that wasn't legal. Given that another unit had just gone into contract at a figure a few thousand less than ours, I knew that we'd be up a creek if the transaction failed. So I covered the shortfall out of my paycheck (small condo--small paycheck), and figured it would be a slam dunk in small claims court. Well, that was more than five years ago and I've missed my chance.
This month's CA Assoc. of Realtors magazine has a nice primer on small claims court, however; you can find it on the web, or email me and I'll send you the PDF of the issue. The article starts on p. 18.