Spend some quality time with your real estate agent discussing your “must haves”, your “would really like to haves” and your “absolute no-no’s.” Your agent will tell you up-front if you’re being realistic or not. There seems to be an unwritten law that your perfect house will stretch your comfort level a bit, so be prepared to either compromise on your “must haves,” or spend a little more than you’d like. Many first time buyers find that they adjust their expectations quickly.
A real estate agent makes looking for a house easy and hopefully fun. You’ll set up a time to get together (2 - 4 hours) and decide ahead of time which available houses you want to see. Your real estate agent will set appointments to “show” the houses to you and hopefully the sellers will leave during your showing to give you privacy.
Don’t be surprised if you dislike most of the homes you see; it sounds like a cliché, but you will know “your” home when you see it. It may take several trips to find it, so try not to be discouraged. New listings come on the market every day; your real estate agent should be updating you several times a week.