Consider these things first.
1) What's happening in our market:
If you're looking to enter the market for the first time, it's a good idea to watch real estate trends for a period of time and to do some research on current economic conditions. For example, are we currently in a buyer's or seller's market? Are mortgage interest rates going up? Are there any government incentives available?
News articles are not always your best source for information as they sometimes do not account for all the facts relevant to your particular situation.
It's best to try to find specific real estate reports for your area and price point.
Getting well informed prior to starting your home search is imperative as it will give you a better position and more confidence during the offer and buying process.
2) What can you afford:
I always suggest speaking to a mortgage professional prior to looking at homes.
You need to know what your budget actually is, so that you don't get refused by a bank when you're set on buying. A mortgage specialist can also work with you to get approved for more by guiding you on what you need to do to look better on an application. So, the sooner you do this the better it is for when you're ready to search.
Do you need to move by a certain date or are you flexible? The more flexibility with your move the better. You'll have an advantage when negotiating and competing with other buyers. Also, you can avoid certain peak times of the year to purchase your home when competition is heavier and prices are higher.
4) Interview real estate agents:
Many people don't know this, but you can start discussions with a real estate agent before you commit to enter into a representation agreement with them. A good agent should be able to provide you with answers to your questions and make you feel comfortable about working with them before you start viewing homes. Don't be afraid to ask for their expertise and meet them face to face!
If you have any other concerns about starting your home buying process. Please don't hesitate to reach out!