Once you have spoken to a lender and find out what you can afford, select the location you would like to live. You can choose by school district, access to highways, distance to/from work, etc. Then, drive through the area during daytime and evening, both on a weekend and during the week to see if the location suits your needs. Make sure you have written down your top "must haves" in a home or if these can be negotiated if you see something you really love. As your lender will also tell you, don't open any new charge accounts or purchase any large items during this time, wait until after closing. The most important thing to do is talk to a full time Realtor who is experienced and will be able to guide you to a successful closing.