What an excellent question!
Personally, I wanted to buy a house as soon as we could, and have lived in our own house ever since, in 3 different states. I didn't like renting, because we weren't allowed to do so many things we wanted to do, and because we didn't have the huge tax benefit that owning provides.
I have a one-page explanation and comparison of the monetary aspects of renting vs. buying that I'll send you if you want!
But I always suggest people start by thinking about how much they can afford. Then, contact an agent and see some homes in the price range that allows. Some agents won't show you homes until you're pre-qualified, but I will (in the interest of education. I believe knowledge is power).
I wonder if you're renting now? The reason I ask is that I have a couple of rental houses in Westminster and what I'm hearing is that rents are going up, and it's hard to find a place in decent shape. That's another thing - if you get a fixed loan, your payments can't be arbitrarily raised every year like a landlord can do (if taxes or insurance go up, your payment will increase slightly).
There are a lot of other things to consider, too - like how long you plan to stay put? But I'd prefer to chat as we're out looking at homes, so let me know if you're up for that!