Before you start looking, meet with your accountant or banker and see what you can actually afford. There's no use looking at an $800,000 property, if you can only afford $225,000.
Save yourself, and your realtor alot of wasted time and frustration. Spend some time on Zillow, Realtor, Trulia touring homes online, so you can get a feel for what is out there in your budget--- and in the area you desire.
Next make a list of non negotiables: school system, public transportation, drive time to work,
number of bedrooms/ baths--- whatever you cannot compromise on. In Rhode Island, real
estate taxes are a huge consideration, as they are very high compared to other states.
There a plenty of honest, reliable realtors out there, ask someone you trust for a recommendation, and interview them. Make sure you feel comfortable with them. Personally, we like dealing with
the listing agent---we've bought 4 homes in Rhode Island---that way, there is no mis-communicaiton bewtween agents. All the agents out there will hate me for recommending this. It's worked for us.