They say: "Home is where your heart is." But in reality it is also where your pocket book is. We all hope to buy our "dream homes", but they are just that, dreams, unless you are among the few fortunate people who are not concerned with limitations of money. Unfortunately, for most of us (the majority of people), our dream homes are reduced down to reality according to our abilities to afford.
As everyone said below, the FIRST step you need to make is to consult with a lender (mortgage broker or mortgage lender) and he/she will be able to determine how much you can afford to purchase and also pre-qualify you for such a purchase amount (which will be the best ace in your hand when you are ready to make an offer on a property). Then, seek out a professional Realtor who will help you find the right property for you (you may want to ask your family or friends if they know a real estate agent they highly recommend) .
The next step is to make a list of the basic things you realistically need (# of bedrooms, # of bathrooms, a large backyard, proximity to work and or schools, size of kitchen, solid roof, window protection, and etc..). Then, add the other things that would be nice to have but are not really necessary, things that would be nice to have but you could live without (1 or 2 car garage, pool, being on the water).
Again, ask your family, relatives and friends about their "experiences" but, be careful" don't ask them to help you select your home because they will tend to steer you to buy what they would want to buy for themselves and that may not be what you can afford.
Remember this: unless you have tons of money, don't buy anything to impress your friends or relatives. Buy a house that you will be comfortable in, suit your purposes and that will not strap you down financially.