The proverbial question, how do I get started in buying a house (regardless of what community). This query reflects what all buyers, regardless of whether they're buying their first or their second house, it is important to start out right, and selecting the right agent is only part of a winning combination. The buyers who start by looking at a given area without knowing their budget are setting themselves up for heading down a path that may lead to unfulfilled expectations. However, with the ease in which anyone can look up just about anything on sites like Trulia, for instance, a "do-it-yourself" type might believe it is as easy as letting your fingers do some walking to buy that house. Let's remember that buying a house isn't like buying some shoes -- you typically can't return them if the fit isn't just right, right?
Starting at the beginning, the buyer should find out from a lender of choice -- online lenders might not be the best choice (a topic for further discussion), to get a range that is realistic given the dynamics of the lending industry and the borrower's credit profile.
Following that exercise, the buyer needs to fit their expectations to their financial reality. If you're qualified for $100,000 for instance, and you search http://www.Trulia.com
for prices in the 94080 area, you'll find that the two factors do not coincide. So, keep in mind what alternatives you may have to do something different, e.g., getting others to help qualify for more? Or, looking at other areas that fit your financial ability, etc.
Lastly, you'll want to work win a knowledgeable and effective agent who will tell it like it is. In other words, there are those agents who still apply the spaghetti test to selling real estate -- if you throw wet spaghetti against a wall and it sticks it is good to go. As a buyer, you don't want to fall short or wind up being limp, to follow the metaphor, so, if you find an agent who talks too fast, has the catch phrase, "don't worry..." built in, then start looking for someone else to help you. Key word is HELP. That's what a great agent will do, and they do it with heart.
Finding the right house, the right loan and the right agent to orchestrate it all makes the process all the easier and that much more enjoyable. However, buying a house these days does require a bit more ingenuity and a lot more patience. Hope that helps.