Wonderful - it is a great time to be a buyer! Hyde Park and the surrounding areas have some bargains for qualified buyers. As I am sure you know, if you can close before November 30th and you are a first time homebuyer you qualify for a $8,000 income tax credit.
I commend your approach - looking for agents/lenders to talk with before selecting your real estate team. It is a good idea to meet and talk with a few agents to determine who would be a good fit to work with you. You want someone familiar with the area, experienced and preferably a full time agent. I would be happy to sit down with you to talk about your goals and preferences when you are ready. In the meantime, you can check out my web site and search on line for properties http://snoble.illinoisproperty.com.
If you like I can give you contact info for some of my clients so you can talk directly to them regarding my level of service.
Before meeting with agents you want to get pre-qualified by a reliable lender, so you know what the ceiling is for your purchase. I strongly recommend you do your own budget and determine what YOU are comfortable with for your monthly mortgage. http://www.bankrate.com
has mortgage calculators that you can play with to determine how interest rates and downpayments affect your payments. As far as a lender, I can recommend Tony Angelotti with Wintrust as a great lender. Many of my clients have used him very successfully. You can reach Tony at 708-326-3100
Best wishes in your house hunting adventure!