Hi Josh! Congratulations on deciding to look into home buying. It's a great way to build wealth in America if done properly :)
1st thing I would do is use a good online mortgage calculator to get a ballpark as to what price range you might be in. These are free and this one works pretty well:
There are two choices to give you an idea of how much you can borrow and also how much the payments will be. Sometimes you can afford more than what you are comfortable with payments, so you need to balance the two:
How much can I borrow?
How much will my mortgage payments be?
Once you have an idea you can go online to the areas that you are interested in and run a few searches on your own. Obviously if you aren't comfortable doing any of this yourself, you can select a good Buyer Agent Real Estate Agent to help you. Buyer Agents will be a member of REBAC (Residential Buyer Agent Council) and carry the designation Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR). Some agents are listing agents and buyer agents. You can ask. Good agents are worth their weight in Gold, so starting with an agent who knows the "system" can really save you some time and heartache. And I'm sure there is more than one in whatever area you choose to zero in on.
For online searches you can use Trulia or Realtor.Com. At least then you get an idea of price ranges for the area you want to be in. And what type of residence you can afford.
There are some great buys out there now and in areas that formerly weren't affordable. And interest rates are great. So, you are making a good decision to start looking now.
All the Best Josh:
Delaine Campbell, REALTOR
ABR, CRS, e-PRO
Long and Foster
400 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314