Honestly, start looking six months, or more, ahead of time. And, it depends on your criteria. If you can search in a large geographical area, you'll have more homes to choose from. It also depends on your budget. Homes on the lower end are always in demand by investors and first time buyers. If your needs list is specific, give yourself more time. Right now inventory is very low, and some buyers have been looking for months and months already, because so many of the homes on the market are getting multiple offers.
I can send you listings now, so by the time you're ready to get pre-approved and visit homes, you'll have your search areas and criteria narrowed down already. It never hurts to get to know your market(s) early.
Let me know it you have any questions at all.
Cory La Scala, REALTOR
Lic # 01443391