That's a good question to ask as it shows that you realize timing is everything in real estate. You need to be always cognizant of the right timing for interest rates, for prices, for selection of inventory. At the moment, homes under $200,000 in No. Tacoma are flying out the door because of the lack of inventory and incredibly low interest rates. Your question about waiting for UPS to get out for the summer may have been more relevant in the past 3 or 4 years, but not today. I know this may make you anxious but you need to dive into the market as soon as possible. During the holidays the inventory is down but so is the competition among buyers. Typically only serious sellers are on the market during this time and you may find a real "gem" out there.
Looking on your own is one method. However its not very effective really. I suggest you connect with an agent who is on top of the market and will let you know about homes the day they come on the market. Maybe even in advance as the market is so dynamic now and some homes never reach the market before they are sold. You need an experienced negotiator and closer, an agent whose percentage of closed sales far exceeds the number they've written. That takes knowledge and experience today to navigate the world of lending, inspections, pricing, title/escrow.
If you haven't already, I recommend you get pre-approved for a loan not just pre-qualified. This puts you in a great position for negotiations and also sets the table for what you should look to buy and what not to look at.
I personally pride myself on helping new-comers to the market, educating them and counseling them all along the way. I want them to say I bought my home from Dick Beeson, not Dick sold me a home.
Good luck to you Shelli. Get crackin. Times they are a changing!