Good question, and you are in the process of doing one of the things I suggest - research, educate yourself. Here are a few other suggestions:
1. Get a copy of your credit report, clean it up if necessary. Know your credit score, Lenders use a tri-merged report.
2.. Evaluate your financial situation, do you have money for down payment, closing costs, moving expenses. If you are a Veteran you can obtain a loan with zero down - FHA requires a minimum of 3.5%, it can be a gift from a family member or employer.
3. Establish a monthly budget.
4. Determine what you need and want - number of bedrooms, lot size, location. Single Family Home, Town House, or Condo - what matches your lifestlye best.
5. Find a Realtor - Interview a few, ask for a recommendation from a co-worker or family member. It is important for you to have your own representation - especially in this volatile market. In most areas the Seller pays the commission, therefore that is a fee you won't have to worry about.
6. Speak to a few major Lenders, compare their rates and fees. Ask for a fee worksheet.
There is so much more to finding a home, negotiating, the right financing for you, knowing the market trends for the areas you are looking in, a knowledgable Real Estate Agent can guide you through the process and educate you at the same time.
This is a good start.
Happy House Hunting!
Please don't hesitate to call me with more questions.
West USA Realty