Wonderful question .....You won't know it (the house), when you see it. You'll see it, when you know it. So, get crystal clear on what you need (versus want) in a house. A great agent will have a fun and interactive process to help you do this without your having to drive all over town looking at properties for him/her to "get it". Consider this key service like the "intake" portion at a doctor's appointment. Importantly, put your dream team of agent and lender in place BEFORE you go looking. After all, it's a long term relationship you are likely to have with you home. This is key, too, because once you find your home, you may have to kick into warp speed and can end up making very expensive mistakes if you don't have your key advisers in place. These experts all need to get along and have the same values as you! You may not know that that is the case until it's too late. All buyers want a terrific negotiator on their side, but how do you define that? Ask your agent to give you their stats. The best buyer's agents also regularly list homes - it helps them to feel the pulse of buyer trends and stay abreast of what is typical in negotiations in a market. This increases your odds of success. Your agent should prepare you a market analysis before you make an offer so you can be sure you are not overpaying for a home. Your team's goals and method of communication should be firmly aligned with your goals and preferred way of communicating. The internet has been such a wonderful development for consumers, but many are lulled into believing they "know" things because they read things on the internet. A great agent with the right expertise, skill, systems/technology, contacts and experience will already know how to help you save and/or make money on your purchase, as well as help you to figure out if you are buying the right house, all the while helping you to maneuver through hidden land mines or, better yet, avoid them altogether! It's like the old carpenter joke. When you're presented with the bill, it says: "10 cent for nail, $100 for knowing where to hammer". Good luck to you, Lynn, on putting your dream team together.