When you find the right home...
It's a good idea to make your purchase offer and sales contract contingent on obtaining financing and contingent upon a satisfactory inspection. That way, if you're unable to get a loan, or if the inspection turns up serious flaws in the home, you're not contractually required to buy the home.
Do your homework before making a final decision on a real estate agent. Ask the agent you're considering for references. Also check your state's licensing agency (sometimes called the Department of Real Estate) to see if there are any disciplinary actions on the agent's record.
Know who your real estate agent represents. Real estate agents can represent the buyer or the seller, and sometimes both. State laws may require your real estate agent to tell you who they are representing and under what terms. Ask questions. Find out, for example, whether your agent will keep your conversations confidential. How would the agent or brokerage company handle the situation if you find a home you like and the agent or brokerage company also represents the seller of that home?