Category - Finding a Place
As you drive through neighborhoods and open houses you will quickly see your list of wants and don't wants grow. You may also start seeing your budget to grow as well as you will of course see a few homes a little higher than your price range. If you end up in that situation, just make sure you still qualify for the loan or consider a lower price point home which you can invest in upgrading a few years down the line.
Make a wish list of things you want, you need to at least know the price range you are looking at, if lot size matters or not, how many bedrooms, etc. Also make a list of things to avoid. Think about things like does a hallway kitchen work for you or do you prefer a wide open kitchen with barstools and an island? (Evernote is a great place to keep this and everything else by the way).
Get in your car, with your family and drive to the various neighborhoods during the day, night, weekends, as many times as you can to get a different feel for each area at different times. It's one thing to think about which area fit the bill and have the correct school zones but it's a whole other world when you actually drive into a neighborhood. The instant we drove into the neighborhood of our current home we knew we wanted to live in this specific neighborhood.
The best resource for finding open houses turned out to be realtor.com for us. Go on there and look for open houses in the areas you are looking in. Most open houses seem to be on Saturdays and Sundays, the majority are also between Noon and 3PM or so. Some are sometimes later but rarely past 5PM.