Ultimately you want to be happy with the decision you made and getting an accurate depiction that is Realistic to your circumstances starts with Properly Identifying what you are looking for.
Some Questions to ask
What is your price point? It all starts with figuring out whether you are going to use cash or get a home loan! With the latter you will want to get in contact with a mortgage officer (of your choosing, feel free to shop around!) to obtain a pre-approval so you have an accurate idea of what you can afford.
How much space do I need? Knowing before hand some basic criteria such as how many bedrooms, baths, and what kind of living space you are needing will help the Realtor narrow down the search which translates to you seeing properties that are viable and will give you a more precise experience all around.
Is there a particular school I want my Children to Attend? Taking the time to research the schools in the Area can go a long way in preparing your children for the future.
What is the Crime Rate like in the area I'm looking for? Arrest records are public information, as Realtor's we are actually barred legally from discussing crime rates to prevent bias involving neighborhood selection; however a quick call to the local police station's non emergency number will let you know by zipcode what the frequency and type of crimes being committed in any particular area.
Will this place accommodate pets? Whether you have pets now or think down the road you'd like some, having the space to fit the pet is an obvious question however things such as an unfinished basement or hardwood flooring might become make your check list especially if you are housebreaking a new pet!
Plans for Family? Do you need the property to be able to fit you as grow? Maybe you need a guest bedroom for when Family and friends visit. Buying a home is one of the biggest decisions the average person will make in their lifetimes, so before going in you really want to anticipate the future and be prepared for what may come!
Am I willing to do work on the house? Are you looking for something that is move in ready or are there certain things you can take care of yourself. While having something in pristine condition is definitely good, knowing what you are willing and able to fix up can really help out especially during the inspection and negotiating processes.
What am I willing to compromise on? Identifying what you want in the property is important, being able to recognize the difference between what you want and what you need is even more important. Maybe you and your significant other disagree on certain things. Having a concrete idea of what you are after will help eliminate a fair majority of the stress and headache commonly associated with a Real Estate Transaction.
What am I not willing to compromise on? The inverse of the above; this might seem redundant but again knowing what you absolutely cannot live with out is paramount in establishing a satisfying transaction where 3 or 4 years down the road you are not regretting your purchase.