Okay, so today is a sunny Sunday in Salem, Connecticut, and it's a traditional Open House day in these parts. If you're thinking about trying to buy your first house, this is the perfect day to venture out and dip your toe in the friendly-to-buyers ocean called House Hunting.
Here's what you should do at any open house: first, drive around the neighborhood. Not just down the street, but around the surrounding area. See what's one street over, what else might be for sale, write down the address and the phone number on the sign.
Then go and see the house. Don't be afraid to ask the realtor hosting the open house as many questions as you can think of! She or he is there to answer your questions, tell you about the house, and yes - hopefully interest you enough to enlist her as your realtor. You don't have to commit to that,. but you should at least take a few minutes to engage in some conversation and ask some general questions. You're entitled to do that, even if you don't think you have enough money or credit to qualify for the mortgage yet.
Bring pencil and paper, and take notes. First impressions are worth writing down, because you may forget them later. And remember not to let things like paint colors or decorating schemes deter you from seriously considering a house! Try to envision your own things in the house, and remember that during the course of your years in any house, you will probably repaint numerous times yourself, and more than likely if you're there longer than a couple of years, you will be doing some remodeling. Don't think that the house has to have everything already done for you in order to buy it. Most first-time buyers can't afford to buy their parents' house, but part of home-ownership is making it your own over time.
Whatever you do, don't wander wordlessly around the house, say nothing, wonder about lots of things but not ask about them, and leave without saying something to the realtor. We really aren't there to just hold up the kitchen counter, and pass out our cards. I, for one, like "just lookers" and am happy to talk to you, even if you're the neighbor who always wondered what the house looked like inside.