While you could do the majority of the legwork yourself, an agent can be really really helpful. If nothing else, my agent wound up being an extra set of hands and a brain extension. There were at least 6 times during the process where I emailed her and said "Christy I literally can't think about this right now. Can you just make this happen?" And she did.
Honestly, the way I started was by browsing on Zillow. When we decided we wanted to see houses, I clicked on 3 names in the window that popped up. I went to showings from 3 different people, and then basically told one of them "I want to work with you. Let's do this thing."
"What do I do now" is literally what your agent is for. Also, they often have access to listings that you can't get any other way, so there's that.
In the end, I didn't even notice what her commission was. We just threw a bunch of fuckin' money at the wall and we got a house.
@Rym Oh...oh my god. The horror. I am cringing into myself so hard right now.
In other news, I have confirmed that there is no natural gas availability at my property. Awesome.
This means I'm going all in on researching ground-source heat pumps. We already have a water well on the property, and if it's productive enough, I may be able to install an open-loop system and recoup costs in 2 - 3 years, as opposed to ~7 for a closed-loop system.
This technology sounds like witchcraft, but it's legit, and it can save me an incredible amount of money on my heating and cooling bills.