Although every purchase of a home involves a degree of compromise, the process begins with the buyer's preferences. When you are working with a real estate agent, it is important that you give your agent a clear idea which of your criteria are flexible and which items you really must have in your new home.
If you prefer a specific location, for example, discuss why you want to live in that neighborhood. The agent might be able to suggest alternatives areas which offer the same amenities or convenience to your office. How important is size? Do you really need four bedrooms or would three bedrooms work, if there is a den for your home office? How much are you willing to correct with redecorating or remodeling? Are you willing to expand your price range by using an adjustable rate mortgage to increase your buying power?
The agent will ask you a lot of questions so that they can use your time most efficiently by showing you houses that meet your criterion as a buyer.