Once they start exploring home properties in areas they can see themselves living in, there is no stopping them like the rest of us who got bit by the bug that got us on track towards home ownership! Once you envision yourself in the home and in the neighborhood (s) that you want to be in, it is time to get qualified for a home purchase. With loans as little as 0% or 3% down payment you need not allow the lack of much savings to be a deterrent. You should have sufficient reserves to cover at least a 1% deposit initially in many markets; just a couple thousand for some less competitive markets.
On the other hand there are some more exclusive markets that may require you to put a 3% deposit into escrow. All of that, of course, can go towards closing costs and down payment at the close of escrow. It is not a bad move to get a condominium as your first home and later on move up to a house. Getting qualified by a lender will put you on the right track towards a home purchase by knowing what you qualify for, and how much house you can buy for the highest monthly payment you are comfortable with handling.
Armed with a preapproval from a mortgage broker or bank you can feel comfortable with doing a home search knowing you can put in offers on properties you like and can afford to buy. Whether it is a couple of months or a year now is the time to start, right?