Find a Realtor You Can Trust. This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people I work with that didn't get to know their realtors BEFORE they bought/sold their homes. This is likely the largest purchase you will ever make, shouldn't you at minimum like and trust the agent that brokers the deal? Yes, yes you should! Don't be afraid to go grab a coffee, ask a lot of questions, and walk away if it's not a good fit. Us agents have thick skin, if you don't have a good vibe it's okay to move on. Remember, your real estate agent is getting paid to work for you!
Find a good local lender. You've probably been banking a long time at this point and feel pretty good about your bank, but finding a local lender will make your purchase process smooth and personal. There's a lot of paperwork and deadlines in the process, it makes a world of difference to have a lender that answers their phone on a Saturday and doesn't have an 8 digit extension. This a stressful process, you don't want to be lost in a stack on someone's desk in Milwaukee or have an lender in a different time zone. Big box banks often send you to lenders in different states.
There's Always Room for Negotiation. If I were to generalize, most people are relatively uncomfortable with negotiation. We don't like to rock the boat and we're typically trying to be agreeable. That's great, except when purchasing a home. You WILL sign contracts and you WILL need to have someone on your side that's not afraid to ask for what you want. A good agent should be willing and able to barter on your behalf. Even in a seller's market such as Denver, there's always room for negotiations.
Get Out and Pound the Pavement. The internet has changed the home buying game in a lot of ways. You can virtually shop online for everything, including your house. Contracts can be signed digitally and texts messages save us tons of time. At some point, you need to get out and see some houses! A lot of houses. Drive through the neighborhoods you like, check out the coffee shops and bars. Get to know a neighborhood outside of google maps. That finished basement might only be 6ft tall and that renovated kitchen doesn't have a pantry. Pictures are deceiving and what you think is a "must have" might be negotiable for your dream backyard.
Student Loan Debt Matters. Even in that blissful stage of student loan deferment, the new guidelines treat that loan like actual debt. This will undoubtedly affect your purchasing power. If the loan is in deferment they will consider 2% of the outstanding loan (1% for non FHA loans) as a liability. That's $1000 on a $50k student loan debt, for most people that will drastically change what they can afford to buy. If your student loan is in deferment and you’re planning on buying a home, some lenders suggest enrolling in a documented income-based repayment plan. This will help the lender assess your actual ongoing liability.