Showings are the meat of your homebuying experience. Lots of people hire a real estate agent to help with the search, and with good reason: Finding your needle in the haystack means sifting through countless listings, contacting countless agents or sellers, and finding your way around strange neighborhoods on a schedule. An agent can make the search a lot easier, and as a buyer, it costs you nothing (it costs the seller anywhere from 3 percent to 6 percent of the sale price, typically).
If you decide to go it alone, or you just want to do your own research, check out the MLS -- everything on sale will be listed there. Craiglist.org and your local newspaper classifieds are also good places to get a feel for what's out there.