Many IDX providers allow you to create saved searches to link to. This can be for homes based on price range or property characteristics.
Unless you are paying cash, getting pre-approved is essential. Not only will it help you determine how much you will be able to borrow but also help you determine what loan programs might be best suited for your situation. It will also greatly strengthen your negotiating position. It is a given these days that sellers will want to see some assurance that you can perform under the terms of the contract. After all, you will be asking the seller(s) to take their property off the market for a period of time while you obtain your financing. Allaying any doubts a seller may have about your ability and willingness to perform increases your chances of favorable outcome for you .
Escrow is the process of having a neutral third party manage the exchange of money for real property ensuring that the conditions of the sale have been met before money and property exchange hands. Escrow is an independent depository wherein all funds, instructions and documents for the purchase of your home are held. The escrow office will handle the disbursement and pro-rations of moneys, the preparation of the associated documents and the recording of the deed and notification that recording numbers have been obtained. Closing costs for a buyer will include title insurance, escrow fees, and associated lender fees. You will get a good estimation of what these costs will be when you get pre-approved.