In search and buying a house is a significant experience of life and can be very discouraging. This is true even if it's not your first purchase at home. It is a pretty common practice for most home buyers to use a real estate broker or agency to find and buy a house. However, it should not be an automatic decision to do so for all buyers.
If the market has many homes for sale in Houston, with many sales signs and healthy amount of for sale ads in publications, the need to use a broker decreases.
This is especially true if you have the time and inclination to make the original phone calls to the sellers yourself and how to get around the neighborhoods in question. Also, if you have access to a significant online real estate for sale portal that is searchable, then again you as the buyer have less dependency on a broker.
The situation is different if you want to buy a house in an area that you were not familiar and that you need competent information about important issues such as schools, purchasing, transport, manufacturers, taxes and other.
Another situation where use a real estate broker is when you have to sell an existing home to buy a new one. Unless you have buyers of your existing home already lined up, it can be very helpful to have one brokerage helping to sell your current home as well as locating a new one.