Flying into town for a preliminary house hunt is always a good idea if you have the time. It allows you to get to the know the area, see how housing styles differ from your area, and come to terms with home prices here in the Twin Cities. Yes, the cost of living is higher here, and you get less home for the same price as in other parts of the country. But you will never know if you like a town until you see if first hand.
My clients never did find a home that they liked for the money. Their choice is to rent for a year while they look for the best home to fit their needs. This is becoming the new trend of real estate house hunting. With the down market, people are scared prices are going to go down more, and there just isn't any rush to purchase a home like there was a few years back.