Budgeting and banks
First, you have to know exactly what your budget is and how much you can afford to spend. The banks will need this information before they will even think about giving you a mortgage loan, so have it all ready. The difference can sometimes help in negotiations with a seller for a better price on the home. Make sure that you are pre-approved not pre-qualified. Research diligently through different lenders as well. Make sure you get the best possible mortgage and interest rates.
Look into the area
You will have to know what you need as far as size like the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, square footage, etc. You will have to take into consideration schools, transportation, and stores as well. If you prefer public transportation, you will have to make sure that you are near to the local pick up. Do you want the local stores to be close at hand? The Local Records Office can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods you are considering, so make sure to look them up.
Contract a buyer's agent
The housing market changes constantly. Even though we are recovering from the housing crisis from a few years ago, you will want to do plenty of research. You don't have to have a real estate agent and honestly, agents work for the seller not you. However, you can contract a buyer's agent if you wish. A buyer's agent will ensure you find the house you want for a good price and actually works for you.
Look for homes
Look at a lot of homes before you make an offer for one. You want to make sure that you are getting exactly what you want and not just settling for what you think you can afford. After all if you are paying that much money to buy a home, you want to be happy in it. Likewise, don't allow an agent to push you into a house you can't really afford either. Just because you qualify for it, doesn't mean you should buy it. You could overtax yourself and that will lead to trouble later on.
Once you make an offer and it is accepted, there are several steps that have to be taken. A home inspection to check the foundation, construction, heating and cooling system, electrical etc must be done. This is important so that you and your bank know that the home is sound.
You will have to buy homeowners insurance and bring the document with you to your closing along with your down payment and another check for closing costs unless you have negotiated for the seller to pay them, you will be responsible for those. The closing should take about an hour and when you are finished, you will be the proud owner of a home of your own.