1. Determine your specific needs as a first-time buyer. How much room do you need? Are you concerned about schools? Commuting time? Proximity to family and friends? Is this a starter home, or are you likely to be here in five or ten years? Are you buying at the height of or bottom of a market? What financial resources do you have, or must you obtain, to purchase your home?
2. Educate yourself about the types of homes available. Determine which one(s) will meet your needs: detached single-family home, multi-family home, condominium or new construction? Understand the differences inherent in one type of property over another. Conduct thorough research, and ask specific questions about the type of property that you choose. Check out some MLS Listings
3. Obtain valuable, publicly available real estate information. You can research public records in government offices, or, more easily online, where they are increasingly available. Aside from http://domania.com, which offers free access to comparable home sales, there are a handful of real estate sites that offer other valuable real estate data.
4. Hire a real estate representative.
Interview several candidates and check references. This can now be done on line which makes it considerably easier than going to door-to-door.
5. Learn about special lending, qualification and down payment programs for first-time homebuyers. You may also be eligible for one of these programs if you are a veteran of military service, or part of a work or affinity group. Learn all you can about mortgages. Complement your intelligence-gathering with helpful overviews, such as the Federal Reserve Board's free guide, Home Mortgages: Where to Shop and What to Look For. Check out sites like http://fanniemae.com and http://freddiemac.com for more information, and of course check out sites that applying easier, like http://lendingtree.com and http://Getsmart.com.