Your Mortgage lender should also be aware of the many programs for 1st time home buyers as well.
As mentioned below, find a good agent to work with (interview a few- and pick the one who can answer your questions and make you feel comfortable- a good communication between agent and buyer is a must- also do they listen to your needs?). From there its learning about the offer process, negotiating, home inspections, title V (if needed), ....it goes on and on..
With a good agent by your side these things will be explained before you deal with them and there should be little surprise through the process.
Good luck in your search.
the answers given here to your question are right on. Your best bet is to hire a full time Realtor to represent you. As stated here listing agents do work for the seller and having your own representation, specially being free of cost, is a no brainer. He.she can walk you thru the entire buying process and negotiate for your best interest. We have been in Braintree for over 20 years and have another office in Abington; feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance.
There is a buyer FAQ on my website that may answer questions you might have about Buyer's agency.
Also, make sure you invest in a home inspection. It will cost $400-$500 dollars for a basic home inspection, but it will help you sleep at night knowing what you are getting in a house.
Also, I would recomend hiring a Buyers Agent who will work on your behalf. Listing Agents work for the Seller and are obligated to getting the best price possible for the seller. A buyers agent will help you get the house at the lowest price possible, as well as inform you of neighborhood issues, and any other issues that might arise.
Second, Location & Quality. When looking for a home, always shop in the popular areas. This will mean a smaller home for the money, but when it comes time to sell, your home will sell more quickly at a better price. Also buy quality for the same reason.
Third, negotiate aggressively. Take your time, study the comps and make sure that you don't overpay for a home.
Fourth, always have a home inspection. This may give you some leverage to renegotiate an even lower price.
Don't hesitate to bring in a contractor to give you a second opinon and cost estimate for any problems that show up on the inspection. Do not purchase a home with structural problems or major defects.
When you get into your home, pay a little extra principle every month to build your equity.
We have a series of articles on our website referenced below. Feel free to go there for more information.
Chris Clark, Broker, Harlingen, TX