Thanks for asking. As has been mentioned, the most important step is talking to a lender to find out if it's feasible for you to purchase. The lender will issue a pre-approval letter which helps to determine the price range of homes you can buy. If you would like a list of local lenders to interview, please visit my website.
Best of luck!
Glad to see that you are reaching out for answers to make sure you are taking the right steps in this process. The 2 most important things that you need to accomplish right now are getting pre-approved by a lender or bank and find an agent that is going to be open about what you will experience in finding and buying your new home. I live in St Louis, but am not licensed in Illinois. If you would like a referral for an agent that can help you in East St Louis, please let me know and I will be glad to help set you up. Best of Luck!