1) Visit a mortgage lender that you/they trust to get pre-approved for a mortgage. The lender will pull a credit report and take income information for your parents to get a picture of what they can afford.
2) Find a trustworthy real estate agent. One who has an ABR (accredited buyer representative) or CRS (certified residential specialist), both awarded recognized by the National Association of Realtors, would be a good start.
3) Share the pre-approval informaton with your chosen agent. The agent does not need to know every detail of your parents' finances, but s/he does need to undertand the elements that affect your parents' ability to complete a purchase contract on a home.
4) Look at homes with your agent. Listen to his/her assessment of the pros and cons of a home and neighborhood. Remember, that agent represents your parents, so you should be feeling comfortable that your parents' best interests are protected.
5) Once a home is identified, a purchase offer is submitted with contingencies for inspection (subject to buyers' approval of inspection results), financing (subject to obtaining financing after a good-faith effort) and perhaps others. The terms of these contingengies and the purchase agreement changes from state-to-state aind county-to-county. You will also likely select a title company, closing date and closing agent in your purchase offer.
6) The contract is the most critical piece of the tranasaction. A mistake here can cost plenty. That's why you want an agent who knows the local contracts and requirements inside and out and who will position your parents advantageously within the contract. The agent will also make sure all of your parents' rights are maintained. Truly, contract management is the reason a good agent is worth more that they get paid.
7) Once inspection phase is over (the buyer and seller agree on concessions or repairs, if any), then you wait for financing approval. Do not go out and buy a car or a washing machine or do anything that might look bad on an income statement or credit report! Keep all bills current.
7) Meanwhile, your closing agent (an escrow company or attorney, depending on the state), will be working to line up title, mortgage, etc. to achieve the agreed-upon closing date. You will also have gotten a preliminary title report for the prospective property. Read it. Ask questions. Make sure your agent reads it , too.
7) Once financing is approved, you will proceed to closing. There you will sign loan documents, title documents, deed, etc. Once your papers have been released to the county recorder, the property is yours. Your agent will give your parents the keys and they will live happily ever after.