The first step in the home buying process is to get a pre-approval letter from a mortgage lender. He/she will collect financial documents, like bank statements, tax returns, paystubs, etc. to best decipher the price point of home you should be considering.
With a pre-approval letter in hand, you will want to search for that perfect agent! Everyone’s criteria will be different, so make sure that your personality matches that of your agent so you are on the same page.
Ask friends, family and neighbors for their suggestions of agents, and speak with a few before deciding anything. If you like constant communication, make sure he/she is willing to update you every x amount of days for example. If you prefer a certain form of communication-say email instead of phone calls-be sure he/she understands that.
Make sure that along the process, you and your agent are communicating effectively and often. You want to be kept in the loop of what is going on, and will need your agent to help with any confusing terminology or wording in contracts. Your Realtor will be able to clear up any confusion, and negotiate on your behalf.
Do not ever feel like you are asking a dumb question! If you are unsure about something, ask for clarification! It is better to make sure you understand what is going on, then to be confused at the closing table. Your agent should understand that you are not going to be as familiar with the process as he/she is, and take their time making sure you are comfortable each step of the way.
Lastly, make sure you are flexible! There will almost never be an exactly perfect home (unless you custom build it!), so be flexible about things like paint color or backsplash that can easily be changed in the future. If there are substantial modifications to make, be sure to factor that into the price you are paying for the home.