Being a first-time home buyer is a fantastic experience full of excitement and feelings of apprehension.  The key to a successful experience is preparation and aligning yourself with professionals, who can help you.  Before you even begin to look at properties, make sure to take the time to get pre-qualified.  This helps to manage expectations and set parameters.  Once you have those set, you should meet with several realtors and ask them some hard questions.  Treat it as if it is a job interview.  Remember, they work for you and need to help you find what you want.  Therefore, you need to understand their experience and personality.  You will be spending a great deal of time with this person, so they should have a personality that compliments yours.  Seriously consider a realtor, who works with first-time home buyers.  They have a unique understanding of the trials and tribulations of a first-time home buyer.  

Once you have chosen a realtor and have found your place, you will need to go through the closing process.  This can be intense but your realtor should be able to prepare you for it.  Further, by taking the time to be pre-qualified, you will be in a great position to get your financing authorized.  Once your closing date is set, you will need to set a moving and settling-in budget.  You need to identify what you will need to spend to move and prepare your new place for your move.  This is important because there are often hidden costs associated with moving that are overlooked.  In addition to the actual cost of moving, you will have to consider paint, window treatments, and cleaning.  Keep in mind that there are additional expenses that can creep up but the more prepared your are, the less likely you will be surprised by a large unexpected cost.