Welcome to the home buying market! This is an exciting time to be purchasing a home, with an array of new homes coming onto the market these is some excellent value to be found. All it takes is a little time and effort in looking and you can find your dream home for a dream price. But you should always be a smart buyer. There are those out there that will take advantage of someone who is eager to buy so, if you do your homework; the deals will follow.
The first thing you should do is get your finances in order. This involves finding out your credit score, fixing any outstanding issues affecting your credit, ensuring that these are properly released from your report, and finally securing your mortgage before you start looking. When I say secure your finances I do mean being pre-approved fully, this is different from a pre-qualification in that a pre-qualification does not "secure" you any amount of money, it is simply a judgment of whether or not you qualify to receive a mortgage.
Next, start working with a realtor that knows the area you are looking to buy in. This is a huge step so be prepared to move from merely wanting a home, to actively looking for one. Sit down with your realtor and make a list of things you require in a home. This is a list of those things that you can absolutely not be without. Once this is compiled, then list the things that you would like. With these lists ready, its time to start looking at homes. Your realtor should be able to provide you with a complete list of homes that fit your criteria, and some that come close. Also, they will be able to guide you to properties that fit your pre-approved mortgage amount.
After finding a home or homes that suit you make sure to have a certified inspector take a thorough look through the home. Have them check all questionable areas of the home. Don't forget to have the inspector check for mold as this is something that is often overlooked. If the home passes the inspection than carry on with the offer if you are so inclined. If it doesn't then either continue shopping, or utilize the necessary repairs as a bargaining point. Usually you should be able to have the cost of these repairs deducted from the cost of the home. Its a good idea to bring in your own contractor or expert to get these estimates. By doing this you know that everything is above board.