I'll offer my advice as I'm going through this right now. This will be my 3rd home purchase in under 6 years so fairly abreast of things. Sorry it's a lot but should be some good tidbits in there that I only learned from going through it.
Before anything don't take out any loans or make any job changes. This will completely derail everything.
-First, as much as a dislike them find a realtor. It's your first home and trying to DIY will be a royal pain in the @$$. Don't just use a friend but try to find someone who is knowledgeable about your area and willing to be your advocate. Especially being the buyer there are a lot of realtors that are only looking out for there commission and not you. Remember if you don't like them kick them out and find a new one. Don't depend on your realtor to do it all make sure you are a part of the process. They are working for you. Make them earn their over inflated commissions. I was all over our last realtor and found stuff that she "missed".
-Get pre-approved. I've always worked with a broker as they have access to multiple loan options and help in getting the best rate. Most of them will charge a "fee" it can either be a fixed fee or X% of your loan. It's a good idea to shop for lenders to get the best rate. Don't just work with the first person you talk to or who your realtor suggest. They will all have different everything. When you get pre-approved all you are doing is giving them the basics of your income so they can see "how" much you can afford. Every lender has to be able to provide you a Not to exceed estimate of all your cost prior to closing.
-Start getting all of your financial documents in order. This was a major issue my first go around and my broker dropped the ball and delayed my closing. You need paystubs, taxes, bank statements, know your FICO, if you have a 401k how much is in there, know how much debt you have and any other weird things (I used to have a company credit card and they defaulted on their payment and it showed up on my credit report because my name was on it). The better prepped you are to give them those documents the easier it is.
-For your mortgage, go with a 30 year fixed. There should not be a penalty for paying more than your mortgage amount. Yes a 15 year will get you a better rate but if you can't make a payment you're hosed. You can also set up payments to be bi-weekly that will help pay down your loan faster. If you can pay it off quickly go for it. No sense in paying interest and lining the banks pockets. There are a lot of programs for 1st time home buyers that can help especially with closing cost and if you can't put 20% down to avoid PMI.
So after you've gotten those things lined up you can start looking at houses. From there things move fast once you put an offer in most times the process goes......
-Put in an offer on a house, either at asking, below or above. If you bid over you'll need to have that cash as the bank won't loan more. If they accept your offer it will go as below, if not you're back to square one.
-You'll need to be able to put down earnest money within a few days of your offer being accepted. Most times it a % of the homes value. It's basically a good faith deposit that will go towards your closing cost. If you don't have the cash and someone "gifts" it to you make sure its traceable, so either check or cashier check, no cash.
-You'll need to hire a home inspector. They will go through the house and make sure everything is working how it should. This is where you can submit contingencies back to the seller. They can either fix those items or not. The lender requires a PPI, no bank will loan you money without this being done. You should also be allowed to be there when your inspector is going through the house.
-Have someone come out and scope the sewer line or check the septic if applicable. My first house the sewer line was cracked and had started to leak in the yard. Would have never known unless I hired someone to scope it. It's not required but good insurance. Seller had to replace it and cost 10k. Rather him pay and not me.
-Once your contingencies are agreed on then it's getting your loan approved. Hands down the most stressful part. This is where it's good to have all your finances in order. Mae sure to not put any cash into your bank account. It becomes a headache because it's not traceable.
-You'll have to have an appraiser come out. Your home has to appraises at or above your offer. If it's below you either need to pay the additional or the seller has to agree to the reduced price.
-You'll need to get homeowners insurance in place. Talk with your current auto insurance and see what they offer. Again shop around, but you need this done before closing.
-You will have closing date set and this is where you'll need to pay closing cost and sign your life away (seriously so many documents it's insane). Closing cost most times consist of how much you're putting down, taxes, escrow money, lenders fees, appraisal cost, credit report cost, title insurance and some other fees. I'd expect on a 70k house about 2-4k in closing cost not including your money down.
All I can remember for now. Congrats and good luck!!