Being a first time home buyer is an exciting and somewhat intimidating process. If you scan the Internet you can find a wealth of information and you can spend hours upon hours reading it all. While this will make you a more informed person it may also make you feel more intimidated as there is a lot of risk that needs to be pointed out however, without risk there is no reward. Below are the steps and at the bottom I have provided some links that you can use to help speed your search.
You will need to first talk to a mortgage specialist. They will, for no charge, provide you with a very clear picture of how much home you can afford. This is critical as you don't want to waste you time looking at homes you can't afford or, worse, looking at homes and settling for less than what you want because you weren't looking at the right priced homes.
Since you have your price set, you can determine what area, or area's you might like to search in. Not all area's are the same so be sure of your needs. Do you need rapid access to transit or do you have several vehicles and need parking for them all? Do you want to be closer to nature, to the city, to shops, to schools, your place of worship? Location, location, location is the key to any real estate.
Once you have your criteria (price/location) you will need to begin shopping for homes. There are homes that are on the Internet, private sales, For Sale By Owners, newspaper ads to mention a few. Finding homes is easy, finding ALL the homes is hard, getting to see them all without a realtor is even more difficult.
If you find your dream home in the location and price you desire you have to negotiate for the price (assuming someone else didn't find it and buy it before you), find a lawyer to help close the deal and then take several steps to protect yourself such as buying Title Insurance and arranging a Home Inspection
After you complete all this you can then begin the process of home ownership or, if you find any issues along the way you may find yourself starting all over. Sometimes you can't find the house you want for the price you can afford so you have to revise your price or location. Sometimes the dream home turns out to be a nightmare and you cancel the deal. There are many reasons for beginning anew.
As you can see there is a lot of work to do and of course if you have a full-time job there is even less time to devote to this endeavour. A qualified Realtor is your best first step since they work for you and their fee is paid for not by you, but by the seller, why not use one? They point out all the pitfalls and will eliminate them for you or, offer you the choice as to how YOU want them handled.