This information may raise more questions than it answers, and that's okay - it will at least give you an idea of how the process works, and it's a good start. Once you've had a chance to look it over, feel free to give me a call/text/email, and we can go over any new questions and see how to get you home!
1. Find a lender. Seriously, there's no point in getting your heart set on something you can't afford, so start there, and you need to be pre-approved to write an offer anyway. I highly recommend James Komro (503.680.4784), Faith Watkins (503.528.9800), Gary Boyer (503.807.3925), or Justin Therrien (503.890.9778). I've closed deals with all of them and I know they are reliable, and great at helping first time buyers get ready.
1a. How much do you need to have up front? Not everyone needs to have a 20% downpayment, but you do need to have money set aside for what are called "closing costs," - things like loan origination fees, title reports, filing fees, taxes, and insurance. This might be as much as $10k; we can be more specific once you have a lender who can help hone that number. Within 5 days of an accepted offer you'll need liquid funds for earnest money (part of your down payment) and inspections (see below). Those initial costs will come in around $5k or less.
2. With your Realtor (me!), start looking at properties that fit your criteria. Expect your wants/needs to change as you're looking, and don't feel bad about letting me know. That's how we find you the right place.
3. Found something you love? Write an offer! The process takes about an hour, and I'll go over each section with you at your speed.
4. Wait for a response. Wait wait wait. This part feels awful. I promise I'll tell you within an hour or two of getting the response, unless it's after 9 pm. Then you'll have to wait until morning.
5. Negotiate as needed. This is also uncomfortable for people, but I'm good at it. :)
6. We have mutual acceptance! Hurrah! Now what again??
7. Negotiation round two, based on repair needs. What will the seller pay for, what will you pay for, what can slide. Generally speaking, you want the seller to either fix it or give you credit at close, not reduce purchase price. That doesn't leave you money to actually get the work done.
8. Repairs agreed on? Now we let the bank know, and they can order the appraisal. That will take another 7 days-ish. Once we have the appraisal back favorably, THEN you can give your notice. Before that, if the appraisal comes back low, you run the risk of having no place to go.
9. Wait. Wait wait wait. This is where the bank is doing their underwriting thing and there's really not a lot we can do. Pack, call your utilities and schedule the name change, don't spend anything that will change your credit score.
10. Sign for closing. This will be a quick thing: we will get a call from the bank that "docs are at title." This means we can go in and sign a stack of papers an inch or two high - allow about an hour for this process. I will be there for moral support. You'll need to bring ID and a cashier's check or wire transfer paperwork for your closing costs amount; given the amount of fraud out there I recommend the cashier's check. This will likely be one or two days before closing.
11. CLOSE, which means YOU GET YOUR KEYS!!