Buying your first home is a huge milestone, and an incredible feeling once it’s completed. During the process, though, it can be kind of daunting. As an FTHB, how can you make things as simple and painless as possible? Here are a few tips.

Check Your Credit. When you apply for a home loan, the bank will run a credit check to see what your financial situation is, and how likely you are to make your mortgage payments on time. So that there are no surprises, do your own credit check first. There are a number of sites that offer a free credit report that you can look over. If it turns out your credit score is too low for a regular loan, you might consider applying for an FHA loan, which caters to those with lower credit scores and allows for a much lower down payment.

Get a Real Estate Agent. This is a good idea even for veteran home buyers, but especially for FTHBs. A real estate agent will guide you through every step of the process. They’ll work with you to determine the kind of home that will best meet your needs, in terms of size, location, price range, and other factors. Then, they’ll show you homes that fit those criteria and help you find the one you want. And of course, they’ll help you through buying negotiations, loan paperwork, and anything else that may come up.

Make an Offer. After much searching, your real estate agent has led you to the home you want to buy. How much are you willing to pay for it? Make an offer on the house, which your agent will present to theirs. In some cases, you may also request that the seller cover some or all closing costs (credit report fee, appraisal fee, title insurance, etc.). The seller will either accept your offer or begin negotiations. Once you’ve reached a figure that’s equitable for everyone, you can make a deposit, and the home will go into escrow. That means that the house is taken off the market for a period of time, with the understanding that you will purchase the house.

Get an Inspection. You’re getting ready to close the deal on your perfect home. But how perfect is it in reality? What kind of shape is it in? Does it need any major repairs or have any serious defects? A professional inspection can reveal a lot about a home that the sellers may not have told you. If it turns out there are major flaws, you can either rescind your offer and get your deposit back, or negotiate with the seller to make the necessary repairs or lower the price.

Buying a home can be an adventure, whether you’re a FTHB, or a veteran. But there’s no reason to go into it blind. Do your homework and find out everything you need to know about the process, what to expect, and what’s expected of you. Knowledge is power. And the more knowledge you have, the better you’ll be able to navigate your first home buying experience.