The most important tip for transitioning from renting to buying is to Be Prepared.
Do two things first:
1. Talk with a good lender about the loan process and what you can afford to buy. You might be surprised--either happily or unhappily. If your credit score or income aren't as good as they should be to qualify for the loan amount you need to purchase your dream home, you might be looking at a longer time saving and paying off bills than you thought. There are good lenders who can actually have your loan fully underwritten and approved before you identify the home you want to purchase. This makes you look like a much stronger buyer to the seller who may be considering several offers as well as yours. Because, of course, if you love that home, you can bet others will, too.
As with finding the right Realtor, working with a really good lender who has good relationships with the other real estate professionals and a list of happy past clients is much more important to buying your home than finding the one who gives you the best "deal."
2. Right along with working with a good lender is working with a good Realtor. Your Realtor should be an experienced professional who understands the current market and marketplace you are interested in. A Realtor's value to you is not so much in finding you the property you want to buy thanks to the Internet, but in helping you understand and work with you through all the steps involved in the successful negotiation and ultimate purchase of your home.
Buying a home is one of the largest financial transactions most people ever experience. Don't skimp on using the best help you can find.
Then, do a lot of fantasy shopping--look at properties for sale on Realtor.com and Redfin.com. You will develop an understanding of RealEstateSpeak. You will also learn a certain understanding of asking prices for the homes you might find appealing to you. Go to open houses and talk to the Realtors holding them open. Good ones can give you a lot of information about the neighborhoods and current market conditions. By seeing actual houses that are for sale, you will begin to understand more about RealEstateSpeak and what that means. A "dollhouse" is usually a cute but tiny house generally too small for more than one person. A "needs TLC" is a house that needs about $100,000 worth of work to make it livable. You will figure it out.
My last tip is this, don't give up. For most people, owning your own home brings much more to your life than the significant tax-saving and financial benefits that it generally does. It is your rite of passage to being a grown-up. It is your proof of "citizenship" -- and I don't mean of the country on your passport. Living in your own home that you have purchased means you are likely to be a member in good standing of your community. Studies have shown that children of homeowners generally do better in school than renters' children. Homeowners generally care more about the neighborhoods they live in. They take better care of their property, they vote more, they participate in community events more than the people who don't own their homes. They have a bigger "stake" in what goes on around them, and that benefits us all.