Well being that I just bought my first home just under a year ago I think I may have some useful tips. I bought a 3 bedroom ranch, with 80 acres of land. My fiancee is big into horses, horse training etc so the land gives her a ton of room.
Tip #1: Get a Realtor. I negotiated the purchase of my first home. Being that I am good with finance & business it went very well. I got a good deal and I was able to negotiate for certain things I wanted. However, the time constraint and paperwork can be a killer. My tip, let them do it.
I went with a 5-year ARM at 4.7%. I used LendingTree to get the best rate. My pmt is only $1,300 a month will insurance and property taxes built-into the payment. Of course now, locking in on a 30yr isn't bad either with rates. If you think you're going to be in the home for more than 5yrs I would lock in a 30yr now before rates climb.
Make sure you have a good down-payment. If you don't have 20% equity in the home you may have to pay for mortgage insurance. That can really jack up the payment. If you have a good down payment good. I had other properties that I sold so I was able to put down a lot towards the new home so I saved myself a lot of money in mortgage insurance.
If you go through LendingTree, make sure you are wary of the closing costs. They can be anywhere from 3-7% of the purchase price. Try to find a mortage broker on the low-end. Mine was 4% or around 10k on $200,000.
Also, don't forget to factor in other things in your monthly payment like utilities, heating, groceries and other things you didn't necessarily have to worry about when renting, not to mention insurance, maintenance etc.
Don't borrow too much. Shoot for something that will take up 30-45% of your monthly income for a payment. Getting above 45% can make it tough on a homeowner.
Good luck, it's an experience but it's not too bad. Just some things from my own experience. I hope it helps. If you have more ?? let me know.