Privacy in a new home is always the first issue. If you and the spouse can't cover the windows that first night when you "christen" the bedroom, that could make you as the "new neighbors" on the block, the talk of the neighborhood in a way that's not going to feel very welcoming or comfortable.
2- Track down the area you aim to live from trulia.com or zillow.com or realtor.com. This will keep you motivated during the process. If you are engaged or married, enroll your partner in this process. If not, consciently or not your plan will get delayed.
3. Assign a percentage for your down payment. 5%, 6%, etc.
4- Work on your debt, or avoid them. This will help you obtain a better interest rate on your mortgage.
Marketers will flood your boxmail with looking good offer for personal lawn. Do not take the bait. This is a trap to eat up your ressources.
4- When you are ready, shop around for morgage lawn. An interest of 3.45, instead 3.15 would increase your mortgage by hundred or thousand dollars.
It requires discipline and commitment. Good luck and congratulations.
Another big this is when think you're ready to get preapproved soon, DO NOT move money around that cant be easily explained. And it's better just not to have to explain. Try to keep your "books" as simple as possible for the prior at least 3 to 6 months if you can.
Example, you found THE house and its a little out of your preapproval range, so you got 10k cash laying around or your parents want to pitch in 10k...underwriting will want to know where it came from. If its a gift from your relatives or something then you're volunteering them to divulge all their bank statements too. Maybe yours wont care but many other people out there would not be happy to have to do that. If it's your 10k cash that you threw in...you best have a paper trail or you may hit a wall in your loan process. And don't go and buy a vehicle or furniture on credit until you've actually closed on the house. That could break your loan on closing day. Don't let that happen.