Wouldn’t it be great if buying a home were as simple as it is in a game of Monopoly? All you’d have to do is find a desirable neighborhood, hand the bank a few bucks, and you’d receive a house. Of course, the home-buying process is a bit more complicated in real life (especially for first-time home buyers), but it’s not impossible. Competition among buyers in many markets has gotten intense, so if you’re serious about homeownership, you’d better get your act together. To point you in the right direction, we’ve prepared a road map of the home-buying process. From choosing the right professionals to signing that final contract, here are the typical steps you need to be aware of.

Step No. 1: Chose an agent

The first step in the home-buying process is to find an agent you feel comfortable working with on what will likely be the largest financial decision of your life. Ask friends and family members for referrals, and interview several real estate agents.

“Choose a Realtor who communicates, has your best interest at heart, and puts you first,” says Naomi Hattaway of Virginia’s 8th & Home, Real Estate + Relocation.