My advice for a first time home buyer?
1. Avoid short sales, unless they are "pre-approved"- Short sales can take months to close. You do not have time for that, and betting that you found the "one" short sale that will close in time is a risky bet now. Focus on foreclosures, and regular motivated sellers ( yes, they do exist!).
2. Get your financing in order as much as possible, as early as possible.- If the deal does not close due to financing issues, or worse, is delayed for financing issues. You will be the one losing the benefit of the tax credit. Make sure you have a reputable lender, be realistic with the time frame, and be proactive to make sure they have everything needed to close the deal.
3. START SHOPPING RIGHT NOW! - Did I mention you have about a month to find, and get into contract with your next home? Also, you are not alone. There are plenty of buyers out there trying to do the same thing. The good deals are going FAST.. I wrote an offer for 5k over list price, pre-qualified buyer, quick close, etc. We were beat out. The home had gone into a bidding war. My buyer was maxed out with what he could afford, but we made the offer within 24 hours of the home getting listed.
GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME..... GREAT THINGS HAPPEN ALL AT ONCE!