I am a Freddie Mac certified CreditSmart trainer, and I would suggest you start with your credit. You may not currently be able to qualify for a loan, but with the right, free guidance from a certified trainer, you could learn how to quickly start changing your credit score. All of the CreditSmart courses and seminars should be free. Just look for someone in your area to see if you can join in on one of their free events. I have written to one of my Freddie Mac contacts asking if there is anyone in your area. If I get a response, I will be sure to post it here for you.
Below is a link to the abridged version of the CreditSmart curriculum. Please feel free to download it, print it, share it, etc. Please also remember that you are not alone with your credit situation. Many people get into credit difficulties, including me. That's why I try so hard to share with people what I've learned and how I have been able to completely change my own situation.
Even if you are able to get into a rent to own when the time comes to "finance" the property you may not be able to qualify because your credit score is so low. Why not work on improving your credit score through credit repair, credit education first in a 4-6 month time frame and then once your credit is in good standing you can then search for a quality mortgage product and then the house that you like?
In order to qualify for a very low quality mortgage product you will need a credit score of 620 and this is not a fabulous mortgage product, this just gets you 'qualified' Mortgage products begin to get exciting when your credit score is 720 or better. Here is a link to obtain a free credit report, if you would like me to look it over I would be happy to do so and assist you getting your credit in good standing. Good luck!
Hannah Fliegel, FICO Pro
One of my suggestions is to search on Craigslist. Here's a Craigslist search for lease-option properties near Pittsburgh: http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/search/rea?query=option&
And here are a some in the Youngstown area: http://youngstown.craigslist.org/search/rea?query=option&
But take a look at my blog for a lot of other ways to locate them, too.
Hope that helps.