With an inconsistent employment history, limited income (and little or no down payment, I assume), as well as damaged credit, the odds, quite frankly, are not in your favor. While Realtors are prohibited from commenting upon whether a given area is "safe," a check of crime stats (available on numerous websites ...I like Neighborhood Scout) should help in determining which locations are more desirable for you. You'll notice that there's likely a correlation between criminal activity and cost of housing.
Your timing couldn't be worse, given your situation. We're in the midst of a sellers' market (although the "feeding frenzy" has leveled off a bit), and there are more buyers than available properties ... supply and demand is working against you. Prices have risen considerably, and lenders are being less flexible. Rents are also reflecting the shortage ... people who would normally buy (but can't find a suitable home) are leasing, resulting in a similar dearth of inventory. Be prepared to pay $1500 to $2000/mo. for anything decent (perhaps a bit less further out).
Whatever down payment assistance programs remain come with rather stringent requirements, among them a verifiable work record. You'll likely be able to avail yourself of "credit repair" programs offered by both Realtors (generally at no cost) and private firms (for a price ... I don't recommend them), but the process takes time, and doesn't always produce the desired result. You'll also be receiving replies here from agents who claim that they can help you (without knowing any more than peripheral details of your situation) because they they work with an incredible lender. If he/she were that "incredible," everyone with adverse credit would be busting his/her door down.
I'm certain that this isn't what you want to read, especially at this time of year ... but what I've written here is factual, at least from the point of view of a veteran Realtor. Many potential home buyers have been disappointed over the past year or so, largely due to credit and/or employment issues. I've already touched on the rental market.
I wish the news were better. Hang in there.
Trend Setter Realty
Marcia Smith, Home Buying Consultant
I have been in the real estate business for 15 years and would be happy to assist you and your family. Please let me know what your price range is so that I can facilitate your needs.
Nadeem - Realtor
Since your credit and income are your major concern which is also the main focus when obtaining a loan, it would be a very good idea to first find out what amount you can qualify for. If you are a first time home buyer, you may be able to avail of some incentives, but a lot depends on what the loan officer finds on your credit. There are ways to increase your credit score to be able to get a loan approval. Since you are contemplating this move, you have some time to figure out and work on getting to the point where you can get your mortgage situated.
I can give you names of a few lenders. Please contact me at the information below.
REALM Real Estate Professionals
In the Houston market, it is more affordable to buy then rent when you calculate all cost. I would assume the 3 times you have been here before, you were renting. You know the ups and downs of this. However, renting for the first year back in Houston may not be the worst case for you as you try to settle down here permanently.
You without a current job, poor credit, etc will also dictate you will likely rent at first. So...maybe you rent in an area you wan to "test drive" to see if you like it. Purchasing tends to be longer term and you want to be in the general area you enjoy, manageable commute times, good schools, etc.
You will likely be in a suburb of Houston. Your future job will also make a big factor on which side of town you will be living in. You know the west and north sides fairly well, but south like Pearland, far west like Katy, southwest such as Sugar Land and northeast in the Humble area all feature great schools and affordable homes (some new construction). We can review any crime issues as we begin searching. Yes, there are nice neighborhoods that would work for you!
I would do two things very soon. 1) Get your new job and 2) speak to a lender about getting financing. Many on my web site work with 1st time buyers and can explain different options such as FHA. http://www.markknowshouston.com/res_list.php?cat=12282&c You will likely rent a small home say $1500 or less and start saving money to purchase in 2015. We can help you with ALL of these steps. Feel free to email or call.
Bernstein Realty, Inc.