A couple of suggestions. First, talk to a local mortgage banker. I don't mean one of the big banks but a small local lender that specializes in writing mortgages. If you don't know one, call a local realtor and ask to be referred. Whether or not you qualify today, the banker will be able to tell you exactly what needs to be done to qualify at some point in the future, and give you a good idea of when that will be. Order your credit report and go over it carefully looking for any and all inaccuracies and challenge every one you find. This alone could raise your credit score. Do exactly as the mortgage professional tells you and THAT may also raise your credit score and in a relatively short time. And, no matter what they say today, stay in touch with the mortgage person, I am hearing rumors that the banks are going to revise their lending standards making it easier for
people to qualify for mortgages AND that they are going to start doing more lending some time this year.
Good luck, you are making a very wise decision and I am sure you will be a home owner before you know it if you will just ask for and follow the advice of the professionals.