Your lender should be able to give you a very good idea of what you can afford. Remember that a condo also has a maintenance fee, and that fee is factored into your monthly payment, along with insurance and taxes, to determine what you can be approved for. Your Realtor should also be able to suggest ways to bring a house within your financial reach if it's close: Seller buy-downs or second mortgages, for example.
Take your time looking, and consider several towns- if one is too expensive, try another. Meanwhle, keep putting aside as much as you can for your downpayment.
Good luck- this is the most affordable time to buy in over 30 years!
Shoot for the stars, my man. Seriously, if your preference is a single family (nice choice btw!) then stick with it. For the most part, condos are way overrated...and I know that I just ticked off about a gazillion people by saying this. Don't get me wrong - condos are great for having all the exterior maint. done...that must be kewl. But, for all of my clients, one of the the words I drill into their minds, is the word "resale"... For single family homes right now - there are some smoking deals! Whether you are looking for something short term 1 - 5 years, or much longer, when it comes to resale value - you get more bang for the buck buying t a single family or even a multi-family for that matter.
Talk to a mortgage professional to run some rough numbers for you - you'll be amazed on what you can afford to purchase vs tossing your money out the window to rent. There are still some great no money down programs available today that some people have never heard about.
You are definitely on the right track asking all the right questions. Data is key. Once you run the numbers and get preapproved, you'll be on your way to owning your own home. And there's nothing quite like owning your own home, Shawn. Good luck and let me know if you have any other questions that I can help you with.
Have a great weekend.