Sounds like you need a local Realtor to help you....although your question was posted 4 months ago and you may have already found an agent to help you.... if not, I'd be happy to sit with you and explain your loan loan options. Not only have I been a Salinas/Watsonville Realtor since 1989, I was also a mortgage broker for several years and can point you in the right direction for your loan. Although you feel you can afford a $1500/mo mortgage, the purchase price you can qualify for depends on the amount of down payment you will be making, your credit history, your monthly gross income, how much other debt you have, current interest rates, etc... in other words there are a lot of variables that affect how much of a home you can purchase. I can recommend good local lenders who can pre-qualify you for a home purchase. Sellers will not consider your offer to purchase unless you have a lender's verification of your ability to make that purchase.