True story: A few years back, as an investor I was offering a property on a lease-option. I had one very interested couple. He'd recently gone through a bankruptcy (he'd owned a business that had gone under). But his record up to that point had been good. His wife had good credit and a good income. I referred him to a lender I used (which is something anyone promoting a lease-option should do), and the next day I got a call back from the lender. Turns out the couple was qualified to purchase a property, and that's what they ended up doing. Bottom line: Don't assume you won't qualify without first talking to a lender.
I love lease-options. In the right situation, they're a definite win-win for both owner and tenant-buyer. But if you can buy today or position yourself to buy in one year, then wait. You'll have a much wider selection of properties and more negotiating leverage than if you go for a lease-option today.
Hope that helps.