Dreams Come True! Based on your post, it appears you have the fundamentals in place to qualify for a mortgage loan. Credit history for 2 years+ and decent score (minimum 640 FICO), and 2 years consistent employment.
Here's my Primer for my First Time Buyers here in New York:
1. Meet with a Local Mortgage Banker to get prequalified for mortgage financing. The Mortgage Banker will review all facets of your loan request to answer your questions with regards to the types of loans and maximum loan amounts you could qualify for.
2. Get a referral to a good, local, real estate attorney. Call the attorney, retain the attorney so you have her information handy when you make an offer. Having that information at time of offer helps you demonstrate to the Seller how serious you are, and they will consider your offer with more interest.
3. Line up a Home Inspector. A good home inspector will scare the heck out of you: that's what you pay him for! But you'll concentrate on the fundamentals of the property: roof free of leaks, plumbing, heating and electrical up to code and in good working order. Again, when you make an offer and you have your Home Inspector ready to go, your offer will be considered with much more interest by a Seller because you truly have your "ducks in a row" and your preparation demonstrates your serious attitude about conducting the purchase transaction in a timely manner.
4. Find an experienced Local Realtor who works in your desired shopping area. A serious pro Realtor will refuse to show you homes until you are Prequalified for mortgage financing. Don't take offense! That Realtor doesn't want you to be disappointed and wants you to have a smooth experience as you shop for your new home.
Put together your Team of real estate professionals and shop 'til you drop!
In the immediate, you can view a handy list I've put together of the financial documents you will need when in comes time to actually apply for loan. It helps to have this info ahead of time, as you can start to gather the info and documents in preparation for application. Go to: http://www.genemundt.com/Required-Documents.html ... and print-up this listing for your reference and guidance.
I would love to earn and have the opportunity to guide and work with you ... and answer all your questions. Should you like to speak, please contact me at your convenience. Hope to hear from you soon!
The next step is to find a wonderful lending agent who can pre-approve you and walk you through the financial side of purchasing a home.
If it is not a option for you now, your lending agent should be able to give you a ball park for a time frame and set goals for you to accomplish what you would like to do!
Brian has the right idea. Engage with a REALTOR familiar with the area of your choice and who has reputable financial resources. A good REALTOR can guide you through the two major steps; financial qualification and home shopping.
I serve the Joliet area also and have excellent financial resources very familiar with first time home buyers. Give me a call if you would like to begin a home buying discussion! You appear to have the right history for a successful search, qualification, and purchase!!!
Jerry Hix, ePro
Keller Williams Infinity
The American Dream is still alive and well so let me help you make it a reality. The first step is finding an agent you feel comfortable will be attentive to your needs and wants. Step 1a is getting together with a lender who can walk you through the process. They should be able to help you with first time home buyer programs etc..
I have helped hundreds of 1st time buyers, just like you acheive their dream of home ownership. I would be happy to help you in anyway I can.