Most homes in that price range are purchased straight out for cash because most mortgage companies do not do loans in that price range and it becomes even harder if the home needs repairs (furnace, copper missing, etc.). However, if you have a good relationship with your bank or credit union, sometimes they will do loans in that price range.
Your best bet is to find a private owner that will do a land contract. I would put aside at least $5,000 to put down. This shows seller that you are serious and makes the risk a little better for him. Also, if there are real estate agents involved, on a home of this price the seller is paying $2-$3000 in commissions, so the $5k gives him enough money to pay the commission and put a little in his pocket.
As to area, I like to try to find the best home for the money I have in the best school district. I say this because if in a year or 2 you need to sell, your home in a better school district will sell faster then identical home in poor school district. Also try to get 3 bed with basement even if you do not need the 3 bed or basement. Again, if you have to sell, it will usually sell before a 2 bedroom or a home without basement.
Hope this helps.
Douglas Funk, Burrell Real Estate, Flint MI