You are exactly correct about now is the time to buy a home instead of renting. I think you have the picture that you need to contact a lender to get qualified for the loan.. right? The number one thing you should do to see what you can afford to purchase. Go for it and get it done! :)
Once you know what your price range is and what you want/need in a home, I recommend that you work with a buyer's agent who will work exclusively for you - not for the sellers of any homes you might see. A good buyer's agent will be able to assist you in finding just the right house that fits your needs and price range.
Tips on home purchasing :
Lynn911 Dallas Realtor & Consultant, Loan Officer, Credit Repair Advisor
The Michael Group - Dallas Business Journal Top Ranked Realtors