Some people get very upset if their score slips below 750. Others are content with 680.
Where I work, at Bank of America Home Loans, we can often approve loans with credit scores of 600 or even into the 500s, if there are strong compensating factors.
On the other hand, if your score is below 620 you probably cannot get a loan with most brokers or independent mortgage companies because for the most part they can't be sold on the secondary market (the big banks who ultimately will send you your bills)
Credit score aside, you could be eliminated from getting a mortgage if you had a recent bankruptcy or foreclosure or if you currently have a mortgage and made a late payment within the last 12 months.
It depends on how bad your credit is and what is showing on your report.
There are a number of free and easy tips that are very basic and can get your score up.
Here is a very simple blog I wrote on the topic: http://www.trulia.com/blog/al_akerman/2010/01/can_i_get_a_mo
If your score is 620 or above, most banks would be willing to give you an FHA loan with very good rates and terms.
I hope this was helpful, but feel free to call me at 908-415-3958 to discuss.
The mortgage industry is cautious on who they give loans to nowadays. My best advice would be to speak with a reputable lender who will pull your credit, review your income, review your debt and be able to answer your question based on the facts.
If you need assistance with locating a lender please feel free to contact me.
Remax Realty 9
Sometime's it more than just the poor credit scores (FICO's).
It's true they play a big part in getting a loan, but employment, debt to income ratio, downpayment, etc. also can play a part in the approval process.
You can always pull your credit report and see what the "hits" are and from "whom". Even if there's just one or two that are debatable, or should have dropped off, by pursuing the companies by appeals or letter can get them removed. It can improve your FICO's even by a few points.
You can also check with your County to see if they provide any type of First Time Home Buyer programs.
Best of luck!