If your credit is holding you back then there are programs to help you fix your credit and even with a short sale and bankrupcty on your history, GTE Financial (credit union) may give you a mortgage. If you lack downpayment or closing cost money but have good credit and a stable job history, you can also get up to $7,500 from the State of Florida Bond program. There is plenty of money available but you cannot earn more than about $68k and you MUST work with an APPROVED lender.
Your Realtor can give you the details or if you're not yet working with a Realtor, please send me an email and I'll send you the details.
Also Pasco County is offering POP houses where you may be able to get up to half of the cost of the property.
All the best,
Alma Rose Kee, PA
Future Home Realty
Generally speaking, once you like the property, you make an offer where you need to write what you want done (if anything) to the apartment before you move in. Then, after your offer is accepted, you'll sign the lease, and will have to go through the condo approval and you'll do a walk through.
It's a good idea to take pictures and describe what defects/dents/scratches are in the apartment - to put it on the Walk Through Sheet (so no one can blame you for it later on when you will be moving out).
It's also a good idea to check your credit report and visit a mortgage pro in your area, because you might be able to buy instead of renting, paying same or even less.
Beachfront Realty, Inc.
Check the stipulations regarding your deposit. Some times a lease agreement will let you recover your deposit if later you decide to buy a house. You can always negotiate that in your lease.
Knock some doors. If you really want to know about the place, neighbors are always a great source of information.
Try to find an agent to help you. Some agents are property managers and they can help you with their expertise and rental database.
This is just some advice, I hope my 10 cents will help you.