Honestly - what is your rush to purchase a home right now? I think you will be well served right now by continuing to pay off your debt and generate a good history of making payments on time. Focus on that and improving your credit scores. You will be hard pressed to find a loan with favorable interest rates with your current credit scores. You will likely be penalized with higher mortgage insurance payments as well.
Also - it is very likely that downpayment assistance programs will be eliminated by some pending legislation...the bill should be passed in the next week or so and put on President Bush's desk for approval shortly thereafter. I blogged about this topic this morning... here is a link - http://sacramentorealestateblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/downpay
I suggest focusing on paying off your debt, raising your credit scores, and saving up your downpayment. Sorry if that is not what you were hoping to hear. Good luck to you.
Have you had your credit pulled since you have paid off the debt? I would be curious why your scores are where they are at!
If you want we can run your credit and run it thorough our online system that will show us exactly what changes you can make to get your credit score up. We have many clients we have assisted this way, so you are not alone!
Without looking fully at your situation, it seems to me .. for the most part have little debt to pay off. With your annual salary and the right purchase price, you could still continue to pay off debt and own a home. I am sure with your high income you are paying through the nose for taxes every year. If you had a write-off (I am assuming that you are not self employed), you could divert more money to paying down your debt.
The biggest thing you can do for yourself is have a plan! Make sure to work with a Realtor and Mortgage professional that can help!
Buying a home is not a trivial thing to do and 3-6 months is not unreasonable to consider preparing for buying a home.
Yes, the home buyer assistance programs have been discussed as going away, as others have mentioned. But there's also been new discussions on other homebuyer programs being established. I don't think any of those 'potential situations' are reasons not to have a plan in place now to meet your objectives. In addition, you have time to get your credit card balances under 30% of the credit limit and possibly create some liquid accounts as well. (Lenders will consider other funds and your question did not list all the other items a lender might consider)
I believe you might qualify for a home now, despite what others are saying. I would just recommend that it be done with sound decisions to move towards a final goal of balanced financial management, such as beginning a practice of paying off credit cards, paying all debt on time (no lates) each month, and living within your means with not only a budget, but an investment plan (INCLUDING a house).
I have an article that I published on plans to take to improve your credit score. I also give my clients a book that is the 'bible' for financial management. If you'd like a copy of either, just ask. Most important is that, in your whole plan for taking advantage of this great market to buy a home, that it be financially sound into the future, and not repeat the mistakes of so many that are in a mess financially.
I applaud you, I really do!
For example, scores range from 850-680, 679-640, 639-600, 599-560, 559-500 and 499-300. If you receive HUD approved counseling, as a first-time home buyer, you basis points may cost you only 200 for upfront mortgage insurance premiums. But you really need to speak to an excellent mortgage broker, and loans are not my specialty as I specialize in real estate.
Also, bear in mind that the FICO scores you can get and those obtained by a mortgage broker will be different from each other.
As for the down payment assistance programs, you'll have to hurry, because it's highly likely that President Bush is going to sign legislation very soon that will eliminate those programs.
I would suggest you contact Evelyne Jamet at Vitek Mortgage: 916.452.8800. She can prequalify you over the phone. If your FICOs are higher than you suspect, she may have other options to present to you.
Let me tell you that due to the influx of FHA files in the last year, many banks have established a minimum credit score requirement for FHA loans. This is not an FHA requirement but a bank-by-bank policy. Most banks raised the number to 580 or more. Which means right off the bat, you have a slim number of banks to even apply for an FHA loan at. I work for Flagstar Bank and because we have always had a strong portfolio of FHA files, we still do not have a credit score requirement for FHA files, meaning that your application has a home with us. After that, when taking the application, the main thing would be to get some letters of explanation as to your lates, collections, etc on your credit. If there are good compensating factors and you can possibly provide a 12 month payment history for "alternative" credit items like rent checks, utilities, auto ins, cell phones, etc. then you have shorn up your file and made you look stronger than another similar applicant who produced no such documentation.
I know that most standard advice will be to simply continue on the path of building up your credit, which is very good and very true. However, you simply never know if you could get approved right now and if you could, what's the harm?
I can't make you any promises but I would welcome the chance to speak to you, review your situation and give you the tools you need plus the knowledge of what an underwriter is looking for when they get you application. You can call me anytime today and I promise you no gimmicks, sales pitches, mandatory credit pulls, etc.