Hi Megan, good morning.
If you have never owned a home, you ARE a first time buyer (or have not owned in the last 3 years). The FHLB offers a matching grant for first time buyers, for every dollar you put up, they put up FOUR! It maxes out to 7500, so if you have about 1900, they match you 7500, so you have a nice down payment of closing costs.
Credit score qualifications vary from lender to lender, and you have already guessed the higher the better. A good loan officer can pull your credit and go over it with you. A REALLY good loan officer can suggest strategies to help raise your scores so you qualify and get the best rates possible. However, if you are starting with low scores, it is important to pick your loan officer and stick with them, multiple pulls of your credit by many lenders may lower your scores even more.
I hope thse comments help! Jim, American Bank. We proudly serve all 50 states! 703 615 4675