Talk with a loan officer or mortgage broker and ask to be "pre-qualified". They don't charge for this service. They will review your total financial picture and determine if and for what amount you might qualify to buy a house. If you are a member of a credit union, speak with someone there. The State Employees Credit Union previously did not have a minimum credit score required for a loan, but most loan sources have raised their requirements.
If your credit score is too low for a conventional loan, you still may be able to buy an owner-financed home, but make sure to get advice from a knowledable person so that you do not pay too much or take a loan on terms unfair to you. Banks, especially, smaller, local banks, will sometimes finance a foreclosed home they have in order to sell it. In this case you need to make sure the home is in good condition and really is worth what they are asking -- a home inspection is needed to make sure the house is sound and an independent appraisal might be a good idea.
A Realtor could help you with all of the concerns above. You can ask friends to recommend a realtor they enjoyed working with or attend some open houses and talk with the Realtor hosting them. Look for someone who seems knowledgeable and with whom you feel comfortable asking questions.
Lastly, consider other locations. Homes in Wilson can be much cheaper than in the Triangle and it is a pretty easy commute to Clayton from there. I know a person who lives in Clayton and works at BB&T in Wilson. You could do the reverse. Of course I don't understand why someone would pay more to live with all that traffic in the Triangle when they could live in Wilson! :)
Seriously, I could point you to a wonderful family home near Barton College that has 5 bedrooms, 2.5 baths and the owner is asking $99,000. It needs work, but I could point you to another house that has just been renovated in the historic district for $89,000 that has 5 bedrooms also.
I would love to show you what Wilson has to offer -- give me a call!