Hi from a former Brooklyner !!
As a first time buyer your first goal should be accumulating enough money for a decent down payment if you don't already have it saved, so start to SAVE SAVE SAVE !!
Your second area of concentration should be to speak to a reliable mortgage broker/bank NOW and get an idea, based on your income/debt, what you could qualify for and what at purchase price. This will help you determine how much you need to save and give you a better idea of how long it will take to save the money and therefore what year you can buy. There are several mortgage programs out there (like FHA where, if you qualify for one of them, right now you only need a minimum of 3.5% down payment,) so knowing upfront what you need to have in the bank (plus a cushion for emergencies), is always a good thing.
Third, the mortgage person can also tell you where your credit may need to be fixed when they run a credit check. This is vitally important right now since lenders have much higher standards then in previous years.
Fourth, type of house is such a personal choice, a more important concern should be WHERE to buy (location location location). Personal needs like a short commute or a good school system are very important to consider. Some working people prefer a condo/town home because all the outside maintenance (snow removal/lawn care etc) is taken care of for them, while others only want their own yard.
As far as reselling, if you plan on staying in your first home for the average length of time for a firsttimer (7-10 years), the house will most likely appreciate in value, but there are several factors that come into play. One is making a good down payment which automatically gives you equity in the house. Sure a 3.5% downpayment through FHA looks good BUT if home prices drop again, your equity in the home is no where near what it would be if you put 20% down payment. Two is the location of the house. Location (near a commuter transit hub, or in a good school district) makes the house more attractive to people than being out in a rural area. Obviously condition and maintanance of the house also play a factor. Upgrades to the home (like new kitchens/baths/AC/furnaces etc) while you don't always get back what you put in, make your house more attractive then the neighbors house who have old kitchens and bathrooms, and does add to the sales price.
According to the National Association of Realtors nationally compiled home sale statictics, median home sales prices since 2008 were as follows for the Northeast region:
end of second quarter 2011 .....$245,600
Hope this all helps and good luck with your home search and achieving part of the American dream !!
If you have any other questions please feel free to give me a call at 908-675-0167 or email me at PruMaryNJ@aol.com