Absolutely contact an attorney or at a minimum pay a Title company to search to verify the current owner and the amount they owe on their mortgage. If they owe more than the property is worth--run. Otherwise it will be the equivalent of paying above market rent and having to make all repairs, too! Eventually the Seller may then do a short sale and you will have Realtors and their clients coming through the house, too!
If your credit is the issue, try the Bank of America NACA program to help you get back on track.
In the meantime, pay your penalty and rent the least expensive property in a safe apartment complex.
If you lack the downpayment but have good credit, we have State of Florida Bond money that can get you up to $7,500 towards your downpayment and closing costs.
Contact me and I'll send you the details... you'll need a 640 or higher credit score to qualify..
All the best,
Alma Rose Kee, PA
Future Home Realty