Start by pulling your own credit history for free at AnnualCreditReport.com. Validate the accuracy of all entries for the past three or so years and dispute anything that you find inaccurate. Then review your credit scores for a small fee at MyFico.com. If your median is in or above the mid 600s, keep managing your credit well.
In addition, you could attend a home buying class with a HUD certified Housing Counseling Agency. Doing so may make you eligible for the new FHA Homeowners Armed With Knowledge (HAWK) program that helps to get the mortgage insurance premium on your mortgage lowered, which could reduce your closing costs. The eight hour class usually includes two hours of one-on-one counseling with you to understand your wants and needs so that you can get the right loan, property and quality of life that you deserve.
Also be mindful that a large portion of Ringgold qualifies for the USDA Mortgage (100% financing).
If you've confirmed that your credit score is in the mid 600s, then I would recommend contacting a mortgage lender. Otherwise, you'll have a hard inquiry on your credit history which could lower your score.
I hope that this information and the graphic chart at the link below help you better understand the process.
The best place to start is to speak to a reputable mortgage lender NOW! That person will run your numbers, and give you an estimated loan amount based on your current situation. They will also be able to tell you what you can do to increase your loan amount and how to get a better interest rate. (paying down debt, etc).
I am currently working with a buyer that had some credit challenges. She knew that she had to fix her credit, but didn't have any direction on what she needed to do. My lender was able to assess her situation, and provide her with an action plan for getting loan approval. She is working through the process, and should be ready to buy within 3 months.
Good luck to you!
Nicole Fedorchek, Realtor