Jay, I wrote some good information for you below about the mortgage process. The lenders I recommended will also be able to talk to you more about the restrictions, if any, with your visas.
1. Apply for a mortgage now. If you are qualified now, great. If not, you'll know exactly what you need to do in order to get qualified. You'll also know how much you need to save for down payment and other expenses. Use a Virginia loan officer - stay away from Internet lenders like lendingtree.com - don't even apply there. They will shotgun your application to 4 different lenders - which means they will run your credit 4 times. If you apply anywhere else after in the next 30 days or so it will cost you 4 points off your credit score. Also, don't walk into your local bank branch and apply for a mortgage. Asking for a referral to someone that a friend or family member liked and trusted is a good start. I'll also give you two lenders who will take the time to talk with you and walk you through the process. I've been working with these gentlemen for several years and trust them enough to send them my clients so I know they'll work hard for you.
Scott Livingston, email@example.com
Jason Smith, firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Determine what type of loan you are going to use. Here is a summary of the main loan programs.
VA - zero down and only for veterans.
USDA - zero down and geographically limited. You can only use it in certain areas. There is a website you can use to check addresses to see if the home qualified. Great program.
Conventional - 20% down payment required.
FHA - Federally insured mortgage with only 3.5% down. This is the most popular loan program right now because its only 3.5% down. Great program.
VHDA - The Virginia Housing Development Authority has a program called FHA+ which is where the VHDA gives you a 3.5% down payment to use an FHA loan. This is a very expensive loan and I recommend you avoid it if you can. If its the only option to buy a home then use it.
FHA 203k home renovation loan - this is the most powerful loan available. It is the only loan that allows you to buy a home "as is" and include all the costs of renovations in with your mortgage. It is hands down the best way to buy a home. Instead of settling for what someone else is selling, you can just turn the home into what you want - new kitchen, new bathrooms, carpet, paint, wood floors, HVAC, etc. You can even knock down the house and build a new one with this loan program. Check out the website below for some great before/after pics and a short renovation video. After you see that, you'll want to use this loan to buy a home. Knowing about this loan makes the whole market available to you. Buyers that don't know about it are stuck in the "move in ready" mindset which limits their market and they walk out of great homes - and great deals - because they don't know how to get things done to the home as part of the mortgage. Knowing about this loan program makes you a power buyer.
The lenders I gave you above can do all of these loan types, not all lenders can. If you decide to use a 203k, you really need to make sure you use a lender that knows what they are doing. If you thing you want to use this loan, just email me and I'll give you more details and help you take advantage of it.
Good luck and let me know if you have any more questions.