Finance Questions? Ask a Financial Expert for Answers ASAP
Hi and welcome to Just Answer! I'm happy to help answer your Finance questions. Feel free to interject at any time if you need clarification.
1) I think it would be difficult to get approved for a mortgage on your own with your debt level and credit score. Your credit score meets the requirement for FHA loans, but lenders typically like to see a debt payment to income ratio of no more than about 40%. If you are able to get approved, I don't think it will be on that great of terms. With your father cosigning, you would be more easily approved. Keep in mind that lenders typically don't like to see gifted down payments, so that may be another obstacle for you in the process, since you mention your parents would be willing to gift you part of the down payment.
2) I agree that 100% financing is unrealistic right now. You may be able to qualify for a FHA loan. You can read about the requirements here. Generally, 3.5% down is required, but you will also need to pay private mortgage insurance premiums.
3) It is difficult to say how much house you can afford without knowing your full financial picture. How much house you can afford would depend on what your payment is. It is a recommended guideline that your total housing payment (mortgage + taxes + home insurance + private mortgage insurance) is no more than 25% of your income, 30% at the absolute max. Use a mortgage calculator to play around with different loan amounts and interest rates to see what your principal and interest payments will be. Generally, annual taxes are listed on MLS listings with real estate agents.
4) If you are qualified for an FHA loan, you will need to find a letter that does FHA loans (not all lenders do). FHA has a lender list available on its website for you to use. To find a mortgage lender, call banks, credit unions, private mortgage lenders. You can set up an appointment with a mortgage broker who should be able to give you an idea if you qualify for a loan with them or not. Be careful about pulling your credit at a lot of places, even though the inquiries will all be for a related purposes.
Even if you are able to get approved, my recommendation would be for you to hold off on buying a house right now. You make a decent amount of money for a single person, but you have a lot of debt. Buying a house is only going to tack on more debt and likely put more of strain on your budgets. Even if your mortgage payment is the same as rent, you will have more expenses, such as property taxes, repairs, etc. All of these things can be costly. Experts always recommend that you will spending about 2 to 3% percent of the home's cost in a year on repairs, etc. If you pay down your debt, you will have more flexibility in your budget for all these things.
You say you want to move back to VA. Are your parents there? They are already helping you out financially, but would it be okay with you (and with them) to move back in with them until you can pay off a large chunk of your debt and beef up your savings? Even if you pay them a small amount for rent, you would easily be saving over a $1,000 that you could throw towards debt.
Regardless of what you decide, I suggest starting to track your spending and keep a budget if you are not already doing so. There are some great tools out there, such as mint.com, to help you do so. This way you will have a better idea of what you are spending and what you can afford.