When I prepared to buy my house, i had good credit, but not much "credit history" because i didnt play with loans or credit cards much, and when i did, i paid them off right away.
So first i had to take out a credit card, max it out, and make minimum payments for a few months, because thats what the mortgage people wanted to see. It gave me "credit history".
My credit score was about 640ish when i got my mortgage. I used a program like what LP mentioned, a 0 money down state program, the conditions being that i cant rent the house for 5 years, and i cant sell it for 10. If i sell it before 10 years, i owe money because the program also includes being able to claim the mortgage interest on my taxes, like a student loan, if i sell before 10 years, i owe all that money back. They also approved me for like 250k, but that was WAY more than i could afford and still have a life to speak of, but they assured me i could afford it, but they dont take into account any bills aside from the mortgage when they do their calculation, and i think that gets people fucked and the bank with a house to sell. So i spent a little less than half that.
The actual process sucked. From finding the house, to living in it took about 5 months. My closing kept getting pushed back because the seller sold, before they had a plan on where to go. At one point, she said she was ready, assured the closing would be on the date agreed upon, so i put in notice with my landlord, then she decided to push it back another 3 weeks, leaving me homeless. Another reason it was getting pushed back is because a condition of the sale was i requested that the seller pay the closing fees, and pay for the house to be connected to the sewer system, both of which she procrastinated doing.
Those 3 weeks passed, and now sewer connection was made and she said she needed another MONTH. I was living in my car, and on the floor at work at the time, so when i real estate agent told me this (like it was no big deal) i told her "okay, tell the seller im backing out of the deal, she can keep the house". My real estate agent got all flustered and started talking about all the work everyone has been doing over the past few months and how it would all be for nothing and i basicly said "yeah that sucks, but if im not moving in by next friday, the deal is off" and then SUDDENLY phone calls were getting made and sewer connections were going in and closing fees were getting paid haha. (i actually went and helped dig the trench and install the sewer pipe because i just wanted it DONE).
So yeah, like anything else, big pain in the ass, but worth it once you are sitting in the house that you own.