The Motley Fool Discussion Boards

Previous Page

Personal Finances / Buying or Selling a Home


Subject:  Frequently Asked Questions vers 1.0 Date:  2/6/2002  12:33 PM
Author:  Dwdonhoff Number:  35813 of 128112

OK Fools;
(Drum Roll please, with a grand trumpet flourish!)

After endless newbie confusion and frustration, and limitless requests in vain for the veteran Fools to deliver a FAQ page...


Actually... assembly credit goes to Ganado (for starting the project,) and AJ (sinical) for doing the huge task of searching & finding posts to answer most of the questions.

Of course, bylines go to all the Fools in the community who've asked and answered these questions (especially the "frequently" asked ones!)

<Disclaimer!> A LOT of the answers are mine... and I KNOW there's a LOT more wealth of knowledge on our boards than what I bring... so;
A) This is just Version 1.0
B) Please review... and those who find appropriate posts from archives for unanswered questions, send them to me at and in another 3 or 4 years we might get Version 1.01! As you'll see, there are PLENTY of empty questions that we KNOW have been well answered... but we need the greater community's search power. (There's an obvious gaping lack of great posts by bigtime givers Liz & Ray & JAFO, and many others who've made great contributions... so this is a call to arms (or search engines) for all Fools to pick a question & find where it's been eloquently answered.)

<Further Disclaimer!> Whew... after previewing the links, I'm a bit overwhelmed at HOW MUCH is my stuff... VERY SERIOUSLY hoping you'll cut me a little slack... I'm probably slightly less egotistical than I appear (well... maybe!)

And now, without further ado... I present to you;
Buying or Selling a Home FAQ'S



1) Get financing so you know your price range for a home.

2) Find a home within your price range

3) Research the home and area

4) Make an offer for the home

5) If accepted go directly to closing, if not accepted make a new offer or start shopping for another home


Diary of a home-buyer

When should we start looking to pre-qualify?

What is a pre-approval vs. a pre-qualification?

Is it worth it to buy a home outright if it's a possibility?

Where do I start when shopping for a mortgage?

How do I find a good mortgage broker

What is the function of a “good” mortgage broker (and all the monkeys in his zoo)?

Are there any laws regulating what must be disclosed to buyers by their lenders/brokers?

How do I let a mortgage broker know I will not be using them?

How can I determine if my lenders or brokers are honest and on the up & up?

Compare/contrast to bankers, credit unions, etc. What's diff between bankers, credit unions, brokers?

What do lenders look at
How can I get a free loan

What are some online loan sources I can check out?

Lending/Mortgage Fees

How can I figure out how much I can afford for a mortgage payment?

What are some good financing options?

What if I don't have 20% down?

How can I cancel PMI?

How can I avoid PMI?

Online loan brokerages? Deal or devil?

How do I know if my loan has actually been locked?

Can I borrow my down payment?

What about gifting?

Can I borrow money on a loan/CC for my down payment?

Can I get cash-out from a purchase mortgage?

How do I purchase on a mortgage and then get money for improvements or remodels? (Thread)

When can I take advantage of my appreciated equity?

What's underwriters, processors, tax services, etc., etc.

How can I get a copy of my credit report and how do I read it?

What is a good way to build credit?

When can I switch loan officers? Realtors? Mother-in-laws?

What type of loan/agreement for purchasing house with a friend?

Can I add my spouse after the deal? Can I nix my spouse at will?

Can we use my credit but not my spouses?

Does the interest rate on 2nd mortgages matter? How do they compare to 1st's with PMI?

How can I calculate which would be better for me?

What to do if lender switches rates or programs last minute?

Why do loans get sold?

Is a “Zero Discount Point Loan” a loan without points?

Am I locked into my lender?

What is the COFI Index?

What is a HELOC?

What is the difference between fixed and adjustable rate mortgages?

What's the difference in the adjustable loan programs?

How can I calculate the APR?

Which is better a balloon loan or an ARM?

What are some ARM rate definitions?

Is it ever better to take and adjustable loan over fixed?

15 year fixed, or 30... which is better?

What about 10, 20, 40 year fixed loans?

What are some pros and cons to getting an interest only loan?

Is it wise to pay down my mortgage early?

Should points always be avoided?

What the hell ARE points?

What are the advantages/disadvantages to using cash to pay points?

Can I lower my interest rates by using points? Can I use them as a write-off?

What does a Good Faith Estimate really mean?

What is all this other crap on the Good Faith Estimates?

What has to be disclosed by the property seller?

What is seller financing?

What is down-payment assistance programs?

What are prepayment penalties on loans? How are they calculated? How long are they for? How to take advantage of them? How, if, why, and when to avoid them? How valid are they? For what purpose? For how long? For whom do they matter?

How can I get the absolute, without-a-question, guaranteed to never ever be better possible interest rate with no fees paid?
What's the best way to shop financing?


How come the Fed's interest rate drops aren't showing in the mortgage rates?

Why am I getting quoted such a range of rates?

When should I lock rates?


How can I shop for a home most effectively?

How can I determine a real-market fair price?

What is the function of a seller's (listing) Agent/Realtor?

What is the function of a buyer's Agent/Realtor?

How do I find a good Realtor?

How should I offer and negotiate?

What's reasonable Realtor commissions?

Can I go it alone, w/o Realtors?

Small realties vs large chains?

What's appropriate earnest money amount?

When can I walk away without losing my earnest money?

When am I S.O.L.

What is a lease-option contract? Land contract? other permutations?

Are HUD's a good investment option?

Can we take advantage of rates and not move ourselves or sellers for a few months?


What should I look for when examining my home?

Why appraisal? Why inspection? Why survey? aren't they all the same thing?


When should I close?

What's reasonable closing costs?

Should I pay document fees?