No. of Recommendations: 79
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?

Why do I have to pay title insurance?

Title Company & Mortgage Lender up-charges per 7th Circuit Court of Appeals

Why do I have to pay for escrow/closing services?

Is there any benefit to including the closing costs with loan?

What is seller contribution to closing?


Yard gear

Curtains, Furniture



Do I have recourse if my loan broker (Realtor, the other Realtor, the seller, etc.) makes a mistake? Outright lied? Intentionally lied, and can be proven? (Thread)

Who can I turn to for regulatory safety?


What are some loan factors when considering building a house?

What to do if selling house and living rent free for a period of time?

What to do if seller/buyer defaults on agreement,

What to do about oil tanks? e.g. environmental concerns

What to do about septic systems?

What about property line disputes?

What about tax assessment disputes?

Does it matter if I hear voices saying "get out" and black water comes out of the faucets when I tour the house?

Should we changing locks, exterior & interior locks

How can I free-up cash flow to give me options and eliminate unsecured debt?

How can I send someone that has posted my email address privately?

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Dave, Ganado, AJ and contributing Fools -

This is absolutely awesome!!!

You did all this for us neophytes?

I best start reading.......

Bless You!

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Well done! I'm impressed!

I can think of 3 or 4 questions that aren't on your FAQ list that perhaps ought to be:

1) I got an offer for a biweekly mortgage payment system in the mail. Is this a good idea? (There are several postings, including mine at that I think cover the salient bits).

2) I got an offer for "mortgage insurance" in the mail. Is this a good idea? (There are several answers to this one as well, but I can't find one easily.)

3) What is an escrow and do I want one? (I don't know if we have a good answer to this one.)

(I had a 4th one, but it eludes me at the moment).

And a comment: As the proud owner of 100 shares of Lowes, I'd like to see some equal time under the "Yard Gear" section :-)


Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Wow, Dave, thanks! You're a gem!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Some minor point:

0> A note at the top about where to find info on using bold, italics, etc. on the board

1> Anyone want to do a "Abbreviations" explanation?

2> I'd change:

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


1) Determine your price range for a home.
- a) get pre-approved (see below for notes on that)
- b) determine what you are comfortable spending each month on housing, as you will likely be approved for more than that amount.

Otherwise so far as I've read it looks good to me... I do notice a few spots w/ a question and no answer.

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
"What if I have bad credit?"
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Looks great! Thanks much. I scanned this list and saw about 10 things right off the bat that I'm gonna have to read.

Here's one I know I'm interested in that I didn't see on this list...

"What's an ARM?"

I know nothing about them and need to learn.....

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
How about these:

How do I find out about crime rates, and any known criminals living near my proposed new address?

What the heck is earnest money, same for escrow?

Should I try to time the market (interest rates, prices)?

Who benefits from PMI anyway?

Recommended reading?

What are the major things to be aware of when working with a builder?

Flood insurance?

Maybe something about how title moves through wills and probate?

And in the one with the abbreviations, can things like IMHO and BTW and other non real estate acronyms be included?

And I'd like to gently suggest....the question of Rent vs. buy? And maybe someone could make a non-hostile emotionless answer that offers a list of pros and cons (emotion being one of them) so people could intelligently apply each item to their situation. Then instead of huge rent vs. buy “banter” people could ask for elaboration on how to apply certain points that concern them specifically...this is just an idea. I'd just like a place to refer someone that comes in guns blaring and burning all my dreams down. I recognize that renting is sometimes very appropriate but most people need to know "how to think about it" more than they need to argue about it. Or maybe someone else has a better approach?

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Oooooops, I almost forgot......

WOW, very impressive FAQs!
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Thanks Crazy... and all!

Some great additional Q's to add in there...

What we need is for everyone/anyone with a spare few minutes to take a favorite Q and hit the search function and sift backwards through the good and the better.

Once a great answer is found, send me the entire link from your browser to my email address... along with the question it's answering, of course.

For a few bigtime generous Fools (like Ray, JAFO, Liz, foo1bar, Peter, Catherine... and I'm probably leaving out another dozen crucial ones...) we need one fan each to go to surf through that Fool's posts for the bestest of their bests.

Here's how;
Go to the daily list of posts,
Hit on a post by the chosen Fool to open it,
Then from their post click "Buying or Selling a Home" at the top of the page,
NOW this Fools post should be at the top of your daily list,
Click the column of "Author,"
And you'll have a complete sort of that Fools posts on this board.

Now you can go forwards or backwards to search all the gems and crud.

Remember... what we REALLY need is one or two good post links for each suggested question...

Adding questions without posts is a no-no...

If you have a question that you think has never been answered before (and you've searched to see whether it has or not...)

THEN ASK IT ON THE BOARDS and lets have the community take it on!

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 1
I'll work with Catherine and sift through her old messages (thus being educated in the process - pretty sneaky, ain't I?)

Rah Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah.

Hmmmm.... now who does that sound like?

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
I can start looking when I get a chance. I have no idea who's who on this board so it might not be easy...

Another thought...

How do I find out about crime rates, and any known criminals living near my proposed new address?

Megan's Law probably deserves to be mentioned in that FAQ somewhere, as well as a link to how to look up if there is a sexual predator registered in the area. That one shouldn't be too hard to find...

Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 0
Why should I get a home inspection?
Print the post Back To Top
No. of Recommendations: 2

Thanks so much for compiliing this FAQ. DW and I are looking to buy soon (next few months) and will be consulting this FAQ and board to see what we need to know and hopefully realize we actually do know some things about the process already.

I'll post specific questions once we have them.

Print the post Back To Top