I continue to search for the “perfect” mortgage broker. The jury’s technically still out, but I’m definitely leaning towards Ann right now, since she’s spent the most time with me and has spelled things out in an easy-to-understand fashion. Beth has been tough to get ahold of. That said, I’m actually meeting Beth in person later today so she can go over her Good Faith Estimate with me.
Yesterday I got a Good Faith Estimate from Ann, and it’s looking pretty decent. If I go that route, I only have to come up with the appraisal ($300) and credit report ($18) fees up front; everything else goes into closing costs.
(That’s how you compare brokers - you get Good Faith Estimates with the same loan types and parameters and then you can see how their closing costs and fees stack up. I’m thinking if Beth beats Ann’s numbers, I’m going to contact Ann to see if she’ll meet or beat Beth’s estimate. I have to keep in mind, though, that it is only an estimate, not a quote. The big part is going to be locking in a loan rate.)
I learned from her that there are two ways brokers can bill fees (generally): They either list them separately or bundle them together in one big fee. Apparently, if you see one broker list “administration fees,” it breaks down into “document preparation fees” (fee for them to type up the docs), “document recording fees” (fee for them to file the paperwork), “funding fees” (fee for them to give you money), “underwriting fees” (more fees for them to give you money), and “processing fees” (fee for them to push your paperwork through). That stuff, plus some other stuff (taxes, federal flood evaluation determination, etc.) make up your closing costs. I’m going to have to find out how negotiable that stuff is; basically, that seems to me like it’s just money I’m paying them for the courtesy of getting me a loan that they’ll already be making money on.
Yesterday I also contacted Gregory, a realtor I was recommended by a friend of mine, Colin. I told Gregory all of the things I wanted in a house, and after about two hours he called me back and said he was going to send me over a bunch of listings to look at in email. (He called me later on to say we had somehow garbled my email address over the phone, so he had to resend them, but I did, in fact, get 54 different properties to look at.) I’ve since printed off those listings so I can sort through them and start weeding out the ones I don’t want. Then I’ll send him some feedback and we can move on with this. It’s seeming to me like the realtor portion of this house-buying-thing is not the stressful part. Sure, you may look at a lot of different places, but it’s like walking around a car lot. The tough part of buying the car is the negotiation and paperwork. I anticipate the same for house buying, and so far, that end of things is definitely causing the most hair loss for me.