It's a comfort thing. Your Realtors most likely work with specific lenders because they know they'll get the job done. After all, they don't get paid until you close on the home - which can't be done until your loan is approved. There are quite a few banks and lenders out there who are closing days (if not weeks) late. That said, you are not required - nor should you be - to use anyone you don't feel comfortable with. Kudos to you for standing firm and trying to figure out ways to work with the person you want to work with. I would find a new Realtor. Asking your lender is a great idea.
There are lenders out there (like myself) who can go all the way down to a 530. It's tough to know for certain whether you qualify or not strictly based on the information given, so I would reach out to a lender who can do loans for sub 600 credit scores so you know where you stand.
Credit repair is tricky because there are some scammers out there. My advice is to research and come up with a few with good reviews. Call each one and find out how they operate, and what they charge. Stay away from anyone who charges a large upfront fee or promises they'll get you to an 800 in a month.
I do not know of a single bank or lender who would approve any type of mortgage with student loans in default, so yes.
Until accepted, an offer is just that: an offer. Sounds like your Realtor is playing a game she shouldn't be unless your contract truly states something specifically about this.
Call your Loan Officer up and tell him/her that you checked historical rates and a 15 year did not move more than 1/8 point since the appraisal. His/her response will tell you all you need to know. That said, we really don't have particulars about your specific loan. Is this a "no cost" refi? If so, ask about rolling the closing costs into the loan and lowering the rate if they don't lower it initially. Your APR for the 3.5% seemed relatively low so I'm assuming they priced the loan with some Lender Credit to lower their fees. You could also inquire about paying points and rolling those. Without knowing your loan amount it's hard to know if that will keep under 80% LTV though.
Have you considered other forms of marketing that can be split evenly through a marketing agreement? DNC is not something to trifle with.
It will depend on the type of BK filed, how much you have for a down payment, and whether your husband can qualify on his own. More information is needed before I can give an accurate answer.
This will be something your Loan Officer will need to check with Underwriting about. A verification of rent is not always needed, but more times than not going from rent-free to having a mortgage will require some compensating factors. This is something that should have been covered from day one by your LO. I would look into finding your previous landlord and getting that VOR, though without knowing everything about your file it's tough to tell you one way or another if your loan will be approved or not.
JM Management, the poster is ready to buy now and as a lender, it seems like he or she is ready now. Credit is not crazy tight right now and there was no mention of their debt ratio so paying off credit cards may not be a smart thing to do. To the original poster, talk to a reputable lender. It seems like you're ready to get Pre Approved now.