One thing I haven't seen anyone mention are the legal ramifications if there is a problem in a FSBO transaction. I have a few clients that have had problems and had no protection because they did not use a Realtor. They now swear they will never do another transaction without representation. With that said. No one should continue working with a Realtor that they are not happy with... and vice-versa.
Go with a recommended agent. This way they are held to a standard and are more accountable! Plus if they blow it they know they get recommended anymore. Keeps them on their toes!
The Seller's USUALLY respond with in a few days. Sometimes they do collect offers for a few weeks before they select one. The bank on the other hand could take months and months.... especially if you're dealing with Chase bank (don't get me started!) On occasion banks move quickly if you are REALLY lucky!
Another great place to look at foreclosures, pre-foreclosures and auctions is on foreclosureradar.com it is available on my website for free.
If you're considering refinancing at this point. Rates are amazingly low & definitely worth doing the refi now. I have a lender who is great to work with that I would highly recommend.
there are homes available with your criteria. Which cities are you considering?