What is the expected value of the home? There are a few options that may allow you to consolidate depending on what number you expect an appraisal to come in at.
Wetdawgs is right - I would definitely get with a lender before contacting an agent of choice. You need to make sure that there is likelihood of his financing approval before starting to view homes, etc.
There are a few option still available where you can get to anywhere from 85%-95% loan vs. value. I would sit down with a mortgage broker that has access to variable lenders/programs and map out which makes the most financial sense.
I agree with Sir Tyler Osby on this one. You really need to have a conversation with someone so that all of the data is laid out on the table in order to compare expenses and possible pitfalls in each loan product option available. You are asking about 3 different loan products that have completely different structures and processes, and then on top of that each and every lender that offers these products has their own requirements and guidelines on top of that - so I quick email response simply will not do you any justice, unfortunately. Good luck in you quest!
I may have some options for you if you would like to connect. Have a great day!
Whether to sell or refinance is 100% your decision. In any case, there are still plenty of loan programs out there that should be of use to you regardless of what you decide. I would suggest the old-fashioned Pro vs. Con list - see which side wins! Houses are selling quickly right now, which might be good for you to sell - but hard to find a home that you like in order to move into, etc. Lastly, you can always refinance and put the home on the market afterwards - if it doesn't sell, you have already began taking advantage of a lower interest rate and you are that much further ahead. However, you do not want to list your home and then end up trying to refinance if it doesn't sell as your transaction will be delayed almost undoubtedly.
Many times the Assessor's depiction of value is less than stellar. They drive by homes every 2-8 years and take a picture. They generally have no idea as to what updates, if any, have been done to the home. Zillow is usually looking at newly reported room count, condition, and other recent sales data for a specific area - much more like an actual appraisal. Keep in mind, however, that Zillow is NOT an appraiser and that this estimation of value takes into consideration and OPINIONS as well as possible assumptions by Zillow itself. In general, Iowa properties that can be acquired for less than assessed value are a decent bargain, so you may be looking at a pretty decent opportunity there!
[content removed by moderator for being self promotional]
Unfortunately, assessed values are not accurate market data. On top of that, it is very unlikely that the assessor even visited the property recently to make a valuation. Especially in the Des Moines, IA marketplace I have seen more and more increased taxation when the market is simply stable at BEST in most areas - if not severely decreasing in the townhome and condo market. The appraiser on the other hand, may or may not give appropriate value as they can use comparable sales that are the best "in their opinion." You can certainly dispute the appraisal if it is erroneous.
It sounds like getting approved is much less of an issue to you than some of the other things that most people do not think about. Ideally, if you can find a home in the right place - that is what you really want - now is the best time to buy, period. There are lots of reasons, and here is what I think they are:1. You want to buy sometime, so buy when prices are a little lower.2. Because you plan to be in the new place for a long time, buying now would be a wise financial move as rates are still very good (for now).3. Driving less helps our environment - and you'll be home from work to spend more time with your family as it evolves.4. The infamous first time home buyer tax credit never hurts to consider. That's $8000 to start a college tuition fund!Reasons you may not want to buy:1. Not ready for the commitment? If you are paying rent, you may as well pay it to yourself.2. Can't find a home that you really like? Take your time - there is not any rush (unless you want the tax credit).3. Saving up 5% for the downpayment? This can be a deal-breaker....as FHA loans are expensive up-front. It would be wise to speak with a finance officer and see what the numbers will look like down the road to see what is a better choice for you now.I hope this information helps!