The wife and I decided we were likely enough to stay around the area long enough that we want to look at getting a house. We may want to move in around five years...but we may want to stay here forever, we aren't sure. Of course, a house that would support a future family would be awesome, but it's not necessary. But that's mostly beside the point. Our Realtor is a friend of hers (that is an actual Realtor) that she thinks is doing smashingly, and I think is doing alright...but not great. So we've had a few questions that he's mostly given answers to but he doesn't seem very sure of them or he sorta' evades the question. We're mostly looking ad HUD homes, Short-sales, and repossessions because they're apparently the way to get a good deal. This makes sense to me, but he still hasn't been able to get me to understand what the *actual* difference is between these three. Our idea is to look at a bunch of houses, find ones that we like that want more than we're willing to spend, and then low-ball the crap out of a lot of them and see who bites...seems like a douche move; but if I can get a nicer house for $40k cheaper, it sounds worth it, so I don't really feel bad, they don't have to accept.
On top of that, I have a friend whose wife is a bank manager that tells me that we should really be looking at a Credit Union rather than a Bank for our loan because "they can offer a lower price because there aren't so many regulations they have to follow." Which...sounds good and bad. We already got a loan quote from a guy our Realtor has recommended to us, but I'm working a semi-dead beat job, and am $50k in debt from student loans, and she is working part-time for a crappy job, and also working for herself doing photography and selling a pyramid-scheme-esque product that she actually really likes, and apparently sells pretty well; and also doing temp work (like directing children's plays at the local Children's Theater and stuff like that). Anyway, since her income is fluctuating, he said he could really only look at my income...and our "debt ratio" was too high to give us a loan. Our credit scores are good (mid-700s for both of us), and we went to annualcreditreport.com or whatever looking for any problems, but it seemed about right.
The weird thing is that my wife's father had invested a fair amount of money for her when she was a baby, and it is now *our* money, but we don't really want to use it for anything other than supplementing a down payment...and mostly retiring sometime in the future. Anyway, this money was recently officially transferred from her mother being the primary to my wife being the primary so it's all sitting in a liquid account until we figure out how much of a down payment we want to make and where/if/how we want to invest it. There amount of money there is equivalent to the amount of money total we are looking at to spend on a house...so it felt strange to me to be rejected on a loan...
Anyway, it's a confusing situation and we're both new at this...and it's a situation where the wrong move could literally cost of thousands of tens-of-thousands of dollars, so I figured it would be good to get as much advice and understanding as possible. For Laws and regulations-sake, we live in Kansas, and we're first-time homebuyers. So, I guess I'll do a bullet-form question to clarify the actual questions...but any extra advice not covered is very welcome.
*I know a few years ago there used to be a tax-credit for first-time home-buyers. Is there anything like that going on that I need to know about?
*Is a Credit Union really going to give me a better rate on a loan?
*Is there anything I need to be really worried about when I go to a credit union for a loan? "Regulations" that would make me protected that they may not have to follow?
*What's the difference between repossessions, HUD homes, and Short Sale homes?
*Would I be more likely to get a loan from the same company that is handling our large sum of money, since they would somehow..."know" that we have all this money?
*Does it make sense to consolidate my student loans into our mortgage if/when we move, since theoretically our house will be worth a lot more than we pay for it?
*Would consolidating my student loans from the 11ish loans across three companies into one loan help our credit enough to make a difference? My student loans are our "oldest" form of credit.
*If we can manage to not "commit" to a favorite house, is making a lot of lowball offers the best way to go about getting a really nice home? Are there other good strategies to consider?
*Any other advice or problems that I may not foresee?