After two weeks of intensive study (conducted incorrectly, possibly) and a couple of arguments with the slave-driving Hubster, I succumbed to calling the mortgage broker with whom we had previously applied to ask for a preapproval letter. I'm confident he'd get the job done in tidy fashion, but I'm not sure he's a good fit. I think he might come in a bit expensive all the way around—not excessive maybe, but possibly equivalent to retail, which I could get by going to the bank. Obviously I was hoping for less than retail, but I didn't get much of a response when I mentioned paying his fee up front in exchange for the wholesale rate. Nope, he plans on collecting the yield spread premium (the back end, so to speak, where he gives me a rate higher than the wholesale, and the difference becomes his profit). Therein lies the problem. It'll hurt more at the onset to pay the broker's fee, but it hurts longer to carry a higher interest rate. Also, he's not much of a hand-holder. I want some hand-holding for the fees I'm paying.
Arguing with the Hubster has raised my blood pressure to the point of feeling un-well, so I got the damn preapproval letter to get him off my back. I'm fearful we'll head down his usual path—lacking knowledge and unwilling to learn (about the homebuying/mortgage process), cavalier and indifferent as regards money and the gravity of the impending financial situation; impulsive, hasty, focused exclusively on getting out of this neighborhood, without regard for future consequences. Thank goodness we didn't buy the place in Richmond back in 2003! That would've been a disaster.
Anyway, Alameda still seems out of reach, unless we get a condo or a super-fixer. No surprise. I hope we have better luck in El Cerrito. And I'll continue to shop lenders. Anyone got other references? Especially in the Bay Area?