One of the standard sales contracts changed in April of 2007 and I took a six hour course just learning the differences between the new revised contract and the old contract, and I do this for a living. So for the average consumer that buys a house every five or so years, there are many mistakes that could be made. As a Realtor, every day I see buyers using the wrong Realtors and making minor mistakes on the sales contract and losing thousands of dollars. Everything on the contract is there for a reason. In most cases, depending on how it is filled out, it can benefit the buyer or the seller.
As far as the Good Faith Estimate (GFE), I would strongly suggest you deal with a direct lender. Mortgage brokers are great sometimes but sometimes they are not. It is just luck of the draw unless you know the person or have references on that person. Also, to a seller, the finance approval from a direct lender looks a lot stronger than one from a mortgage broker. That is why many times on short sales and foreclosures, the bank (the seller) requires an approval from a direct lender.
Coldwell Banker Home Loans does not charge any junk fees as they are called. I would strongly suggest you call them up at (888) 205-1122 and compare the GFE they give you with the GFE that you have. Good luck with your purchase!
If you need more help, you can visit the award winning website, http://www.DadeCountyMLS.com, and my real estate blog at http://www.AmitsBlog.com.
Lately because sellers are so concerned about folks not being able to get a mortgage, or not liking an inspection report, etc, and hence walking away from a small earnest money, they are asking for more down upfront.
But because it is a buyers market, you certainly should be able to put down $1,000 and after you have an executed contract (meaning the seller has accepted all of your terms and you agree to all of theirs) you could put another $2,000 or $3,000 down and that be enough.
Nevertheless, you need representation and you can just pick an agent at any time and have them represent you. You can pay the agent the commission yourself, or negotiate a commission, or have the seller pay it and if they want to sell the house enough, they will.
Or just take the contract to a real estate attorney and you will have to pay to have all steps in the negotiations go through that individuals for you.
On no account, sign a contract without having an independent set of eyes, eyes that are trained, work with you. My girlfriend decided she would go it alone and ultimately she lost her earnest money due. She swears she will have an agent for the next offer.
Second, I agree again with Amit when he advised you to contact Coldwell Banker Home Loans. CBHL does not charge lender fees which will save you quite a bit of money in your total closing costs. They also have hundreds of loan programs to choose from and excellent guarantees to you as the borrower.
Now my question to you: When you indicate that they want a $5000 'deposit', have you clarified with them whether this is your 'downpayment' or actually the 'deposit'? These refer to entirely different things. Your downpayment is who much of your own cash you are putting towards the purchase (not including costs to close). $5000 is approximately 3% of the $157,000 purchase price you mentioned, and this would be about the smallest downpayment possible in today's market.
Your 'deposit', on the other hand, is the amount you put into escrow at the start of the transaction to ensure that you will complete the purchase. As others have noted, the higher the deposit, the more secure the Seller will be about your offer, but unless the Seller has already made it a requirement of sale, it does not have to be $5000. Moreover, your deposit is not in addition to your downpayment and closing costs. It is simply a part of the amount of cash you will need to complete the transaction anyway.
Again, I strongly recommend that you sit down with a Realtor or a real estate attorney who can go over the documents you have. We can explain and advise you as to each item that is causing you concern. If I can help further, please do not hesitate to call me at 305-801-3133
I think my collegue Amit summed it all up. There is really not much to add to this excellent answer. Just in case you like to work with a woman please go to my website where you will find detailed information about me, my background, my family and my qualifications.
I'll be happy to work with you. You should not purchase a home or conduct ANY real estate transaction without some sort of professional representation and negotiations on your behalf.
Feel free to contact me at 786-205-1133.