I’m trying to help my elderly mother get a refinancing on her single-family home (we live with her). I have cancer, so my husband and I have had financial problems, and problems getting anything done. My health is better right now, so it’s time to try to get a fixed-rate mortgage while rates are low, and do some badly needed repairs. The house is worth about $500,000 and my mother needs to borrow about $130,000. She wants a 30-year FRM. Most of the $130,000 would be to consolidate debt ($90,000 total, from a HELOC and credit cards) and the rest for repairs. One broker has told us that an appraiser would almost certainly find the house “uninhabitable”, given the written description I gave him of its condition. It isn’t a question of getting a low appraisal value (since there is so much equity in the house, that wouldn’t be a barrier to getting a FRM). Rather, it’s a question of getting what amounts to a “no” for the FRM based on the house’s not being in “livable” condition. Another broker said we could have a broker find the best rate available, and the appraiser for that lender might point out just a few specific things that need to be repaired immediately - then we could fix them and pay a re-inspection fee. I need some more opinions on this. I’d rather not go for an FHA 203(k) loan if we can avoid it (because it’s more expensive and the rate is higher than on a conventional loan). Could you read my description of the house and tell me which broker you think is right? All of the services are functional. (We don’t have gas – we have electricity and an oil burner. The heat is from hot water radiators.) The first problem I want to describe is with the roof. There are no holes in the walls, ceilings or floors, but there are squirrel entry points in the roof (at least two of which will be visible to the trained eye from the sidewalk). I trapped four squirrels last winter in one section of the eaves where there is access through a low door in what is technically the attic (we use the attic as living space – it’s finished and has baseboard heaters, but it has a sloping ceiling). We use the eaves as storage space – picture a space that you can crouch or crawl in. The squirrels had made at least three entry points in the roof - one at a peak and two at valleys (because the fascia boards and valleys are deteriorated). We could hear the squirrels both in the eaves and in the walls/ceiling. (I had to lure two squirrels that preferred the peak entrance onto a little roof over the side door and then in through the entry point in one of the valleys to trap them.) There has been no squirrel activity since December, when I trapped the fourth one. Squirrels live in nests in tree branches in the summer, and in hollows in tree trunks (or in buildings, if they are “rogue squirrels”) in the winter. I got the resident squirrels before they had young, so we won’t have the problem of younger ones looking to “move back home” for the winter. But any “rogue squirrels” in the area that are looking for a new winter home might happen upon empty “apartments”. There is also a section of roof (maybe about 25 square feet) that has obviously loose shingles (and two shingles fell off at one point). There is some loose paint on the sloping ceiling of the stairwell leading to the “attic” because of these loose shingles, in a patch about 2 feet high x 1 foot wide. I don’t know whether there is damage to the roof itself (the underlayment or rafters) in the area of the loose shingles. I’ve had several companies come to give us estimates on the roof and other repairs (the estimates for replacing the roof have ranged from $10,000 to $20,000), and none of them have said there is imminent danger of the roof collapsing or anything. But they didn’t pry up shingles to look underneath, or go into the eaves there. (I can’t remember right now whether the home inspector we hired in the spring went into the eaves in that place – his report just says that the asphalt shingles on the roof have reached the end of their useful life.) There is a minor leak around an upstairs bathroom skylight, with a vertical drip mark on the paint. There is a patch of fallen paint and plaster (about 3 feet high x 1 foot wide) above the fireplace, because the flashing around the chimney needs replacing and/or a cricket needs to be put in. Please give your opinion on this, and if I get replies I’ll post more about other problems. If you reply to this post, please tell me what experience you’re basing your opinion on – whether you’re an appraiser, a homeowner who has been through something similar, etc. Thanks SO much!