Getting loan approval is only half the battle. Sure you need to have verifiable income and a down payment but even with that is does not necessarily mean you can get loan approval for the home you want. Why, because the home you choose has to be approved by the bank as well.
Appraisers are often asked to make note of any of the following issues when appraising a home:
1) Peeling paint
2) Missing appliances
3) Heat or hot water issues.
4) Additions or improvements done without permits
5) Major fixers
One of the newer issues is banks asking appraisers to make note of improvements done without permits. Because most the homes in Marin are older it is not uncommon, over time, for something to be done without the benefits of permits. Some banks do not want to lend on those homes unless the permit problems are resolved. Usually something can be worked out with the city, if the seller has the time and money to get retroactive permits. Historically, unpermitted remodel projects did not cause a problem with loans, maybe with the City but not with your lender.
Often REO (foreclosures) and Short Sale homes have deferred maintenance and in some cases have been trashed. If it in very bad condition most banks will not lend on the property which often means cash investors are the only buyers.