#1: You're still in the goldilocks zone IMO. Similar to you, I started this process and took all my tests at 25, and got picked up for fighters of the street at age 26. Age is very unit dependent, some prefer young guys out of college, while others see value in someone with more life/professional experience. Through this process I've seen several people get picked up for fighters at 28, 29, and 30. Furthermore, this may vary by year as units decide to hire young one year and balance it out with an older hire the next. Overall, If you are competitive in every other way, I do not see age as something that will negatively impact you until maybe 28. That gives you a solid 2-3 years to apply/rush as hard as you can. Come interview time, you may very well be asked why you didn't start earlier or pursue an AD commission. Have a real and honest answer ready and it should be a non-issue.
On that note though, why wait until spring to do your tests? Definitely give yourself 2-3 months to study, but you should want to get them done ASAP, as the last thing you want to be doing is trying to harass a recruiter to schedule you in time for the spring "batch" of boards. I made this mistake peak-COVID and wished I had started it earlier.
#2: Echoing above, but this is again very unit dependent. IMO, the general rule of thumb is that local ties can always help you but the lack thereof won't necessarily hurt you. I've been at several rush events and interviews where it felt like there was only one or two guys from the opposite coast, but they were still invited out the same as the local guys. If the unit really likes you, they're not going to care where you live, as long as you can convince them that you're willing to drop everything and move there when that time comes.
Sometimes though, with all other things even, they will go with a local guy as a tiebreaker. You can't control the board's selection process and there's really no way around that except to be yourself and show why you'd be the best fit for the squadron, both on paper and in person.
I can only speak from my own experiences, but this is what I've found through the process thus far.
Long story short, I think just about everybody in the "circuit" has had these same concerns at some point, it's only natural. Though I wouldn't let either of them prevent you from pursuing this with your full effort, and given your current situation I certainly don't think either would preclude you from getting a slot.