Why Do I Need a Preapproval to Look at Houses?

If you have ever been in the market for a house, you are familiar with a preapproval. If not, a preapproval is a letter from a mortgage lender stating that they have reviewed your financial status and have determined that you meet their borrowing guidelines for obtaining a mortgage to purchase a house.

So first things first – you find a REALTOR (like me) – and I will begin asking you questions about what you are looking for. Likely, the first, or close to the first, question that I will ask is if you are preapproved and for how much.

I know, I know, this question is a very personal and private one – heck, I know couples who have been together for a year or so and still have not discussed their finances with each other so why discuss it with this random person who is helping you find a home? I get it. Sometimes it is an uncomfortable question for me to ask. However, it is very important for me to know.

  1. So let’s discuss the elephant in the room first and get it out of the way – I do not get paid until you purchase a house. No one cuts me a paycheck every two weeks. This first point may make me sound selfish or abrasive but I do not think that is the case. Every real estate salesperson is in business for themselves and depend on their buying and selling clients for their paycheck. Showing houses is not volunteer work for me nor is it a public service. Knowing this, we ask that you are preapproved before looking at houses simply because we want to ensure that we are working with clients who can actually buy a home. Now, I will say this, even a preapproval does not guarantee that a deal is going to go through but a preapproval is at least an indication that the buyer could potentially do something. In my eyes, it means you are a serious buyer.
  2. We also ask to know how much you could potentially be looking to spend to advise you to the best of our ability to find the right house. If we spend weeks and maybe months looking for a house and you finally find “the one” but it ends up being $100,000 more than your price range, that is devastating. Simply knowing what you are preapproved for could have prevented this heartbreak and frustration.
  3. This final point on this is strictly for my safety. If someone calls me and asks to see a home – whether it be my listing or another agent’s listing – asking if someone is preapproved could save my life. It helps me to verify who I am speaking to instead of just showing up to a house and not really knowing who I am going to meet. This is also why a lot of times as a REALTOR, I will setup a buyer consultation with my clients at my office before we looks at homes. Do either of these precautions prevent a bad person from doing a bad thing? Absolutely not but it does make me feel better and could potentially save my life.

Now, do you absolutely need to be preapproved to start looking for a home? No. But a salesperson is going to ask you or at least should ask you before you physically begin visiting homes. I do not want to waste your time anymore than my own!

In all honesty, the agents who ask if you are preapproved right from the get go are the agents you want to work with. It shows they are organized and pay attention to detail. It also shows that they are all about doing the right thing from the start. They will not allow you to get your heart set on the home of your dreams just to have your hopes shattered on a home that you cannot afford.

Getting preapproved before you call an agent is even better! Tell your agent right off that you are preapproved and send them a copy or give them a copy of your preapproval letter. And if you are not sure how to go about getting a  preapproval or are not sure where to start, ask a REALTOR. They will point in the correct direction.

We want to help you find “the one” as badly and you would like to find it!

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