— Ringing phone—
“Weichert Realtors Paupack Group, this is Karen, how may I help you?” I ask brightly.
“Yeah, hi, my wife and I wanna look at a couple houses. Are you free?”
“Are you pre-approved for a mortgage yet?”
Truth is, I haven’t asked that question EARLY ON as often as I should.
Why? Just to look at houses? Why should buyers get a pre-approval when they haven’t
found the right house yet? Believe it or not, there are many reasons. I would ask…why look at houses if you’re unwilling to get pre-approved?
- It lays all the cards on the table. You know exactly how much you can spend. It allows you to look at homes within your price range, knowing that you can afford what you fall in love with.
- It saves VALUABLE time. Even in this market, time is of the essence. Even with homes that seem to have been on the market “a while.” If you like a home enough to make an offer, chances are someone else will like it too. Nothing stinks more than having an offer accepted only to discover that the seller will not sign without a mortgage pre-approval in hand.
While you scramble to call lenders, compare rates, gather info, and work on the pre-approval, another buyer who is already pre-approved could submit an acceptable offer and take the house right out from under you. (true story).
- It uncovers potential problems that didn’t occur to you. Some people have great credit scores and think they will qualify, and are shocked to learn that their type of income or debt to income ratio makes them fail. It’s not just about credit scores.
- It shows how serious you are. The last thing you want to do is waste someone else’s time, energy, and gas, right?
It is not unreasonable for real estate agents to expect buyers to be pre-approved before taking them out. Some sellers won’t even allow buyers INTO their home unless they are pre-approved, to cut down on casual looky-loos and time-wasting showings that go nowhere.
This next part may sound selfish, but the cost of gas alone these days makes agents pause before driving people around who may never buy a house.
If you are ready to start looking at vacation homes here in the Lake Wallenpaupack region, then you are ready to get pre-approved. If you are not ready to be pre-approved for some reason, then maybe now is not the time to be house hunting beyond internet window shopping or driving by the outsides of homes you dream of owning someday.
Contrary to popular belief, we real estate agents drive our own cars (not company cars), we buy our own gas (there is no expense account from the company), we pay for our own insurance (no benefits…we are self employed), and we do not get paid until we sell a house (no salary).
I say this not to complain, but to shed light on what we do.
I have spent hundreds of dollars on gas, and countless hours now lost forever, driving people around, finding wonderful homes…negotiating offers and drafting contracts…only to learn that they couldn’t qualify for a mortgage. This not only affected me, but it broke their hearts – they were all set to start building a new life in Northeast PA, and their plans were dashed.
Had they been pre-approved first, they would have seen what needed to be fixed before they fell in love with a house. They could put a plan in place to correct any issues…and then find a house to fall in love with when the time is really right.
I recommend several local lenders. It’s always best to use a local lender, as they are familiar with the nuances of the local real estate market. Often the local pre-approval process is more stringent and reliable than one done over a website. These lenders have given excellent service to my clients. I will gladly share their contact info. Drop me a line!