Have you ever tried to visit a property for sale on the market only to be told by a real estate agent that they won’t show you the home until you are pre-qualified for a home mortgage? You might see this as a time-consuming obstacle or an unnecessary intrusion into your finances; however, there are a number of good reasons to support this condition.
First, many sellers do not want their house to be shown to someone who is not serious about purchasing it. Look at it from the current homeowner’s perspective. The seller has to clean the home and clear their family out and on a Sunday for someone who might be “only looking”. Furthermore, there is a potential security risk in showing a home to someone whom the seller and, in reality, the buyer’s agent know little about. Many sellers, understandably, are uncomfortable with this.
Even if someone does like the house and is ready to make an offer, a seller will not seriously consider an offer from a buyer who has not been pre-qualified. They simply cannot accept the risk of taking their home off the market while a buyer figures out if they can even qualify for a mortgage to buy that house.
Another good reason to get pre-qualified is to see how much of a home buyer can qualify for and on what terms. The pre-qualification process involves taking some basic information, running a credit report, as well as determining the potential borrower’s debt ratios. Typically, a buyer can be pre-qualified within a couple of hours from the beginning of the process. This procedure will often uncover unknown credit report items that can be addressed in advance to enable the home buyer to obtain a better rate and thus, more of a loan. It will also allow the home buyer to shop around for a lender so that valuable time is not wasted while they are under contract. Lenders can also advise buyers on what types of programs might be available in certain areas.
Lastly, there is the question of etiquette. Believe it or not, there are people out there who look at houses as a hobby, with no true intention of buying. It is important to remember that a real estate agent’s time is extremely valuable. Realtors work on straight commission and often give up many hours of personal family time on the weekends to show property; many times to people who will never buy a home. Very simply, it is disrespectful to monopolize an agent’s time if a home buyer is not serious enough to answer a few questions for a mortgage lender a couple of hours before going to look at the property.
Ultimately, getting pre-qualified by a licensed home loan lender benefits all parties involved and represents a small time investment given the magnitude of a home purchase. The pre-qualification indicates to the seller a serious intent to buy; the home buyer and buyer’s agent know the buyer’s financial background and purchase limitations, and the home buyer will already have “one foot in the door” with their home purchase. It is a win-win for everyone!