Mortgage Pre-Approval – Is it Really Needed Before I Can Search for a Home?

We recently received this question from a friend of a past client:

Do I really need a pre-approval before I go out to look at homes?

Here’s the candid answer.

If you’re paying cash for a property, you don’t need a pre-approval, but you do need documentation showing that you have the money to buy the home. (This is called Proof of Funds.)

If you’re getting a mortgage, it’s a great idea to get a pre-approval letter before we go out to look for homes. Here’s why: 

First, you need to know “how much house” you can afford. You need to know what you can buy. It’s more than just the principal and interest of the mortgage that you need to consider. Lenders take taxes and HOA or condo dues into consideration, too. So there’s a bigger picture in addition to what monthly obligations you have today.

So, once we know how much you can afford or buy (and by the way – it doesn’t mean we’re going to spend up to that limit, that just gives us a range!), we go out and look at homes. If we’re out looking at homes and you don’t have a pre-approval and you fall in love with a home, you risk losing it. Any listing agent who understands his business is not going to take an offer from a buyer getting financing without a pre-approval from a lender. 

It’s also important to note that a pre-approval from one lender is not the same as a pre-approval from another lender – and experienced agents know this.

So, pre-approvals need to have some teeth behind them to be helpful. If they’ve run credit, they’ve seen tax returns, and it’s pretty far along in the process, it has more meaning to a listing agent, and he is more likely to advise sellers to accept your offer.

What we don’t want to happen is this:

You go out, we find the perfect home, you fall in love, and someone else swoops in to make an offer and get it under contract because you’re now working to get your pre-approval.

Bottom line: It’s a good idea to get the pre-approval up front.

If you don’t have a lender whom you trust and respect, we refer to people who we’ve worked with for years that we would recommend. 

If you have someone that you’re already comfortable with, we’d love to work with them as well. It’s a great idea for us all to get together on the phone or in person, help us understand that lender’s pre-approval process, and get the right documentation. This way, we make an offer, and we get it accepted.

If you’re interested in buying – now or in the future – you can search listings here – and start to familiarize yourself with the buying process and the market.

We would be happy to talk to you further about this subject and help you find (and secure!) just the right home for you and your family. Give us a call at (561) 571-2289 or email us at amyandnoreen@allaboutfloridahomes.com with questions or for assistance.

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