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Do you pre qualify your buyer's before you take them out to see properties? Has the change in inventory changed your strategy? Do you have?

Asked by , Mon Jan 11, 2010


Personally -- I'll psuedo qualify them myself - I'm not a lender, don't pull a credit report and am not the definitive answer on a loan.

That being said - going out once, getting into a 'relationship" with them usually helps them to stick!

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Steven Ornellas’ answer
Hi Susan,

I am in total agreement with Ray. In my mind, a Pre-Qualification is useless. I require a Pre-Approval with an Automated Underwriting "Accept" status before showing property. This is an important step that allows all involved to understand the Client's purchasing power.

A completed Pre-Approval is in the best interest of the Client. For example, here’s an issue for the Buyer with moving forward, showing property and making an offer without vetting financial capacity:

We all know there are 3 primary contingencies that allow contract cancellation without the loss of the Buyer's deposit money; however, the cost for inspections and appraisals is a "sunk cost." This means the Buyer expends about $1,000 (Appraisal, Home, Pest, Chimney, etc.) that does not get reimbursed if they find out they can't afford the home or a debt/income "surprise" is later uncovered via the Lender’s PTD/PTF requests.

I believe most Buyers would appreciate the importance of the Pre-Approval process if they were made aware the aforementioned possibility of financial loss. Explaining this to a Client can also provide some "stickiness." I know I certainly don't wander when I get the feeling someone is looking out for my best interests.

(….Insert "soap box")

Please understand the “winner” of the “Pre-Approval” process is not the lender who can state the “best” inaccurate “Pre-Approval” amount; it’s the Lender who is most accurate that is providing you the highest level of service. Also, the terms “Pre-Qualification” and “Pre-Approval” are erroneously used interchangeably quite a bit in the RE Industry to mean the same thing – they are not. This particular topic is covered here:

(….remove "soap box")

To be taken seriously and avoid unnecessary cost a Buyer needs a Pre-Approval!

Best, Steve
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
Hi Susan. For those contacting me on a property listing without a broker, I do my own type of qualifying since the initial contact is by phone or e-mail. All standard questions apply but I usually try to get them in my office since a voice on the phone is easy to dismiss and someone in person is less able to do that. Right off the bat, many drop off. I look at income, assets and debt. Since I also don't pull a credit report, I will ask if they know their FICO and if not and before we meet, I ask them to go to to get a their score. I look for roughly a 28% DTI ratio.

I also get calls where people ask, "Do I have to do all that just to see the place?" My response is absolutely you do if you want a private appointment to view. If they have a broker, no problem since the local board association requires I give other Realtors access. If someone is going it alone and won't do anything, I politely refuse the appointment and suggest they are free to come to an open house and I would be glad to call to inform them when one has been scheduled.

There have been times when I've broken my own rule but the situation has to be compelling. I consider it a "one for free" kind of thing but I haven't done that lately.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 1, 2012
Dear Susan,
I value a professional approach to Real Estate and one that will result in a long term relationship with the client. Because of this I do have a buyer counseling meeting that will include Pre-Qualification with a respected lender, explaination of the buyer-broker agreements and discussion of the clients wants and needs. The meeting usually lasts one hour, but can go longer if the buyer has many questions.
Once we go out looking we are well prepared, know eachother and ready to go forward!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Mar 31, 2012
I have generally found that pre-qualifying a buyer is advantageous to all parties involved. If a buyer does not have a mortgage broker/banker, it is certainly easy enough to suggest at least 3 and allow them to take the first real step towards making a purchase. Not only does prequalifying them give you all of the pertinent information as to amount of purchase, property tax limitation, if any, allowance of HOA/condo fees, etc..

With this information in hand, it is much easier to guide your customers to property that meed their needs and loan criteria. Most importantly it avoids a situation where a buyer locates a property only to later learn that they are not qualified to purchase it!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 24, 2010
When meeting with a buyer it is vital to find out if they have been pre-qualified before going out to see properties. I'm the type of agent who does not want to waste anyone's time, especially the buyer. If you don't get to know more about them and what they can afford you are doing them a disservice. I like to find out what lender they are working with and if they aren't I recommend at least 3 lenders for them to talk to. Of course, all of us(agents) can do a basic prequalification using income and reoccuring debt numbers but as far as the credit report goes, I leave that for the lender do to. I always make a point to set aside at least 2-3 hours to do the "meet and greet" as well as go over disclosures before showing any properties. Yet there are situations that can call for you to modify your approach in this situation. My primary concern when first meeting with a new buyer is to educate as much as possible, the more I educate them the easier my job is representing them during the transaction.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 24, 2010
Hi Susan,
I have to agree with Diana! I will not show buyers homes without a written pre-approval. I have been licensed for 24 years and have learned the hard way. If a buyer is not willing to provide a copy of their approval or allow me to get them approved, then I am not going to waste my time. It shows that they are as committed as I am in finding them a home. I make it clear that we will be making offers on homes and that no one will consider their offer without an approval. I hope this helps
Lori Duran :)
Broker Associate
ERA Yes!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 23, 2010
Hello Susan:

I have been in the real estate business 16 years now and have always made it a policy to pre-qualify and pre-approve my buyers before taking them out to look at properties. I explain to them that I don't want them to waste their time, my time or the seller's time. Buyer's need to know what price range they are qualified for. I don't want to go shopping with a buyer and have them fall head over heals for a house, and then find out they are not qualified to buy? That's a bummer. I like to keep things upbeat, exciting and positive. That happens when everyone is on the same page. I usually start the relationship by asking a variety of questions on the initial phone call or e-mail and take it from there.

I am an Accredited Buyer's Representative and take that very seriously. My buyers appreciate my honesty and transparency. And the highest complement is when they refer me to their family and friends because I helped them find their "Dream Home".

Diana Dahlberg
1 MONTH REALTY - Kenosha, WI
Established in 1994 -- Serving Southeastern Wisconsin
(262) 697-6008
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
First I ask the inquiring potential buyer if they have spoken to a lender to find out what price range they should be looking in. I always let them know it is to make sure I am not wasting THEIR time showing them homes they may not be able to afford. Should I show them $100,000 range? $200,000? $50,000? If they have not spoken with a lender and don't know of any to call, I refer them to a trusted local lender who will do a quick pre-qual over the phone. He knows the proper questions to ask. He then lets me know if they even qualify and what price range based on his expertise. Then I sit with them to find out ther needs and wants and in what area. At that point I know if I can show them the house they had called me about originally, or if I need to search MLS for others. After they have seen the good, the bad and the ugly, I make sure they know it's time to move forward with an actual pre-approval so they will be ready to make an offer when the time comes. If they hesitate to take that step, I let them go because they have shown themselves to not be serious buyers.

If, upon that first contact, they tell me they are pre-approved, I ask for a copy of the lender letter, and explain why it's important. If they never supply it and/or I never hear from them again I know I didn't waste my time.

All that is, of course, after I have also queried them about whether or not they are already working with another agent. If they are and have no problems with him/her, I urge them to be loyal to that agent because we are only paid when an escrow closes, not when we show a house (some buyers think agents are on the office payroll). Some buyers have told me that their agent is busy and had told them to contact the listing agent to see the property - in which case I tell them to have their agent contact me. [ I have had cases where buyers told me areas they absolutely did not want to consider; I showed them elsewhere for days - sometimes into the next county; they stopped answering my phone messages; they bought a house in the area they told me they didn't want - obviously using different agents for different areas ]

So I do try to make sure they are serious potential buyers in a realistic price range before I commit myself.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
As someone who has worked on the lending side for the past ten years, and has a good grasp of the lending landscape now, a lender pre-qualification means nothing. It is a useless piece of paper even if you can get a lender to draw one up. These days, lenders are not spending any time underwriting or reviewing files that are not serious and complete applications that include all the initial disclosures and legally required signatures. With the current RESPA requirements, new GFE, and strict lender underwriting guidelines, you will not get a lender to pre-approve a borrower.
That having been said, I think it is certainly a good idea to sit down with your borrower and ask a few pertinent questions related to their qualifications and ability to purchase a property. Do they have the necessary down payment, stable employment, income, credit score, asset reserves, etc. These are the basic questions a loan officer would ask, and if your borrower seems qualified from the answers they give you, that's about all you can do to get down the road toward qualification until the loan file documentation is complete and submitted to an underwriter.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
Brad, you said it better than I. Of course I am not going to go to a vacant house at night - anywhere unless I know the person. I am relying on my instincts too, because I always have a pretty long phone conversation before showing that first house. Meeting at a nearby coffee shop first is a good idea too! I live a half hour from my "real estate office", and if the buyer is local and looking at a property that is local, it only makes sense to meet out here, and a coffee shop or fast food establishment is the way to go!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
YES, I do my version of pre-qualifying buyers. I'll start by asking them to make an appointment and come into our offices. I'll also ask if they have previously viewed properties and if they did so with an agent. Next, I ask if they've spoken with a mortgage consultant which sounds better than "have you been pre -approved by a Bank." Since we are a one stop shop with in house mortgage brokerage services, At the appointment I will ask them to get pre-qualified.
The change in resale inventory in New York has been minor with the exception of new Condominiums. I have made exceptions from time to time in what I call a "one for free" outing to show one or two properties. This has occured when a buyer has told me they had made a previous offer but the home inspection turned up many problems or they could not get some level of concession and backed out. I have found that this strategy does nothing in helping a buyer "stick" with me.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
My vote is also YES! I train Agents and see this mistake often. You can run prospects around until the wheels on your car fall off and the Petro Companies have all of your money only to find out that they don't have a prayer of qualifying for a home loan. With rising minimum credite scores, more and more prospects are finding they cannot qualify. If you want the personal touch to help them "stick" to you, simply meet them at a "safe" public location, buy them a coffee and discuss the process with them to educate them. Then send them to some lenders to get pre-qualified. They will respect this and you will feel better when you hear that they can't qualify for a long time and you didn't waste a bunch of time and money.

Good luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
YES. YES.YES. Definitely meet them first in your office or at Starbucks, etc if the home they are interested in is not convenient to your office. I would NEVER meet someone I did not know at a vacant home ... too risky these days. I also agree with the lenders who have responded. It is really easy to prequalify a Buyer over the phone in minutes. Don't waste their time or yours looking at houses that they might not be able to afford.
Keli Davies, Realtor, Atlanta, Georgia
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
As a Loan Officer married to a real estate agent, I can say that my wife was starting out, she definitely wasted some weekends taking people out who were not pre-qualified. I disagree that if people are willing to spend an afternoon on a weekend looking, they must be serious. There are people who are just lookers, where looking at houses is a hobby, or they dream just like people visiting a Ferrari dealership. Of course, there are indeed people who would like to be serious buyers, but in this environment many of them are a year or more away from qualifying whether due to credit issues, debt ratios, or insufficient down payment.

There are alot of resons to get someone pre-qualified before taking them out to look at houses, but the biggest one is your time. We pre-qualify buyers over the phone in an hour, weekends included, so I'd be wary of a potential buyer who is not willing to at least take that first step. An agent can have their buyer call us or they can go to our web site and complete a short form (see below link) and we call them right away.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
most of these agents that have commented are not from a city region, for instance meeting "in the office" doesnt usually apply here. the reason i say this is because it all depends on where you are located.

If a buyer has a preapproval then more than 85% of the time hes ready to buy and qualified, because most people ask me "i never even started that process" and to them they think its this huge deal, so if they went through the trouble of getting one there ready.

These questions below is a great indirect way of asking if they are ready and qualified:

do they have a lease? if so, when does the lease end?

do they own? do they have to sell before they buy? etc...

once those questions are asked you can get a good understanding without directly asking them "did you get a preapproval" most of the time I dont even ask if they have a preapproval if they own already or have owned in the last 3-4 years tops.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 22, 2010
I think one of the following should take place.

1.) Meet in your "office". This shows that the buyers are serious.
2.) Meet at the first house they ask to see. You have to meet somewhere and it may as well be at a home.
I do this when my office is really far from their area of interest, and it would be a hardship for them to meet there. Like if the husband and wife are working multiple jobs. Preferably a vacant house, so sellers are
not needlessly inconvenienced.
3.)If using #2, I insist that they contact a lender or present me with a letter of pre-approval, or a contact for their lender. I will not go on to a second house showing unless I see the pre-qual.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I would say 99% of the time I make sure the buyer is pre qualified. It makes sense not to waste my time or theirs looking at homes they can not afford. I meet with anyone that asks to. I either talk with them on the phone or meet them in my office. If they are not pre qualified I have a short list of lenders I can recommend according to each circumstance. When they have talked to a lender we start looking at homes. I very seldom break that rule. When ever I have it has come back to bite me.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I always make sure my buyers have a prequal.....You would hate to waste everyone's time including yours
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
Find answers to Charisse's question here:…

Deborah Bremner
REALTOR, 00588885
Certified Short Sale Professional
Certified Home Retention Specialist
(D) 818.564.6591
Blogging at:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I'll post that as a separate question. Watch for it there.
Deborah Bremner
REALTOR, 00588885
Certified Short Sale Professional
Certified Home Retention Specialist
(D) 818.564.6591
Blogging at:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I agree with your technique about gettig to know your client. Do you have any advice for us new agents on prospecting and any useful techniques that may generate more leads? Just trying different techniques but I feel at this time the recession has put a damper on things in Calif.

Thanks Susan
Century 21 Valley Properties in the San Fernando Valley area
3 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I like your answer we are not loan officers or mortgage brokers. I find that quite a few realotrs answering this question don't seem to understand the RESPA reguilations that went into effect on January 1st. The best thing is to find a lender that you can work with and do the best you can.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
In CT, as part of belonging to our MLS, we agree to only bring qualified buyers to homes we show. So pre-qualification is a must. Besides, how do you know what price range of homes to take them to. Could be wasting everyones time. Most people have no real idea what they can afford. They usually know that they can't go above a certain monthly amount or just don't want too. Also, we must have either a buyer broker agreement or a "do not wish to be represented" form signed to show them anything , but our own brokers properties. We must tell them about Dual agency right up front when we meet them the first time.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
Always ask the clients these questions and explain the different between buying condos, coops, town house..
1. Are you currently working with real estate agent.
2. How soon do you want to purchase..
3. location, size, features....
4. Will this be a cash buy or will you getting financing.
5. If Finance, you need to get prequalified, preapproved for financing prior to looking..
6. Do you need recommendation for a lander.
7. after, let the client know that you will set up a search and send him properties that meet his search criteria.
8. You have to get feel for exactly what the client is looking for so that you don't waist his time with properties that don't fit his or her needs.
Flag Mon Nov 24, 2014
How? When? and Where?
How are they going to afford the home?
When do they want to move in their new home?
Where do they want to buy their home?
With my three question, I usually get an idea about my buyer.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 21, 2010
I am with Deborah on this one. If they don't know what they can afford, it makes it difficult to look for them. They get all caught up looking at houses just to find out they cannot get qualified for that amoun, then it is a difficult transition to settle for something less. I cannot find them a house if I do not know their range. The only difference is I do not make then sign buyers representation agreement. Not to say it is better or worst... I just don't . If I find them something that they want to put an offer on, then I have them sign one.

Kindest Regards,
Dianne Hicks
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 20, 2010
Right on Deborah....

Those are the THREE things a good agent should do.

Without lender prequalification, they may be looking in the wrong price range, as well. It's rare that a person knows exactly what they're qualified to purchase, given the ever-changing interest rates and loan costs.

Buyer Rep/Agency Disclosure also VERY important, and required, yet 90% of agents don't do it right away.....

Let's professionalize our business people!! Once again, you GO Deborah!!!!!!!! Right on!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 20, 2010
Dear Susan,
First let me say thanks for all of your contributions to Trulia. I've enjoyed "reading" you!
Before I take out a buyer, I do three things:
Meet with them in my office;
Sign an Exclusive Buyer Representation and Agency Disclosure;
and, have them meet the lender for pre-approval.
This is done in a single meeting that takes about 30-45 minutes, and I find that it is time well spent for all of us. At the end of the meeting, they have pre-approval, we know what price range we should be looking at, and all of us are clear on the terms of our working relationship. We are committed to the process.
That way, from the moment we get in the car, the buyer can be confident that they will be spending their time finding properties they can afford and that suit their needs, and when they find one, that they will be able to complete the transaction.
These basic steps are essential, I believe, for the complete representation of any buyer.
Deborah Bremner
REALTOR, 00588885
Certified Short Sale Professional
Certified Home Retention Specialist
(D) 818.564.6591
Blogging at:
2 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 20, 2010
Yes, I do qualify my buyers. 1) i ask how is your credit? A) if answer is good, l have them sign a buyers rep agreement and send them talk to a loan officer. B) if answer is bad or not so good . i ask how much do you have for a down payment? i will have them sign a buyer rep agreement pay a retainer and find them A owner finance property. Buyers are buyers and you have to work them all. i don't show properties with out a buyer rep signed and retainer paid. my buyers always buy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 20, 2010
I ALWAYS have them get pre qualified by my lender or ask for their pre approval from their lender before we go shopping. I am NOT a lender, but I DO KNOW what questions to ask to see possibly what price range they might be in. Once I know what they are looking for, if they are truly interested in BUYING, they will have No problem getting pre qualified or pre approved before we go shopping. It's great, because they come into my office and my lender is it works because I get to meet my potential new clients at the same time they get pre approved by my lender. Once they sit down with the lender and she gives me their pre approval letter and fico report. I have the buyer bring their proof of funds and an earnest money deposit check to photocopy and we come sit in my room go on the computer and search and sometimes have gone out and looked at properties that same day and made offers that got accepted. I make sure it's easy and fast. People don't want to waste their precious time, and they shouldn't have too. Get pre qualified first!!! So you know what you can "GO SHOPPING FOR!"
Web Reference: http://WWW.SHYSELLS.COM
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 20, 2010
The best way to filter through unserious buyers is to require they get pre approved, or pre qualified, before you show them a home. The reason is because it is a waste of your time, and your clients time to look at homes without a solid image of how much home your buyer can afford. You could show them a $200,000 home that they fall in love with and want to make an offer on, just to receive a pre approval letter from their lender for a purchase price of $175,000. This equals a big let down for both you and your clients. If they had known from the start they could only afford $175,000 they could have found a more realistic choice of a home to live in.

It's just the way you as an agent should do business. You find out how much house your buyer can afford and then show them the homes within their price range and that best fit their criteria. If you get it in writing then you both (agent and buyer) recognize that the both of you are serious and ready to move forward efficiently and professionally.


Andrew Cepeda
Realtor® and EcoBroker®
Metro Premiere Properties
26 W Dry Creek Cir Ste 200
Littleton, CO 80120
Cell: 720.216.7617
Fax: 303.794.0039
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
I always pre-qualify. If they are not working with a lender I have them pre-qualify with one I work with. If they are physically with me, I make the call, put them on the phone and take care of that right away. This is a practice that I religiously follow. Terms are important as well. For example, I had a buyer pre-approved with USDA Direct lending, but the buyer wanted a pool home, one of my listings. I had heard that one issue with this type of loan would be the pool. I contacted the lender and they confirmed that the buyer could not purchase a home with a pool. I never wrote the offer and the home was never taken off the market. I definitely would have gotten egg on my face if I had proceeded to write the offer since I was representing the seller and buyer.

In answer to the exceptions question. The only exception of course is if I get a cash buyer and they provide proof of funds. That is another issue. When I have a buyer that tells me they have cash I ask what form it is in and to provide written proof of the funds. With so many things that can go wrong with a transaction, pre-qualifying is one thing you can do to raise the probability of a successful closing.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
Personally, I always make sure they are qualified first or have at least spoken with someone. I can't tell you how many times I've gone out with people who over estimate what they can buy, particularly in this market. 5 Years ago i may have had a different answer, but these days it's hard to get a loan and I don't want to waste time. If buyers are serious, they won't mind you asking them to do it. If they find something they like and are not prequalified you're stuck anyway.
Web Reference:
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
Making sure that a buyer was pre-approved or pre-qualified first has never stopped me before and will not stop me in the future. In fact, I am also a mortgage broker and have a fairly good understanding of the challenges that borrower’s face with the current underwriting standards that our available lending sources have implemented.

I do feel that the pre-approval process is more important than ever and would highly recommend that any one interested in purchasing a home today should not only get pre-qualified, but actually get pre-approved by a lending source by actually starting the home loan application process. But I would never turn down someone that wanted to view a home or a listing as you never know if they have the ability to pay all cash, or whether they are actually looking for someone else.

I feel that it is important to make as many face-to-face impressions as possible as the people that you actually meet will be the best supporters or critics of your business. Plus, even if they will not qualify for the first home that you show them, maybe they will qualify for another. Or, maybe they have friends or family members that are also looking to buy.

I guess I feel that it is always worth my time to get “out of the office” and make contact with potential customers.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010

Before I take any buyers to see properties I asked them to come to my office for a one hour consultation where we discuss everything needed to purchase a home. In this meeting we talk about income, assets, debt, and expectations. I explain to the buyers that I am a full time Realtor and the only way I pay my bills is by selling homes. I require them to get pre-approved with a reputable referral source (I make it clear that they can finance with whomever they want, but I need to know they can buy). I would rather be sitting in my office writing trulia responses then up with a buyer who can not purchase a home! Best
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
I think its important to ask if the Buyer has a Lender they are working with already, as well as if they have made any committments to another Realtor. I don't mind showing them a house or two prior to getting them to pre qualify with a Lender. Typically, you need to meet the Buyer first and sometimes a good place to meet is at the house they are inquiring about.

The next step is to sit down for a buyer consult meeting, to better determine their needs, wish list, plans and goals for finding a home. Once we have that one on one time to get to know each other better, I find that is when it is most appropriate to discuss financing options. Usually, the buyer will open up to you more at this point, and I can then refer them to one or two Lender's that I think will best be able to help them.

It's a process, and I don't think its a good idea to push away the buyer before they become your client!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
I think much depends on our individual personality and how we approach our buyers. Personally, I have only lost one buyer and that person was not able to buy then or now.

When I ask a potential buyer to meet me at my office, some are a little reluctant initially, but every one of them have thanked me for the vast amount of information that I have given them during that meeting. Most of them tell me that nobody explained any of "this" to them. I always have positive feedback from them and that allows me to go forward to the next step of getting them approved and explaining how that will benefit them.

I know that we all have a different way of approaching our business. What works for some may not work for others. And since all buyers have different personalities, this actually might be a good thing.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
I'm assuming the question of "pre-qualify" refers to a buyers loan.

Clearly buyers having their finances in order and a loan arranged prior to any serious home search is better for everyone...especially the buyer. However, the decision to buy a home is generally a progression of smaller choices such as looking at homes on the internet, then maybe visiting a few.

At some point the idea becomes a plan.

I prefer to engage home buyers while early in this process. I recognize that this requires a greater investment in time and many of the people I meet with are not ready to buy. But if I was a buyer seriously THINKING about buying a home and I called an agent who insisted I do certain things before they spent any time on me, I'd simply call another agent. I believe, to engage the quality of buyer I want to work with requires reasonable balance between their needs and your time at this point in their thought process.

I believe it's better aligned with a buyer's decision making process to see a few homes and not introduce too many hurdles to satisfy my need to protect my time.

I do, however, pre-qualify buyers prior to our meeting based on my own criteria. In a phone call about their search, family needs, budget and desires in a home you can get a good idea about who this person is. Are they willing to open up and talk? Have they given this decision serious thought? Have they had serious discussions with their spouse? Have they saved some money for a down payment or thought through budget and payments?

I find some buyers feel great at this point and I give more freely of my time. They just seem like nice people genuinely thinking about a home purchase. They may buy now, they may buy later...but they will be home owners eventually. These people I'm fairly quick to pop in the car and meet.

Others are too early in their consideration of the idea. They have not thought about budget, spoken to their spouse or given any real thought to this decision. I am supportive of buyers on the phone and encourage them to search online on our website, refer them to some articles and video's online as well as advise them to think through what they want and need and what they can afford with their spouse and family.

Then their are the secretive and suspicious buyers. It's hard to tell what the deal is...their agent may be unavailable that day and they think your job is to open the door for them without any need for you to have a reason to want to be there. For these buyers I require more significant hurdles...forcing them to either cooperate or move along.

Thought provoking question.

Bill Joyce
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
I am finding that an actual loan commitment is becoming more popular and personally I wish it was required. If the buyer has already gone through underwriting, they can be locked in for a period of time and be assured that they will be able to buy the home that they make the offer on, assuming of course that it passes appraisal and inspection.

It would seem to me that a buyer could experience a much smoother transaction, without all of the last minute scrambling to get docs in time to close and also to omit the worry of their interest rate and requirements changing last minute.

I have had a number of transactions that fall under this category, and I cannot stress to you how much easier it was on all involved.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
In this market, pre-qualifying a buyer is paramount. It prevents a disappointed buyer when the fall in love with a home and cannot qualify after the fact. It prevents my time being given for free.
There is no faster way to lose a buyer than by not educating them regarding the process. Therefore, I sit down and map out expectations so we may "work together" to find them the perfect fit. They can get an agent from the Internet with the push of a button, but developing this relationship will demonstrate my expertise and create a trust factor that they cannot get from the Web.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
Years ago as a new agent I would show people property as long as they were breathing. As time goes on you learn from these breathing people that everyone wants to buy a home but many don't quite qualify just yet. In one instant long ago, a clever buyer had a taxi whenever she wanted to go to the mall. She would call an agent and look at a few homes and then be dropped off at the mall where she said her daughter would meet her there.
I do now ask leading questions to make certain of credit issues and if I can't get past that then I have some great loan officers who will take it from there and give me some insite on how long it would take to help the ones wanting to purchase. There is help on credit issues and if they are willing to correct them then I am willing to accomdate the buyer when ready. It's so disappointing when they really find a home and move it it with their mind and can't buy it, so I don't let that happen to potential future buyers.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 19, 2010
Isn't there an expectation in the real estate community that if you are showing another agents listings that you have a real buyer? Shouldn't the listing agent be able to assure the home owner that only quailified, pre-approved buyers are looking at their home? Isn't that a primary 'pitch' we give to FSBOS?
Home owners do not want 'tire-kickes' intruding into their home and family life. Selling one's home is stressfull without the process becoming a entertainment spectacle for tire-kickers.

My protocol is:
1. Showing instructions - Call listing agent
2. When called verify buyer is pre-approved AND has driven through the community and the home mechanically meets their needs.
3. Obtain agent tele #
4. Set appt time, instruct showing agent to call if more than 30 minutes off schedule.
5. Call for feed back. If feed back is 'didn't like community' refer to #2 and put star by agents name.

I would like to find a way to send a bill to an agent who doesn't show up and did not see the need to call! How much should a buyer agent be charged for scheduling a showing, getting the family to leave, get the listing agent on site....then not show up or call?
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 12, 2010

I simply have our first meeting in my "office". Ask basic question's. Limit property showings to only "3". Get to know more about them.

99% of the time, if the client is willing to give up their Saturday for a few hours, they've all been serious & qualifed. Finding a home in this market is a different story!
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
Hello Susan,

Thank you for your question. It seems like everyone has a different approach. As for me, yes, I take them out the first time because they are expecting me to; they came to see a house. And in my book it is all about the client (and building rapport)...not about me... or me waisting time.

No, I do not prequalify, although I have no trouble doing it. Sure I ask questions about previous contact with a lender and if they know how much they want to or able to pay for a house, how big the family is, kids, cats, dogs, etc. I also tell them, that this is only happening this first time. time they need to have a letter from a lender.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
Hey Susan,

I get clients pre-qualified before I take them out. If they seem real I don't think it's absolutely required but I do my best. Inventory is low in LA so there aren't too many options to show clients especially first time home buyers (FTHB). I show them what I can if they seem ready willing any able.

Monique Carrabba
The Carrabba Group
Keller Williams Hollywood Hills
(323) 899-2900
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
I'm a firm believer that you MUST qualify your buyers. You must know that this is someone who can actually complete a transaction. Otherwise that is lost time you will never get back. Do you want to build a relationship with someone who isn't in a position to actually make a purchase? Your time is too precious for that. No, you're not a lender and are not 'the definitive answer on a loan." That is why you have to have a relationship with a lender you can refer your potential buyers to to get pre-qualified. This is a numbers game as it is, so please make sure the buyers you are spending your time with are actually in a position to buy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
I try and do some preliminary investigation but I don't really prequalify. I am not a lender and so many of our buyers are just tire kicking the first time out that there is no point. They aren't going to give me the information anyway. We do our tour, and like you I work on building the relationship. Trust is the first step and getting them to believe you know what you are talking about is step two. Usually they come back, maybe not tomorrow or even next week. But when they are ready they already feel they know me and trust me and they are ready to go.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
I do. The reasoning I give a potential client when I ask that they obtain that before we go out and look is that I want them to feel absolutely confident that whatever house I take them through , they will have peace in knowing that they have been pre-approved for it. My wish for them is that the process is just a fun as the outcome! This helps to set up a trusting relationship early on. It also tells them that my focus is them and their goals.

I love my job! ;)
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
I always make sure that they are fully pre-approved before I take them out. Right now buyers have to move fast if they are buying anything under $450K and waiting for a pre-approval is a waste of time. Even if the buyer is looking above $500K they should be pre-approved. It makes no sense for them to go looking if they can't get a loan.

I would love to hear other people's toughts.

1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Jan 11, 2010
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