I grew up in New England. Our first investment/vacation home was in Newport Maine, a little cabin on Lake Sebasicook. When we sold that, we bought our first property in Florida in the mid 80's-Palm Harbor, next door to Dunedin and we fell in love with it here.
Now to your questions and some of the info others have supplied so far:
First time looking is often an information gathering trip, especially long distance relocation. What you first think you want may not end up being what you decide on. This being said, it is still important to know the price range you are qualified for AND comfortable with. It can easily be done over the phone, some even do it on line. It doesn't mean you are locked into this lender for your loan, but should you see something you want to make an offer on you will be ready. We put pre-approvals or proof of funds with all offers when they are presented. Like another agent said, it also shows you are a serious buyer. Realtors get paid when the deal closes. Any professional should be willing to take the time you need to find the right home. Your being prepared shows you are serious and not just window shopping.
First interview some professional full time Realtors and find one you are comfortable with. They can show you any house on the market. It is best to work with one agent. They are committing their time to finding you the right home, you shoud be loyal to the one you choose. They only get paid if they find you the right property and it closes. It really isn't fair to have several agents spending their time looking for the same person, when only one will be compensated for their work. If you are not happy with your agent let them know and if it can not be resloved let them know you will be changing agents.
Your Realtor will be glad to give you the names of some lenders and or mortgage brokers. Almost every large real estate company has an "In House" mortgage company or a joint venture with a major lender, making pre-approvals very easy. I don't agree with the Realtor being the mortgage broker also. Your mortgage is a long term commitment and you need to comparison shop. If clients choose to check our in house mortgager company I always encourage them to shop around and compare who has the best program for THEIR individual needs. There is nothing illega aboout a Realtor being a morgage broker too, but it often presents ethical questions. Many companies discourage the practice.
I understand the homebuyer who encouraged you to put your home on the market as soon as possible due to the tax credit, but let me add real estate is a local business. If I recall, from when I owned land in Maine, the market is pretty much dead in the winter. If this is still the case, rather than having your listing appear stale before anyone is ready to look, I would encourage you to spend this time getting it in tip top show condition to spring on to the market at the first thaw.
I live in Palm Harbor and cover all of Pinellas county. I would be glad to interview for the job of helping you find the the right home. While you are still in Maine, I have a free service called â€œListingbookâ€, which I provide for my clients. It is like a back door into the MLS which updates daily: new listings, price changes, solds & withdrawns, allowing you to really be able to follow and learn the market. I set up a basic search according to your guidelines. Once you are in, you can change the parameters as you need. If this is something you would be interested in let me know. Email or give me a call.
Broker Associate, GRI, CDM
Real Estate Consulting, Marketing & Sales
Prudential Tropical Realty
Your question has gotten an abundance of attention and brought up a lot of good points to consider...exactly why this format was developed. An educated buyer is the best.
Alma brings up a good point about credit scores. A pre-approval does require a credti check, while a pre-qualification does not. When it comes to making an offer a pre-qualification would not be sufficient, but for finding the right price range it should give you a comfort level. If you saw something you wanted to move on quickly, the same lender could update it to a pre-approval.
Another good point several Realtors have brought up it learning the community. Often the first trip is more of a tour of the area, with the Realtor pointing out highlights of each community, hidden treasures you might not find on your own. It's a time for your Reatlor to get to know you, learn your needs, show you different places that meet your lifestye be it golf, boating, biking, beaches, shopping, dining out, etc. Are you looking for a house, condo, or villa?...Often people start with one idea and then see different options and change their minds and opt for something different.
Once in a while, someone finds something their first time out, but for the most part it's a learning experience and your Realtor is there to help and guide you through it. Good luck on your new adventure, we are here to help you.
Broker Associate, GRI, CDM
Real Estate Consulting, Marketing & Sales
Prudential Tropical Realty
Find a Realtor that specializes in the area you want to live and stay loyal to that Realtor. He/she can show you properties one right after the other and will find you bargains that you may miss if you are just contacting each listing agent directly. Also some listing agents (myself included) are wary of buyers who are not working with a Realtor. For buyers that call me directly I ask for a preapproval letter before I spend any of my time showing my listing. For buyers that I'm working with and were referred to me, I may not require a preapproval... especially for someone in your circumstances that will not be purchasing for several months. Credit inquiries can lower your credit score so until you are ready to buy you may not want to let anyone pull your credit.
Good luck with your move to Tampa Bay.
All the best,
In many circumstances, a buyer must first sell their home before they can purchase another. This is the same situation you find yourself in. Knowing this it is easily understood you have interest in knowing what the real estate market looks like in Dunedin. So you need to come take a look, not make an offer. NO PROBLEM!!
Quite frequently, when I list a home to sell, the homeowner will request not be be make an entertainment stop for buyers who are not serious. In this case, I request all calls be placed directly to me. These homes would be off-limits to you on your 'just looking' trip. However, there will be LOADS of homes to which you will have access in the Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Tarpon Springs, Safety Harbor and Clearwater areas.
For those get acquainted trips, I like to show the area attractions, best kept secrets and introduce you to the the key players concerning the activities or concerns of interest to you. Take a look at the community web site: http://www.mydunedin.com for more information about what is happening in the area and for a few movie tours of homes for sale and area events.
Straight from 'Delightfully Different Dunedin Florida'
ReMax ACR Elite Group, Inc
727. 420. 4042
The pre-approval is a great way to guard time. Not just for the agent but for you too. Why would you want to waste your time looking at homes you will not be able to buy. When you get to FL. use your time to shop for a loan officer. Have them get you a pre-approval, you will be getting an idea of how this person will be to work with and you will have an idea of how much house you can buy. Don't just assume, too many factors these days.
If you are just trying to get a general feel for the market, then try visiting some open houses, drive around and look for property fliers out front. You should also interview some local buyer agents so you can choose one before you come back to the area to purchase. If you choose a buyers agent they may be willing to take you around a bit just to get to know you and what you are looking for. No need to view a bunch of homes in March because by time you are ready to buy, the market may be different. Once your home is sold and you are ready to purchase then get another pre-approval (they are only good for 30 days). When you know what your price range will be then your buyers agent can update you on the market and start sending you current lists of homes in your price range. You can then arrange a trip to go and spend some time with your Buyers Agent viewing homes that meet your criteria and your budget. Florida! yeah for you! I am jealous.
Good luck. For more info on why it's important to have a buyers agent visit my website.
1. How will the changes to the GFE affect the transaction and your loan?
2. What are the new FHA rules and how they will affect the Transaction.
3. RESPA had JUST made some huge changes on how everything will be handled, how will this affect your home buying?
4. What are the limits for loans in the area
5. Is your loan a Jumbo?
6. What is the LTV requirements?
7. Will you close under the old HUD -1 or the new HUD?
8. What is the buy down on points.
9. Should you do an ARM or something else?
10. And another 25 questions I canâ€™t think of right now.
If you are buying in Dunedin, then you need a Dunedin Realtor and a Dunedin loan person. (I cannot help you here as I work Lake County, Southern Marion, Northern Orange, Seminole and Western Volusia) These are very different practices and not to be combined (Palm Harbor or Clearwater folks that work in the area would do nicely ). I donâ€™t even like Real Estate practices that have a â€œloan divisionâ€. I have 3 mortgage brokers I recommend, I get not a single cent from them in any way, but I know they are the best mortgage brokers in the area with service and knowledge un-equaled. My customers only get the very BEST. NOTHING can be worse than a half time mortgage broker. All the ones I work with have at least 25 years in the business, and at least a Masters in field.
About the last thing you need is someone armed walled paper hanger who will sell you a house , get you a mortgage and change your cars oil from 4 hours away.
You need a local Realtor that does homes in the area you want to locate, not someone 4 hours away.
Example, when my son moved to Gainesville, an area just about 30 minutes from the area I work, I found him a very good local Realtor. I would not pretend to know an area I donâ€™t know and possibly mess up and get him a property that would not be the BEST for him, his wonderful wife and the most perfect Granddaughter in the whole world.
In short , your first step, your BEST step, is to find two LOCAL people to help you find a house. A Real Estate Professional and a Mortgage Professional (find one and they will lead to the other).
and no you dint have to be pre Qualified, but a good agent with true merit will not work with you until you do the necessary things to bring you to the best possible situation to buy a home. You want to work with a agent that is mindless, unstructured and willing to believe you know all that you need to know without a
shred of proof.
Now if I was a buyer I would look at the answers below and call a couple of Realtors. Three of them (you pick) are really good, most of the others answer are MINDLESS!!!!
I was simply stating that regardless of what agents expect, want or need, it is to a buyer's advantage to get pre-approved.
The short answer to your question is no.
But as has been suggested below somewhat, the main reason sellers list their home with realtors is that, as professionals, we will bring qualified buyers into their homes. Years ago, (longer than 5 years), we used to pre-qualify the buyers ourselves, not use mortgage brokers, to be able to help buyers know what they can afford and not show them homes they cannot afford. Today, it is alot easier on us, with mortgage brokers, who know the current mortgage market in Florida, doing the pre-approving, not just qualifying, the buyers to give sellers the warm and fuzzy feeling that the buyers coming into their homes can truly afford to purchase their home. In addition, this pre-approving also gives the buyers a warm and fuzzy feeling that they can comfortably afford the homes they are looking at. So it is a win-win situation. I am sure as a seller yourself, you do not want people wandering thru your home that cannot afford it. So as a buyer, knowing what you can afford, you may not want to go the to your maximum affordablity, will help you in your decision making for your new home here in Florida.
Please let me know if we can assist you with your relocation to Florida, including quality mortgage brokers to talk to, up to date listings thru an MLS feed, our valuable knowledge of the area and the use of a Team at your fingertips.
The Szydlowski Team
Future Home Realty
The question was does Karen NEED to get a Pre-Approval to get Agents to show her properties....I say it's (getting a approval) is a choice (like voting Republican) perhaps wise, perhaps not, but still a choice.....
Are there Agents who will show Karen properties when she visits without getting a Pre-Approval?
I'm saying Yes there are and while pre-approvals may be the preference for some Agents it is certainly not a Requirement for Karen if she wishes to view properties in the Dunedin area......
Am I wrong? Does the Dunedin Area have a (No agents will show homes unless you are Pre-Approved policy) or is it just what some Agents prefer?
The question is not about the wisdom of getting pre-approved first, it's about if Karen is Required to get pre-approved to view properties......
The answer in my opinion is NO she is not required to and the decision to get one at this time is hers and hers alone....
If Karen checks around will she find an Agent to show her properties without a pre-approval...Absolutely!
It is to your advantage:
You can look at houses knowing what you can comfortably afford and that you are set to go the instant you want to make an offer.
If this Forum is any gauge some Agents say they will not show homes unless the Buyer gets pre-approved and others say they require no pre-approval. That is their choice of how to do business and they are perfectly free to make that choice.
The thing to remember is you are the Consumer (The person deciding who to do business with) and YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED to get pre-approved unless YOU decide that's what you wish to do...
YOU choose the Agent you work with, they do not choose you and if you feel no need to get pre-approved but if you want to view properties then call some Agents and you'll find plenty willing to show them to you.....
When you select an Agent remember who helped you and who did not so YOU can choose wisely who you wish to work with.....Plenty of Agents scrambling for clients, call around or email a few.
It sounds like at this point you'd just like to look around a bit while you're vacationing in March since anything you might find now would more than likely be off the market when you're ready to make the move. My office is in Clearwater, literally a stone's throw from Dunedin so you're on my home turf. I'd be happy to sit down & discuss things with you when you come for a visit. I can print our or email you some listings & take you to see a few just to give you a flavor for what you'd get for your money.
You can reach me at 727-451-8773 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org. Jim Moran, Broker Associate- Prudential Tropical Realty
Also, if you are pre approved, when you go to purchase something, it could give you an advantage over someone who has not yet been pre approved. With a pre approval, you have started the process and most likely paid application fees, had credit pulled etc. It shows sellers that you are ready to go and are able to purchase what you are looking at. If you have nothing or just a pre qualification letter, then sellers may not take you as seriously.
Since you are moving from Maine, it's obvious that you are just beginning your search and most likely looking for ideas on price and area. I would explain your situation to any agent that you choose to look with. They will still show you properties, but the will understand that you are just trying to find out what you get for the money and what options you may have at this time. This way you will find an agent that really wants to help you and not just sell you a house. Good Luck
My question to you would be: Why would you want to look at homes for sale in March if you can't buy until May? Assuming, of course, that you will require the sale of your Maine property in order to purchase here.
Homes which are currently listed for sale are looking for ready, willing and able buyers right now, not three months from now--can you imagine how frustrating it would be once you have your own proeprty on the market if you had dozens of people looking at it who could not buy for several months?
These are the reasons that any good Realtor will require some form of proof that you are a serious buyer, and anyone who is a serious buyer will have some form of documentation.
What I would suggest is that you interview several Realtors who work with buyers in the area you are shopping, and choose one you bond with and fell you can trust--this way they can get to know you and your needs and shop for you once you've gone back to the cold country!
Hope this helps--feel free to sign up for a free search on my website!
Do not wait to out your house up for sale. Put it up as soon as possible. It will likely make you a quicker and higher sale than if you wait. Next year, it probably will not make sense to list early, but this is a unique time in real estate due to the bribes... err... incentives to get people to buy sooner.
It would be even better for you to find a Real Estate agent who is also a Mortgage Boker. They will prequalify you and get your housing preferences in one easy step. Plus they will be in a better position to negotiate the contract with the perticulars of your lending needs in mind.
I am a Real Estate Angent and also a Mortgage broker and will be able to help you do both in one easy step!
Call me so I can tell you more:
Faith Home Loans
800-801-6080 (outside of FL)
Or, to prequalify for a loan you can goto: http://www.faithhomeloans.com/express.html
Also, it is sometimes required to go with an offer on a home, but ALLWAYS a good idea to
have with offer.
A Realtor can show you ALL the listings, you don't have to change Realtors - just find you one and he/she
can show you everything in the area.
If you drift you looking a little to the East (Lake, Sumter county) I would be happy to help you around there.