Home Buying in Modesto>Question Details

Cherise, Other/Just Looking in Modesto, CA

Why can't I look at a house before I decide I want it and then get prequalified?

Asked by Cherise, Modesto, CA Mon Sep 22, 2008

Okay, I'm hoping a real estate agent will answer this question for me. It seems that I have been unable to even look at a property unless I have my prequalification papers in hand. Isn't it putting the cart before the horse, I may not even be interested once I've seen the property but, that doesn't seem to matter. I planned on getting qualified if I liked the property , but it seems I'm not able to see the home in question. I believe I am not the only potential buyer that feels this way and agents who insist on prequalification before showing homes are turning people away and losing sales.

Help the community by answering this question:


I can somewhat understand the practice a few year's back when the market was hot.

Nowadays, with prices seemingly falling each month, foreclosures flooding the market and a limited pool of interested buyers... doesn't make too much sense. Unless the home owner requested or agreed to those terms with their agent.

I'm curious if seller agents disclose the fact they won't show to non-prequalified prospective buyers. If I was a seller in this market, I wouldn't be thrilled to find out possible leads were being turned away (even acknowledging the fact a prequalified prospect represents a better lead).
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Ok lets look at it from one more angle. Years ago I got excited when someone wanted me to show some expensive homes. Chance for some big money. I was ready to jump in the car and go show these million+ dollar homes. Turns out buyer says he really likes one of the homes and will buy it with me as his agent in return for a sexual favor. Not only was he ugly, he was a man and I'm just not into that. I highly doubt he would have bought the house let only be qualified. Anyways I felt like a fool. I wasted a day. I learned a lesson, a big lesson. A lesson I hope nobody else has to go through. What a creep. Lady realtors... wow even tougher to go show a house at night to someone they don't know. Agents have been killed. I know a lady who almost went into a house with a man in the closet and a butcher knife. This is serious... agents need to know who they are dealing with. A good agent isn't prying into your business, they want to help you. They want to get you the best deal, they want to get the job done. If a client doesn't want me to help them 100% I have to wonder what their intentions are? (I want to clarify and make sure you know I don't think you have criminal intentions of any kind! The chances that someone shows a home to someone bad is slim, but a possibility that needs to be eliminated.) Pre-qualifyng is taught in realtor classes, it is in books, it's taught by brokers, by experienced agents, and its in statistics... yet agents still don't all do it. You have to wonder why would someone take a chance with out knowing any details. No commission is worth it. Agents are asked to work 24/7 as it is and need to take pride in not only doing their jobs, but in having some personal time, family time, free time etc. So an agent that would work with anyone without any knowledge of the client... Do they not have any business? Do they not know what they are doing? Are they a gambler? Then you have to ask is that the agent I want representing me?? 2% of the realtors do 90 some percent of the business. You can bet they pre qualify clients. Any realtors out there reading this want to make it to the 2% crowd??, then do what they do!! Best of luck agents, go sell, sell, sell. Mari, I do hope you find a great home too! Happy house hunting. Glen
Web Reference: http://www.maui4rent.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Sylvia Barry,

I appreciate your response, I would have to say that after being shown a few houses it would make sense that it's time to get prequalified.

I will bet you are getting more referrals and making more sales by being more flexible with your clients and showing homes without requiring prequalification. As you said, it is more than just having paperwork in hand, it is a matter of establishing a relationship with each other. First impressions are lasting, I personally don't want to work with an agent who is inflexible from the start - to me it is a glimpse of things to come. In the past, agents would show a home if you were interested and they still made their commission.

Thanks again
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008

As I have stated, I have purchased homes in the past and never had agents ask me to prequalify before they would show me the house. Your answers don't make much sense, as I stated - I now have an agent who not only showed me the home in question but, who I am meeting with again this week so, he can show me a few more.

There are no guarantees with potential buyers, even ones who have been prequalified. It doesn't mean that the first house you show them is going to be the house they want to buy and that is my point. The agents who make stipulations before I even see a home are not going to get my business. An agent may have to show many homes to a client before making a sale, that is not "jumping through hoops" - it is part of the job. It's not my problem if you don't understand that, it seems to me that you're the one with the attitude.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Hi Mari:

I will personally show somebody a home even if he/she is not pre-approved. This is against a lot of Realtor's instinct, but I do that.

I think a customer has some idea about what they can and/or want to afford and definitely have some ideas about what they might want and will go and look at those homes they found that might interest them.

When I show them the house, this will be a great opportunity for me to get to know them, to find out their specific situation - financial, family situation, wants, needs, commute requirement, time frame, etc. After showing them a few homes then I would really want to have them go and get pre-approved.

By then, it will become obvious whether their search criteria is realistic or not and they can then fine-tune the searches according to the situation they have.

It's easier if they are overqualified, but it's much harder if they can't afford the house even if they work on it for a period of time - it will then truly become a waste of time for both parties.

That's why you would want to be pre-approved, perhaps not when you see the first house, but after a few. And that is definitely reasonable to ask.

Sylvia Barry
Marin Realtor
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
Congrat's on finding a good agent who will work for you.

In recent years anyone with a pulse could qualify for a loan. Therefore, it's a shock to many would be forclosures that they won't qualify for that half million dollar home on $30k/year. The problem is that real estate agents, brokers, and the rest of them spent the last 5 years screaming from every outlet they could find that people not only would qualify, but could afford it. Now, when a responsible buyer with a budget doesn't want to go jump through hoops (yea buyers markets) , the agents don't want to miss a rerun episode of Biggest Loser. The agent wants to make sure it's not one of those people they told last year to come look at that house. You did the right thing by finding an agent that met your goals.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008

My question has already been answered, there's no need for you to go on and on anymore. Let's just agree to disagree okay? Thank you!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 23, 2008
Glen made some excellent points.

In addition to the safety issue, he also pointed out that asking about pre-qualification is taught in class and by an agent's mentors in this field. It is not a SOP because the goal of agents is to alienate potential clients.
It is an SOP because experience has proven it to be a useful tool.

It is not a lack of flexibility. And it does not bode poorly for the relationship with the agent. It shows that the agent wants to know you are serious and tells the agent how to best find you the home you want & can afford.

Showing homes is not like selling cars on a lot - not even close. There is so much more work and time involved. Work, as Glen pointed out, that cuts across all hours and cuts into time with family & friends. And don't forget the out of pocket expenses of driving all over town. Of course, this is part of the job, but an agent has every right to make sure these sacrifices are being made for a serious buyer.

I just cannot understand impatience and hostility over being asked about pre-qualification. And how is it not someone's best interest to get pre-qualified early in the game?

Agents provide a professional service. They are not professional servants. Of course, they work for their clients, but they have the same rights as their potential clients to set parameters.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 23, 2008
Hi Mari:

Thank you for the confidence vote. I do have to say that I have been blessed with wonderful clients even in this market. And especially in this market, we all have to work extra hard.

Glen - I completely agree with you on the safety issue and really appreciate that you mentioned it - I would be amiss otherwise.

However, Mari's question is about whether an agent should show a house to a buyer if the buyer has not been pre-qualified yet, not whether an agent should show a house to a complete stranger and/or under potential dangerous situation. Safety issue when showing houses is a completely different question then the one Mari posted.

I will only show somebody homes under safe situation. As you said, nothing is worth risking that!

0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Sylvia Barry,…, Real Estate Pro in Marin, CA
What is unclear about my anwers? There are sound reasons why an agent would not show you homes. Even Sylvia Barry said it was against a lot of Realtors' instincts to show homes to someone who hasn't pre-qualified yet.

In the past, maybe agents didn't ask about pre-qualification because (as Jared pointed out) anybody with a pulse could get a loan. Agents did not have to worry about buyers pre-qualifying and now they do.

With tighter lending standards, people are not going to qualify for the large loans they could have five years ago. Not all buyers realize it yet, especially if they haven't pre-qualified.

I don't understand why a buyer would get upset by being asked about pre-qualification.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
I'm not an agent.

However, I do not think it is insulting for an agent to ask you if you have already pre-qualifed and for what amount. The only way they can do their job properly and efficiently is if they know what price range to show you.

If you have an agent show you homes that you do not qualify for, you are wasting his or her time and the seller's time.

If I were an agent, I would ask a potential client if they were pre-qualified. It's the basic, common sense starting. Would it be a deal-breaker if they weren't? Only if they got upset that I asked.

There is no reason for you to be so upset that agents won't show you properties. My guess is that the reason agents are turning you away in this market has to do more with your attitude than the missing paperwork.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Thank you all for your answers. Update: I finally found an agent that showed me the property in question without requiring that I provide prequalification papers prior.

Cassellis, your response:

" Responsibile home buyers go through the basic steps before asking agents and sellers to jump through hoops for them"

was a little ridiculous. I am not asking anyone to jump through hoops, I just wanted to see one property that's all. I liken it to going to a car lot where you are looking for a car - are you going to be okay with the car dealer asking you to provide proof that you can buy the car before they'll show it to you? Of course not, that is ridiculous too.

By the way, I am already a home owner, and in the past the real estate agents I have dealt with never insulted me by asking me to provide proof that I can buy the house before I have even seen it. I am currently looking to buy another house as an investment. Thankfully, I have found a helpful agent , I am very glad I am not doing business with you especially if you think showing homes (which is your job) is jumping through hoops.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
This practice is even more necessary in today's market because of the tighter lending standards. Will a buyer actually pre-qualify for the loan amount he or she want? How would they know without speaking with a lender and doing the paperwork?

Responsible home buyers go through the basic steps before asking agents and sellers to jump through hoops for them.

While it is fun to shop, stick to open houses until you get pre-qualified.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Hi Mari,

Although you may consider this process as putting the cart before the horse, you will love your agent for insisting on having you prequalified since in real estate "time is of the essence", once you made an offer on the property- the seller represented by the listing agent is expecting that you can continue to escrow once you make an offer and that escrow will close on time with no problem. The single hurdle for a buyer to consummate the sale is the having your loan approved but since you are done with that process, then you are 75% home free in closing your escrow successfully.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
I can understand why agents won't show you property without prequalificatin paperwork.

1. How do they know you are serious & aren't just window shopping? Previewing & showing homes is a time-consuming task. And if you are not truly serious you are wasting the time of a lot of people.

2. How do they know what price range you qualify for, not just what you think you qualify for?

3. If a potential client seemed hostile about simply getting the pre-qualification paperwork, I'd be worried that they may be the kind of client who is unfocused, undecided, and likely to back out at the last minute.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
Hey Mari, Good question. Unfortunately from just looking at a person it's next to impossible to know if they are qualified financially. Good realtors will always have several clients they are working with at any one time and want to give them each 100% service. It takes a lot of time to do that. If I go spend time on other people that I don't know, I might pick up a new client. (From experience I never see the just looking potential buyer again.) However, if I do spend that time, it takes away from those that I know want to use my service. Many of whom are repeat clients and clients that send me referals because I have done such good work for them in the past. So those are the people I prefer to work with. It sounds like you have been in contact with good realtors that are busy and know what they need to do. Why not get qualified and be ready to work with one of them? Good realtors many times know of upcoming listings and if it matches your criteria you might be the first to know. Lots of good deals out there and if you can move fast you might pick one up.

Best of luck in your search. Glen
Web Reference: http://www.maui4rent.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Sep 22, 2008
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