Christina Fo…, Home Buyer in

Pre-Approval Before Finding an Agent?

Asked by Christina Fortney, Tue Jan 1, 2013

Hi, about a year ago, I had an informational conversation with the bank to find out how much roughly they would lend my husband and I to get a sense of how much home we could afford. We are planning to start looking for our first home - and I know that we should get formally pre-approved for a mortgage (especially since our financial situation has changed in the past year), but I am confused about the order of things. If we get pre-approved for a mortgage before contacting a real estate agent and it only lasts 60 days, wouldn't we have to go through the pre-approval process again if we don't find an agent and a home in that time period? Is that complicated to do? Are there any disadvantages to it?

Should we have preliminary conversations with agents first based on the number our bank gave us last year - and then get a formal pre-approval before looking for homes? Thanks, in advance.

Help the community by answering this question:


Good afternoon Christina,

First steps:

Meet with a Local Mortgage Banker to get prequalified for mortgage financing. The Mortgage Banker will review all facets of your loan request to answer your questions with regards to the types of loans and maximum loan amounts you could qualify for.

Get a referral to a good, local, real estate attorney. Call the attorney, retain the attorney so you have her information handy when you make an offer. Having that information at time of offer helps you demonstrate to the Seller how serious you are, and they will consider your offer with more interest.

Line up a Home Inspector. A good home inspector will scare the heck out of you: that's what you pay him for! But you'll concentrate on the fundamentals of the property: roof free of leaks, plumbing, heating and electrical up to code and in good working order. Again, when you make an offer and you have your Home Inspector ready to go, your offer will be considered with much more interest by a Seller because you truly have your "ducks in a row" and your preparation demonstrates your serious attitude about conducting the purchase transaction in a timely manner.

Find an experienced Local Realtor who works in your desired shopping area. A serious pro Realtor will refuse to show you homes until you are Prequalified for mortgage financing. Don't take offense! That Realtor doesn't want you to be disappointed and wants you to have a smooth experience as you shop for your new home.

Put together your Team of real estate professionals and shop 'til you drop!

Trevor Curran
NMLS #40140
Mobile: 516-582-9181
Office: 516-829-2900
Fax: 516-829-2944
PowerHouse Solutions, Inc.
1010 Northern Blvd. Suite 234
Great Neck NY 11021
Licensed Mortgage Banker – NYS Dept. of Financial Services

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Apr 26, 2013
Get your preapproval....FULL preapproval. A really top agent will not work with buyers who do not have one...only by the full preapproval will you really know your price line.

If you find a home you love and then have to start the preapproval process, you may find that it is not there when you are ready for serious bidding.

Feel free to give me a call anytime and I will be happy to walk you through the entire process. I have been teaching real estate for years and love to share can be a scary process, but does not have to.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 3, 2013
Thanks everyone! Appreciate your insight.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Jan 2, 2013
Definitely contact a local lender. You can find a lender and agent at the same time, and a lender will be happy to update that pre-qual for you with ease.

Bottom line: you're going to need that pre-qual before you can make an offer, as many listing agents require this. Also, a reputable local lender who does a thorough pre-qualification will make your offer much stronger than a pre-qual from a big bank that provides pre-quals based on verbal conversation.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
You could go either way on this. That is you could find an agent first and see what they recommend (they may recommend some good lenders for you to consider). Or if you know the lender you want to use you can go to them first. Most agents like buyers to have a pre-approval before showing them properties, because it means they are less likely to waste their time on a buyer who doesn't qualify. Although, if my clients seem educated, have talked to some lenders, and have good knowledge of their capabilities, then it doesn't bother me to show homes without a pre-approval.

Also, a pre-approval is quick and easy to get. If it expires you can always ask the lender for an updated pre-approval. I guess the bottom line is know what you can really afford before shopping too seriously. Linked below is a step by step guide through the buying process that may help you. Good luck!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
Thanks so much for your reply. Very helpful!
Flag Tue Jan 1, 2013
Be aware that a mortgage pre-approval letter is required in order to determine your price range and for any offers to be taken seriously, therefore it really should be your first step; why not be prepared...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
It's always a good idea to get pre approval letter first. This way you have a realistic idea what your budget is. If you already have a idea of how much you want to spend on a home you can always start looking then get pre approved. A pre approval letter can always be rushed and requested to complete fast if you happen to find a home quick. There is no prerequisite for having the pre approval letter when working with a real estate agent. However you almost always need a pre approval letter to accompany an offer on a home.
Please feel free to contact me directly with any further questions.
Linda K
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
Hi, As a buyers agent I always stress to my clients how important getting pre approved before looking at homes is. The banks lending standards change weekly and what worked last year may not this year. If you get pre approved now and are ready to commit when finding the right home, you will most likely find what you are looking for rather quickly. If you don't you lender can do a soft pull of your credit to update your pre approval lender. A soft pull doesn't really affect your score. Another thing to keep in mind is the credit bereaus will take into account that your credit pulls are all related to buying a home, so it's not as bad as you think.

In order to make an offer on a home you will need to have the pre approval letter. Waiting until you find a home may cost you the home because another buyer that has the letter already may get in before you. The letters are typically good for 60-90 days. I recommend Christian Babcock from Mortgage Master inc, they are a lending institution and and a broker (best of both worlds). it doesnt hurt to have conversations about your lifestyle and needs with an agent but until you have a range that a bank will lend you there won't be much to do. I hope this helps! happy New Year!


Christopher Pagli
Licensed Associate Broker
Accredited Buyer Representative
William Raveis Legends Realty Group
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
this is super helpful. thank you for your reply!
Flag Tue Jan 1, 2013
You are Okay:
True, your Pre-Approval letter would be dated, but this, alone, is not sufficient to Close the Escrow:
After ACCEPTANCE, you would go through the process of the actual LOAN APPROVAL for that particular piece of property at that particular PRICE.
So, you are Okay.
Next, you find a good Realtor to help.
Understand, that whereas this whole thing used to take 60 days, now it can take much longer.

What I do, is get the Pre-Approval, (say $300,000) and then, when you find that perfect house, for $275,000, I get another letter that specifies the $275,000.

Good luck and may God bless
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
One advantage of finding a good buyer broker first, is they can refer a good loan officer to you who they have used and are happy with the their work. You can search out a local and trusted loan officer on your own and then find an agent but having an agent to help you through the porcess may be easier especially if this is your first home. A pre-quailification is only a brief look at credit and verbally talking your income and expense. Once you find a home you will make full pallication where everything is verified. Some buyers choose to get pre-approved submitting this information up front so they only have to find a house.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Jan 1, 2013
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