Why Do Real Estate Agents Request a Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter?

Why Do Agents Request a Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter?

Are you frustrated because you want to look at homes, but every real estate agent wants a copy of your pre-approval letter first? Well, you’re not alone! Almost every single real estate agent is going to request a copy of a prospective buyer’s pre-approval letter prior to scheduling an appointment to look at homes.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Request a Buyer's Pre-Approval Letter

However, oftentimes buyers don’t understand why and feel providing this information isn’t necessary. Well, being pre-approved prior to looking at homes is a must, and here are the top 5 reasons why.

5 Reasons an Agent Request a Pre-Approval Letter

1. Qualified
Not all homebuyers who apply for a mortgage will be approved for one. Yes, you read that correctly, not every buyer is approved for a mortgage. Then there are some buyers who are approved but for an amount less than anticipated.

Long gone are the days when every buyer is approved for a loan whether they’re qualified or not. Lending guidelines have drastically changed and to say prospective buyers have to jump through hoops to be approved might be an understatement. The amount of documentation is significantly different than 15 years ago when almost zero documentation was required. Prospective buyers are now put through the wringer.

However, there is a bright side, now when a buyer is approved for a mortgage it’s unlikely they will be denied once the underwriting process is complete. So a buyer can confidently spend time and money on items like a home inspection, survey, and appraisal knowing they will be approved for a mortgage unless something catastrophic happens.

2. Affordability
Just because a buyer gets approved for a million-dollar loan doesn’t mean they can afford it. When getting pre-approved for a mortgage a lender will go over every loan program the buyer qualifies for. They will review the pros and cons of each program and help them determine the best loan program for them.

Mortgage Pre-Approvals - What You Need to KnowIn addition to providing the estimated monthly principal and interest payment, they will also review additional monthly expenses. Some of these expenses include property taxes, homeowners insurance, HOA fees, and/or assessments if they apply.

Sometimes these additional monthly expenses can be more than the principal and interest payment itself. So for those buyers who are using a mortgage calculator that only factors the mortgage amount, they may be shocked to find out that the estimated monthly payment is above what they can afford.

Once a buyer has all of the numbers they’ll be able to determine if they can truly afford a million-dollar home.

3. Terms
In order to submit an offer buyers need to know the terms they’ll be offering. If they’re not paying cash they’ll need to know what type of loan they’ll be obtaining. How much money they’ll be putting down? Whether or not they need seller concessions. Plus, how quickly the lender can clear contingencies and close.

Without being pre-approved for a mortgage a buyer can’t make a realistic offer based on these facts. However, let’s play devil’s advocate for a second. Say a buyer makes a million dollars a year, has no debt, and will be putting 50% down on a $300,000  home. Odds are they’ll easily get approved for a $150,000 mortgage, but do they know the terms and will they be acceptable? Once again these things need to be known upfront.

4. Sellers
Why Do Real Estate Agents Request a Buyers Pre-Approval Letter - Just Show Me the HomeA majority of home sellers have to go to great lengths to get their homes prepared for showings. Whether it’s making beds, scrubbing floors, or removing kids and pets it takes time and effort. So sellers, like agents, don’t want to waste their time with looky lou’s walking through their homes.

Occasionally some sellers will even require agents to provide a copy of the buyer’s pre-approval letter before they’ll even schedule an appointment. While a buyer might be extremely qualified and be able to obtain a mortgage without question, a seller doesn’t know this.

This is one of the many reasons why listing agents will often ask for a pre-qualification letter when offers are submitted. They want to know whether a buyer is qualified to purchase the property.

5. Loyalty
Unless a buyer is purchasing a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) the only way they’ll be able to view homes is through a Real Estate Agent. Some buyers are committed to working with one agent while others will work with multiple agents. Since real estate agents only get paid when they successfully sell a home they want to make sure they are working with a ready, willing, and able buyer. The way most agents determine this is through a pre-approval letter.

Most pre-approval letters include the lender’s contact information. Along with the buyer’s name, current address, the loan program, and the amount they are approved for. While this isn’t extremely private information, like a person’s social security number, it is private enough that buyers aren’t going to hand it to just anyone.

Typically when a buyer has good intentions and plans on using the agent assisting them they’ll happily provide their pre-approval letter upfront. However, if a buyer is hiding something or has bad intentions they probably won’t. It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to request a showing on a $400,000 home when they’re only approved for $300,000.

It’s also not uncommon for buyers to contact other agents even though they already have one. The buyer’s unwillingness to provide a pre-approval letter doesn’t necessarily mean they have bad intentions. Although not providing one is certainly a red flag for most agents. Historically when a buyer is committed to working with one agent they will provide that agent with any information requested.

Final Thoughts

Looking at homes for sale prior to getting pre-approved for a mortgage is like putting “the cart before the horse.” Homebuyers don’t have to hire a lender and then a Realtor.

Although they need to get pre-approved before they even think about looking at homes for sale. In fact, they probably shouldn’t even search for homes online until they know what price point they are approved for and can afford. Looking at beautiful homes online can easily set buyers up for disappointment if they’re pre-approved for less. There are several steps to the home buying process, which is why a buyer needs to hire a top Realtor and Lender to guide them through the process.

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Popular Pre-Approval Letter Questions
Wondering how to get a pre approval letter? Getting a pre-approval letter isn’t as complicated as one may think. The first step is to reach out to a mortgage lender who will then provide a list of documents they need. These documents usually include tax returns, bank statements, and/or paycheck stubs. Once the lender has all of the information needed they’ll be able to determine if the person qualifies for a mortgage and if they do a mortgage pre-approval letter will be issued.

Can you buy a house for more than your pre approval? Yes, it could be possible to buy a house for more than the amount on your pre-approval letter. It ultimately depends on whether or not you’re qualified. Did your mortgage lender provide a pre-approval letter for your max loan amount? Was the letter based on a specific property? These are all questions you’d need to discuss with your lender.

Is a pre approval letter before seeing property required? A pre-approval letter may not always be required to view property but a majority of real estate agents will require one before scheduling an appointment to view homes.

Does your lender require a copy of your home inspection report? No, a lender typically doesn’t require a copy of the home inspection report. However, an appraisal may be required and the appraiser may note specific repairs that need to be made, repairs that may have been mentioned in the inspection report.

Is it illegal to forge a pre approval letter? Yes, forging a pre-approval letter is illegal, it’s considered fraud and could lead to fines, imprisonment, or both.

About the Author

Top Wellington Realtor, Michelle Gibson, wrote: “Why Do Real Estate Agents Request a Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter?.”

Michelle has been specializing in residential real estate since 2001 throughout Wellington Florida and the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking to buy, sell or rent she will guide you through the entire real estate transaction. If you’re ready to put Michelle’s knowledge and expertise to work for you call or e-mail her today.

Areas of service include Wellington, Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, West Palm Beach, Loxahatchee, Greenacres, and more.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Request a Buyer’s Pre-Approval Letter?

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Michelle Gibson Wellington Florida REALTORMichelle Gibson of the Hansen Real Estate Group Inc is a full-time REALTOR who has been specializing in Wellington Florida real estate since 2001. This veteran of the real estate industry has expertise in technology, marketing, and social media.


Hansen Real Estate Group Inc. is a full-service real estate brokerage specializing in residential real estate. As a customer-focused, quality organization, we achieve success one client at a time. Call 561-333-0446 or e-mail me today at [email protected].

Michelle Gibson and Hansen Real Estate Group Inc fully support the principles of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Accessibility Statement


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