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Can I Look At A House Without Pre-Approval?

February 16, 2022


Min Read
Couple with real estate agent.

Do you have to have a pre-approval to look at a house? Not necessarily.

A mortgage pre-approval is only there so that you're better prepared and ready when you do find that dream home. It's best to get one sooner rather than later, though, as you get deeper into your search. Let's look into the pre-approval process.




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A Pre-Approval Letter

A pre-approval letter from your lender is a document that states they're willing to give you a loan of a certain amount of money. It is a stamp of approval that says you have good credit and are in a secure financial position to buy a house. Not only does it let you breathe easier when looking, but also your real estate agent and sellers. They will know that you mean business.

While a pre-approval letter isn't a binding contract, it does allow you to move faster when you're ready to buy a house. You can make an offer immediately, whereas buyers without one potentially lose opportunities while waiting for their approval.

To get a pre-approval letter, you will work with your lender to submit a mortgage application. They will go over all of your financial documents and verify that you are indeed in good standing. Once you're approved, you will receive your letter from your lender. You will have about 60-90 days to use this money.

A Big Help

We know that being pre-approved will make the house-hunting process easier. Real estate agents will know you're serious, you may be able to see more homes, and you can make offers immediately once you have found the one you love. Here are a few more ways a pre-approval letter can be helpful.

  • The sellers trust that you're financially stable and therefore a legitimate potential owner
  • You're completely aware of how much you can afford
  • Making an offer is way easier
  • You have a leg up against those who aren't pre-approved
  • Empowering when negotiating with sellers

Is There a Downside?

Like anything in life, there are a few potential cons if pre-approved too early.

  • You may feel obligated to stick with your lender through the whole process, although you aren't. You can always switch if you find better rates and offers with someone else. It just becomes a bit more work.
  • A pre-approval letter doesn't ensure that you get the full loan when all is said and done.
  • There is an expiration date.
  • Your credit score may be slightly affected as a hard inquiry will appear on your credit report.  

Real Estate Agents and Being Pre-Approved

You do not have to have a letter of pre-approval to work with most real estate companies. However, some prefer it and might require that you do. Here's why:

  • It shows sellers that you are, indeed, a serious buyer.
  • It allows real estate agents to make an offer on your behalf, as they've already been provided with all the financial information that's needed.
  • It decreases the likelihood that you will have to pull out of a sale for financial reasons.

It's best to research which real estate agent you would like to work with and see their policy on being pre-approved. You want to be upfront and honest to ensure a smooth working relationship, so they know if you won't pre-approved before looking.

Do remember, though, that getting pre-approved will for sure speed up your process of moving into a new home. Getting pre-approved can take one to several days, so it's best to be ready to pounce if you're looking to move quickly.

To be Pre-Approved or Not to Be...

All in all, being pre-approved seems to outweigh (quite a bit) not being pre-approved. Think of the pre-approval letter like a VIP ticket to cut a very long line. Real estate agents and sellers both respond well to it. Most importantly, you, the potential buyer, will respond well to it. Being pre-approved allows you to understand all of your finances and what you can honestly afford and honestly cannot. It narrows down the search, making for faster and more efficient house-hunting. When it's time to make the offer, you will be way ahead of the game.  


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