Early last week, I got a call from a friend of a friend who was interested in a home he saw on his way to work.  He asked me to show it to him, and I agreed.  We’d met a few times before, so I knew of this person and I’ll usually show a home to someone once before getting a buyer’s agency agreement, because I don’t really know if the buyer would be a good client for our real estate brokerage.

The First Showing

People tend to be surprised by the difference between when we work together as clients and when we know each other socially.  I’m pretty laid back with my friends and family; I’m all business when we work together as clients.  The first time I show a home with a potential client, we go over what we are supposed to be looking for when we look at a house.  We look up at the ceilings to check for previous leaks, we talk about one way to estimate potential repairs or costs quickly.  As we discuss these types of things I get a better sense of what the potential home buyer might be looking for, and they get a sense of who they are working with.  It’s a win-win situation.  If either of us decides that we don’t want to work with each other, we’ve lost a little bit of time, but nothing else.

The First Decision

Because I usually work with people who aren’t exactly real estate professionals, we talk about mortgages and how they work and I give them a list of potential St. Louis based lenders who I know have done a fine job in the past.  I leave the option of who to use up to the client.  I do explain that I only have a limited amount of time, just like everyone else on the earth, and that I can’t show any more houses until there is a lending preapproval letter.  And I mean that.  This can have a chilling effect on some potential homebuyers, but I’ve just seen too many real estate agents waste their time with homebuyers who never actually end up buying a home.

Why Get A Pre-approval When Looking To Buy A Home

My client learned the hard way why it is so important to get a mortgage pre-approval before we look at too many houses.  This weekend, he happened to be driving by an open house sign and decided to attend.  When he finished with the open house, he called me a few hours later to let me know that he’d seen a house and was interested in making an offer.  It was almost 10 p.m. on a Saturday night after we’d talked.  My home lenders are wonderful, but they aren’t getting out of bed for a pre-approval letter.  The next morning, I got in touch with one of the lenders.  As I was getting ready to set an appointment to see the house a second time and make a concrete decision on making a strong offer, disappointment struck.  The house was already under contract.  I now had to give my buyer client the bad news that this particular house wasn’t going to work out.

You Must Be Prepared When Looking To Buy A Home

Had my client gotten his mortgage preapproval letter when I’d asked him, we’d have saved hours, and it’s quite possible we would have been able to put together a solid offer to purchase that home.  You might think it’s ok to write an offer without a preapproval letter, but when there are multiple offers and homes are moving off the market quickly, it makes no sense to waste your time without getting a mortgage preapproval first.  This is part of the preparation to buy a home.  Even if you are just “thinking” about buying a home, and you don’t plan on buying anytime soon, you’d be surprised how many people end up like my buyers.  Found the perfect house, but not in a position to buy.