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Buyer Alert: Pre-Approval Letters Being Required To Tour A Home

Many home sellers are trying to limit how many people walk through their properties due to the pandemic. As a result, more real estate professionals are suggesting sellers limit in-person tours to only buyers who can show they’ve been pre-approved for a mortgage.

A pre-approval letter is a written offer from a lender that tentatively approves them for a mortgage and also shows how much they are allowed to borrow.

“Having a pre-approval letter has long been a preferred requirement by agents when submitting an offer, but having a pre-approval letter before looking at homes given the COVID-19 environment is an absolute must,” Cara Ameer, a real estate professional with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., told Money. “Sellers and listing agents are cautious about who is coming into their homes, and they want to ensure that only those that are truly qualified are coming through their doors.”

Many home sellers are asking for pre-approval letters, but some also may accept pre-qualification letters too. A pre-qualification letter is a less involved process where a lender verbally asks for an overview of a buyer’s finances instead of like a pre-approval where they review all supporting documentation, like pay stubs, federal tax returns, W-2s, down payment funds, and more. As such, mortgage pre-approvals tend to carry more weight with home sellers than a pre-qualification.

If real estate agents are going to present pre-approval letters prior to showings, they must then ask all their buyers to provide proof, says Bryan Greene, director of fair housing policy at the National Association of REALTORS®. “We’ve seen situations where agents don’t appear to apply that requirement consistently,” he told Money. That could raise potential fair housing issues.

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Sources: Realtor Magazine, and House Hunters Now Need Pre-Approval Letters to Walk in the Door. What the Trend Means for Buyers, Sellers, and Agents,” (July 6, 2020)

"Copyright NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Reprinted with permission."

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