Why do agents ask about preapproval? – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

Log In

Reset Password

Why do agents ask about preapproval?

Dear Heather,

I just called up a real estate agent because I want to look at a house they have listed. Within minutes they asked me if I was preapproved. Why do sales agents do this?


Dear Buyer,

If you have never walked into an open house or called a real estate agent about a listing and been asked - within minutes - whether you are preapproved for a mortgage, then you have never walked into an open house or called an agent ... or at least not enough of them.

Just wait. It’ll happen, and you will most likely feel that it is pretty pushy for them to ask you that.

Matter of fact you may feel like it’s a joke, as in, who are they to be asking me that personal information about my finances? But in fact it’s no joking matter and here’s why:

Every single real estate agent should be asking you if you’re preapproved because it’s entirely relevant for them to know. They are not asking you how much money you’ve got or what your salary is, they are asking if you’ve done your homework on mortgages with the banks and if you know what your borrowing capability is or how much you are comfortable with carrying as a mortgage. The reason is, if you are going to start looking at houses, it’s very important for you to know.

It might come across as invasive. That may be because of how the agent asks the question or when the agent asks the question or simply because you don’t know that it’s a question that should be asked. Agents have different personalities. They all handle how they meet, greet and chat with customers in different ways. There’s no one way to “be”, as a real estate agent. If you are finding one agent’s manner is “too pushy” for your personality, seek out another agent who will probably get the job done but in a more gentle way that will be equally as efficient.

Agents aren’t asking you if you’re preapproved because they’re looking to size up how much you can spend.

They want and need to know that you are informed, serious and qualified to buy a house, so that they can show you the most suitable listings.

With nearly 500 houses on the market for sale at any given time they have to try and choose which ones might best suit your needs.

Real estate agents do need to make sure they’re working with someone who can actually buy a house.

They don’t get paid until and unless the person they’re working with buys a house.

So this is a matter of being careful about who they spend their time with. It might sound selfish, but you can’t fault them for that.

They’re in business. Nobody cuts them a paycheque and showing people houses is not a public service or charity work.

Working with someone who is preapproved doesn’t guarantee that they’re going to make any money but at least it’s an indication that the person they are working with can do something.

Agents also need to know how much you’re preapproved for in order to advise you as best they can. If you look at houses that are above your price range, you will then be very disappointed at any house that has a lower value, but is affordable for you.

Picture an agent showing you houses for weeks, and months.

You finally find “the one”, get all excited and want to make an offer only to find out that there’s no way you could it.

This leads to heartbreak and aggravation - for both of you.

It doesn’t do either of you any good to go through all of that only to find out you can’t afford the houses you were looking at or even buy one at all.

Worse is when you haven’t started your pre-approval process and someone else looks at the property who has their pre-approval in hand and makes the exact same offer.

The owner goes with their offer as they are ready to buy and you unfortunately lose out on the house of your dreams because, unlike them, you are not prepared.

So even if you have just started browsing for a home just a little bit, and haven’t gotten preapproved (yet) - at least expect the question. Don’t be offended when you’re asked. In fact, pay closer attention to the agents who do ask if you’re preapproved.

If they’re asking that question it’s a good sign that they are thorough and thoughtful about how they do their business.

That’s the type of agent you want to have on your side when you’re buying or selling a house - one who’s careful from the get-go; one who pays attention to the details; one who isn’t going to waste your time any more than their own or allow your heart to be broken when you fall in love with a house you can’t afford.

And if you want to get some really good attention and service from the best agents you come across, get preapproved before you start looking.

Let the agent know you’re preapproved before they even ask.

You’ll set yourself apart from almost every buyer the agent has ever met, and that will ensure that you receive great service.

•Heather Chilvers is among Coldwell Banker Bermuda Realty’s leading sales representatives. She has been working in real estate for 27 years. If you have a question for Heather, please contact her at hchilvers@brcl.bm or 332-1793. All questions will be treated in confidence. Read this article on Facebook: Ask Heather Real Estate

Relevant information: agents need to know if you've done your homework on mortgages with the banks and if you know what your borrowing capability is