The Main Reason for a Preapproval Letter

A stack of 700 francs from French Polynesia sits on my desk. Primarily because I can’t throw them away, and I don’t know what else to do with them. They are pretty much worthless. People who exchange money for a living don’t want them because they are coins. If I were back in Bora Bora, these 7 coins might buy me two diet Cokes. But here? Nuttin’. Just like some home buyer who wants to write an offer without a preapproval letter — that kind of purchase offer would be worthless, like my pile of francs.

Yet, I know that home buyers struggle with the issue of obtaining a preapproval letter. Heck, even my neighbor doesn’t understand why she should get a preapproval letter. She says when she finds a home she wants to buy, she’ll get a letter. This is why she might not ever buy a house, though. Because by the time she finds something to buy, there will be a dozen other home buyers wanting to buy the same house, and no seller in this market will accept an offer without a preapproval letter to accompany that offer. So, my neighbor is at a huge disadvantage. She doesn’t want to hear about the market in Sacramento or how to buy a home in Sacramento. She has her own ideas about how it’s done, none of which are working out very well for her.

After all, she only buys a new home once every 30 years. We Sacramento real estate agents write offers for clients every week. Real estate is our business. We want to help our clients not hinder them.

This is a seller’s market in Sacramento. No inventory. Lots of buyers. This market is very tough for buyers. It’s more important now than ever to get a preapproval letter before buying a home. Not only does it tell you how much you qualify for, which doesn’t mean you have to go for the max, btw, but it assures the seller you have the means to close. It says you are serious and not some lookie-loo. Besides, sellers don’t accept offers without a preapproval letter. The preapproval letter is not for your agent. It’s for the seller.

The question might be where does one get a preapproval letter from? For starters, it should be from the lender where one intends to get a loan. Moreover, it should be from a lender who can perform. The two aren’t necessarily the same. Lots of home buyers want to go to their own bank or their own credit union to get a loan, and that’s probably the worst place to go. The reason is there is no guarantee that their own lender will perform. They all have access to the same bag of money, basically, but some lenders guarantee performance and some do not.

Why is performance important? Because a purchase contract is typically written for 30 days. That means the buyer must close escrow within 30 days of the seller’s acceptance or the contract expires. If your bank can’t close on time, the seller has the right to cancel. And you know what? With prices going up, sellers are canceling contracts that have expired. Yup! I’ve had it happen twice when representing the seller. The other agent’s buyers struggled to close because of this or that or some other thing and asked for an extension. Instead, my sellers canceled. The buyers had no say at that point. The contract time period had expired and it was within the seller’s rights to cancel. Do you want to lose your home because your lender can’t close on time?

You might want to ask your agent for a couple of recommendations. Real estate agents know which lenders perform because they work with those same lenders over and over. In case you’re thinking that agents get kickbacks or some other kind of incentive to recommend a lender, think again. That’s against the law. The only reason for an agent to recommend a mortgage broker or lender is performance. Period.

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