Do you need to be pre-qualified to look at homes?
Here's your answer?
Yes, you should be
Do you have to be? No . . . Many agents will not ask (even though they should) and there are ways to look at homes without being pre-qualified, like open houses. In fact, builders typically hold their new construction homes open several days a week and agents commonly hold open houses on the weekends, or maybe a different day in your area.
There is one simple dynamic that I want to be clear about here: when you want to work with an agent and go out and see homes then you should be prepared to buy a home. A major part of that financial preparedness is determining IF you can purchase the home and speaking with a lender or a bank or someone that has the ability to loan money for the purchase IS the way you determine that.
A pre-approval (or prequalification - often used synonymously even though they're slightly different) is often not much more than a conversation with someone "in the know" in banking. This conversation can be only a few minutes long and in it they will verify details about your income, approximate debt levels and overall financial picture. In light of that conversation the lender will be able to tell you, "well, based on what you've provided and the guidelines that guide a conventional loan or an FHA loan or a VA loan or a USDA loan, (whichever loan product is particularly beneficial for you), the guidelines say that as long as your credit score is this and your debt to income is this then you could qualify for this."
This is critically important even though it is not completely necessary in order to get some dopey agent to show you a home (meaning you will find real estate agents that will drive you all around any town you want and show you homes based on the idea that they might earn a commission off of it.) It is not serving you or guiding you well to do so.
Circling back to ur beginning . . . yes, you need a pre-approval or a pre-qualification before going to see homes.
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