So you’re ready to go house hunting. First step? Find an agent you are comfortable with and is knowledgeable about the area and the market. Second step? Get a pre-approval from your bank or mortgage broker. But it is important to understand what your pre-approval is and what it isn’t. Even the best pre-approval can only approve you but not the property that you have yet to find.
What a Pre-Approval Does
A pre-approval should do two basic things:
1) let you know how much of a mortgage you will qualify for based on your income, down payment and credit score
2) hold a rate for you, usually for between 90 to 120 days. However, this can vary from lender to lender so make sure to read the fine print.
What No Pre-Approval Can Do
Even the best pre-approval will not necessarily mean that your purchase will be approved. Occasionally some physical characteristic of the property may put the lender off (a former grow-op, location, etc). Often the lender will look to an appraiser to value the property to ensure that it falls within the mortgage amount you are requesting.
How to Protect Yourself
Find out as much as you can about the property and its history before putting in the offer. Always put a financing condition in your offer, even for a couple of days. Once you sign a firm offer and hand over the deposit cheque you are committed to buying that property. It can be a shock to then find out that that your lender doesn’t like the property or that you need to find a bigger down payment. Pre-approvals are a great thing to have in your home hunters tool kit but make sure that you understand their uses and their limitations. Get good advice upfront to avoid any surprises later.
Getting pre-approved is essential when looking for a home. Not only will it have you looking at the right properties that fall into your price range but can also make writing up an offer easier as your bank or broker is already aware of your finances so now only has to focus on the choice you've made. Nothing is more disappointing than finding a great property to realize that it does not fall within your budget. Pre-approval is also ideal as then you are not tying up a property that you are not eligible for. A property can be stigmatized to other buyers that are looking as it is considered an "accepted offer" as you go through your subjects including the finances. Another situation that we come across in our area, is multiple offers. If you are pre-approved, you have a much better chance of having your offer accepted as opposed to not even working with a lender yet.
So if you need assistance or are wondering what direction to start looking, give me a call and we can talk about the different lenders that are out there and start setting you up on a search for properties that fall within your budget. A little bit of pre-planning can go a long way to settling in to your new home.