Buyers, skip the pre-qualification letter and go straight to the pre-approval letter.

Buyers, skip the pre-qualification letter and go straight to the pre-approval letter. A pre- qualification letter is the minimum you will need to put a contract on a house, but you would be wise to skip that process altogether and sit with a lender and get pre-approved for a loan.

In the post-2008 real estate meltdown, home-sellers and banks selling foreclosures and short sales want to know that you’re truly qualified to buy a property before they agree to accept your offer. There is no reason to take a property off the active market if the buyer isn’t actually qualified to buy it.

A pre-qualification is likely your lender’s first contact with you. During that conversation, the lender will make an assessment of your buying power through a series of questions. Based upon what you tell him/her, he or she will make a preliminary assessment of your financial viability. Granted, it is only a preliminary assessment.

The pre-approval will require documentation, confirmation of income, savings and the capacity to buy. It’s the next step in the home-buying process, but you can make it the first step with your lender. When a real estate offer to purchase is delivered to a home-seller or a bank, the difference between the two letters will be big. A buyer who can prove he is qualified will be granted more consideration than one who might be able to buy.

So, do yourself a favor and skip the pre-qualification letter and go straight to the pre-approval letter. If the market heats up and bidding wars become the norm, you’ll be ahead of those bidders who are only offering similar contracts with a pre-qualification letter only.

Buyers, skip the pre-qualification letter and go straight to the pre-approval letter.


My Ten Promises to My Real Estate Clients

When I work with a client, whether it’s a buyer or seller, there are certain promises I can make that I never deviate from. Real estate, like any profession, has it’s high points and its low points. There are companies and agents who operate like true pros throughout the entire process, and there are those who are looking for a fast check for a limited amount of work.

I believe that second group is the minority, but they get a lot of attention when they abuse their clients, and that makes all of us look bad. When I work with a client, I can promise:

  • I will always be honest. That means, if I think a lowball offer doesn’t stand a chance of succeeding, I will tell you. I will still write the contract if you insist, but I will caution you before it’s submitted. I will also tell you what I think you need to do to sell your house for the maximum amount.
  • I will steer you to the best professional services I’m aware of to get your repairs and upgrades done. I will only steer you to people I have found to be honest, professional and a good value for the service. My license prohibits me from sending you to service providers who will kickback money to me. So, that means I have nothing to gain from recommending a service provider to you except to see you get the best service possible for the money. I rate my recommendations on three criteria. First, they must be honest. Second, they must be skilled, and third, they must provide a good service for the money.
  • I will always work hard to get you the best deal. That means I will do everything possible to get you the most money for your sale. I will also do what I can to make sure you spend the least amount of money for your purchase. If a property is overpriced, I will tell you before you make an offer. I will do the same thing if you try to overprice your property.
  • I will make every effort to educate you through the entire process. I know that Realtor-ese can be confusing at times. My goal is to make sure you know what’s going on at all times. I only ask that if you don’t understand something that you ask for clarification. I’m happy to give it.
  • I will keep you up to date as much as possible as things unfold. You’ll need to let me know what level of communication you want when we begin. If nothing is happening, I may not call you and tell you that nothing is happening, but if that makes you feel better, I will.
  • I will point out things that I think you need to consider when looking at a house. Since I am also a Virginia Contractor, I have no concerns about telling you if I see construction issues that need to be considered. A cracked foundation may be settling cracks, or they may be something more serious. If I see something, I will likely say something. I want your home-buying experience to end with a great deal, not a great deal of headaches.
  • I will protect you from unscrupulous sellers, buyers, agents, lenders and closing companies. If I think someone is trying to take advantage of you, I will tell you. I’ve learned a lot of tricks over 20 years as a real estate investor. I can pick them up with little effort when I see someone else trying to use them to manipulate you throughout a deal.
  • I will recommend the best lenders and best closing agents if you need that guidance. Here again, I use the best. The professionals I recommend, I also use for my own personal business needs. If I trust them, you can trust them.
  • I will answer or return your calls, return your emails and respond to your texts as quickly as possible. I am not an abscentee agent once we sign a few documents. You can contact me anytime if you need something.
  • I will always look out for your best interests. Your success is my success. I take it very personal when you trust me with your real estate needs, and I will do everything in my power to see that your experience is the very best I can provide.

The real estate business is a pretty diversified business, but it is still a people and service business. It is always my goal to see that my clients get the very best service they can because they are always the very best people.

My Ten Promises to My Real Estate Clients

Sellers, take this test before listing your home.

Before you list your house, let me challenge you to a test. One of the biggest difficulties to selling a house is emotion. Over the course of living in a home, memories are formed, events take place, upgrades are completed and the house becomes a part of who you are. You tend to associate your home with who you are.

That’s good and bad. If you have great tastes and you have the ability and resources to renovate and improve a house with class and style you may actually turn a plain vanilla house into a decadent delight. But, that doesn’t mean you will get a return on all of your handy work. Actually, you may only spend money that you will never get back. Then again, you may reap a sizable reward depending on where and how that time and money was spent.

My test for you is this, walk through your house as if you were going to buy it. As anviewunbiased buyer, you have nothing invested in the property. It is a blank canvas to you. There is no emotion as you cross the threshold of the door. It’s someone else’s home, and you’re looking at it as a home-buyer.

Would the colors make you want to paint, or would you be satisfied with them? Would that scratch on the hardwood floors turn you on or off? Would you want to immediately update the kitchen, bath or master bedroom? Would the unfinished basement make you want to start hammering studs into place? Would you love the views? Or, would you want to cut down those overgrown bushes out front?

A buyer doesn’t know the blood sweat and tears you’ve put into your home, and the truth is, they don’t care. It’s not personal for them. The improvements you made are something you did for your own pleasure, and a buyer may come in and undo them for their pleasure. Selling a house is a matter of separating emotions from realities. Sold comparibles in an area are a better predictor of a sales price than the love you put into a house. Look at your house as an unemotional buyer. Now, what do you see?

Sellers, take this test before listing your home.