Austin TX Real Estate - Hill Country Austin Lakeway Homes for Sale: As a Selling Agent, Can I Call the Buyer's Lender?

As a Selling Agent, Can I Call the Buyer's Lender?

So, the question is, as an agent that represents the seller, can I call the lender on the "pre-approval" letter when I receive an offer?  OF COURSE!!!  Why are buyers' agents so scared of this?

I do not respond, and my sellers don't respond, to offers unless there is an approval letter attached to the offer.  When I receive it, there are many times that I call the lender to ask some questions.  The main question is, Is this a pre-qual or an actual pre-approval?  I want to know if the buyer has turned in bank statements and W2s and other paperwork that actually mean they've started the approval process, not just made a phone call for a qualification.

Here's the scenerio:
House is listed at $109k, comps out at about $112k, and has been completely updated to the max with new carpet, fresh paint, new appliances, counters, etc...  The house is built in 1994 so not an old house at all.  I received an offer today for $92,500 asking the sellers to pay for survey ($450), home warranty ($350), 6% for closing costs, ONLY $300 for earnest money...

If you do the math, that offer comes to about $86,000 and we're listed at $109,000.  Oh, and did I mention the buyer's commission is listed at 3.5% which is higher than the average commission. 

Here's the kicker... the "approval" letter has no date on it.  It is from an out of state lender, AND the approval amount is for only $89,900.  Ok, didn't they offer $92,500?  Why are they offering more than they approve for?  This warranted a speedy call to the lender as I forwarded the offer to the seller and I told him I would discuss it with him further when I spoke with the lender.  I talk with the lender and she said that the buyer could actually go up to $95,000.  I thanked her for her time, and under my breath, I was like, that's what I needed to know because we can't even counter this offer if she's not approved for anything else. 

The lender tells me she'll rerun the numbers and call me in 2 minutes.  I asked her why she needed to rerun the numbers.  Her reply is that she thinks the buyer could go up higher.  I told her that we're already over $20k apart, and I'm not sure how she can get an $89,900 approval up to $95,000 and then get it over $100k.

Do I receive my call in two minutes??  No, I receive an EMAIL from the buyer's agent with the following message:

"I just received a call from my clients loan officer.  Please do not ask my loan officer how much more my buyer is approved for, if you would like to counter the offer please do so.  Thanks."

So, I'm asking you, do you call the lender when you receive an approval letter with an offer?  If not, why not?  Don't you feel you're looking out for your seller's best interest to know if the deal is going to fall apart before it even becomes a deal?

Comment balloon 78 commentsDonna Harris • June 28 2007 04:01PM

Comments

I make this a requirement before I ever present the offer - when I go to my seller, I need to know what is up and they need to know how strongly I feel about the offer - critical use of time.
Posted by John Occhi, SRES,CPRES.ePRO - Temecula-Murrieta CA Real Estate (Mason Real Estate) over 11 years ago
Thank you, John.  I'm happy to hear that other agents are smart about it and take the approval letter with a grain of salt and actually call for further information.  I don't know why buyer agents are so scared of this.  I always call my buyer's lender and let them know when we submit an offer and to be prepared for a call.  Only once has one of my buyer's lenders said they received a call... so surprising!
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

As a lender, I see no problem in calling to make sure it is a legit pre-approval.  Asking how much more they qualify for is not a good idea though.  If you had asked me that I would have referred you back to the buyer's agent for any further questions.  The thing is, the client's information is confidential and I cannot tell you anything really specific.  To tell you anything puts me at risk of violating state laws and losing my loan originators license.

Another thing is, often times the client can afford MUCH more than what the letter states.  I work closely with my agents to make sure the letter states an amount that reflects what they are offering.  We really don't want the seller to know how much they can really afford.  Sorry if this isn't what you want to hear, but I thought you might like a lender's point of view.

Posted by Tony D. Howell (The best place EVER!) over 11 years ago

Yes, I call the lender. Although I don't believe the lender has the right to say how high the borrower can go on a loan. Sounds like your approval letter didn't cover the loan amount in the first place and I would ask for an updated one to cover at least that amount.

If I counter it I would want to put in the counter for an updated approval loan.

What do think about my situation I just got from a lender yesterday on a property that I have under contract already. The buyer is trying to get out of the contract.

Here are the emails I got from the lender.

 "I think you need to speak with the borrower on the status of the loan.  He has made some changes." 

"I am not at liberty to give out any information concerning this loan, please contact the borrower "

Any thoughts on my rights to get this information. The buyer has already made loan commitment but is trying to weasel out now. The buyer will be in breach no matter what he does.

Posted by Craig Smith, Frederick MD Real Estate (Re/Max Achievers) over 11 years ago

Thanks Craig and Tony!

I didn't actually say How high can the buyer go.  I asked if that was the buyer's comfort zone, or the buyers actual approval level.  With that answer, it's easy to gauge that the buyer is getting the approval letter specific to that property and specific to that offer price.  However, in this case, the approval letter was less than the actual offer which is why I needed further information.  When she told me the "actual approval" was for $95k, that answered many more questions, and the lender volunteered the information to rerun the numbers for a higher approval.

Sounds shady to me, but yes, I understand confidential information cannot be given by the lender.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

I have received several calls like this.

They usually want more information than I am comfortable giving..... and get frustrated. In which case, I tell them to have to buyer call me to give me the ok to release sensitive information. That pretty much ends the conversation.

Funny thing, they never seem to ask the right questions..... LOL

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

I can see the potential for an issue.  I think you are just doing due deligence to contact the lender to verify the validity of a pre-approval letter.  The lender should know better than to give out information about their financials.  I can see why the buyers agent was upset, you gain negotiating knowledge by asking the lender if they can afford more.

When I get calls to verify my pre-approvals I try to keep the information as generic, and non-specific as possible.  I have had agents ask me for copies of the verifications I have done, to which my reply is usually to have the buyer give them written authorization first.  I will tell you if I pulled credit (I always do), if I got copies of their W-2s, bank statements, etc. (again I always do), and I will tell you that they are approved and if the offer fits into that approval.  I don't discuss DTIs, Reserves, or anything else financial about the buyer with the listing agents.

 

Posted by Brian Papaccio (Wells Fargo Home Loans) over 11 years ago
Donna, I'm with you , I ALWAYS call the MB. Heck I'll even ask for the buyer's credit score. They don't always give it to me but some do. I want as much information as I can get prior to presenting the offer to my sellers. It's our job. I don't care if the buyer's agent likes it or not.
Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) over 11 years ago

Tom, please know that when you get calls on my buyers, you're allowed to say the basics to the selling agent as I always warn the buyers that it's going to happen (though they rarely do)... by the way, I have someone for you, but he's trying to figure out if he wants two mortgages first or not... I'll know next week.

Brian, I think we're on the same page.  I just want to know credit has been pulled and paperwork turned in.  And if the approval letter is for less than the offering price, I question that too, but do not expect the DTI's or any money information.

Bryant, Thank you!  I've never asked for the credit score, though many have volunteered the information.  I also like when the lender volunteers other information like how long ago the first approval was and how many other offers the buyer has put on properties... it shows a couple of things: 1, the lender wants to close a deal as they've spent a lot of time with this borrower. 2, the buyer might be a flake and keeps backing out of deals and that's good info for my sellers to know, so we up the earnest and option money and move up the closing date to give the buyer less time to turn around and run.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago
As a lender PLEASE CALL, but do not ask for specifics. I will give you all I can with out violating privacy laws
Posted by Joe Adams (Major Mortgage USA/Branch Manager) over 11 years ago

News Flash.  You work for the seller, not the buyer's agent.  They don't tell you how to manage a listing. 

Of course you can contact the lender.  Sounds like the "offer" just needs to be "rejected" to get their attention.  My seller would reject this offer with an invitation to resubmit showing

  • Income to qualify
  • Money to close
  • Status of loan application
  • Buyer's financial sheet

Since when does a buyer's agent tell the listing agent whom they can and cannot contact.  Where do these insane ideas come from???

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

As a listing agent an offer is useless without a letter from the lender.  Most of the offers are useless with the lender letter, because the lender letters are not usually worth the paper they are printed on.  A loan commitment letter is gold.  A lock in letter is now mandatory on any offer you send to me.  You see, if the buyers loan is secure then the transaction is as well.  No last minute surprises.  

I wouldn't consider presenting an offer to my seller without first having spoken with the lender.  Now, as a listing agent I too may have been able to pull that information out of him, some of us are very good at that.  The hope of future business from a producing agent is intoxicating to most of these inexperienced lenders.   

That being said, if I were representing that buyer and the buyers lender interfered in my negotiating tactics by disclosing to the listing agent what my buyers were ACTUALLY qualified for I would be yelling foul very loudly.  What buyers are qualified for, what they are comfortable with and what they are willing to pay for any particular property is the buyers business only. 

I have advised buyers to offer low on property, in todays market,  have told listing agents that this is as far as they can go.  We have also been able to get the seller to pay as much as 3% in closing costs.  One of my clients recently procured a home for over $80k under market using these tactics.  That lender would have blown it. 

I have honed my negotiating skill over the years.  That one deserved an academy award.  But I REPRESENTED MY BUYER, which is my job.   

That lender should be fired! 

 

Posted by Laurie Manny (Long Beach CA Real Estate) over 11 years ago
My buyers lender better not tell anybody how much more the are qualified for. That is part of the negotiating tools we use to negotiate on behalf of the buyer. Now at the same time the pre approval letter should be for at least the amount of the offer.
Posted by Jeff Fulgham, Broker E-Pro ABR (T.U.P. Realty) over 11 years ago
Donna - you are working for your client and your job is to watch out for them!!  You are certainly doing your job.  I try to always touch base with the buyers lender.  I send them Loan Status Updates on a weekly basis because it specifically states in our contract that as a Listing Agent I can contact the Loan Officer for updates!!  As a Listing Agent, you bet your booty that I want to make sure that they buyer can qualify!!  Keep working for your client!!
Posted by Karen Radzinski (Keller Williams) over 11 years ago

Joe, thank you!

Lenn, the ideas come from uneducated agents who don't really know what's going on.  Thank you for your comment.

Laurie, To the lender's defense, she told me the approval was $95k saying the buyers' agent had an outdated approval letter.  The lender did not tell me the true approval amount as she said she needed to rerun the numbers to see.

Jeff, Yes, the approval letter needs to be for at least the offer price, which it wasn't which is what caused the concern, and especially not having a date on the letter.

Karen, Thank you!!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Our sellers wouldn't consider an offer without a financial statement.  Just because a buyer is qualified for more than they offer on a house, doesn't mean that they are willing to pay more than they offer. 

I am fine presenting a financial statement that show a strong buyer and don't care if the lender tells the seller how mucy my people are qualified for.  That has nothing to do with what they will pay for a property.

Same thing for buyers wanting to know how much the seller paid for the house for sale?  What difference does it make?  List prices are more related to market than what they paid for the property. 

Folks have some strange ideas.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago
I would ask that question too.  I am a loan officer too and I know the tricks of the trade inside out.  I have asked this question to the mortgage broker, if I get in doubt about the buyer's ability to buy.  I owe it to the seller.  There was one transaction this year where the buyer's agent was very cool.  She was not going to call and waste her time on mortgage issues.  The mortgage co. actually issued a commitment to loan without submitting the loan to the lender.  Big NO NO.  I called the mortgage co. everyday if it killed me to make sure this transaction was closed.  Learned a lot from it.  Be vigilant as to who you are dealing with.  Seller was very happy that I saved the day.  Myself and the mortgage co. were the only people who knew what was going on.  Not even the Attorney's cared.
Posted by Vibha Mehra, Realty Executives West Orange, NJ over 11 years ago
Couple things...you can't get a TRUE approval i.e. bank statements, W2's etc. because approvals are tied to a specific property address.  You can get a pre-approval or pre-qual based off of lender guidelines, Fannie Mae approvals, lender website prequals etc.  You can call the mortgage broker or bank rep, but there is very limited information regarding the borrower that they are legally allowed to disclose.  They can, would and should, however, provide you with an updated prequal!!  Also..............if you use a mortgage broker vs. a bank lender, you can not call the actual LENDER that they broker the loan out to.  It's a BIG no no and can cause issues/strain relationships with the account executive, underwriters etc.  Hope this helps!  But DEF. call the broker to get an updated prequal before you waste your time!  CHEERS and good luck!
Posted by Valorie L. Easter, Valorie Easter & Co, Charlottesville/Albemarle Rea (eXp Realty) over 11 years ago

Congrats on the 'Star' and thanks for the referral

My typical conversation goes like this:

"I have automated underwriting findings and I have seen paystubs and bank statements. Nothing shaky about the deal. And no ma'am, I cannot tell you there credit scores or how much money they have in the bank. Only that they fit loan guidelines. Oh, and our biggest hurdle going forward will be title and appraisal"

;-)

 

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

Donna,

Pre-approval letter should be an official document that shows how much the buyer qualifies for and it should go with the offer. As you know, pre-qual letters mean basically nothing. It's okay to call the lender, but we can't get into any specifics due to privacy laws.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 11 years ago

Lenn, I hate when buyers ask what the sellers paid.  First, Texas is a nondisclosure state so we don't really have that information.  Second, just like you said, what does it matter when it's priced to the market.

Vibha, In my area, the broker won't disclose where they're brokering to, so that is not an issue.  And yes, I'm talking about a pre-approval with paperwork turned in, not a pre-qual.  I do not accept pre-quals as they are worthless.

Tom, Thanks!!  Lucky number 13 Star!!

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago
I do call the lender/broker whoever wrote the pre-qual in order to verify the information that was given to me. If they provide you with the name and number then that is why they put it there. Especially if they are qualified for a lower amount that what they put the offer in for. The agent did not look over the pre-qual and it showed. Dont feel bad I would have done the same thing.
Posted by Adrian Alvarado, Inland Empire Real Estate (MGR Real Estate Inc.) over 11 years ago
You called and got information that was valuable for your seller but really put that buyer at a disadvante.  I really don't think the lender should have divulged this information to you.
Posted by Diane Bell, Hilton Head Real Estate, Bluffton (Charter 1 Real Estate, Hilton Head, Bluffton, SC) over 11 years ago
Excellent points made.  Just because the buyers have a pre-approval letter does not mean they can actually qualify.
Posted by Tracy Santrock, Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge (Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. ) over 11 years ago
Yes, we do call. If they are local they call us and say something to the effect, this client is GOLDEN. That is creepy that they would say that. I have an obligation to call on behalf of my sellers.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) over 11 years ago
As an Exclusive Buyers Agent, I welcome the seller's agent to contact the lender.  I want them to know up front that I have a strong buyer.  My clients get one complimentary tour without lender preapproval. After that, we can not tour properties unless I am absolutely certain that the client can get a loan.  If I were a listing agent, I would be weary of agents who did not want their buyer clients lender contacted.
Posted by Joyce Buyers First Choice over 11 years ago
I have no issue with contacting the Lender - BUT - I would not rely on anything "verbal" from them that differed from something I had in writing from them.  If they are confirming you have a valid copy of something they issued - great.  If they are "saying" something different - have them put it in writing!
Posted by Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers, Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ (BVO Luxury Group @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty) over 11 years ago
Heck, of course I call if it is not an APPROVAL Letter or I am not familiar with the lender, but even more important is, did the buyers fill out a FINANCIAL Info sheet and submit with the contract - showing their income and source and amount of funds! Agents think if they have a lender's letter they don't need the financial info - wrong - we need all of it!
Posted by Debbie Cook over 11 years ago

As an LO it is in my best interests to help my client buy the home they want. I am very helpful. I take calls and make calls with anyone involved in the transaction. Silence breeds mistrust. But.

Realtors, you are not entitled to financial information including credit scores and certainly should be professional enough not to try it on and ask the LO. You do have a job to do and that is to ensure, as far as possible, the offer is real and will Close within timescale stated on the P&S. If the P&S says a price and no seller contribution you need to trust that the LO has done their job.

By the way, some Realtors insist on a 'pre' anything letter. If it says the deal is subject to anything more than satisfactory appraisal and final underwriting approval (the lender can always move the goalposts even at Funding) it is worthless.

So, yes, the 'pre' anything letter should say that X is prexx to buy 123 property at a price of y. Stating the borrower could go up to a figure harms their bargaining power.

Posted by Alan Mills - Creating Closer Communication (ACN) over 11 years ago

Debbie Cook - you are kidding, right? Need? Nope. Want? Yes.

It is absolutely none of the sellers' business knowing what my finances are like! All they need to know is that I can buy the place. If they are that concerned raise the Earnest Money required.

It's sad that you don't trust peope - buyers or lenders.

Posted by Alan Mills - Creating Closer Communication (ACN) over 11 years ago

my preapproval letter will state that i have a tri-merged, w2, paystub(s) (or not) in the body of the letter.

the idea of a preapproval letter for less than the offer makes no sense to me whatsoever, especially if the buyer qualifies for more. 

there is a very limited amount of information that i can release in regards to a buyer and i would prefer that it be done through the buyers Realtor.

i have asked this question before and i think i will continue to ask it until i get an answer.

the realtor board that i belong to has a legal hotline.

why doesn't NAR or a local board get a legal opinion, from an attorney, and publish it for the membership? 

Posted by Anonymous over 11 years ago

I will not give a prequal letter out. It would be useless. A prequal is exactly what it says it is : pre =before qual=qualifed. We do this to start the basic search to see if we will be able to match the customer up with a specific loan program. Once we decide that we have a potential deal. We have to verify that the information that we have been given is true and correct. I have had customers tell me that they make one income and after figuring it the way my underwriter would, realized that they have more income. I will issue a Pre approval. I only send this out when I have received all of the docs I requested and I am able to run An AUS- Automated Underwriting. Once I have done this. I am pretty confident that we will fund the loan. I Don't mind verifying a letter. Normally I will tell the Buyer what they are approved for and when they want to make an offer, I will write a letter to show that they buyer is approved for that amount.

I won't waste my time or yours with a prequal letter.

The Realtors that I have worked with Know that my Preapproval Letter is as good as money in the bank.

Posted by shaunwren over 11 years ago

I try to present a prequal letter when presenting an offer so that they listing agent can call the lender to verify.

On the other hand, I request a letter to accompany the offer when presenting it to the seller.  Letting the seller know we have a good buyer goes a long way with me.  Now, if they switch lenders, I start getting a little paranoid.

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX Solutions) over 11 years ago

Debbie - you must be in a different market than the one that I work in. If I had intentions to purchase one of your properties  and you told me that you wanted my financials. I would have to ask you if you had intentions of getting me financed. I would never disclose to you my income or assets. Frankly all you need to know is that I will have the money to purchase @ the closing table.

Please don't take this the wrong way.But, as a loan officer I am not asking your seller if they can afford to pay concessions.

"Your Mortgage Specialist"

 Shaun Wren

Centric Mortgage

Posted by shaunwren over 11 years ago
That is ridiculous!  First I would run away from an out of state lender that would sell you out like that...
Posted by Jennifer Walker-Derby, Real Estate Extraordinaire (Re/Max Westside) over 11 years ago

I always confirm the lenders approval letter and get a financial statement from the buyer. On the other side I've had buyers who would only let the pre approval show the exact amount of their offer. They would have it changed during counters.

Some buyers think it is a strategy to look like they are only approved for their offer amount even though they can afford more.

Since I submit a financial statement with an offer a listing agent and seller can tell if the buyer can afford more. Financial statements showing income assets and debt is standard procedure when making offers in NYC.

Coops and some condos will require full financial disclosure. It is important that the listing agent make sure the buyer is qualified not only for a mortgage but to pass the coop board before accepting an offer.

Posted by Mitchell J Hall, Lic Associate RE Broker - Manhattan & Brooklyn (The Corcoran Group) over 11 years ago

I would answer you... but carefully.

The trick is that I represent the buyer too... so it is partly my responsibility NOT to cause any issues with the buyer and seller.

 

Posted by David A. Podgursky PA, THE PODGURSKY GROUP - Make the Right Move! (THE PODGURSKY GROUP @ Re/Max Direct) over 11 years ago
I always call the lender, but it is unethical for them to tell you what the buyer can qualify for.  The way I read it...in essense, you are saying show me your hand! "
Posted by Jim Crawford, Jim Crawford Atlanta Best Listing Agents & REALTOR (Crye-Leike REALTORS®) over 11 years ago

It's very interesting to read all of the responses, thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

The only thing that I have a question about is submitting financials with an offer.  What?  Maybe it's because Texas is a non-disclosure state, but I have never heard of such a thing.  If I had the buyer, it's none of the seller's business that my buyer won the lottery, which did happen (she bought a very modest home for winning $4M).  And I don't think I would have any right as a selling agent to ask the buyer's agent for financials... as long as the lender has verified that information, that's fine.  I just want to hear it from the lender that he received all that information and the "pre-approval" is based on final appraisal, survey, and employment/income not changing prior to closing.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago
This was a great dialogue. Now I have a related question. The Buyer's agent shows homes significantly over the pre-authorized limit.  The BA and her client (s) turn in an offer lower than list with all kinds of concessions, but with an airtight pre-approval letter. Wouldn't you wonder, for example, if the most the buyer agent's client could pay was $320, 000 and your listing is at $399, 900 and the average list to close ration is 3 to 5 %, why are they looking in the $390K range?
Posted by M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk), Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS (NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time) over 11 years ago
Donna, since 2005, the Arizona contract has language that requires a loan status report with the contract, as part of the contract. This may give mor info than a pre-qual letter. It also directs the lender to provide updates to the sellers and the brokers involved. No excuses. If you or someone you know is involved in Association contract committees, let me know, I'll send more info and copies.
Posted by Jim Little, Your Sun City Arizona Realtor (Ken Meade Realty) over 11 years ago

Hi Donna,

You're doing it exactly right.  In fact, if you aren't calling and verifying whether it is pre-approval or pre-qual and how much paperwork was submitted for the letter, you are probably negligent in your duty to your seller client.  I do agree you should not ask what the buyer does qualify for but will tell you that LO's usually volunteer this info anyway in our county.

Thanks for the blog!

Rob

Posted by Rob Lang, Local Expert in Lawrence Kansas Real Estate Homes (At Home Kansas Team Powered by Keller Williams Partners Inc / www.AskRobLang.com) over 11 years ago
Great post. I wouldn't have known what should be done. My first reaction was no.
Posted by Christy Powers, Pooler, Savannah Real Estate Agent (Keller Williams Coastal Area Partners) over 11 years ago
In Arizona listing agents ask for this before an offer is presented. A buyer's agent provides this when they submit an offer to a listing agent. And after an offer is accepted, if there are changes in the buyer's status, there are updates provided. Not all states are alike obviously, but in Arizona we try and nail this down as tight as possible.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 11 years ago
In Arizona listing agents ask for this before an offer is presented. A buyer's agent provides this when they submit an offer to a listing agent. And after an offer is accepted, if there are changes in the buyer's status, there are updates provided. Not all states are alike obviously, but in Arizona we try and nail this down as tight as possible.
Posted by Bob & Carolin Benjamin, East Phoenix Arizona Homes (Benjamin Realty LLC) over 11 years ago

I will suggest to a seller that they counter with a clause that allows them to approve the buyer's qualification within a specified time.  If they do not approve they may cancel the contact.

The standard agreement we use has a clause that is initialed by the buyer allowing the lender to discuss the buyer's qualifications freely with the seller and the sellers agent.

If a lender balks at giving specific information I relay that to the seller to consider perhaps looking for a better qualified buyer.  Occasionally a lender says that they cannot discuss this with me, I then point out this clause. if they still balk I talk to the buyers agent about it and suggest that they educate the lender about the importance of good communication. 

Posted by Marty Van Diest, Your Alaskan Realtor (Valley Market Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Since if the offer came together having the goodwill of the agent on the other side couldn't hurt, and might actually help, is there any special reason not to ask the agent to request they get a new approval letter from the lender and let him or her know your concerns?

I've found that I can look out for my clients interests well and still get along fabulously with the agent on the other side, more often than not (unless they're a big-hair agent).  In fact, the better I get along with the other side, the easier it is to smooth things over when something annoying happens, which as well all know is practically never because we live in a perfect world, right?    

Besides, let's say the buyer is approved for a number that's in countering range, and actually is fine with that, then finds out you were pushing their lender for information about their financial condition instead of going through their agent.  Is cutting the other agent out of the loop worth losing a potential buyer over?

Posted by John Lockwood (Lockwood Real Estate) over 11 years ago
On the cover letter I ask them to contact the loan officer if they have any questions.  The loan officers that work with me the most are top professionals and would never leak out information that would hurt my clients.
Posted by Randy Prothero, Hawaii REALTOR, (808) 384-5645 (eXp Realty) over 11 years ago
If the pre-approval letter doesn't provide a loan amount sufficient to indicate the buyer is qualified to buy THIS property, then it is useless.  I would include in a counter-offer a 24-hour contingency on getting a pre-approval for a loan amount that is required to buy this property.  The loan officer has a fiduciary responsibility to his borrower, and discussing the buyer's financial qualifications with a third party is iffy, in my opinion.  I think the listing agent has every right to track the progress of the loan, as to milestones achieved, but not the buyer's financial qualifications.  Just my opinion.  As a listing agent, I would not put the lender in that potentially awkward position, because I want his/her full cooperation going forward.
Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) over 11 years ago

As a lender, I don't mind getting phone calls from listing agents at all.  I am happy to speak with them regarding my clients potentially purchasing their listing.

Just don't expect detailed information regarding the borrower's financial background.  I have a fiduciary responsibility to my client and that is over the line.

You'd be surprised how many agents "demand" this information...

Posted by Steven Shewell, The Mortgage Maverick (Primary Residential Mortgage, Inc.) over 11 years ago

Donna,  Great post... I believe any true professional should not have a problem speaking with you.  However as many of your response state they just would not or could not give you more info on how much more they can go up to.  That would really not be right as we represent the client. 

I have spoken to many sellers agents to confirm the pre-approval or ask if we had any issues, etc.....

But I see no problem in calling the finance person who represents the buyer.

Posted by Matthew J Blum - (retired from the business) over 11 years ago
Donna, I read most of the comments and didn't pick up on one mentioning the comission change. (By the way i believe everythig you did was proper and also what I would have done). Od course Texas and Washington are different. BUT (here) the comission is an agreement between the broker and the seller. Therefore the buyers agent may not attempt to negotiate something he is not a part of. Plus I believe it is an ethical violation. So if it is accepted in the negotiation process (comission change) the broker may refuse, legally, to acknowledge the change at closing... he never agreed to it.
Posted by J Perrin Cornell, Broker, ABR, VAMRES (Century 21 Exclusively, Wenatchee, WA) over 11 years ago

Very interesting. Especially how other states do it

I was considering a move to a place where I could do loans in other states.... since I give away about 2 - 3 per month.

Maybe I shouldn't..... LOL

Posted by Tom Burris, Texas/Louisiana Mortgage Pro - 13 YRS Experience (NMLS# 335055) over 11 years ago

I forgot that many people don't sleep at night!  So many comments and I can't possibly respond to each individually, so I'll say THANK YOU to everyone.

Perrin, I think what I wrote might have sounded confusing.  The actual listing is at 3.5% to the buyer's agent, so she didn't ask for extra, it was offered.  This was done in order to attract more agents to show the property.  When there is an increase and the agent  has a chance to put a little extra in their pocket, their offers are typically much stronger to ensure a closing.  I mentioned it just in saying that I can't believe that the seller has offered extra money to a buyer's agent to show how serious of a seller he is and that it's priced well to sell right now, and then the agent comes in and lowballs like she did.  (By the way, it's been on the market only 2 weeks)

I understand being $20k plus off in a higher price range, but in the $100k range, you're always going to insult a seller by coming in more than $20k off asking price.  The numbers just aren't there.  And keep in mind that we're also in a market that typically sells at 95-97% of asking price and even higher in some of the northern suburbs.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Here is what will happen if the lender will not talk with you, the home will take 30-45 days to close and it will not close due to buyer being unable to get financing. The property has been off the market and you need to start all over again with a new buyer, and the seller is not happy with you.  How to prevent this, increase the amount of the earnest money, and make it nonrefundable if the deal does not close for any reason, or the earnest still nonrefundable but released to the seller at the close of the inspection period. It is now on the buyer's agent and lender to perform, if they do not close the seller has made the house payment for the month.  

Posted by Jack O'Neal (Conway Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Donna, two sides of every coin, 1 the buyers side.  The other side when I represent the buyer, I let the lender know they are not to discuss my clients finances without and authorization letter.  You know that too!  I do what you did by the way when I represent the seller.....SO.  I call the buyers agent for the release be it by fax what ever to talk to the lender.  If the buyer's agent says NO.....well they probably won't have much chance with this type of offer.  If they say yes...I have open season to get details, including the top of the qualification loan amount like you did.  By the way, the lender breached his clients trust by discussing finacial issues with you and could have a problem if the home sale falls through because of a counter that may not have happened had the lender not disclosed the high funds available.

Two sides of the coin depending on who I represent.  Nice post.

Posted by Gary White~Grand Rapids Home Selling Pro Call: 616-821-9375, Real Estate Services You can Trust! (Flexit Realty "Flexible Home Selling Solutions") over 11 years ago
Do onto others... In the MLS listing write Per sellers request pre-approval required with all offers. Puts the agent on notice, When the other agent submits the offer, & you are concerned about the lender, give a courtesy call to the other agent then do what you have to do to protect your seller.
Posted by Karen Ann Martin, Realtor Fall River Westport MA Real Estate Agent (Safe Harbor Realty ) over 11 years ago

Donna, this is a good topic. I am pleased to see so many level headed, serious responses. Our regions are all so different in the way we behave as Real Estate Professionals. If I receive an offer without pre-authorization, I advise my sellers to counter with Pre-Authorization if it is not included. As a general course of business most offers lately have had pre-approval letters with lender contact information included. Regarding buyers, I always work closely with them and their lenders.

On the receiving end of offers, I always do contact the lenders office--not to fish but to give them my contact information, and get general assurances that it is a bona fide, take it to the bank type of pre-auth.

Now, I wonder--if a lender and the seller's agent get together and discuss the pre-authorization for more than the offer amount--could that be potentially viewed as conspiracy to raise the offer? 

Posted by M. Suzi Woods (Gravenstuk), Suzi Woods, Prior Independent REBroker in MS (NOW Sharing the life and spice of the GC one day at a time) over 11 years ago

Stop Donna!  You are showing how diligent of an agent you are!  Awesome advice! 

What's funny here and what is a problem here is that you can do this and hear "no problem" and then a problem surfaces days before close.  Annoying! 

Posted by Renée Donohue, Las Vegas Real Estate Broker - www.urLVhome.com (Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate) over 11 years ago

A good mortgage broker will give a pre-approval based on the property address. I can put a price on there if an agent requests it as well. This is usually done if the buyer wants to get the property for a specific price. For example the buyer may be approved for $200,000 but the agent tells me that they want to offer $189,900 the pre-approval would look something like this....

June 29, 2007

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is to certify that Mr customer has been pre-approved for the property located at  123 main st in anywhere town for a purchase price of $189,900  an interest rate not to exceed market rate based on credit score.  This pre-approval is subject to the following:

1.         Acceptable Appraisal for purchase price.

2.         Acceptable Title work.

3.         Underwriters final Review.

4.         Re-verification of Borrowers funds to close.

5.         Re-verification of Borrowers Employment information.

6.         Seller to pay X towards buyer's closing costs and prepaids.

 I will keep you updated as we process this loan.  If you have any questions, please feel free to call me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX.

Sincerely,

Shawn Gerhardson 

Homestead Mortgage

Personal Mortgage Consultant

 

By the way my loyalty is to my clients and I would never ever give out any of their infomation to anyone unless given permission by the client.

Posted by Shawn Gerhardson, Top Rated Mortgage Professional (Waterstone Mortgage NMLS#186434) over 11 years ago

Donna,

You really hit a nerve on this one.  I tell all my agents not to expect a pre-qual letter until the loan is ACTUALLY approved.  That means an underwriter actually looks at the file and approves it.  (There are certain deals I can approve myself in which case I don't wait for the underwirter.)

For the homebuyer who may have some issues qualifiying - an underwriter MUST approve before I issue a pre-qual letter.  Do I lose some business because of this?  I am sure I do.  But in this business reputation is everything.  So to just put something out there to write an offer seems unethical to me.

Posted by Toby Riley (American Home Mortgage) over 11 years ago

Wow...what an amazing response!  I am a lender and if you are involved in any transaction with my name and paycheck attached to it.... I WOULD LOVE TO TALK WITH YOU!!!

I cannot share all the nitty gritty details of my clients personal financials without my client's permission, but if you have concerns...I am the best source of information about financing.

Lets talk!

Kelli Williams -WA Home Loans

Posted by Kelli Williams over 11 years ago
Sure you can call the lender, as a lender I will not share any personal details or will I tell you what the buyer(s) can afford but I will give my customer(s) and their realtor an increased loan amount in wriitting if they qualify and the customers request it. I would never share what my customers loan limits are with anyone except the customer and the customer realtor if the customer allows me . This is privacy.
Posted by Leo Namiot, Florida Mortgage Lender & CT Mortgage Lender (loanDepot ) over 11 years ago

Wow, a lot of interesting responses!

I know of one local company which actually has in the listing agreement with the seller that they will have a mortgage broker associated with the listing broker pre approve all buyers prior to presenting any offers from buyers.

I don't go that far, but as a lsiting agent I ask the buyers if it is Ok to have my mortage person talk to thier mortgage person. If they say no, I have to ask why? I find by letting my trusted mortgage person handle this, there is less problems from the buyer.

   

Posted by James Lockard, Realtor, Allendale, NJ (RE/MAX Properties - Saddle River) over 11 years ago

plenty of posts regarding this matter. 

The listing agent shouldn't have to contact the lender of the buyer.  All that should be done by the buyer's agent and presented to the listing agent when ever requested by the listing agent.  There are too many people to manage from lender, title, inspection, seller and buyer.  It should be the buyer's agent's fiduciary duty to respect all listing agent's resonable requests.  Only if the buyer's agent is an A*** to work with, all agents in the transaction do their due of care to check and update information to their respective clients.   One question i have to donna is how did you know who the lender was even before receiving the offer in your question? 

Posted by Sung-Soo Kim over 11 years ago

Sung-Soo, I received the lender's letter along with the offer, so yes, I did have the offer in hand when I called the lender, or else I wouldn't have known who to call.

James, Having one of your lenders call their lender is pretty smart.  I hadn't thought about that before.  I wonder how defensive the buyer's lender gets when that happens.

Toby, I wish every LO would put things through AU first, but many don't believe in giving the system a fake address like 123 Main St to make it go through, as I know the system won't do anything without an actual address to put to the buyer.

Shawn, Why are you putting in your letter that the seller is to contribute X amount to the buyer for closing costs?  The approval letter has nothing to do with the negotiations of the buyer and seller, and I don't believe something like this should be disclosed.  To say something like that shows the seller that you've verified the buyer's bank account and that the buyer has no money.... that's not a good hand to show.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Our mls contract form has a requirement to disclose how much the buyer is going to put down on the property or atleast a minimum down.  Isn't it important to disclose to seller that the buyer needs a seller's contribution prior to making an offer? how would you handle seller's contribution to buyer's closing cost?  I think the bottom line is, it all comes down to the realtor who is representing their respective client.  There are agents who can put miracles together to most complex tranacation and others who can fail a simple contract.

Posted by Sung-Soo Kim over 11 years ago

Sung-Soo, I would answer No to your question.  You would let the seller know the buyer needs contribution when you write the offer.  It should be part of the offer.  The Texas contracts have a blank specific for how much the seller is going to pay for closing costs. Prior to 2002, we had to type the amount in the Special Provisions section, but the state got tired of the differt wording people were using, so they added a line.  So, yes, the seller will know before closing how much they are to contribute, if they are contributing, but it's not before an offer is submitted.  Plus, the seller never actually pays anything for the buyer.  The buyer is financing the amount so it shouldn't matter to the seller what the number is as long as the seller is ok with their bottom line, net number.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Debbie Cook mentioned the Financial Sheet. 

Any listing that I manage states in the listing, financial statement and lender's letter must accompany offer.

It IS the seller's business to verify the financial ability of the buyer if the buyer is expecting the seller to take their house off the market and wait for settlement. 

The financial statement doesn't disclose anything private other than income to qualify and money to close AND, bankruptcy for foreclosures in the past.  These matters are critical and may cause the buyer to be rejected or only qualify for a higher interest rate than they thought they could qualify for?

What's the big deal about a financial sheet?  The seller is taking a risk until settlement.  They can't be expected to take a risk on a pig in a poke.

If more listing agent would qualify buyers and not leave things to lenders, there wouldn't be so many contracts fail to close at the last minute.  I read posts on AR regularly about this or that came up at the last minute.  Why the last minute?  Do the job in the beginning and contracts will settle.

This is a fascinating subject to me because I sold real estate when it took two weeks to get a credit report.  We learned to look closely at buyers and that has been valuable training for me when looking at buyers or sellers.

 

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 11 years ago

Lenn, as I stated previously, Texas is a non-disclosure state and we're not allowed information like that. We're not even able to call and get estimated utility bill amounts anymore because of the privacy act that passed a few years ago.  Financials for a buyer is NOT the responsibility of a real estate agent.  We are told over and over again to stay out of the financing side and only represent our clients for the purchase/sale.  With representing our clients, we are allowed to verify that the lender has done his/her job, but we are not allowed to see any information like what you're talking about.  While I represent the seller, why would the buyer's agent even feel inclined to tell me that the buyer had a previous BK or foreclosure?  Texas is very strict about confidential information going to the other side that puts your client at a risk of looking bad or not as strong as the next person.  In fact, the confidential information is spelled out in the Info of Broker's Services form, the listing agreement and the buyer's rep agreement so each party knows they will not receive confidential information unless the other agent slips up.

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Any lender who would give you information about how much they are approved for is most likely never going to get a referral from the buyer's agent again!  Do you only do listings?  Would you like someone else's seller's agent to call your lender to tip your hand when making an offer?  I mean honestly it's called a negotiation.  You negotiate with the BUYER'S AGENT.  NOT with the lender.  That's like showing everyone your hand when playing poker.  Now a call to see how the process is moving along or to verify the preapproval letter is totally understandable.  But to even ask for a borrower's FICO is totally out of line. 

 

Laurie, asking for an actual lock commitment is totally asinine.  What happens when the lender submits a lock for your sellers only to have the deal fall apart due to a bad inspection or something else?  Now that person has until that lock expires to find another house and close the deal or it's going to start getting costly for lock extensions. 

 

Marty that's kind of a back door (IMHO almost shady) way to try to get the info.  Put it on the contract and have them initial it like its just part of the contract now making them tip their hand to what's going on.  As said before the only thing you really need to know is that they qualify to get the loan needed.  You don't NEED the details.  And their financial information is none of the selling agent's business.

Posted by Geoff Thomas (Golf Savings Bank) over 11 years ago
Geoff, how do you really feel?  j/k
Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 11 years ago

Geoff, Amen to your comment.  Atleast in Washington, I don't believe real estate agents are even allowed to ask for buyer's financial statement and banks require 3 to 5 pages just to get qualification letter.  If we can play lender, why not play GOD for them too.  I think the only time a transaction will stick together without any hickup is when a buyer puts down same amount of earnest money as his or her offer.  Few years ago, I know someone in my office sold a vacant land for $150,000 dollars with earnest money of $150,000. 

We definitely need numbers to these comments or lines for quick reference.

You all have a great weekend.  Cheers to Friday night.

Posted by Sung-Soo Kim over 11 years ago
I personally have not had a situation that I felt warranted my calling the LO, HOWEVER, I think this is smart practice in many situations and am considering putting this into regular practice now that the mortgage market has changed so much.
Posted by Ryan Hukill - Edmond, Realtor, Team Lead (ShowMeOKC Real Estate Pros of KW Elite) over 11 years ago

I am not going to comment on the above other than to say that if you are going to rag on someone, please know that there is a difference between advice and advise and use them properly.  That is my pet peeve.  Where is Jay M?

Yes.  I call.  If the buyer has a problem with that, I have a problem with the buyer.

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