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That all depends on your motivation. If you are the type to go to the grocery store without a shopping list and wing-it...you might find yourself at home in your kitchen kicking yourself for not picking up everything you needed. Most serious buyers get pre-approved for two major reasons. First to give themselves an idea as to what they could potentially afford (to avoid the psychological killer of not being able to purchase the dream home you just found which will now act as a measuring stick to every home you see in your actual price range). The second reason is to be taken seriously by a professional real estate agent whom they want to represent them. Good agents will not take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously. Most pre-approvals are painless and take very little time from your day. It's worth the 30 minute sit down or phone call to start you off on the right track. I would also avoid online pre-qualifications as they can be misleading. Ask friends or family that have made recent home purchases who they used as a mortgage agent/broker and if they were happy.
You should go look as many homes as you can before time to get a feel for what you like. Pre qualified buyers do not always mean that you will be happy with the selection of homes. Once you find the perfect home then seek out the means. So many clients have the means to purchase and never are happy when looking at homes because they miss that part with liking the home rather than affording the home.
only if you're a cash buyer
At one time, I owned a large mortgage company and one thing I learned is that once someone applies for a mortgage, things change...discrepencies come out of the woodwork, the income is not seasoned, the credit has dings, the downpayment may not all be available and worst of all some consumers think that a mortgage payment on a $300K house will only be $1200 a month.I would never recommend someone to go look at homes without doing an indepth investigation into a their qualifications and I will never put a buyer in my car if they are not willing to disclose their personal finances...in fact it is in my written agreement with them.Eve in Orlando
If you are interested in buying a home, contact a real estate agent. They will be sure you get with a lender to get prequalified. Then you know where you stand. In the meantime, do your shopping on the internet. The photos and descriptions can tell you a lot about what you can get in price ranges. It is also helpful to drive-by homes you find interesting and check out the surroundings.
If you are sure of your ability to get a loan; it does not make a difference.Though a pre-qualified buyer will be taken more seriously and may be able to bargain more.Do yourself a favor fill out the paper work; get pre-qualified.
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