Anastasia Kaufman - ABR, SFR, GRI, CDPE - RE/MAX Town & Country | Lincoln, RI Real Estate



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When you start looking for your dream home, you need to know how much mortgage you will qualify for. Your real estate agent might ask you to get a pre-qualification letter. However, just because you are pre-qualified doesn’t mean that you will get the loan. You need a pre-approval for that, and even then, the mortgage company might not approve your application.

Pre-Qualification

A pre-qualification letter just tells you how much loan you can afford. The lender does not check your credit, your debt-to-income ratio or other factors before issuing a pre-qualification letter. Additionally, a pre-qualification letter is dependent on the information you provide to the lender. The pre-qualification essentially gives you an estimate of how much home you are able to afford so that you do not look at homes that are not within your range.

To get a pre-qualification, you supply the lender with your assets, debt and income. Because the lender bases its decision on the information you provide, rather than information from outside sources, a pre-qualification is not a guarantee that you will get the loan.

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-approved for a loan usually takes longer than getting pre-qualified. The lender pulls your credit report and might ask for additional documents, including tax records and bank statements. To get pre-approved, you must complete a loan application and provide your social security number. The lender might charge an application fee for a pre-approval.

With a pre-approval, you will have a closer interest rate assessment, that is usually not finalized until the loan goes through underwriting. Once the lender pre-approves you, it will send you a conditional commitment for the loan amount. You can look for homes at or below that price.

In a market when buyers bid against each other – a seller’s market – having a pre-approval letter might give you a step up with the seller, who will more likely choose an offer by someone more likely to get the loan. Thus, if you and someone else submit a bid on your dream home, but the other person only has a pre-qualification letter, the seller might accept your offer, even if it is not as good as the other buyer’s offer, simply because you are more likely to get the mortgage.

For a pre-approval, you will need to:

  • Complete the lender’s mortgage application;

  • Possibly pay an application fee;

  • Supply your social security number and allow the lender to pull your credit;

  • Provide financial information to help the lender make a decision; and

  • Tell the lender how much you plan to put up as a down payment.

After you are pre-approved and the seller accepts your offer, you will then have to provide the rest of the documentation to the lender, including the accepted offer, bank statements, retirement account statements, taxes for up to two years, proof of income and other documents that will help the lender come to a concrete decision.


If you’re hunting for a new home and have come across one that fits all of your requirements and more, it can seem like the only thing you can do is make an offer and wait.

However, your first choice could also be another buyer’s dream home. And, if a higher bid isn’t feasible, you have to find other ways to win over the seller. One way this can be achieved is through writing a letter to the owner of the home.

If you’re bidding on your dream home, writing a letter the the owner can be anxiety inducing. Choosing what to reveal and finding the right words can be scary, even for the most seasoned writer.

So, in this article we’re going to walk you through writing a letter to a seller to give you the best possible chance of winning the bid for a new home.

Tell them why you love their home

If you’ve fallen in love with certain aspects of the home, there’s a good chance the sellers did too. Be personal in your explanations. Rather than just say you love the location, mention that it is a perfect distance to walk to the playground with your children or pets. This will help buyers better understand you and your story.

If you have family who lives nearby, or if the home has features that can greatly improve the life of you, your family, or your pets, be sure to mention this in the letter as well.

Don’t press or plead, just be polite

It can seem desperate and off-putting to receive a letter pleading with you to sell your home to someone. So, when you’re writing your letter and you come to the end, simply thank the buyer for their time and for reading, compliment them once more, and wish them luck in their new home.

Revise and review

It can be tempting to send your letter immediately after writing it, especially if writing is you don’t like writing in general. However, it’s always a good idea to revise. I suggest writing your letter one night, then reading it again the next evening to give yourself time and distance from it--this way you’ll be reading it with fresh eyes and will be able to find any wording that sounds strange or confusing.

It’s also a good idea to run your writing through a free proofreader like Grammarly. And, finally, there is no substitute for having an editor. Ask one of your friends or family members to read the letter and give you feedback.

Stand out from the crowd

There are a few things you can include in your letter to set you apart from other potential buyers. Including a family photo will help the sellers put a face to the names you mention in the letter.

It can also be helpful to print and mail the letter, rather than sending it electronically. Since we so rarely receive a physical copy of a letter these days (unless it’s from a bill collector), it can be nice to receive something positive in the mail for a change.


When it comes to buying a house, it usually pays to be flexible. Because if you take a flexible approach to the real estate market, you'll be open to checking out dozens of residences and can improve your chances of finding a house that matches or exceeds your expectations.

Although flexibility can play an important role in a successful homebuying journey, buyers sometimes struggle with stubbornness. Fortunately, we're here to help you become a flexible homebuyer who can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you become a flexible homebuyer.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

The real estate market constantly fluctuates, and a sector that favors buyers one day may favor sellers the next. However, if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can pounce at the opportunity to acquire your dream residence, regardless of when that opportunity presents itself.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage may prove to be a quick, seamless process. Typically, you'll want to meet with local banks and credit unions and learn about a wide range of mortgage options. Once you have mortgage information, you can select a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.

Remember, pre-approval for a mortgage opens the door for a successful homebuying experience. It can help you establish a budget for your dream home by providing you with a set amount that you can spend on a residence. As a result, after you find an ideal house that falls within your price range, you'll have the flexibility to move quickly to acquire this residence.

2. Consider Houses in a Variety of Cities and Towns

Evaluate your homebuying goals – you'll be glad you did. If you understand where you want to live, you can explore houses in a variety of cities and towns that fit your criteria.

For example, if you want to live near family members or friends in a particular area, you can narrow your home search accordingly. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to live in the same city or town as these loved ones. Instead, you can search for houses in assorted cities and towns near your loved ones and ensure you're never too far away from them.

On the other hand, if you want to buy a home that is close to your office in the city, it may be worthwhile to consider houses both inside and outside the city itself. City living generally is more expensive than living in the suburbs, so you'll want to assess your finances closely before you buy a city house. Or, if you prefer small town living, you can always purchase a more affordable residence outside the city and take public transportation to work.

3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

A real estate agent is happy to help you become a flexible homebuyer. In fact, this housing market professional will offer expert guidance during the homebuying journey. By doing so, a real estate agent will help you evaluate many houses and ensure that you can find one that suits you perfectly.

Ready to pursue your dream house? Consider the aforementioned tips, and you can enter the real estate market as a flexible homebuyer.


Buying a home is an extensive process that comes with a bit of a learning curve. For first time buyers, this process involves making mistakes and learning from them.

While we can never be 100% sure of our home buying decisions, there is a way to increase your chances of making the best choices when it comes to buying and maintaining your first home.

In today’s post, we’re going to do just that. We’ll take a look at some of the biggest things that homeowners wish they knew before buying their first house.

1. Forgetting to research the neighborhood

It’s easy to become so enamored with your dream home that you barely look beyond its fence. However, the neighborhood your home is in can have a huge effect on your daily life. Having local parks, safe sidewalks to walk on, and road infrastructure that doesn’t drive you crazy on your daily commute are all important aspects of choosing the right home.

2. Getting pressured into making a decision

Many times, a seller will want to portray their home as being highly sought after to encourage higher and more frequent offers. Similarly, you may find that your own family has time constraints and want to make a quick decision to buy a home.

It’s when we’re under pressure that we can make choices that we aren’t happy with in the long run. So, in these situations, make sure you don’t make any snap judgments on a home. If it seems like you’re being pressured into making a decision without enough time to consider all of the possibilities, there’s a good chance you should pass on this opportunity.

3. Forgetting that you might someday have to sell this home

Sometimes homes can be difficult to sell due to things like their location and surroundings. For instance, a home that is remote or one that is located in low-scoring school districts may not matter to you if you don’t plan on having children. But, they likely will be important to a lot of your potential buyers when it comes time to sell the home.

This lesson also holds true for what you do with your home once you buy it. Making renovations or design choices that won’t appeal to the average buyer can make your home more difficult to sell and harder to get top dollar for.

4. Didn’t consider all financing options

There are several steps and several options when it comes to financing a home. Not only are the several mortgage lenders to choose from, but there are also many different types of loans available.

While there may not be one “right” decision when it comes to financing your home, it’s a good idea to do your homework and browse carefully all of the lenders and mortgage types.

Consider ways to increase your credit score or save for a higher down payment before buying if possible, so that you can secure the lowest interest rate possible.


When you buy a home, there’s more to shop for than just the right place to live. Before you settle with a lender, you should shop around a bit. You want to be sure that your lender has your very best interests in mind when you’re in the midst of making one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime. Below, you’ll find some of the most important questions that you need to ask a lender while you’re in the process of buying a home.


Do You Offer Any Special Programs?


Choosing the right lender involves choosing a firm that offers the types of programs that will be helpful to your specific situation. You should look for a lender that offers a wide array of loans to suit your needs. Beware of any lender who tries to push you into a certain type of loan, especially if you don’t feel that it is a good fit for you. 


Do You Understand The Terms Of Certain Types Of Loans?


If you are seeking a certain type of loan, you probably should tell your lender that upfront. Of they seem familiar with it and have worked with the loan before, you’re in good hands. If the type of loan that you’re looking for is more uncommon, then you may need to shop around carefully for the right lender who understands your needs. 


Do I meet The Qualifications For Specific Loans?


The requirements for the same loan at two different lenders could be different. Things like your credit score could be a big factor. If you have a less than desirable credit score, this would also prompt you to want to look around a bit. You should know that different lenders have different terms and looking at a few lenders could be beneficial to you.


What Are The Mortgage Rates?


You’ll need a general ballpark idea of what rates will be for you when you finally secure that home loan. Keep in mind that rates fluctuate often and that an estimate will be just that. It’s not a number that will be set in stone, however, it will give you a good place to start as you shop around for a loan. 


Do You Help With Down Payments?


There are many down payment assistance programs available and your lender can help you to navigate them. The more you put down, the better your interest rate will be. If the amount that you’re able to put down on a home is a factor for you, definitely discuss it with your lender.


Can You Provide Pre-Approval Proof?


In hot real estate markets, you’re going to need some proof that you’re pre-approved in order to have the upper hand once you put in an offer on a home. Your lender should be able to provide your real estate agent with a certified letter of your pre-approval and the amount. 


Choosing the right lender is just as important as choosing the right realtor and the right home to buy. It’s just another part of the home buying process!




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