Ask the REALTOR®: Why do I need a pre-approval letter to look at houses?

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Ask the REALTOR® is a new series in which I answer your most commonly-asked real estate questions, with a new Q&A posting every week or so. If YOU have a real estate question for me, drop me a note here.

This week’s question: Why do I need a pre-approval letter to look at houses? Here’s the answer in this brief video, and don’t miss the transcript below.

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Hello, my name is Cari McGee and I am a realtor at Keller Williams Real Estate in Tri-Cities, Washington. Welcome to Ask the REALTOR®. Every week, I’m going to answer questions from buyers, sellers, and pretty much everyone in between regarding real estate.

Today’s question is: Why do I need a pre-approval letter to even look at houses?

Great question, and this is why: You, as a buyer, probably have an idea of how much you want to spend, how much you can afford, and also what kind of houses you would like to live in. We have to make sure that those numbers match and that they coincide. The best way to do that is to get you pre-approved with a lender so that we can say, “Okay, you can afford X, and your lender says you can afford X, therefore, let’s go looking at houses in the range of X.”

There is really nothing more frustrating than looking and looking for a home and not finding anything you like because you’re looking in the wrong price range. If you can afford $300,000 but you think you can only afford $250,000 — pretty frustrating because you’re not finding anything that you know you’re really ready for. Also, nothing is more heartbreaking then falling in love with a house that you can’t afford. For example, thinking, “Oh, I can spend the money I need for a $300,000 house easy.” So you go out looking at $300,000 houses but we find out you can only afford a $250,000 house. And so the house that you fell in love with and that you set your heart on, you can’t get. As long as you know from the very beginning what the best course of action for you is, that’s why you need the pre-approval letter because it can save a lot of heartache and frustration.

If you have a question for me, please be sure to go ahead and reach out via my website, or email me at Or go ahead and call or text me at (509) 430-5342.

Thanks so much! Looking forward to talking to you next week. Bye-bye.

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About The Author
Cari McGee

My husband and I came to the Tri-Cities in 1994, and we thought it would be a temporary stop on our way to larger cities. He was a television sports anchor at the time, and we planned to go wherever the "next step up" took us. Twenty-plus years later, we're still here and we've loved every minute of it! We have two children now, and we've found the Tri-Cities area is a wonderful place to raise a family. It's a great place to do outdoorsy things -- I like to hike Badger Mountain or run along the river path. I also love reading ... by a cozy fire in the winter or a beautiful picture window in the summer (with the A/C on!). I've been a licensed Realtor since 2004. I earned my managing broker's license in 2016, which means I can run my own brokerage, or create a team of real estate agents and supervise them, which is exactly what I did when I formed the Cari McGee Real Estate Team in 2018! We have administrative and marketing personnel, as well as additional agents to serve you. I became a director of the Tri-Cities Association of Realtors Board of Directors in 2016, became Secretary/Treasurer of the organization, and was elected to Vice President in 2019. Want to talk about real estate? Click here to schedule a meeting with me!

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