Being a Prepared Buyer in a Seller's Market

I am encountering, over and over, a situation where a buyer contacts me to see properties, but I have no information about this person at all.  Besides some safety issues that could be involved, and precautions I must take, I otherwise have no information about what kind of fit, financially and otherwise, this person actually is for the property he/she is interested in.

It seems that it can never be said enough that in this very tight market, the buyer must be prepared.  How can a Realtor take a buyer to show properties without having information? Very few buyers prepare themselves before contacting me to see a home.  If they contact me because they don't know where to start and are looking for a Realtor's help, then that is exactly what I'll do, which means getting started with loan pre-approval while getting to know their hopes and aspirations about what type of home they would like, and then fitting in their loan scenario with homes available to show.

Here is the mantra, as very well stated by a Realtor in New York:
“Time kills deals,” says Andrew Sandholm of BOND New York Properties in New York. “Dragging your feet means you could wind up paying more in a bidding war situation or missing out on the property altogether.” Buyers need to be ready with their paperwork, such as bank statements, a preapproval letter, and documents supporting proof of funds, from the day they begin house-hunting mode. That way they can pounce quickly with an offer when they do find a home they like.
Yes, folks, time kills deals.  You think you won't find something right away, and that you're not prepared.  So think at a minimum:  LOAN PRE-APPROVAL, PROOF OF FUNDS whether financing or all cash, and PRE-APPROVAL LETTER.  These things should be available at a moment's notice, and please keep in mind that providing this documentation to your Realtor is a normal part of your home search, and next, it's required in the contract.  Realtors do much much more than get the door key out, they make sure that you eventually get the key to the door you want.

You may believe that you have have plenty of time, but I know better. You think you're not ready to buy yet, and you're right if you've done nothing to prepare.  But you may also be wasting your own time.  Your Realtor has the ability to help you find the right home, but you're wasting that Realtor's professional expertise if you don't do these basic things.

This is a multiple offer environment for many homes in multiple cities and states, and while I've never thought it wise for the buyer to waive all their usual contingencies in order to beat out another buyer, it's important for buyers to present a very reasonable offer.  The article about making an offer states very good points to keep in mind for buyers.

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