I know I ask any new potential client this question. People often get at least a little defensive when this comes up, as if we are invading their privacy. I've seen responses that range from "Oh no, not yet, but we're just getting started, so we want to see what's out there, and we'll figure that out when we find the right home" or "No, but we've run the numbers ourselves, so we know what we can afford!" to "That's none of your business!" Well, I'm afraid it's very much our business, and if you disagree, I'm afraid you'll have a hard time finding a home!
As far as the other answers, given one of these, most REALTOR's will push back on this, and strongly recommend that you get yourself pre-approved BEFORE you get started. Which isn't to say that we won't work with you, it just means that we need you to take the steps in the right order!
Again, it's not that we don't want to work with you. In fact, we can often put you in touch with the right people to get you to that next step. The reasons we push to get the pre-approval done are many-fold, but let me explain two of the biggest.
1. Are you sure you know everything that goes into a mortgage calculation? What if we started running around, looking at $300,000 homes for weeks, and then you get that pre-approval, and for some reason, you can't afford as much as you thought you could. If you've already seen $300,000 homes, you'll never be happy with a $250,000 one. It's important that you know (and stick to!) your budget right from the outset, so you're not disappointed. Never mind the time you've wasted!
2. Even if you are "just getting started", or you "aren't that serious yet", what happens if we were to go look at a few homes, and you happen to find the one that is just PERFECT for you, but now you have to go running around getting your mortgage lined up, and someone else sneaks in and puts down an offer before you're ready? That would suck. And we don't want to see our clients in either of these positions.
So, the next time a REALTOR asks you if you're pre-approved, don't be upset, or defensive. We aren't trying to be rude, or invasive, and it's not (just) about not wanting to waste our own time. It's also very much about not wanting you to waste yours, or seeing you in an awkward, or painful situation!
And remember, if the answer is "no", that doesn't mean we'll hang up on you! In fact, it's just another way we can provide our clients with a deeper level of care, by setting them up with the right professional to get that taken care of as well!
So, even you're "just thinking about it", please do feel free to call me, and let me help you, with everything you'll need!