What can I ask for from a buyer before contract, besides a pre-approval?

Q:  I am the seller. What can I ask for from a buyer before contract, besides a pre-approval? Can I ask for the loan officer number or for a contact at the bank? Or, can my lawyer request that they have a commitment within 45 days or else the buyer will be liable for $5-10 thousand of their $80k down payment?

A:  A pre-approval is only as good as the information that the buyer supplies to the loan officer, and how thoroughly the loan officer executed the process. You should by all means contact the bank and loan officer who issued the pre-approval and ask specific questions. Was credit pulled? Was the bank provided with complete income information (2 years of filed federal tax returns and current paystubs, etc.)? Were all assets needed to close the loan identified and sourced with current statements?

You should also ask what assumptions were used when preparing the pre-approval. What was the purchase price, down payment, RE taxes, maintenance, and common charges used for the preapproval? Was the buyer required to sell a current residence? These are all significant in gaining confidence in the value of the pre-approval.

Note that it will likely be necessary for the buyer to authorize the loan officer to speak with you or your attorney, so you may want to discuss this up front. If you wish, we can introduce you to someone who can assist you.