Loan Pre-approval

Pre-approval Advantages

Using Preferred Lenders

For home buyers, the journey begins in a logical place: they start looking at homes. But really, they should first start looking for the money.

According to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data compiled, less than 10% of buyers who got a mortgage in 2014 had pre-approvals. Yet, most tell you they preferred  when buyers have that financial blessing in hand. They want to know their buyers can actually afford the homes they’re looking at.

To that end, the real estate agents often refers their clients to loan officers for mortgage help.

The Real Estate Settlement Act, or RESPA, ensures that there can be no transactional benefit between real estate agents and loan officers. The lender shouldn’t even take the agent out to lunch as a thanks. But the working relationship between these two professions continues, ideally with one party reaping the benefit: the borrowers.

Rudy Rodriguez has just a few preferred lenders to whom he’ll refer buyers based on the client’s specific needs. His priority is to  lookout for his clients.

“It’s in my buyers’ best interest to work with a local lender. Someone who knows the local market well and who I know can get the deal done! “ I want my clients to have the confidence knowing we’ll close on time and with little to no surprises on the money front.”

And that’s the promise that my preferred lenders have made with me.  One of my goals is to ensure a smooth transaction, but there may be some hiccups, however; rest assured that they will handled in a professional manner. A recent Inman report found the same to be true.

“Lender marketing efforts directed at real estate professionals means nothing if the lenders cannot back up their advertised claims,” the report summarized.

Most Real estate professionals only want to work with lending partners with a proven track record whom they can trust to help clients get what they need too close on time.

Home buying itself is full of complicating factors. There are surprises and unexpected challenges.  Real estate agents are uniquely positioned to act as a guide for buyers and sellers. The finance portion of the transaction is no exception. According to NAR, 45% of first-time buyers said that the mortgage application and approval process was somewhat to much more difficult than expected. So a trusted lender is another asset to the agent. Helping to make the transaction less complicated and compromising to the success of the sale.

Which further supports the power of a real estate agent’s referral to specific lenders. That relationship between loan officers and the real estate agent, while highly regulated, is also highly

Certified Probate & Trust Specialist 

As a Certified Probate & Trust Specialist you can rest assured that as a Real estate professional, I have the understanding of the Probate transaction and can represent sellers or buyers in probate transactions, as well as investors looking to purchase probate properties. 

Get Pre-approved

A mortgage pre-approval means you are approved for a specific purchase price and loan amount. This allows us to show you homes within your approved price range.

Loan Pre-approval

Home Buying Timeline

Many home buyers begin their journey before talking to a lender. Home-buying begins when you first see yourself as a future homeowner.

If you’ve browsed houses online or stopped by an open house in person, you’ve started passive home-buying. Homeownership is something you’d like for your future, and knowing the timeline for buying a house will help guide you.

Here’s a breakdown of the home-buying timeline so you can prepare and plan your path to homeownership.

    • Begin Planning to Buy a House
    • Choose a Mortgage Lender
    • Hire a Real Estate Agent
    • Shop For Your New Home
    • Make An Offer
    • Loan Processing and Underwriting
    • Close On Your New Home

How Long Does It Take To Buy a House?

Buyers can find and purchase a home in as little as 15 weeks, and up to eight months.

Once you decide it’s time to buy a house, your first step is to get a mortgage pre-approval.

Buyers can be pre-approved in just one day. Then, the typical buyer tours nine homes over four weeks before finding their ideal house.

After you submit an offer and are under contract, it takes an average of 49 days to close and get your keys. With these estimates, you can move into a new home in four months or less.

These time frames can vary, as some lenders close quicker, some buyers take longer to choose a home, and some sellers take longer to accept an offer.

Here’s every home-buying step you can expect to take, from viewing listings to moving into your new home.

Graphic: The Typical Timeline For A First-Time Home Buyer (Although You May Move Faster Or Slower Than This Illustration)

1. Begin Planning To Buy a Home

6+ months in advance

Graphic: Homebuying Timeline - Passive Search

This is a time to determine your homeownership goals. Do you need more space for a growing family? Some buyers want a yard for their pets or outdoor hobbies. Others want to invest in a home and build wealth.

Your goals can help you decide what kind of home you want and when you’d like to move.

This is also a good time to evaluate your finances and build a monthly budget. A specific budget allows you to see how much you want to pay on a monthly mortgage. It also helps you set savings goals for your down payment and closing costs, unless you choose 100 percent financing.

If you’re worried about approval with your current finances, consider down payment assistance options and accessible loan types.

2. Choose a Mortgage Lender

Graphic: Homebuying Timeline - Passive Search

1+ days

A mortgage lender can help you decide which loan type is right for you. They’ll also help you consider down payment options and strategize to improve your credit score if necessary.

Most first-time home buyers choose a conventional 30-year mortgage. The longer loan term makes homeownership accessible with a lower monthly mortgage payment.

Buyers who aren’t eligible for a conventional mortgage may consider government-backed loans. FHA loans are a great option for buyers looking for a loan with low down payment and less restrictive credit score requirements.

USDA and VA loans have no down payment or credit score requirements.

3. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval

1+ days

A mortgage pre-approval shows you how much home you qualify for. The best time to get a pre-approval is before you start house hunting. This can be two months or a year in advance — whatever makes sense for you.

Pre-approvals are a dress rehearsal for your mortgage and are necessary to make a serious offer on a home. Know that pre-approvals don’t guarantee your mortgage approval or interest rate and they typically expire after 90 days and can be refreshed if you don’t find the home you’re looking for in that time.

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  1. Hire a Real Estate Agent

Graphic: 89% Of Home Buyers Purchased Their Home With The Help Of A Real Estate Agent

1+ weeks

Source: NAR

Buyer’s agents help you find homes, communicate with the seller, and negotiate the home sale. An experienced real estate agent knows the neighborhoods and provides insights into the local housing market.

Your mortgage lender can recommend agents in your area. You can also ask family and friends who they’ve worked with.

It’s key to get a real estate agent that represents you, instead of a dual agent that represents the seller, too. This home buyer mistake can prevent both the buyer and seller from having fair representation.

“Using the listing agent is like stepping into a courtroom and using the opposing side’s legal counsel. Everyone is entitled to have their own representation, and should.” 

Also, home sellers cover all real estate agent fees unless otherwise stated.

Many buyers only meet with one real estate agent, but it’s important to find someone you connect with. Take the time to build a home-buying team that’s equipped to represent you well.

Your Homebuying Team Is A Lender, an Agent, an Appraiser, an Inspector, and an Escrow Agent

5. Shop for Your New Home

8 weeks

House hunting is an exciting time to explore properties until you find your dream home.

It’s helpful to know what you want ahead of time, refine your home search, and guide your real estate agent. If you’re not sure what your dream home looks like, touring properties can help you set those expectations.

Keep a list of your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and deal-breakers. This can save you time touring and helps you make your final housing decision.

6. Make An Offer

1+ days

Once you find a house you love, your real estate agent will help you make an offer on the house. Decide details like your earnest money deposit and contingencies in advance so your offer letter template is ready to go.

An offer letter typically includes:

    • The name of the seller
    • The address of the property
    • The names of anyone who will be on the title, including yourself
    • The purchase price you’re offering and down payment
    • The earnest money deposit
    • Any contingencies you’d like to include
    • Any concessions you’re requesting from the seller
    • A complete list of fees and closing costs
    • The dates you’d like to close on the home
    • Your preferred move-in dates
    • A deadline to respond to the offer

Real estate laws vary by location, so you may need additional information. Your real estate agent or attorney can confirm that your offer letter complies with local regulations.

7. Loan Processing and Underwriting

Graphic: Homebuying Timeline - Closing On A Home

1+ days

Loan processors comb through your mortgage application and ensure they have everything needed for full mortgage approval.

Next, the application goes to the underwriter for verification. Underwriters look for inconsistencies in your credit report, credit score, and property details. If anything comes up, the underwriter will reach out with questions.

You’ll complete other closing processes during this phase, too.

Home Appraisal

Home appraisals determine the value of a home with an inspection from a qualified third-party appraiser. Appraisals are required for any home purchase, sale, or refinance.

Appraisers perform a visual inspection of the home and collect specific property and housing market data. This can include:

    • Floor plan
    • Square footage
    • Home amenities and features
    • Property’s neighborhood
    • Local housing trends
    • Similar home sales

The appraiser then considers this data to determine the home’s value.

Once the appraisal is complete, buyers receive a report detailing the property, neighborhood, and local housing sales.

As a home buyer, the appraisal allows you to know your home’s value and can influence the buying process.

If the appraisal projects the house is of equal or higher value than the sale price, the home sale continues. If the appraisal finds the home’s value is less than the sale price, the buyer has the opportunity to negotiate.

If the seller isn’t willing to negotiate, your mortgage lender is unlikely to approve the mortgage for a higher amount than the home’s worth. At this point, you can walk away from the deal or pay the difference between the appraised value and the purchase price.

Home Inspection

A home inspection provides insight into the current condition of a home and its features. Home inspections aren’t required, but highly recommended and are often a contingency in your contract.

Home inspectors look at the interior and exterior of the home, covering everything from plumbing to the foundation.

They don’t look at sewage pipes, behind electrical panels, or inside interior walls.

Once finished, the inspector provides a report highlighting:

    • Safety concerns
    • Major and minor defects
    • Items that need to be replaced
    • Items that need to be repaired
    • Items that may need to be repaired

As the buyer, you get to choose if you’d still like to purchase the home given the report’s findings.

If you still love the home but don’t want to pay to replace the roof, you have room to negotiate. You can ask that the seller fix the issue or lower the sale price to accommodate the repair.

Buyers have seven days after an inspection to decide to purchase or walk away from the sale. If you choose to waive the home inspection contingency in your offer, you choose to purchase the home as is. But an inspection is still recommended for your own information.

Title Search

Title companies perform a title search to determine who owns the property for sale and has the right to sell it. They’ll also look for an easement or right of way that may prevent you from completing projects, like installing a pool.

The end goal is to ensure the seller has the right to sell the home, and protect the buyer’s future ownership.

This seems straightforward, but divorces and inherited ownership can complicate things. If someone other than the seller has some ownership in the property, they can interfere with the sale.

You’ll also receive a title report to ensure the property can be legally transferred to you.

8. Close On Your New Home

Graphic: Homebuying Timeline - Welcome To Homeownership

3 days

When the closing reports are complete, you’ll receive a closing disclosure to review and finalize your loan. This specifies the loan’s terms and costs with exact figures.

It’s a good idea to perform a final walk-through and inspect the home to ensure everything is in good shape for move-in.

Finally, you’ll come to closing day. You and the seller will sign the final paperwork, transfer necessary funds, and you’ll get your keys.

Congratulations! You’re a homeowner, and it’s time to celebrate.

Homeownership is a journey that can start well before you ever consider pre-approval. Understanding the timeline for buying a house will help you prepare for the process and eventually buy the home of your dreams.

Finally, the House Warming Party

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Rudy Rodriguez DRE: 01121396


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Renting vs Buying

Sometimes You Choose Between Building Wealth and Having a Life

Investing in real estate, whether for profit or to avoid “throwing your money away” by renting a home, has inherent risks. But, renting throughout your adult life comes with a certain amount of insecurity as well, and can make building wealth considerably more challenging. Most people in the United States, all the way back to Thomas Jefferson, would tell you that home ownership is the path to freedom and security.

But buying a home is far from a sure thing in terms of making an investment. Just ask anyone who purchased a home when the overall market was at its peak in 2006 or 2007 only to have to wait the better part of a decade in order to get “right side up” or “out from underwater” on their mortgage.

There are no absolutes in terms of whether buying or renting is the right thing to do. However, depending on your circumstances and where you are looking to rent or buy, there are some general considerations that may make the decision a bit easier.

renting vs buying a home

When Renting Just Makes Good Sense

Depending on the type of person you are, there can be serious financial benefits to renting over owning in most markets throughout the country. Studies have shown that if a person was to invest the same amount of money they would normally spend on a down payment in a variety of stocks that simulate the general risk involved with homeownership, that at the end of eight years, the investment in stocks came out ahead of the appreciation and equity realized by the investment in a home.

Regardless of which is better in terms of building wealth over the long haul, buying a home in many urban markets throughout the United States can seriously cut into a person or family’s quality of life.

With property values now all but recovered from the Great Recession, the income to debt ratio associated with purchasing a home in many urban markets has made homeownership unattractive or all but impossible for those who aren’t earning well above the median for their area.

what's better? renting vs buying

When You Should Seriously Consider Becoming a Homeowner

The verdict may still be out over whether it makes better financial sense to rent throughout your lifetime or to buy in general, but depending on where you live and how long you intend to stay there, there are strong arguments in favor of purchasing a home under certain circumstances.

Beyond the financial arguments, there is the sense of pride and security that comes with owning property and knowing that you won’t ever be subject to a no-cause eviction. If you are planning to stay in the same place for at least five to seven years and paying a mortgage won’t make for a considerable financial hardship (in comparison to renting a similar home), then homeownership can have serious financial benefits, as it acts as a type of forced savings account, building wealth for the homeowner over time.

Additionally, purchasing a home in a volatile market can help you lock in a livable financial situation for yourself as rents continue to rise around you. There are also tax advantages to owning your home, vs. renting.


When The Best Reasons May Not Make a Difference

For many, weighing the overall financial benefits of renting vs. buying and the relative financial hardship of purchasing a home in a developed or developing market will not even come into the decision on purchasing vs. renting. Many who believe in the power of homeownership will scrape together whatever they can to purchase a home, regardless of whether it’s a good idea in that market at that time, or not. Others may never believe that they’re in a position to consider buying a home, given what they wish to spend their income on. They may both be wrong and right.



Certified Probate & Trust Specialist 

As a Certified Probate & Trust Specialist you can rest assured that as a Real estate professional, I have the understanding of the Probate transaction and can represent sellers or buyers in probate transactions, as well as investors looking to purchase probate properties. 

Rudy Rodriguez DRE: 01121396


Monday – Friday
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday – Sunday – Appointments Only


Stay up to date with our latest news, receive exclusive deals, and more.

© 2025

Real Estate Agent Types

When buying property, the most important decision you make may very well be who you hire to represent you — and there are a number of types of real estate professionals you may want to consider. Having an experienced real estate agent on your side can make it easier to find a home you can afford. While you may think that all real estate agents are the same, there are some key differences that you need to be aware of. Knowing what type of real estate professional you need can eliminate some of the stress and headaches involved in buying a home.

Real Estate Agent

In the simplest terms, a real estate agent is someone who’s completed the necessary requirements to become licensed to sell property in their state. Every state requires real estate agents to have a license, which usually involves taking classes and passing a state-administered exam. Real estate agents are employed by a real estate broker and are not allowed to work independently.

Generally, a real estate agent can act on behalf of the buyer, the seller or both. A buyer’s agent represents your interests throughout the home-buying process, from finding the right house to the closing. Typically, their duties include showing you homes, submitting purchase offers, negotiating with the seller, writing up the sales agreement and helping to arrange the closing. Depending on which agency you choose, you may have to sign an agreement stating that the buyer’s agent represents you exclusively.

A seller’s agent, also known as a listing agent, works with individuals who are trying to sell their home. Their job is to represent the seller’s interests and facilitate the sale of the property. A seller’s agent may be responsible for researching comps in your neighborhood to help you decide on an asking price, listing your, conducting open houses and negotiating offers. Typically, most if not all of the contact you have with the seller will be through their listing agent.

In some situations, the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent are the same person. This is known as dual agency. Typically, an agent has to get consent from both the seller and the buyer before entering into a dual agency role, since it has the potential to create a conflict of interest. Dual agency isn’t allowed in every state so you need to be aware of what the laws are before seeking out this type of agent.

The National Association of Realtors also offers specialized designations and certifications to help real estate agents gain expertise in specific areas. These include green homes, age-restricted communities, luxury homes, military relocation, second homes and diversity.

Real Estate Broker

SmartAsset: What Type of Real Estate Agent Do You Need?

A real estate broker is someone who’s licensed to run their own real estate company. The licensing requirements vary from state to state but generally, you need to have experience as a real estate agent, complete advanced real estate courses and pass a state-administered exam to become a broker. Some states may allow licensed attorneys to obtain a broker’s license without relevant experience as an agent, as long as they can pass the broker’s exam.

Real estate brokers can work independently or employ one or more licensed real estate agents. In some cases, a real estate broker may choose to work for another real estate agency as an associate broker. Associate brokers have the same qualifications as an independent broker or agency owner but they’re not responsible for the other real estate agents they work with. The day-to-day duties of a real estate broker may vary but their primary role is to act as a go-between for buyers, sellers and their respective agents.


Though you may think that “realtor” is just another word for a real estate agent, it’s actually a term with a distinct meaning. The term “REALTOR®” is a registered trademark of the National Association of Realtors. In order for a licensed real estate agent to use this title, they must belong to the NAR and be in good standing. A realtor performs the same functions and duties as any other real estate agent but they’re required to adhere to a specific code of ethics.

The Code of Ethics outlines 17 guidelines realtors must follow and generally holds them to a higher standard of conduct than unaffiliated agents. Keep in mind that both realtors and real estate agents are bound by the same legal standards. The Code of Ethics is designed to impose additional moral rules, rather than legal ones.

Bottom Line

SmartAsset: What Type of Real Estate Agent Do You Need?

When you’re shopping around for a real estate professional, there are some questions you can ask to help narrow down your choices. First, you should ask whether or not the agent or broker has their license. Avoid anyone can’t demonstrate a valid license. Next, you should find out how long they’ve been working in real estate, particularly in the market you’re looking to buy or sell in. It’s okay to ask them about their individual track record or request examples of homes they’ve recently closed on.

You should also ask any prospective agent or broker whether they belong to the Local Board of Realtors. Board membership isn’t required but it does give members access to the Multiple Listing Service, which is a nationwide database of homes that are for sale.

Whether you need to use a real estate agent, broker or realtor depends on your personal preference. All three must be licensed and all three perform similar functions, although individual agents, brokers and realtors will vary in terms of their education and experience. Ultimately, finding the right fit means choosing someone you feel comfortable with and whose qualifications match your needs.

Home Buying Tips

    • A financial advisor can help you create a financial plan to reach your homebuying goals. 
    • Saving is important when you’re looking to buy a house. Setting a budget with  budget tool can get you on track.
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