Pre-qualification and pre-approval are not the same thing. A pre-qualification is just a quick snapshot of the potential buyer’s position based on income and credit. It merely tells them how much money they might be able to borrow based on the information that they provide. A pre-approval is different in that it goes much further. The lender will generally go through the verification process. In addition to checking credit they will verify income and employment and perform other parts of the underwriting process. A pre-approval is the lender’s way of saying that if the property appraises at a value that meets their criteria of loan-to-value and the buyer makes the required down payment, the loan is approved.
Not So Fast
The collapse of the real estate market and price drops in many areas have caused lenders to decline loans for many buyers who had been pre-approved. This has caused problems for both buyers and sellers. A buyer finds a home that they like and puts a deposit down and the seller is happy to have found a buyer. Both are surprised when the bank denies the very loan that they had pre-approved because of changes in the real estate market.
In Las Vegas there has been an epidemic of this happening in the high-rise condo market. Buyers who had been pre-approved had placed many of these luxury condos under contract. However, in the time between contract and the completion of construction real estate prices had plummeted and the lenders refused to honor the commitment. The developers have been left holding the bag on many completed units. Buyers who had arranged their own financing rather than use loans arranged through the builder have lost substantial deposits in many cases because they were unwilling or unable to complete the purchase. This situation has forced many of the projects into bankruptcy or left them teetering on the brink of insolvency.
Turning It Up A Notch
It’s bad enough when this happens to an individual who is trying to
purchase a home. It’s even more problematic when it happens to a companythat is building a $3.1 billion resort. Fontainebleau Las Vegas had secured commitments from multiple lenders on the $800 million in financing that was needed to see the project through. Unfortunately the lenders decided to pull the plug on the project just as it is nearing completion. The lenders include some of the biggest names in the industry such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays Bank. At stake are 3,300 construction jobs and over 6,000 jobs when the 3,815 room resort opens in October of this year. The developer has filed a lawsuit (article) in an effort to get the lenders to honor their agreement.
This is just the latest blow to Las Vegas. The area had been rocked by the stoppage of the $4.8 billion Echelon Place and problems with the $8.7 billion City Center project. The area is one of the hardest hit by the recession with unemployment over 10% and at or near the top of the nationwide foreclosure rankings. Just as area residents are wondering “what else could go wrong” something does.