From the Forum – Home buying FINANCIAL INFORMATION SHEET??

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love


“So, we are new to the area and learning about home buying. We have a Realtor(s) and have found a home we would like to submit a offer on. I should note we are well qualified and obtained pre-approval letters from 2 local & reputable lenders. And without going into details on the forum we have a strong & reasonable offer. (No 100% financing, prior home to sell 1st or anything worrisome/ alarming.

When putting together the offer we were asked by our Realtor(s) to complete a “Financial Information Sheet.” (Never heard of this or done this for the past 4 homes in other states.) The form is asking for details about current & past employment, salary, bank saving/checking accounts, stocks/bonds. life insurance & cash surrender amount, property owned & value, and so forth. It states on the form “This information is presented with the understanding that it may be used as a basis for the acceptance of a contract by the seller. The undersigned hereby authorizes the agent to disclose to the SELLER, SELLERS AGENT, DUAL AGENTS, INTRA-COMPANY AGENTS, COOPERATING AGENTS and Lender ALL OR ANY PORTION OF THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS FINANCIAL INFORMATION SHEET”

What the heck??? I have not found any law or legal statute stating we need this. And did we not cover all of this with the lender when they ran our credit & looked into all of these things prior to giving us pre-approval for a loan? Why on earth would I provide such much information in so much detail for a person &/or multi-people we do not know?? Seems like this could be a major privacy & identify theft issue. Not to mention used improperly to leverage for a higher sales price. Why does the our agent or buyer or their agent need these details? Especially when we have the pre-approval letter? It is not like the seller has not provided their financial reasons for selling!

We questioned our agent(s) and got this response: “The financial sheet is a must have in our area, the listing agent won’t presents contract without it. People often feel like they are weakening their negotiating position by showing they are well qualified. It just doesn’t work that way, showing your strength never weakens your position, it only strengthens it.

An offer here is never complete without a financial info sheet…”

So, I am wondering if other local folks have run into this? Is a offer truly”incomplete” with out this?
Can’t we submit the offer with only on the pre-approval letter & earnest money? (and at least see what they say?) If the Buyers agent asks for it can either walk or provide limited information?
Is it time to find a different agent? Thanks for any local insight from those with experience on the topic.”

You can see all forum topics and add your own here. If you are having trouble uploading your question to the forum please try clearing your cache. If it still doesn’t work please email me at princeofpetworth(at)gmail

45 Comment

  • I thought that was pretty standard. What states have you bought in that didn’t require this information?

  • I purchased a house 3.5 years ago and did not have to do this. FWIW.

  • Don’t give any realtor that info. Simply go to a reliable bank and complete their pre-qualification process. After that you’ll get a pre-qualification letter stating the amount you can finance with them. That should be the only info you need to provide. Also if you do a “pre-qual” with a bank and get the letter, you don’t necessarily need to finance through the bank that qualified you. I would never give that kind of information to anyone who isn’t bound by law to not share it with anyone else. I have enough real estate experience to feel confident in telling you this is a fact. 🙂

    • Pre-Qual letter shows you can obtain the loan amount.

      Buyer Financial info sheets shows you have a down-payment

      Pre-Qual is 100% needed. Buyer financial is helpful, but not required, though some sellers and their agents will insist.

  • When I sold my home this year in DC, I had multiple bids. Each bid submitted this type of information, and it did play into my decision of which offer to accept (the offers were otherwise identical).

    Pre-approval is not a guarantee that the funding will happen – I looked to the financials to pick the purchaser with the greater likelihood of actually getting the financing.

  • Is it required? No. But it is recommended and has become part of the standard offer here in DC because the housing market is so crazy. The buyer wants to take the strongest offer possible so they don’t waste time with someone with less than stellar finances, and live through the possibility of losing 4-6 weeks and having the property not go to settlement.

    The problem is, in DC most of the multiple offers people are getting are from people with great credit, so this is just another way to ice the cake on your offer.

    Like I said, not required but I can almost promise you your offer will go to the bottom of the pile.

    • This is dead on. It’s not required but it’s going to make your offer stronger. Without it your offer may not get the consideration of others that have it in a multiple offer situation.

  • I bought my house here within the last year and didn’t have to do all this. I was pre-qualified and provided the letter to the selling agent. Bada-Bing- Bada-Boom. I would imagine this would be a really elaborate scheme to get your money, or a less elaborate scheme to use your wealth a leverage in bargaining a sale price.

  • Interesting. I’ve never heard of this. I have bought two houses in DC, one last year and there were six other offers besides mine. I was never required to fill anything like this out, and wasn’t even suggested to me. When I sold my house I got six offers and they included down payment information, I did not get anything like this nor did I even think to ask for it.

  • We bought 3 years ago and did not have to provide a Financial Information Sheet to the sellers. We were pre-approved by a bank and that letter was part of the sales contract, if I recall correctly.

  • When we bought a condo in AdMo 3 years ago, the seller required a financial worksheet from us. We were infuriated, but provided it.

    When we went to sell this year, our agent asked the potential buyer for the same sheet, and it was provided. We ended up buying in Takoma and we were not asked to provide that info. So, I think it really depends on the sellers & agent, but it’s not a requirement like many items.

  • what does this have to do with Mr. Skip? His target audience is toddlers and preschoolers 🙂 Yeah Mr. Skip!

  • You are required to give this info to the bank to close your loan (its in the Patriot Act, believe it or not), but not the realtor. However, because banks give out preapproval letters like candy (or at least they used to), some buyers will take the info into consideration.

  • Bought two years ago and didn’t have to do this. Nor would I have. I find your analysis just about right (both privacy and negotiation-wise), and like other commenters I think the pre-approval letter / bank analysis of your finances should scratch this itch for a seller. And they can ask for it. If it’s a “bottom of the pile” concern … make a better offer or plus up the EMD. My $0.02.

    Smells to me like another GCAR thing. They’re a pernicious clique. We had (and dispensed with) a realtor who tried to make use use the standard GCAR offer contract with the same arguments — a seller won’t even look at the offer! Might have cost us our first offer. But that document has clauses that are against the interest of both buyer and seller, serving only to protect the realtors involved. So I felt strongly about modifying it.

    • Can you explain a bit more about the GCAR? What exactly does this industry group put in their documents that benefits the agent?

  • I have a bank pre-approval letter, but I have been asked for the financial information sheet with offers I have submitted. It does seem like overkill of personal info, but that is what it takes. You don’t need to supply account numbers; just how much is in the accounts (e.g., TD Bank Savings Account $XX,XXX; Morgan Stanley Investment Account: $XX,XXX, etc.).

  • binpetworth

    I had to fill this in when I bought my condo 4 years ago. However, because I was not employed (had a job offer) and was coming from overseas I didn’t see it as sketchy at all but rather an insurance that I actually could maintain gainful employment and pay a mortgage. But I can see where others would find this weird.

  • We had to do this in making an offer over the summer. Realtor said the same thing. We limited the information provided to just the amounts in accounts… no account numbers, no social security numbers, no bank information at all. I agree that it was in duplication to what you get from the pre-approval, but I wouldn’t call it a risk for identity theft either… I think it depends on what you disclose exactly.

  • I wouldn’t sell my house to you, you seem beligerant. Next offer, please!

  • I sold my home several years ago after receiving two offers. Both offers came with a Financial Disclosure Sheet. This information helped me, the seller, select the Owner that was “most likely to have no problems closing”. It is a great tool and I’m glad we had use of it. Of course, we selected the Offer with the best bank accounts.

  • Bought and sold several homes in DC over the past 12 years and were only asked to provide this document once. Our agent told us not to provide if we didn’t feel comfortable and even went to bat for us against the listing agent who was being a total a-hole. She is a $10 mil+ agent and felt that as long as we had an approval letter and a good amount of earnest money, we shouldn’t have to disclose more financial information. That said listing agent has been the topic of other blogs for his antics.

  • These sheets became increasingly important in past few years when banks tightened their mortgage approvals and people’s financing would often fall through right before closing–a pre-approval/pre-quaulification is no absolute guarantee that the mortgage will go through, and sellers don’t want to risk a buyer having to back out even if they put down earnest money. This is akin to risky moves of waiving the finance contigency, or even the home inspection–you fill this sheet out because it can help your offer in a bidding war, especially when some in DC bring all-cash offers. I’m glad others didn’t have to fill them out and got the house they wanted, but it’s not a scam. Sellers can ask for it and you decline at your risk. We lost one house to someone who brought a nearly all-cash offer for more than our top bid, but the seller demanded the financial disclosure form from that other buyer to feel reassured they had the resources

  • As long as you have the finances to pay for the house – fill it out. Return it ASAP. Shows the seller you are serious and are capable of bringing the funds to closing. Gives you a competitive edge to those who choose not to – if you are in competition of course. (I’m a DC Realtor & Investor). Best of luck!

    • We did just that and the listing agent told our agent we should sell our car to make the sellers feel more confident that had enough cash to close. Um – we just sold our house at a huge profit and were putting down exactly 20% on a house just shy of $1mil. Turns out they were looking for a bidding war. We walked once the sellers asked for more and the “winning” buyers got stuck with a house that didn’t appraise.

      • Good on you – very smart. Be happy that you’re not stuck with that albatross.
        Horrible sellers ARE THE WORST.

      • Yes. Good on you! However, I would say the sellers are good sellers in that they were able to negotiate the buyer to a price that was above the appraised value.

  • Honestly, it sounds like a bargaining chip for price escalation. I’d tell ’em to pound sand.
    Of course, your realtor isn’t impartial in this situation. A higher sales prices means a higher commission for him.

  • I bought in DC and did not have to provide that information to my realtor (Long and Foster). I did have to provide it to my lender (BB&T), but that was only after my offer had been accepted.

    • BINGO. You encapsulate this entire debate in two very short sentences. Not being known for conciseness, I allow me to elaborate. You get pre-approved to be able to shop for homes, but only submit your ACTUAL financial information once you get a RATIFIED contract, which binds the seller to you legally as a buyer. If for whatever reason, once you go through the much, much more exhaustive underwriting process, you are not approved for the right amount, or your rate is higher making the loan more expensive and therefore diminishing your borrowing power, or are not underwritten at all, then the seller is S.O.L. It is a big risk to accept an offer and ratify a contract based only on a pre-approval, which is essentially a non-verified version of the underwriting process. Not sure if they still do it these days, but a poster up higher nailed it: they used to give those pre-approvals out like candy. They’re great for generating business down the line.

  • this is all about making sure you’re able to close and not wasting anyone’s time. I as a seller would ask for it and choose the person with the best financials. Pre-Approval letters are not a guarantee the loan will get unwritten, and a lot can go wrong in the closing process. The house is not yours until the keys are in your hand. It’s just the seller and the agent doing their due diligence which I think all parities should do.

  • Welcome to the seller’s market. I didn’t have to fill this out but that was before this absolute madhouse market arrived.

  • All the non-lenders on here telling us that they financial sheet helps them make a decision are laughable. You have no basis or backround for doing that. It is the banks job and that is what pre-approval is for.
    If a lender is consistently unable to close then the realtor (on both sides) should know that and require buyers come to the table with reputable pre-approvals. This is the proper solution to these situations, not the creation of a wholly unqualified third step of analysis.
    Thinking you know how to look over a financial disclosure form to make an informed decision is like saying you can look over a company’s books and play auditor. Leave it to the professionals.

  • Absolutely did not have to do this 3 years ago. Sounds like a some horseshit. That, or the market is all kinds of bananas where sellers actually base acceptance on this. I’d say f that noise and find a different house.

  • These are pretty standard in this area. Think of it this way; if the pre-approval letter is supposed to give some confidence that you can obtain a loan, then the buyer financial information sheet provides some confidence to the seller that you have the money for a down payment.

    I recommend to my clients to really only show the funds and accounts necessary to show funding. If you have $50,000 in a checking account, then no need to show the seller you have $100,000 in a 401k.

    It is also worth noting that it is not a required document for a valid offer and if you are uncomfortable your agent should be able to assuage any fears the seller might have with perhaps a snap-shot of an account with everything but the balance blacked out.

    I have submitted offers without the sheet, but figured out an agreeable way for my clients to show funds without disclosing too much information.

    Good luck hunting!

  • I’m an agent and think this is a terrible form to expect a buyer to give to a seller. Unless a seller demands one I never have my buyers submit this form and rarely do my sellers ask for them. Having said all that, if it’s a great home my best advice for you is to do what it takes to win the bid. And when you have time call the association of realtors and the dc real estate board to encourage them to remove this from their forms library.

    Ps. Just be glad you aren’t dealing with tenants rights.

  • I would never give this kind of information to a used car salesman, or a real estate agent as they arn’t far apart. I would also never give out this information as a rule seeing as how if your identity is stolen it will take far longer to clear it up than it will take to find another house. Never have submitted this kind of information when buying or selling a house!

  • While I did not complete such a form, I did write a check for a sizable portion of the down payment and include it in my offer at the recommendation of my realtor–similar idea, different means if achieving?

  • I just had an offer on my house fall through at the last minute because although the buyer was pre-approved, the financing fell through. I had multiple offers and if I had known this was an option, I would have asked for it from the buyers. Pre-approval letters are unreliable.

  • Pre-approval letters are just that, PRE approvals, not approvals. For a pre-approval, full underwriting is not done, only a cursory look at your high level financials. The bank writing the letter has no obligation to actually give you a loan. Therefore, anyone who knows about underwriting, knows your pre approval letter doesn’t really mean much. As another poster mentioned, they are given out like candy. Either provide an “Approval” letter (not the same thing as a pre approval) or fill out the sheet. We are selling this spring and won’t look at offers without one. Even if you bid more, it’s not worth it to have a deal not go through. We’ve provided the info, it’s no bid deal.

Comments are closed.