Home Loans

Why It’s Important to Get Approval in Principle for Your Home Loan

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Ryan Ong

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Every year, a handful of would-be home owners make their decision to to lose (1) a lot of money, or (2) the house that they need. They might even go all out and lose both, since every sob story deserves a dramatically appropriate ending. That’s right, I’m talking about people who try to buy a house without Approval in Principle (AIP). Sometimes due to a deficit of credit, but mostly due to a deficit of common sense. So if you’re about to go house hunting, don’t join their ranks:

What is Approval in Principle?

Approval in Principle (AIP) is an agreement with a bank. Based on your credit history and financial health, a bank will decide whether to approve your home loan. There’s no actual loan that takes place when you get AIP; rather, it’s a guarantee that the bank will extend you the loan when you need it.

In Singapore, the AIP lasts 30 – 90 days. During this period, you can go house shopping with a clear idea of what’s affordable.

 

What if Someone Can’t Get AIP?

They can try to buy a house anyway, which is when the lunacy begins. If someone is denied AIP because they have bad credit, and they don’t have money on them, they’re a huge risk. Selling to them would be like passing your car keys to a hobo because he promised to come back with the money for your BMW. Most property agents don’t like that, which leads to the first problem…

 

Empty shoes on a balcony
“Let’s just say the last guy who didn’t have AIP abandoned the property. In a pretty dramatic way.”

 

1. Some Property Agents May Not Work With You

The best property agents maintain a reputation. They’re honest, reliable, and great people to buy a house from. As opposed to the grease bag you’ll be dealing with, if you don’t have AIP.

Good property agents want to avoid problems for their clients. One of those problems is selling a house to someone who, as it turns out, can’t get the home loan to buy it. As such, good property agents avoid people without AIP. They want to deal with people who are guaranteed to have that money, whether in their pockets or in the bank.

And that can make the difference between getting the house you want, and some “last alternative” dengue trap.

 

2. You Can Act Decisively

What happens if you find a great property with fantastic location, but don’t know if you can afford it? Answer: Give yourself an ulcer and find a religion, that’s what. Because you’ll be stressing out and praying all night, and you’ll constantly worry that someone will swoop in and take it.

 

Man on the phone
“Yes, you did say it was still up for sale. But that was eight minutes ago. Just checking again.”

 

In fact, without AIP you’re left worrying at every decision. It’s hard to bargain the price of something when you don’t know how the size (or even existence) of your home loan package. The bank may lend you the full amount, or it may lend you a lot less. Would you risk signing the papers anyway?

Then get ready to maybe…

 

3. Lose Your Deposit

To secure the house, you usually pay a booking fee. Let’s say the fee is 1 % of a $1.5 million home. That’s $15,000. There are people who, could they afford that amount, would have had major surgery and would still be alive right now. So it’s kind of a jerk move to waste that money.

Then again, if you don’t have AIP, this may just happen to you. For example: you assume the bank will lend you the money, and you put down the booking fee. Later, it turns out the bank is willing to lend you exactly enough to buy the welcome mat. Since you can’t afford the house, your booking fee is now gone.

 

Handing money to a smiling con man
“Don’t worry, people love lending money. I would know, I used to be a loan-shark.”

 

If your budget is tight, losing that booking fee might mean losing the down payment for the next alternative. The technical term for that situation is “Holy crap, I’m homeless.”

 

4. You Can Plan Your Finances

If you know the exact amount of your home loan, you can develop a functional budget. And when you have a clear idea of your disposable income, opportunities open up. For example, say you know the bank will cover all your costs except for $10,000. You have $15,000 to spare right now. You can set aside the $10,000 for the down payment, and immediately invest the remaining $5000 in a fixed deposit, start-up, etc.

 

Complicated chart
“And on page 178, I plan my repayment process in the event of a potential alien or dinosaur attack.”

 

Knowing the loan size also helps narrow your choices. You’ll get a clear idea of what you can and can’t afford, and so will property agents. They won’t feel a need to press you harder, and you’ll know when to walk away. That’s step one on the road to solid financial decisions.

 

How to Get an AIP?

Although getting an AIP can be a pain, the alternative is far worse. Getting your AIP sorted out can be simple if you know what to do. Here is our quick guide for how to go about getting an AIP.

Step 1: First, you need to decide on one bank you’d like to get your AIP from. It’s usually best to choose the bank that offers the most competitive rates at the time. You can compare the latest home loan rates on MoneySmart. That should give you a sense of which bank to go for. Select the bank you’d like to apply on the Comparison page of the site.

Step 2: A MoneySmart Mortgage Specialist will contact you and provide you with the necessary AIP application form and list of documents you need to prepare. They will help you submit, and expedite your approval. (Free Service because they get paid by the banks.)

Step 3: You get your AIP, and you’re pretty much guaranteed a loan from the bank if you choose to purchase a property within a month.

Note: Your max loan amount may defer slightly from bank to bank, but an AIP from one bank is sufficient to give you a good estimate of what you can afford. When you get an AIP, you’re not committing to take up a loan from that bank. So you are under no obligation. If the rates from that bank are revised upwards, you can always apply for your home loan from another bank. However, if you are taking up a home loan from the same bank, the application process is much smoother if you have already been granted an AIP for your home loan by the bank.

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Are you buying a home soon and in need of an AIP, comment and let us know!  

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Ryan Ong

I was a freelance writer for over a decade, and covered topics from music to super-contagious foot diseases. I took this job because I believe financial news should be accessible and fun to read. Also, because the assignments don't involve shouting teenagers and debilitating plagues.