What Does "qualifying a Buyer" Mean?

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In real estate, "qualifying a buyer" refers to a process of determining whether a buyer has sufficient finances to purchase a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. Qualifying a buyer helps the real estate agent know which homes are best to show the buyer. Items that qualify a buyer include credit score, income, debt ratio, down payment funds and mortgage pre-qualification from a bank.

The National Association of Realtors notes that to be considered qualified, a buyer should have at least a 20 percent down payment, additional funds to cover closing costs, a pre-qualification letter or pre-approval from a financial institution for a mortgage and a current credit score. According to About.com, it is in the real estate agent's best interests to qualify a buyer so the agent does not waste valuable resources or a seller's time by presenting buyers who will not be approved for a mortgage.

About.com notes that the real estate agent has different concerns depending on whether the agent is representing the seller or buyer. When the agent represents the seller, the agent is obligated to meet the requirements of the seller for showing the property as long as the requirements are legal. The agent cannot legally prevent unqualified buyers from viewing a property, but sellers can request that only qualified buyers view the property.