Agents are not only wasting their time, they are not serving their buyer-clients if they don't have the financial talk before doing any showings.
Ideally every serious buyer should meet with a local mortgage broker and complete the pre-approval process before they start touring homes. Why? There are several good reasons.
Chief among them is that pre-approval for a loan empowers the buyers. They will have a realistic picture of what they can and cannot afford to buy, and they are positioned to make an offer that is considered stronger because of this proof that they are qualified.
Sellers do choose offers based on things other than price. They want to know that the buyers have the money and are serious about the purchase.
The pre-approval process offers more assurance than the simpler pre-qualification process but either one is helpful. I encourage buyers to work with one of several good loan brokers I recommend and to get pre-approved for the highest amount they are willing to spend. That way they are ready when they find that "just right" property and they will know they can afford it.
What about buyers who don't want to get pre-qualified /approved? I educate them and usually overcome their objections by telling them that "Many sellers require buyers to be pre-qualified before any showings. They only want serious buyers to come into their home. We need to show them you are serious so let's get that pre-qual now. It just takes a few minutes...".
Pre-qualification/approval empowers your buyers and helps you offer them their best opportunities for purchase.