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How to Get A Mortgage Preapproval

Reviewed by: David Naimey

Approved by: Chad Turner

What Is A Mortgage Preapproval?

A mortgage preapproval is a process where a lender evaluates your financial situation to determine how much you are eligible to borrow for a home loan. This involves a thorough review of your credit history, income, assets, and debts, including your bank account and any credit card balances. Upon approval, the lender provides a preapproval letter, which indicates your borrowing power and shows sellers that you are a serious buyer ready to buy a house.

Home Loan Preapproval Vs. Prequalification

Prequalification is a preliminary step where you provide an overview of your financial situation to a lender, who then gives you an estimate of how much you might be able to borrow. Preapproval, on the other hand, involves a more detailed analysis of your finances and requires documentation. During preapproval, lenders will look closely at your credit score, and any outstanding debts. A pre-approval carries more weight than a prequalification because it shows that the lender has closely examined your financial status and financial  history.

Home Loan Preapproval Vs. Approval

While preapproval gives you an idea of how much you can borrow and demonstrates to sellers that you are a qualified, final approval is the last step in the mortgage process. Final approval occurs after you have chosen a home and the lender has conducted a more comprehensive review, including a property appraisal and final verification of your financial information. This stage may involve re-checking your credit score, reviewing any changes in your bank accounts, and ensuring all required documents are in order. Preapproval is conditional, while final approval means the loan is fully granted, allowing you to close on the home and pay the closing costs.

How To Get Preapproved For A Mortgage

Check Your Credit Score

Obtain a copy of your credit report and check your score. Address any inaccuracies or issues, especially if you have bad credit. Improving your credit can take time, but it is essential for a successful preapproval.

Gather Financial Documents

Collect necessary documents such as pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and proof of assets. These documents will help verify your income and financial stability when applying for preapproval.

Calculate Your Budget

Determine how much you can afford to spend on a home, considering your down payment, monthly mortgage payments, and other costs like closing costs and ongoing maintenance. This will help you understand how much money you need to save and manage in your account.

Shop Around for Lenders

Compare mortgage rates and terms from different lenders to find the best deal. You can apply with multiple lenders to see who offers the best terms based on your credit score and financial situation.

Submit an Application

Complete a mortgage application with your chosen lender and provide the required documentation. This step involves applying formally, and the lender will review your financial details, including your bank accounts and credit history.

Wait for Review

The lender will review your application and credit history. This process can take a few business days to a couple of weeks. They may contact you for additional information or clarification during this period.

Receive Your Preapproval Letter

If approved, you’ll receive a preapproval letter stating the loan amount you qualify for. This letter will enhance your credibility when buying a home, as it shows people you have the financial backing to complete the purchase.

Benefits Of A Mortgage Preapproval

Increased Credibility

Demonstrates that you are serious and qualified, ready to buy a house.

Better Negotiation Power

Allows you to negotiate with confidence, knowing your budget limits and financial standing.

Faster Closing Process

Since much of the financial vetting is completed upfront, the closing process can be quicker, reducing the time to close on your new home.

Clear Budgeting

Provides a clear understanding of how much you can afford, helping you focus on homes within your price range and better manage your money.

It’s recommended to get preapproved for a mortgage about 3-6 months before you plan to buy a home. This gives you time to address any potential issues that may arise during the preapproval process, such as improving your credit score or saving more money. It ensures your preapproval is still valid when you are ready to make an offer.

Yes, getting preapproved for a mortgage is worth it. It strengthens your position, helps you understand your budget, and can expedite the home buying process. People are more likely to take your offer seriously if you are preapproved, which can be crucial in a competitive housing market.

Yes, preapproval typically involves a hard credit inquiry, which can have a minor impact on your credit score. However, this impact is usually small and temporary. Multiple inquiries within a short period are often treated as a single inquiry, minimizing the effect on your score.

No, preapproval does not guarantee a mortgage. It is a conditional commitment based on the information provided and the assumption that your financial situation remains the same. Final approval requires a more detailed evaluation, including a property appraisal and final credit check. Changes in your financial situation, such as a new loan or a change in your account, can affect your final approval.

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