Pre-Qualify

Prequalification:

  • A mortgage lender will evaluate a potential homebuyer's credit report plus earnings, savings and debt information to get an estimate of the mortgage amount the borrower would qualify for. This is based on documentation the borrower has in hand, or what the borrower tells the lender. The review can take as little as a few hours or as long as a few days.
  • Prequalification is usually free.

Pre-Approval:

  • This process goes a step further than prequalifying. Pre-approval means the lender has contacted the borrower's employer, bank and other places to verify all claims of earnings and assets. In return, the borrower receives a letter stating that he has mortgage approval for a certain amount.
  • Since you already qualify for financing, pre-approval can speed up and improve your chances of reaching an agreement on the purchase price with the seller.
  • The only cost for pre-approval may be the lender's cost of obtaining your credit report.

"With a pre-approval, you're going to have more leverage when you make an offer," explained Steve O'Connor, senior director of residential finance at the Mortgage Bankers Association of America. "You can say, 'I've got a loan approved already that's sufficient to purchase this home,' and that makes you more attractive to a potential seller."

Once you and the seller agree on a price, you both will sign a sale contract, which will spell out conditions each party must meet for the sale to go through. A closing of the sale generally hinges on both the buyer's ability to obtain the mortgage loan and the seller's completion of some home repairs.

To start the Pre-Approval process, click here