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How to Get Preapproved For A Mortgage: Loan Approval Explained

By Bill Gassett | December 10, 2020

Tips For Getting Preapproved For a Mortgage

If you start looking for your new home before you know how much you can afford to spend, you will be disappointed. It is effortless to start looking at homes you will later find you can't afford when you try to get approved for a mortgage. However, if you have a mortgage preapproval, you will know where you stand and be in a stronger position when making an offer.

Let’s review what a preapproved mortgage is and how to apply for one. Getting pre-approved will put you in a much better position to land your desired home.

What is Preapproval for a Mortgage?

How to Get Preapproved For a Mortgage
How to Get Preapproved For a Loan

The pre-approval process shows you how much a lender is willing to help you purchase your home. The lender will examine your finances, income, outgoings, credit score, and more to assess your ability to pay.

Not only does the preapproval show you how much you can borrow to buy your home, but it also indicates the interest rate you will pay.

Preapproval or Prequalification?

You might hear the term “prequalification” when talking to a lender; though it isn’t the same as being "preapproved," there are similarities. The two terms are also frequently used interchangeably by lenders, which doesn’t help matters.

Prequalification doesn’t typically require as much information from you, and your lender won’t run a credit check either. As such, this qualification process will only give you a rough idea of the size of mortgage you can get. When you try to get approval for a loan, you might find you don’t get the amount you anticipate if you have only been prequalified.

The preapproval process often requires you to provide bank statements, pay stubs, etc. The lender will also pull your credit report so that they will see your credit score and the amount of debt you have. There will be an employment verification process, as well.

Comparing a Mortgage Preapproval to Full Approval

A pre-approval will give you a good understanding of the amount you can afford to spend on a home, but you will still need full approval when you find a property you want to buy. Additional checks will need to be made by the lender, including a home appraisal.

The lender needs to be sure the home is worth the amount you agreed to pay. If the appraisal amount is lower than your offer, the mortgage could be declined.

The lender will also need to check that the title is correct. This means they will work with the title company to ensure the seller owns it and there aren’t any liens against it.

Another factor can be the condition of the home. If problems like cracked windows or a roof need repair, there can be problems with some loan types. The FHA loans program requires that issues like these are resolved before the home can be closed.

Lenders are also particular about where your money is coming from as well. If you have significant cash deposits, they want to verify where this money comes from. They do this because they have no idea if these funds are being given to you are not money you earned.

The Benefits of Being Preapproved

A mortgage preapproval helps you understand the homes you can afford, saving you from looking at properties out of your price range. Many real estate agents will want to know that you are preapproved before they will show you homes.

Making an offer makes your bid a lot stronger if a mortgage preapproval backs it up. If the seller has a few offers, they are more likely to go for the one that is less likely to fall through. Preapproval shows sellers that your offer is more serious since your finances are ready. A seller will be more confident they will move their home from contingent status to pending when they know a buyer's finances are rock solid.

Preapproval can also cut down on the time it takes to close on the home. When you already have a preapproved mortgage from your lender, some of the work has already been done, and your loan won’t take as long to approve fully. This can be important if either you or the seller needs the process to move as quickly as possible.

What is a Preapproval Letter?

You will normally get a pre-approval for a mortgage letter when you have gone through the process with your lender. This letter can then be shown to real estate agents to take you seriously and show you homes.

The letter will also be needed to show to the seller so that they are happy your offer can be honored. This reduces the chances that the sale will fall apart due to financing problems.

The Mortgage Pre-approval Process

The first stage of the preapproval process is finding a lender to give you a good deal on your mortgage. However, even before this, it is an excellent idea to ensure your financial situation is the best.

Check your credit report to fix any issues that could cost you a lot of money extra for your mortgage. If you know you have minor credit issues but aren't sure how to get your score bumped up quickly, you could try using Credit Karma. They are an excellent vehicle for improving your credit standing and are free to boot.

Compare lenders based on the interest rate they offer and the fees they charge. Once you find a lender you are happy with, you can apply it to find out what they offer you. However, you don't have to stick with that lender when you go for approval if you find a better offer.

You will need to fill out an application, which may happen online, telling them about your financial situation and personal details. While they won’t require you to provide documents to prove your income and assets, you should have these figures ready to complete the application. They will need these documents when you apply for preapproval, however.

They will check the information you gave them to provide you a mortgage offer. This should show you how much you will need to find for a down payment and what your closing costs are likely to be.

If you are happy with the mortgage available to you from that provider, you can apply for preapproval. If you successfully apply, you will get a mortgage preapproval letter so you can begin to find your ideal home. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage doesn't have to be just for a single-family home. The preapproval could be for a condo or townhouse purchase, a two-family, or even a land loan.

Closing Thoughts on Mortgage Preapproval

Getting your hands on a mortgage preapproval letter is necessary to show sellers and real estate agents that you are a serious buyer. It will also give you a better understanding of how much a home loan will cost you and what you can afford to buy.

Hopefully, you have found these tips on mortgage preapproval to be useful.

Bill Gassett is an authority in the real estate industry with 38 years of experience. Bill is well respected for his informative articles for buyers, sellers, and fellow real estate agents to make sound decisions. His work has been featured on RIS Media, the National Association of Realtors, Inman News, Newsbreak, Credit Sesame, Realty Biz News, and his own authoritative resource, Maximum Real Estate Exposure. He has been on of the top RE/MAX agents in New England over the last two decades.
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