Mortgage Pre-Qualification Versus Pre-Approval: What Are their Benefits?

Securing mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval are two crucial steps which assure lenders that you will be able to afford payments. Pre-qualification and pre-approval are quite different, but they do share numerous benefits.

As you get ready to finance a new home, you have probably come across mortgage pre-approval, mortgage pre-qualification, or even both of them. So what does it mean to get pre-qualified versus get pre-approved for a mortgage, and what are the benefits of the two? Some people use these terms interchangeably, but there are crucial differences that every homebuyer should know.

The Similarities of Pre-Approval and Pre-Qualification

Mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification have the same great benefits for anyone who wants to buy a home with a home loan. Here are the benefits:

1. Both can help to estimate the loan amount that you will probably qualify for.

This particular benefit can help you save time as you will start your home search with a goal in mind: looking only at properties that you know will fall into your budget or fit in your financial goals. It will also help you avoid the frustration of discovering that the house you are looking to buy is actually outside your budget.

2. Both can help convince sellers that you are a serious buyer when submitting your offer.

Regardless of whether you have a pre-approval or a pre-qualification letter, the seller will take you as a serious contender. For a home seller to accept your offer without fear, they will want to know that you will be approved successfully for a mortgage and the home sale will close. A pre-qualification and pre-approval letter can help show that you have a better chance of being approved for a home loan for the amount that you have offered on the home.

3. Both of them will make you stand out from the crowd.

Many home sellers will require a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter if you are planning to get a mortgage as one of the mandatory requirements. However, if it is not needed, have it at the back of your mind that the letter may help your offer stand out. This can be extremely helpful, especially in competitive real estate markets.

Additionally, you should know that neither pre-qualification or pre-approval letter is a guarantee that you will get a loan from the lender. Also, you are not duty-bound to get a mortgage from the lender who pre-qualified or pre-approved you. Pre-qualification or Pre-approval?

Since the terms mortgage pre-qualification and pre-approval are often used interchangeably, it could be challenging to know which one you need to purchase a home. This depends on how your mortgage lender defines the service. So, ensure you ask your lender exactly how they interpret pre-qualification and pre-approval. 

Then discuss with your real estate agent to find out which version of the letters has more credibility in your market. So that when it is time to make an offer, you will have what you need to give sellers confidence that you will be approved for a mortgage.

How to Aggressively Save for a Mortgage Down Payment

Buying a home will likely be one of the largest financial decisions you will make in your lifetime. While this may seem scary at first, it’s worth noting that buying a home can also be a valuable financial investment.

When it comes to preparing to buy a home, many people just wait until they run out of room in their apartment before deciding that they need to upgrade to a home. A better approach, however, would be to start planning for your first home a year or more in advance.

Saving for a down payment is a vital step to making the best long-term financial decision. A larger down payment can help you pay off your home sooner, pay thousands or tens of thousands less in interest, and start using your home equity as an asset.

But, saving for a down payment is easier said than done. So, in this post, we’re going to talk about some of the ways you can aggressively save for a down payment so that, when the time comes, you can achieve long-term financial security from your investment.

Setting your savings goals

The first thing you should be thinking about when saving for a down payment is what your goals are in a home. Setting realistic goals in this phase will make saving for your down payment more feasible and less discouraging.

Think about what you really need from a home at this point in your life and compromise where you can.

Remember that on top of your monthly mortgage payments, you’ll likely also be paying for taxes, insurance, utilities, homeowners association fees, and more.

Save on a timeline

When setting your savings goal, make sure you’re aware of the timeframe you’re working with. If you want to buy a home next year, you’ll need to focus on short-term savings options. However, if you’re okay with renting for the next 5 years, investing your money could be a better option.

Lock away your savings

Treat your down payment savings like an emergency fund. Open a separate account, automatically deposit a portion of your pay into the account, and never withdraw from it. To do this, you will, of course, need to already have an emergency fund with a month’s expenses in it.

However, once you’ve established your emergency fund, start immediately depositing into your savings account.

Pay off credit cards

It may seem like saving for a down payment is more pressing than paying off old debt. However, the numbers will show that making interest payments on your credit cards is essentially throwing away money that could have been used toward your down payment savings.

Adjust your spending habits

While it isn’t easy to start spending less once you’ve built a standard of living, there are ways to spend less money and still lead a fulfilling life. Think about where your money goes each month, including bills and services you might pay for.

Now could be the best time to cut the cord and start using a service like Hulu to save $50 or more each month.

Time for a raise?

If it’s been some time since your last pay raise, now could be an ideal time to speak with your employer. To improve your chances of success, don’t discuss reasons outside of work that might be influencing your decision to ask for a raise (such as saving for a down payment). Rather, back up your request with evidence of your accomplishments at work.

Are you Stuffing the Piggy Bank?



The idea of homeownership can seem daunting if you doubt you can save up a down payment. After all, even a modest house on a conventional mortgage requires twenty percent plus the closing costs. When saving up seems out of reach, try these creative tips to grow your nest egg:

Delay gratification

A lofty word for a simple idea, delaying gratification means doing without for now so that to attain a specific goal. Nearly every budget has discretionary funds—what’s left over after paying rent, utilities, and other necessary bills. Once you’ve identified what’s left over, you get to decide how to spend it. When homeownership is the goal, some purchases become less necessary, and others can wait until you’ve attained your objective.

First, open a savings account specifically for your down payment. Consider setting it up in a credit union or a different bank from your regular financial institution so that the extra effort it takes to move it into your regular account mitigates the temptation to use it to pay bills.

Then, consider ditching these items for less expensive alternatives (or altogether) and putting the savings directly into your new account. Treat the savings as an expense, the same way you did the bill payment, or else the extra funds could just slip away:

  • Gym membership: finding a less expensive gym or utilizing a local park for workouts could save you an extra $35-50 per month.
  • Dump satellite or cable. Try to opt for less expensive online streaming alternatives or plan regular evenings with friends to share viewing your favorite shows. Depending on the plan you have, savings can really add up and more time socializing with friends is a bonus.
  • Instead of expensive meals out, plan a movie or game night at home. Invite friends and share potluck or have everyone bring ingredients to cook together.
  • Local libraries have current books, DVDs, audiobooks, and magazines so make a habit of stopping there to check them out instead of paying for your own. Many electronic media memberships have options for sharing with a friend or family member and qualifying for free books and audios.
  • Make saving a game. See who saves the most each week—you or your spouse/partner—and allow that person one small indulgence—a latte, for example, or an evening free of the children for a spa bath.

Set a price on each of these events and pay that amount into your savings account. If you don’t isolate the savings, you’ll find it harder to keep it up.

Find alternative income

You could take a second job to add to your savings or a freelance gig. Put 100 percent of what you’ve paid into your savings account. Other options include monetizing a hobby (if it doesn’t cost you more money than you make) to sell online or through local outlets. Perform seasonal jobs such as raking leaves, shoveling snow or washing windows.

Put all loose change in a piggy bank (or coin jar). Determine to spend only paper money, then save all the loose change. When the jar or bank is full, take the coins to the bank or a coin-counting machine. Discipline yourself to put the cash in your savings account though so it doesn’t slip through your fingers.

As you near your savings goals, reach out to your real estate professional for tips on finding the perfect home in your budget.

The Difference Between Pre-Qualified and Rep-Approved

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.

For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.

Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.

Mortgage prequalification

Let’s start with the easy part–mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.

Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.

The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.

Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.

Mortgage preapproval

After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.

Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.

Mortgage applications and credit scores

Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history–hard inquiries and soft inquiries.

A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.

After preapproval

Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.

Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.