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.

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.