Getting Prequalified for a Mortgage

Getting Prequalified for a Mortgage

Shopping for a home can be fun, but serious homebuyers should begin the process in the office of the lender, not at an open home. Most sellers expect buyers to have a pre-approval letter and will be willing to negotiate with those who prove that they can get financing. Potential buyers should have important things such as proof of assets or income, employment verification, good credit, and other documentation in order to be pre-approved for a mortgage.

What is a mortgage preapproval?

A mortgage preapproval is a document that states how much money a lender can let you borrow to pay for your home. It is a necessary step in the home-buying procedure. The preapproval is based on your financial condition, involving how much you have in bank and investment accounts and your income, and financial obligations, and what you owe. Lenders perform a hard credit inquiry to inspect your creditworthiness, as well. Once they have these details, lenders can make a fairly informed estimate about how much you can afford, and can preapprove you for a specific loan amount. The preapproval indicates that the lender is ready to move forward with the loan, as long as the house meets specific qualifications and your financial condition does not change drastically while you look for a home to buy.

Mortgage preapproval process

The steps to get preapproved for a mortgage involve sharing detailed financial info about your income and debt and undergoing a credit check.

Document submission

For getting preapproved for a mortgage, you will require to supply documentation about your income, assets, and liabilities. These documents involve pay stubs and W-2s, and proof of other income sources or any accounts you own, involving retirement savings. You will share this info with any lender you are applying for preapproval with, so it is better to have it all organized before you begin seeking offers.

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Credit check

Additionally, to providing documentation, you have to agree to a credit check. It is good to check the credit report before your lender does, in case there are errors that can affect not whether you get preapproved, but your capability to get the best mortgage rate. You are entitled to a free copy from all major credit bureaus once every 12 months, which can be obtained at Know that when lenders check the credit, they perform a hard inquiry, which can affect your credit score. Lenders look at your credit report and history to assess your credit use or the amount of credit you are using relative to your total credit limit. The lower your credit use is, the good your chances of getting preapproved.


Once lenders assess your credit as well as financial profile, they will make a determination as to whether you are preapproved for a mortgage, and for what amount. If you are preapproved then you will be issued a preapproval letter stating this info. Several lenders prefer to use the 28/36 qualifying ratio to figure out what monthly payment you can afford. Generally, they like to see a mortgage payment taking up no more than 28% of your gross monthly income, and your total debt payments accounting for no more than 36% of your gross monthly income. Note that if you are getting a conventional mortgage, you require a credit score of a minimum of 620 to qualify. You can be capable of getting a mortgage preapproval with a low score, and there are programs, like FHA loans, that permit low scores. If your score is higher, then your interest rate will be lower as well.

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What documents do you require for a mortgage preapproval?

To get a preapproval, some of the documents you will submit to a lender include:

  • Current pay stubs
  • Federal income tax returns from the last 2 years (including W-2s)
  • Recent bank statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Identifying documentation, like a license and passport of driver

Those who are self-employed should include info from business accounts and undergo an income audit. This can include asking an accountant to verify that your income is stable by speaking with clients, reviewing business records, and taking other steps. Find out from your lending institution what is needed when you are self-employed.

How long does it take to get preapproved?

Depending on the situation and the finances, it can take up to some days to receive mortgage preapproval. If there is an income audit, then, it can take some weeks to receive the preapproval letter. If you have everything in order and also your credit looks best, then, it is possible to get preapproval for a house loan within one business day.

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