Pre-Qualification vs. Pre-Approval

Dated: 06/18/2020

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As part of the home buying process you need to consider everything that will give you leverage to get the best price, regardles of whether it is a buyer's or a seller's market. From the begining you need to know your financial plan, you might be unfamiliar with Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval; let's examine the difference and similarities between the two. 

Similarites of Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval 

Some lenders issue pre-qualification letters, others issue pre-approval letters. Both basically mean the lender has completed a cursery review of your financial standing. The letter also confirms their confident that they are able to help you obtain a loan to purchase a home, with some follow up and a deeper review nessessary as the process moves along.

  • Both should give estimates on the amount of loan that you are qualified for. This can save you time to limit by giving you the knowledge of what your price range is, keeping you on budget.
  • Both can serve as your validation to a seller about how serious you are when submitting an offer. By starting off with a vote of confidence from a lender you are already setting up a stronger negotiation position for yourself when making an offer to a seller.
  • Both show you have done your homework. You know you can buy, you are willing to do what it takes to buy, and you understand the process; all aspects that, like the above point, help you assure the seller they can sell to you.

What are the differences between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval? 

Pre-Qualification serves as the first step in getting into the mortgage process and will open the doors to diverse mortgage options for you. It is a quick estimate of how much loan you can most likely afford. A lender will ask for details of your financial history, which includes your income, credit score, assets, and your debt. The lender might not require as many documents as they would ask for in a pre-approval process, sometimes a detailed conversation is enough with maybe as little as recent bank statements to get pre-qualifed.

While pre-qualification does not always require documentation, pre-approval requires proof to verify your reported income, credit score, assets, and debts. The pre-approval process is going to require detailed documents including W2s, recent paystubs, a summary of monthly expenses and assets, mortgage statements, a review of debt, and more. Furthermore, a credit check will be conducted which often leads to a hard inquiry on your credit report. 

Which One Should You Get? 

For a first time buyer, a Pre Qualification is a good start when you are still browsing

Getting a Pre Approval is what you want to get when you are ready to make an offer on a property. This will give you the actual loan that you are eligible for. A pre-approval typically has an expiration of 60 to 90 days, so you want to know you are ready to buy.   

Now We're Ready!

Browsing for homes online can be a lot of fun, it is a great way to start your search. As soon as you want to get serious you need to get pre-qualified at a minimum. Many real estate agents today will not show homes to buyers until they are pre-qualifed; some agents even want to see a pre-approval letter before they'll schedule showings. This is a benefit to the buyer; by being financially ready the buyer and their agent know they are looking for the right house, in the right price range. There is nothing worse then finding 'The One' only to find out you can't afford it.... or search for months and find nothing you love, to only find out you could have been searching in a higher price range with homes better suited for your needs. Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval solve these issues. 

Read more of our informative blog posts, we add new articles about real estate on the Oregon Coast every week. 

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Taj Richardson

Meet Taj Richardson: I have lived on the Oregon Coast since 1994. I graduated from Nestucca High School in 1996. After several years in college and traveling, I made my way to Lincoln City in 2003. I ....

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