Many people ask us “what’s the difference between getting pre-qualified for a mortgage vs getting pre-approved?” There are some subtle, but important differences.
A pre-qualification is basically when a mortgage lender takes a cursory look at your credit and income and gives you an opinion on what you should be able to qualify for in terms of a loan. A pre-qualification is NOT a commitment, it’s a considered opinion.
A pre-approval, on the other hand, is a conditional approval for a mortgage. This is a more involved process. First, a lender will do a hard pull on your credit report. You provide information like copies of your tax returns/W-2’s/1099’s etc. In this process, the mortgage lender will go through the process and issue you a conditional approval for a mortgage at a specific amount.
To sellers, this is an important difference. In many cases, sellers won’t consider offers unless the buyer can show proof of funds – either cash or a pre-approval from a lender.
Pre-approvals are generally valid for 90-180 days after they’re issued. They are considered ‘conditional approvals’, because if something significant changes on your credit report between the time you get pre-approved and the time you make an offer on a home, the amount could change – or the approval could be rescinded.
When you’re seriously considering purchasing a home, it’s highly recommended that you have a pre-approval in place. If you need recommendations for a mortgage broker to assist you in getting a pre-approval, please reach out to our team and we can assist.