As we’ve all been told over and over again, buying a home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll probably ever make. And if the housing market is a seller’s market, there’s a lot of additional things to consider including are you willing to get into a bidding war, are you okay with compromising some items on your wish list, and at the end of the day, can you afford to live the life you’re accustomed to AND purchase this home.
With all these thoughts swirling around your brain, you might also wonder how you could get a leg-up on the competition in case you find your must-have home. Being pre-qualified and/or pre-approved to purchase a home by your financial institution before you start looking might just be enough to set you apart.
Being pre-approved for a mortgage means you’ve met with your lender and together you’ve determined whether or not you will be able to get a home loan, and if so, what your maximum home purchase price will be. The process is pretty straightforward. As with any loan application, your credit report will be pulled by the lender and you’ll need to provide documentation showing your current income and assets. After an underwriter has reviewed the application, they will make the final decision as to whether or not you are pre-approved based on the type of loan you might be applying for.
A pre-qualification is determined based on your credit report and verbally provided information like income and assets. The lender uses their industry knowledge to analyze the information and determine pre-qualification. Not all applicants can seek a pre-qualification, for example, some organizations don’t issue them to self-employed borrowers given the complexity of that type of income source. Pre-qualification letters will include many caveats of conditions, like documentation will need to be obtained to support income and assets, the property type must be a single family home, and the property chosen must meet certain standards. Pre-approvals also come with some conditions, but fewer than a pre-qualification because part of the supporting documentation has already been supplied.
If you have been pre-approved or pre-qualified, your lender will provide you with a letter stating as such, then you are off and running on your house hunt! It’s always good to know how much home you can afford before shopping so if you do come across your dream home, or your starter home, you can make an offer, and having your letter will help the seller decide whether to accept. In today’s highly competitive housing market, a buyer may value a pre-approval over a pre-qualification since the pre-approval has fewer conditions to get full approval.
A word of caution – sometimes house hunting can take longer than expected and it’s important to note that your pre-approval and/or pre-qualification can expire. Because credit reports are pulled for both applications, lenders will require a new credit report if the loan application does not close within 120 days. This is to make sure the credit worthiness does not change. If your letters do expire, you would just need to work with your lender to provide any information needed to move the application along.
If you’re interested in obtaining a pre-qualification or pre-approval, any lender at Bank Five Nine can listen and potentially offer a pre-qualification letter. Some lenders may prefer to direct their clients to a pre-approval instead of a pre-qualification since the pre-approval provides more value to the client. The additional steps required for a pre-approval may take an extra few days compared to a pre-qualification, but if you find yourself in a hurry to make an offer, having taken that extra time may just pay off in the end.
For more information, or to speak to an Bank Five Nine Mortgage Lender about your plans to purchase a home, please visit our mortgage page.