LOANS: Pre-Approval v. Pre-Qualification: What, How & When?

Getting a house loan

Let’s face it, it isn’t all that common that people can pay cash for a house.  This means they must get a loan, and that requires several factors.  Most people will jump into house hunting without knowing what to do or what to expect.  Let me start from the beginning with a couple definitions…

THE WHAT A lot of people get mixed up on whether they are pre-qualified for a loan or pre-approved, and maybe some people didn’t even know there was a difference.  Pre-qualification is the initial step you may take when first contacting a lender.  They will ask you questions and you will respond with your answers, simple.  This can even be done over the phone.  The lender’s response is what you will likely qualify for if you were to fully apply for a loan.  Pre-approval on the other hand is more in-depth digging.  In this process, the lender will require proof of what you have said by asking for several different documents.  Once the lender has everything he/she needs, then they will be able to fully approve you for your loan.

THE HOW Ready to figure out what type of loan you qualify for?  Let me take it back a step and let you know that the first step in the Home Buying Process is to find a REALTOR® to work in your best interests (if you’d like my Home Buying Process document, let me know-I am happy to share resources).  Once you’ve found yourself a real estate agent you’re comfortable with, ask them about lenders and for recommendations.  Usually agents will have several in their wheelhouse and can steer you in the right direction.  You’ll want to contact not one or two, but at least three different lenders to see who can get you the best loan terms-not every company/bank is the same.  You also want to find someone who you know will communicate well with you.  You pick your lender and then the process begins!  The lender and your real estate agent should guide you along the way.

THE WHEN Before you begin looking for a home, you’ll want to speak with lenders and find one who best suits you-as I stated above.  The key word in the previous sentence was “before“.  You do not want to jump into your home search without knowing what you qualify for.  You can assume you will be at a certain price range and be looking at things way over your real capability.  Once you move down to homes more in your price range, you may never be satisfied with what you see because you now have unrealistic expectations.  Another reason you should go to a lender before looking for homes, is so you are ready to jump on a house whenever you need to.  Usually people like to see a letter of pre-qualification or approval submitted with an offer (and sometimes they require it).  This shows the seller you are ready and have taken the necessary steps to go through with the transaction.  If you see a home you love and you don’t have a letter when some other buyer does…you may lose the house.

Hopefully this information has been beneficial and you can now relay it to your friends and family to help them out in the home buying process.  Let me know if you’re ready to take that step yourself, contact me by call or text at 502.320.7750 or by email at 🙂

The Importance of Pre-Approval

home calculator

A lot of people looking for real estate to buy do not know the importance of getting pre-approved for a loan BEFORE they begin looking for a property.  Here are a few things to consider:

  1. You could lose out on a home you love.  Especially when it is a seller’s market–like it is currently–you could lose a home you really liked because you did not have your pre-approval letter while someone else had theirs.
  2. It adds leverage to your offer.  When submitted the pre-approval letter with your offer right off of the bat, they see that you are serious about your offer and that you are good for the money you are offering.  Put yourself in the sellers’ shoes–would you want to accept an offer that you weren’t certain they could really give you?
  3. It shows what price range you are comfortable with financially.  If you are out searching for homes and you do not know your price range that is determined by a lender, you are truly doing yourself a disservice.  You not only would be wasting your time if you were in the wrong range, but you could be seeing homes that are totally above your price point.  In this case, once you begin seeing homes you can afford you will only be able to compare it to the nicer homes you saw at a higher price point, which can make it quite difficult to find something you’re happy with.

So, just do the research or ask your REALTOR® for recommendations on lenders.  Find one you are comfortable with.  Ask for a pre-approval letter.  Find a property!