Buying a Home

How to Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

Sep 10, 2018, 1:07 PM | Logan Arey
A couple talks with a loan officer about how to get pre-approved for a home loan

One of the best ways to get ahead on the home buying process is to get a pre-approved for a mortgage.

A mortgage pre-approval also has a other benefits. One of the most important is that it helps real estate agents and sellers see you as a serious buyer. In addition, you'll get a better idea of what homes you can shop for and how much your future payments might be.

Those all sound pretty great, right? We think so. But before you jump right in to the pre-approval process, let's make sure you understand the basics of what it is, what it entails, and how to get started.

The Differences Between Pre-Qualification & Pre-Approval


Pre-qualification is not the same thing as a pre-approval. It's a lot less intense, but it also doesn't have quite the same benefits.

During a pre-qualification, you'll provide your lender with your income, assets, and debt. However, these are only estimations and they are not verified during pre-qualification. This information will help your lender get a general idea of the size of mortgage you might qualify for.

Something to keep in mind is that, because your credit isn't pulled and your financial situation isn't officially documented, the estimate you get from a pre-qualification might not be a good reflection of what the final loan ends up looking like.

However, in addition to not having to worry about how a credit pull might affect your score, a pre-qualification does still allow you to discuss your needs and goals in relation to a mortgage.


The pre-approval process is a lot more formal than getting a pre-qualification. Obtaining a pre-approval letter shows that you'll be approved for a mortgage once you make a purchase—but remember that it isn't a guarantee. Pre-approval letters are subject to changes.

But this is such a beneficial step because with it, you can start looking at properties within your price range, minus a lot of the guesswork. Additionally, you'll have a general idea of the interest rates you'll be charged on your future mortgage.

Getting pre-approved can also set you ahead of other potential buyers. With your pre-approval letter, real estate agents and sellers will be more confident that you'll be able to make the purchase.

When you get pre-approved, your letter is typically good for 60-90 days, but this time period can be adjusted and verified with your lender.

During the process, you'll fill out an official mortgage application and pay the application fee. Also, your official documentation will need to be verified.

What You'll Need for a Pre-Approval

Here's a list of things you'll need in order to get started:

  1. Income Verification — You'll need detailed documentation to verify your income, including the following:
    • 30 days of pay stubs
    • 2–3 years of tax returns
    • 60 days' worth of bank statements for all checkings and savings accounts
    • Copies of your W2 for the past 2 years
  2. Proof of Employment — Along with providing your W2s, your lender may call your employer to verify your employment and salary. If you've recently changed jobs, your lender may also contact your previous employer. If you're self-employed, you'll need to provide additional documents about your business and income.
  4. Assets — You'll want to provide documentation on any assets you have, such as a bank account devoted to your other investments. This can also include any type of gifts you receive, like money from a friend or a relative, but you'll need this in the form of a gift letter to prove it isn't a loan. It's best to get a gift letter notarized.
  6. Good Credit — Having good credit will ensure lower interest rates. For example, having a credit score of 740 typically gets you some of the lowest interest rates. The lower your score, the higher interest rates can go up. If you happen to have a lower credit score, getting an FHA loan may still be an option.

Other Things You'll Need

When you visit with your lender, you'll need to bring your driver's license or passport to verify your identity. You'll also need to supply your social security number and signature in order to allow the lender pull your credit report.

After the Process

The pre-approval process should take about two to four weeks, though the it may be even shorter since many lenders are getting better at processing online applications.

After your lender has gone over your documentation and has verified your ability to pay back the loan, the lender will submit your application to an underwriter. Using all of the supplied information, the lender is the one who will make the final decision on your pre-approval.

When you're pre-approved, you will get a loan commitment with an exact loan amount and, oftentimes, an interest rate. If you live in a competitive marketplace, this letter can help set you apart from other buyers.

Get Pre-Approved

Your dream home is only a step away. Contact us here at Elevate Mortgage Group to start the pre-approval process now.

Logan Arey