The very first step in purchasing a home is to get pre-qualified for a mortgage. You want to do this even before starting to look at homes. Once you are pre-qualified
the next step is pre-approval. Once you are pre-approved it's time to go looking for a house. When you go looking for a home and find the one you want to buy you can
make the offer with confidence that your loan will be approved.
What does "Get Pre Qualified" mean?
There are many steps you need to take when shopping for your new home. One of the most important steps in the home buying process is to get pre-qualified. Getting pre-qualified will give you an approximate idea of what you can afford to buy based on your credit, income, and assets. During your pre-qualification consultation you may realize that you qualify for more then you expect or what you qualify for may be more than you want to you pay monthly. You may also realize that you do not qualify for as much as you thought. One of the worst things you can do to yourself is look for homes that you fall in love with to discover you can't afford that home.
Pick YOUR Loan Officer
To get Pre-Qualified, you will need to speak to a mortgage loan officer. Since getting a mortgage is a one of the most important financial decision you will make, you need to make sure that you are working with someone you can trust.
What Questions to Ask When Shopping for YOUR loan for a list of questions to ask your potential loan officer. This list of questions will to help you find out if they are qualified to help you and give you a sense of whether this is someone you want to help you get a mortgage.
What is the process and benefits of getting Pre Qualified?
Getting Pre-Qualified will take about 10 - 15 Minutes depending on the details of your situation. Once you are pre-qualified you will know:
- Approximate monthly house payment you qualify for.
- Approximate price range of the home you can purchase.
- How much down payment you will need or want to put down.
- Approximate amount of closing costs needed to purchase in your price range.
- Information on different loan programs that will best fit your needs and desires.
- What to expect about the mortgage process once you are under contract for your new home.
When you find the loan officer to pre-qualify you make sure you also discuss some of the following items if they apply to you:
- Your time frame for purchasing a home.
- Your future plans for buying additional properties, moving up or possible refinance.
- Your short and long term housing/mortgage financial goals.
- Do you already have a house in mind? Different areas have different mortgage programs available.
- How important is the interest rate versus saving money upfront?
Why should you get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage?
Once you have been pre-qualified, there is a tendency to go out immediately start looking for a home. While this is not bad, it is a little premature. To be absolutely sure you should get pre-approved.
Getting pre-approved takes the pre-qualification a little further. When getting pre-approved you will actually provide the supporting documents like your pay stubs, W-2's, and asset statements like your bank statements or retirement account statements. If your credit has not yet been reviewed your loan officer will be doing it during this step. At this point; you may even be asked to sign a full loan application and any additional paperwork necessary to get your file underwritten.
Automated Underwriting Approval
During this step, your loan officer will verify all of the information that you gave them during the pre-qualification period. They will then submit your personal financial and credit information to the automated underwriting system to determine if you can get pre-approved for the mortgage. At this point, unless you have a property picked out, the loan officer will most likely use a sales price that matches the payment level you are comfortable with.
The automated underwriting system used by most lenders will analyze your loan application and credit report to give a pre-approval decision. Regardless of the decision, you will receive a list of recommendations for what is needed to obtain your final mortgage decision.
Additional Tips about Your Pre-Approval
The pre-approval process is also a time when you will have an opportunity to review features and benefits of different loan programs that you may qualify for and discuss these options with your loan officer to determine which loan best suits your home buying needs.
Once you are pre-approved and find the home you would like to make an offer on, your loan officer will supply you with a pre-approval letter. This letter should accompany the sales offer and tells the seller that you are qualified to buy their home.
Quite often experienced and knowledgeable real estate agents will not show houses to buyers that have not been Pre-Approved. It makes perfect sense for the agent to not waste time showing houses to you that you may not be able to purchase and running the risk of disappointing you and the sellers. The best negotiating tool you can have financially is a pre-approval letter and a full understanding of the expenses involved in purchasing a particular home.