Are you thinking about starting the process of buying a home? There’s a strong chance that at least one person has suggested that you get a mortgage pre-approval. There are many good reasons why it is a good idea to get pre-approved.
Let’s dive into why this piece of paper is vital when it comes time to buy a home, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.
4 Reasons Why You Need To Get Pre-Approved
Before we get into some of the benefits that come when you get pre-approved for a mortgage, let’s first discuss what a pre-approval letter is.
A mortgage pre-approval letter from your lender assures you, your real estate agent, and sellers that you have the ability financially to complete any purchase of any home that meets the lender’s guidelines. This letter will also include a specific pre-approved interest rate, though it’s important to note that mortgage rates are variable. Mortgage lenders will consider the same factors they would consider for traditional mortgage approval, like your debt to income ratio and your credit score. The more your finances are in order, the more you’ll get pre-approved to borrow.
Your pre-approval letter will show you what you can afford to spend and what your monthly payment might look like.
Some of the required documents you might need when applying for mortgage pre-approval are:
- Pay stubs and W-2s
- Bank, retirement, and investment account statements
- Tax returns
- Financial statements (if self-employed)
- Letters of explanation for credit blemishes
Another thing to mention is that pre-approval is different from pre-qualification. Many lenders will issue “pre-qualification” letters, which ask you about your financials, but it doesn’t hold the same weight as a pre-approved letter. A pre-qualification can be useful as an estimate for how much you can afford, but a pre-approval gives you approval on a specific loan amount.
You’ll Know Exactly How Much House You Can Afford
The first significant benefit that comes when you get pre-approved is that you’ll know exactly how much house you can realistically afford before you even begin house hunting. Knowing this information narrows down your options and makes the selection process more efficient. Plus, it will save you the heartache of realizing the home you fell in love with doesn’t align with your budget.
It Makes You a More Serious/Attractive Buyer
You might know this already, but there are two types of markets: buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. In a buyer’s market, inventory is high, but the demand is low, which means you might have more wiggle rooms in terms of the purchasing process. However, in a seller’s market, inventory is low, and more people need to buy homes, which means that buyers need any advantage they can to get ahead of the competition.
Just like the oceans’ tide, these markets ebb and flow from season to season. If you’re trying to buy in a seller’s market, then having a mortgage pre-approval can set you apart as a serious buyer who has the funds to close the sale.
Put yourself in the seller’s shoes. If two buyers are putting an offer in on your house, but only one has actually been approved for a loan for that offer, who do you think you should sell to? In almost every case, the buyer who has been pre-approved will get the house, as there is a lot less risk of the deal falling through due to lack of appropriate financing.
It Increases Your Negotiation Power
In addition to making you a more attractive buyer to sellers, you’re giving yourself more flexibility in bargaining and negotiations when you get pre-approved. Sellers know that a buyer who has already been qualified for the listing price or offer amount might be more willing to make compromises because the sale is a sure thing.
A mortgage pre-approval can help you strengthen your buying position and may make it more likely that you get some other things you might ask for, like repairs, improvements, or even having the seller cover closing costs for you.
You’ll Close Faster
On average, it can take about 50 days to close on your home. Several factors cause this timeline, and that includes mortgage approvals. If you already have your pre-approval in hand, you might be able to speed up the process so you can move into the home of your dreams earlier than you might have been able to otherwise.
When you start the closing processing, securing finances is the first step. However, when you already have your mortgage pre-approval, financing is already squared away, and you can jump into the appraisal and inspection process. Especially when the seller wants to close sooner than later, having your pre-approval lender upfront is a beneficial advantage.
The Bottom Line To Get Pre-Approved
When you need to get pre-approved, the first thing to do is to determine who you want your lender to be. You can get a mortgage pre-approval from up to three different potential lenders, and it might be a good idea to do so. Getting approvals from multiple lenders allows you to compare rates and select the option with the best lending terms.
Here’s some specific information in regards to your finances that your potential lender will ask you for:
First, they’ll need some personal information to run a credit check, like your social security number and proof of identity. They’ll also want to see proof of your income for the past two years, including all W-2s or alternate tax information and anything else they might need related to your source or sources of revenue. Lastly, you’ll need to provide any documentation relating to assets outside of your income, including investments, monetary gifts, and more.
Once you gather all of this info, the process to determine how large of a mortgage you qualify for can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, depending on who you’re working with. Typically your mortgage pre-approval is valid for anywhere in your state from 60-90 days, which usually is enough time to search for and make an offer on a home. A general rule of thumb is not to make any significant changes to your finances between getting your mortgage pre-approval and buying your new home, as major purchases or taking on more debt will most likely invalidate your existing pre-approval amount. When you’re ready to start looking for your dream home, we can help! Give us a call, and we’ll refer you to our favorite lenders and give more tips to consider as a first-time homebuyer.