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We’ve all been asked the question, are you pre-approved? And we wonder, what do I need to be approved? Let’s explain why being pre-approved can speed up your house hunting search and eventually help you land the home or property of your dreams.

Difference between pre-qualified and pre-approved

First off, you need to understand the difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved. Pre-qualified means that an estimation of how much you can afford to spend on a mortgage from month to month has been done. Pre-approved means that a lender has actually checked your credit score and verified all of your documentation, so that you are approved for a specific loan amount if you need it. Being pre-approved usually lasts for a 90-day period. Your final loan approval happens when you have the property that you’re going to apply the loan to and you have an appraisal done on that property.

What you need

You will need to bring proof of your income for the last two years. There are no loans currently available where this isn’t needed. W-2s are accepted, as well as pay stubs. You will also need to bring bank statements or investment account statements to show that you have enough money for a down payment, closing costs, etc. You will need good credit, and we all know this takes time. So if you’re considering buying a home in the future, keep tabs on your credit to make sure it’s acceptable for a loan. Talk to a banker or lender to see what you can do to help your credit in the meantime.

Even though you already have to provide proof of income, you also will need to provide proof of employment, or employment verification. Lenders today want to make sure that they are loaning money to someone with stable employment, so they may call to verify your employment and check on your salary. Of course, you’ll need the basics as well, your driver’s license, a social security number and permission for the lender to pull your credit report.

Finally

After all of this is pulled together, you’ll need to shop around to see who in your area is going to offer you the best mortgage rate and the best interest rate. You’ll need to apply for those rates to get pre-approved. It’s best to meet with a lender to discuss your options and what you may or may not be able to afford. Getting pre-approved for a certain loan amount is helpful, because it helps you know what you can and can’t afford. Therefore, what properties you should be looking at and ones that you simply shouldn’t be, in order to help you find the perfect home for you.