|For many new homebuyers, the terms pre-qualification and pre-approval seem interchangeable. But they are not — and the distinction is an important one. When a homebuyer is pre-qualified, the lender performs a quick check to determine generally how large a home loan the buyer can afford. Essentially, when a buyer is pre-qualified, the lender is saying it would most likely approve the buyer for “x” amount.
Pre-approval goes much deeper. In order to issue a pre-approval, the lender examines and verifies the borrower’s debt, income, savings, assets and credit report to ensure the borrower can repay the loan amount. Where pre-qualification is a sort of educated guesstimate of the buyer’s purchasing power, pre-approval says the prospective lender would definitely be approved for the loan.
This is particularly useful when home shopping for multiple reasons. To begin with, pre-approval instantly lets you know what your actual budget is. Knowing what you can afford from the outset will help you and your real estate agent better focus your efforts.
Being pre-approved also provides you with an advantageous position over other buyers, because pre-approval assures the seller that you have access to the loan necessary to back your offer. Your lender will provide you with a letter or certificate demonstrating that you are pre-approved for a certain amount of money, which you can provide as part of your offer.