Mortgage Tips: Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved – What’s The Difference?

Mortgage Tips:  Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved - What's The Difference?

Without thoughtful preparation, a home buyer may get drawn into the mistaken notion that if a mortgage lender “pre-qualifies” them for a mortgage this means that they have been “pre-approved” for a home loan.  Unfortunately, there's a world of difference between these two terms.  If you've ever been confused by the two, we'll bring you up to speed on how these terms differ - and why a misunderstanding can mean disaster for buyers and sellers alike.


Pre-Qualifying Facts:

  • Pre-qualifying is the initial step in the mortgage approval process.
  • Is generally free, quick and simple.
  • Can be done in person, over the phone or internet.
  • Buyer supplies data to lender regarding their debt, income and assets.
  • Upon evaluating data, lender gives an opinion of the buyer’s loan limits.
  • Loan pre-qualification does not include an analysis of the buyer’s credit report or an in-depth look at the buyer’s ability to purchase a home.
  • The pre-qualified buyer does not carry the same weight as a pre-approved buyer.

 Pre-Approval Facts:

  • Getting pre-approved is the 2nd step of mortgage qualification and is much more involved.
  • Buyer completes an official mortgage application (usually pays an application fee).
  • Buyer supplies the lender with written documentation to perform an extensive check on the buyer’s financial background and credit score.
  • Following analysis, lender can quote a specific mortgage maximum, interest rate and type of loan/s the buyer qualifies for.

 Advantages of Pre-Approval:

  • Buyer is aware of their maximum loan limits and the type of loan program they qualify for.
  • Buyer is aware of down payment requirements.
  • Buyer is aware of the lender limits on seller paid concessions.
  • Buyer doesn’t waste time looking at properties that are beyond their qualifications.
  • Enables the buyer to quickly submit an offer when the perfect property is located.
  • Offers won't be contingent on buyer obtaining financing, which saves valuable time.
  • Seller knows buyer’s offer is serious and likely to successfully close on time.
  • Prevents the buyer from losing out to another competing buyer who is pre-approved.

 Final Step – Loan Commitment:

  • Once a buyer’s offer is accepted and fully executed, the buyer will complete their loan application and move towards the final step which is the “loan commitment”.
  • Home is appraised at this point.
  • Appraisal price must come in at or above the property’s sale price.
  • If the appraisal brings up issues such as; structural problems, accessibility issues, outstanding liens or litigation in progress, the lender may require additional information, remedies and appraisal re-inspection prior to issuing their final commitment.
  • Buyer’s income and credit profile will be checked once again to ensure nothing has changed since the initial approval.

Bottom Line:

As you can see, buying a home is a complex task!  Make sure to enlist the assistance of an experienced Realtor at Acuity Group!  We promise to represent your best interests from start to close!

Ready to Buy a Home?  Click HERE for Expert Home Buyer Assistance

Acuity Group Real Estate Professionals
564 Dodge Ave Suite A
Elk River MN 55330
Office:  763-633-3535

OUR SPECIALTIES:   Residential & Commercial Seller and Buyer Services, Property Management & Residential Rentals,  Residential and Commercial Investment Property Specialists, Listing & Marketing Specialists, CDPE (Certified Distressed Property Experts), Short Sale Specialists, REO/Bank Owned Sales.  Golf course properties, water front properties, acreage & hobby farms, vacant land, condos & townhomes, industrial/manufacturing/retail properties, association maintained properties, senior housing, luxury homes, vacation & secondary housing.

Serving the following Minnesota Counties:  Sherburne, Anoka, Wright, Hennepin and portions of Isanti County

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