Pre-approval vs. Pre-qualification

Pre-approval and pre-qualification are terms commonly used in the context of mortgage loans, but they can also apply to other types of loans. While they sound similar, they have different meanings and implications in the loan application process:

  1. Pre-qualification:

    • Definition: Pre-qualification is a preliminary assessment of a borrower’s financial situation based on information provided by the borrower. It does not involve a thorough analysis of the borrower’s credit report or an in-depth look at their ability to borrow.
    • Process: To get pre-qualified, a borrower typically provides information such as income, debt, and assets to a lender or uses an online tool. The lender uses this information to give the borrower an estimate of the mortgage amount they may qualify for.
    • Reliability: Pre-qualification is a less formal process and is not a commitment from the lender. It’s more of an estimate or a starting point for a home search.
  2. Pre-approval:

    • Definition: Pre-approval is a more formal process where a lender thoroughly evaluates a borrower’s financial background, including a detailed examination of their credit report. The lender issues a conditional commitment to lend a specific amount, contingent on the property appraisal and other conditions.
    • Process: To get pre-approved, a borrower typically completes a mortgage application and provides necessary documentation, such as pay stubs, W-2 forms, bank statements, and consent for a credit check.
    • Reliability: Pre-approval is a stronger indication of a borrower’s ability to secure a loan. It demonstrates to sellers that the borrower is a serious and qualified buyer.

In summary, pre-qualification is a preliminary assessment based on information provided by the borrower, while pre-approval involves a more comprehensive analysis, including a credit check. Pre-approval is generally more reliable and holds more weight in a real estate transaction. Keep in mind that the specific processes and requirements can vary among lenders.

Will Pre-Approval for a Mortgage Hurt My Credit Score?

Will Pre-Approval for a Mortgage Hurt My Credit Score?Obtaining a pre-approval for a mortgage is an important step when you’re planning to buy a home. It gives you an idea of how much you can afford, helps streamline the home-buying process, and strengthens your position as a serious buyer. However, many people worry that the pre-approval process might negatively impact their credit score. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the details to determine whether or not a pre-approval for a mortgage will hurt your credit.

Understanding Credit Inquiries

To understand how pre-approval affects your credit, we need to discuss credit inquiries. When you apply for credit, such as a loan or credit card, the lender typically pulls your credit report to assess your creditworthiness. These inquiries are categorized as either “hard” or “soft.”

Hard Inquiries: A hard inquiry occurs when you apply for credit, and it can impact your credit score. These inquiries are visible to other lenders and may suggest that you’re actively seeking credit.

Soft Inquiries: A soft inquiry, on the other hand, doesn’t affect your credit score. These inquiries occur when you check your own credit report or when a lender pre-approves you without your explicit consent.

Pre-Approval and Credit Inquiries

When it comes to mortgage pre-approvals, most lenders perform a hard inquiry to assess your creditworthiness accurately. While this hard inquiry might have a temporary impact on your credit score, the impact is typically minimal. Generally, a single hard inquiry will only result in a small dip in your score, typically around five points or less. The credit bureaus understand that consumers may shop around for the best mortgage terms and account for this in their scoring models.

The Logic Behind Credit Scoring

Credit scoring models are designed to account for consumer behavior related to loans and credit applications. They recognize that it’s normal for individuals to shop around for the best rates and terms when seeking a mortgage. To encourage this behavior, credit scoring models treat multiple mortgage inquiries made within a certain time frame (usually 30 days) as a single inquiry. This means that even if you get pre-approved by multiple lenders within that timeframe, it will be considered a single inquiry when calculating your credit score.

While a pre-approval for a mortgage may result in a temporary dip in your credit score due to the hard inquiry, it’s generally a small and short-lived effect. The benefits of obtaining a pre-approval, such as understanding your budget and strengthening your position as a buyer, far outweigh any minor impact on your credit score.

To minimize any potential negative impact on your credit score during the mortgage pre-approval process, consider the following tips:

Do your research: Before applying for a pre-approval, research lenders and their qualification criteria. Focus on a select few lenders who are likely to meet your needs to minimize the number of credit inquiries.

Time your applications: If possible, try to complete all your mortgage pre-approval applications within a short time frame, such as 30 days. This way, the credit bureaus will consider them as a single inquiry.

Monitor your credit: Regularly monitor your credit report to ensure accuracy and identify any potential issues. You can obtain one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit bureaus.

In most cases, the impact of a mortgage pre-approval on your credit score is minimal and short-lived. While the initial hard inquiry may result in a small dip in your score, credit scoring models are designed to account for shopping around for the best mortgage terms. The long-term benefits of obtaining a pre-approval far outweigh any minor impact on

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

What is a mortgage pre-approvalWhen you are purchasing a home, your lender may recommend you obtain a mortgage pre-approval before you find the home of your dreams. There are some benefits to being pre-approved before you find a home, but oftentimes, people confuse pre-qualifications with pre-approvals.

So the question many buyers have is what exactly is a mortgage pre-approval? In a nutshell, it’s when the lender provides you (the buyer) with a letter stating that your mortgage will be granted up to a specific dollar amount.

What Do I Need For Pre-Approval?

In order to obtain a pre-approval for your home purchase, you will have to provide your lender all of the same information you would need to show for qualifying for a mortgage. This means providing tax returns, bank statements and other documents that prove your net worth, how much you have saved for your down payment and your current obligations.

What Conditions Are Attached to a Pre-Approval?

Generally speaking, a pre-approval does have some caveats attached to it. Typically, you can expect to see some of the following clauses in a pre-approval letter:

  • Interest rate changes – a pre-approval is done based on current interest rates. When rates increase, your borrowing power may decrease
  • Property passes valuation and inspection – your lender will require the property you ultimately purchase to come in with a proper appraisal and meet all inspection requirements
  • Credit check requirements – regardless of whether it’s been a week or six months since you were pre-approved, your lender will require a new credit report. Changes in your credit report could negate the pre-approval
  • Changes in jobs/assets – after a pre-approval is received, a change in your employment status or any substantial assets may result in the pre-approval becoming worthless

What Items Can Change My Mortgage Pre-Approval Status?

One of the major issues that affect some borrowers as they are preparing to purchase their new home is financing large ticket items before the home purchase loan is completely funded.  Even if you are buying new furniture or other items for the home, it’s best to wait until after your home loan is entirely complete before purchasing any of these new items.

Work changes can also drasitically affect your pre-approval status.  Make sure your loan professional is well aware of any changes well in advance of them happening in order to plan effectively.  There are ways to work with job changes but it is a delicate matter during the mortgage underwriting process.

Getting pre-approved for a home mortgage may allow you more negotiation power with sellers and may help streamline the entire loan process. It is however important to keep in mind there are still things that may have a negative impact on actually getting the loan.

It is important to make sure you keep in contact with the lender, especially if interest rates increase or your employment status changes after you are pre-approved.