Home loan pre-approval: Your first step to mortgage success

Published August 18, 2021
by Better

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What You’ll Learn

Where to get a mortgage pre-approval letter online

What you need to get pre-approved with a digital lender

When and how to apply for mortgage pre-approval

Buying or refinancing a home is the most unique and significant transaction many people will experience in their lifetime. Where do you start? How much can you afford? These kinds of questions may seem daunting, especially for first-time homebuyers. Building a budget is generally a good first step, and a pre-approval letter is the industry standard when it comes to understanding how much a lender might be willing to let you borrow. Luckily, getting pre-approved is easier than ever—you can do it directly from your couch when you work with an online lender (and it takes as little as 3 minutes when you work with Better Mortgage.)

Home Loan Pre-Approval: Your First Step to Mortgage Success

Buying a home is an exciting milestone, but it can also be a complex and overwhelming process. One of the first steps you should take as a serious home buyer is to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan.

Mortgage pre-approval is an important step that can give you the confidence and financial clarity you need as you start looking for homes.

In this blog, we will explain the mortgage pre-approval process, as well its benefits. We will also provide tips for pre-approval success and explain how Better.com can assist you in obtaining your home loan pre-approval. So, let's dive in and discover why mortgage pre-approval is your first step towards mortgage success.

Understanding Mortgage Pre-approval

Before we delve into the importance and benefits of mortgage pre-approval, let's start by understanding what exactly it means. Mortgage pre-approval is when a lender checks your finances to see how much money you can borrow for a house.

Importance of Mortgage pre-approval in Home Buying Process

Mortgage pre-approval plays a crucial role in the home buying process, acting as the first step towards mortgage success. Here are some key reasons why mortgage pre-approval is of utmost importance:

  • Mortgage pre-approval tells you how much you can borrow. With a pre-approval letter, you know your borrowing power and can focus on homes within your budget.
  • With a pre-approval letter, you can confidently make offers. A pre-approval indicates your chances of getting a mortgage loan are higher.
  • Pre-approval helps you find the best lender. It allows you to compare loan options, rates, and terms from different lenders. This way, you can get the best deal for you.
  • A pre-approval letter can make buying a home faster. Sellers and agents like serious buyers who have already been pre-approved. With a pre-approval letter, you can expedite the home buying process, making your offer more attractive to sellers.
  • A pre-approval letter helps in negotiations. It shows sellers that you are more likely to receive a loan offer. This makes you a stronger candidate.

The Differences between Mortgage Pre-approval and Prequalification

While mortgage pre-approval and prequalification may sound similar, they serve distinct purposes in the home buying process. Understanding the differences between the two can help you navigate the mortgage process more effectively. Here's a breakdown of mortgage pre-approval and prequalification:

  • Prequalification is an estimate, while pre-approval provides an exact amount. Please note: while a pre-approval can provide an exact amount, it’s not a commitment letter for a lender to lend you this exact amount.
  • Prequalification is based on the information you provide to a lender, while a pre-approval involves a lender looking at your financial history, credit score, and other information.
  • Pre-approval is a more rigorous process compared to prequalification: pre-approval requires documentation and a credit check, while prequalification is usually done online and doesn't involve a thorough review of your financial information.
  • Pre-approval indicates a serious intent to buy, unlike prequalification: pre-approval demonstrates that you are a serious buyer, as it involves a more extensive assessment of your financial situation. Prequalification, on the other hand, is a preliminary step that gives you a general idea of your borrowing power.
  • A pre-approval letter carries more weight with sellers than a prequalification letter: A pre-approval letter from a lender holds more credibility with sellers and real estate agents, as it signifies that you have already undergone a comprehensive financial review and are likely to secure a mortgage loan. A prequalification letter, on the other hand, may not carry the same weight.

How Mortgage Pre-approval Works

Now that we understand the importance of mortgage pre-approval, let's explore how the process actually works. Mortgage pre-approval involves working closely with a loan officer or mortgage lender who will guide you through the process. Here's a brief overview of how it works:

Key Factors Considered for Mortgage Pre-approval

During the mortgage pre-approval process, lenders consider several key factors to evaluate your financial stability. Here are some of the main factors considered for mortgage pre-approval:

  • Credit score: Lenders assess your credit score, which reflects your credit history and payment behavior, to determine your creditworthiness. A higher credit score generally translates to better loan terms and interest rates.
  • Loan amount: Lenders analyze your financial situation and determine the maximum loan amount they are willing to offer you based on various factors, including your assets.
  • Debt-to-income: Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio and assess the risk of lending to you based on your financial situation.

Benefits of Home Loan Pre-Approval

Now that we've covered the pre-approval process, let's explore the benefits of obtaining a home loan pre-approval. Mortgage pre-approval offers numerous advantages for home buyers, including:

Advantage in home buying negotiations

Being pre-approved for a mortgage loan can give you a significant advantage in home buying negotiations. Here are some specific benefits of mortgage pre-approval in negotiations:

  • Pre-approval can make you a serious buyer, strengthening your negotiation position against other buyers
  • It signals financial readiness, making sellers more inclined to consider your offer
  • It shows your financial situation has been reviewed by a lender.
  • It provides confidence to navigate negotiations, knowing what you can afford.
  • It can accelerate the loan processing time once you have an accepted offer.

Common Misconceptions about Home Loan Pre-Approval

While mortgage pre-approval offers numerous benefits, there are also common misconceptions associated with it. Let's address some of these misconceptions to ensure a clear understanding of mortgage pre-approval:

  • Pre-approvals do not guarantee a mortgage, regardless of circumstances: While it's a strong indicator of your ability to secure a mortgage loan, it is not an absolute guarantee.
  • Pre-approvals are not the same as prequalifications: Pre-approvals involve a more rigorous assessment, whereas pre-qualifications are just based on what a borrower states.
  • Pre-approvals do not require a hard credit check: While pre-approval requires a credit check, it is considered a soft inquiry, which does not significantly impact your credit score.
  • Pre-approvals are not evergreen: A pre-approval letter typically has an expiration date.

Tips for Home Loan Pre-Approval Success

Ensure that your credit report, credit history, and credit score are in good standing before seeking pre-approval. Managing your monthly debts, credit cards, and overall financial situation will enhance your pre-approval chances. Lastly, collaborate with a mortgage lender or loan officer can help you navigate the pre-approval process smoothly.

How Better.com Can Help with Your Home Loan Pre-Approval

Better.com streamlines the mortgage pre-approval process with its user-friendly 100% online platform. The entire process can take as little as 3 minutes and will have no impact to your credit score.

Once the application is complete, you will get a good understanding of your buying power, alongside an editable pre-approval letter you can share with your agent or use when making offers to sellers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Home Loan Pre-Approval

Does home loan pre-approval affect your credit score?

Home loan pre-approval typically involves a soft credit inquiry, which doesn't impact your credit score. However, if you apply for multiple pre-approvals within a short period, it can slightly lower your score. It's important to limit the number of applications and choose a reputable lender to minimize any potential impact on your credit.

Can you be denied a mortgage after pre-approval?

It is possible to be denied a mortgage after pre-approval. Pre-approval is based on the information provided at the time of application, but it does not guarantee final approval. Factors such as changes in financial circumstances or property appraisal could result in denial. It's important to maintain financial stability and avoid any major changes during the home buying process.

How long does it take to get pre-approved for a home loan?

The timeframe for getting pre-approved for a home loan varies but typically takes a few business days. With Better's pre-approval, however, the process can take as little as 3 minutes.

Next Steps After Home Loan Pre-Approval

After you get your pre-approval letter, you can start (or continue) or home search with a clear price range in mind. You can edit your pre-approval letter in your Better Mortgage dashboard at any time, so if you are looking to put in an offer, make sure to include your edited pre-approval letter to strengthen your position as a buyer.

Once you have an accepted offer, you can visit your dashboard to start uploading the necessary documentation for the closing and financing process — getting you into your home sooner!


In conclusion, getting pre-approved for a home loan is a crucial step in the home buying process. It provides you with a clear understanding of your financial capabilities and helps you set realistic expectations when searching for your dream home. Not only does it give you an advantage in negotiations, but it also accelerates the loan processing time, allowing you to close on your new home faster.

To get your pre-approval in as little as three minutes, click [here] (https://better.com/preapproval/nxt-purchase?utm_source=website&utm_medium=webpage&utm_campaign=blog&utm_content=how-to-get-preapproval).

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