Getting Pre-Approved

Once you've worked out a budget, your next step will be finding a lender and submitting information for a pre-approval or pre-qualification letter.

Pre-Approval vs Pre-Qualification

Both are a written vote of confidence from a mortgage lender, and therefore both will help home buyers show home sellers and real estate agents that financing for the home purchase will be covered. Several real estate agents and firms will not work with home buyers who have not been pre-qualified or pre-approved.


  • Completion takes more time.

  • Credit and other financial information is officially verified through the lender.

  • Translates to "this buyer would likely be approved for mortgage financing" for a specific sum.


  • Completion is quick.

  • Less thorough; information used to pre-qualify is largely based on unofficial details you provide to the lender.

  • Translates to "this buyer is likely qualified for mortgage financing" for a specific sum.

How to get Pre-Approved or Pre-Qualified

  1. Find a lender. This can be done through a number of outlets: a search online, friend, family member, mortgage broker, real estate agent, or Loanzify. Remember to use a trusted source, as well as check lender reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings, and licensing.

  2. Getting pre-qualified requires less preparation: providing your credit score and some unofficial information about income and debt will be enough to let a lender pre-qualify a home buyer. Get your credit score from a lender, online, or one of the three major bureaus: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. The bureaus release credit reports once per year for free.

  3. Getting pre-approved requires you submit the following documentation, which should also be compiled in order to complete a mortgage application in general:

  • Last two years' W-2s or income tax returns (if self-employed)

  • Last two monthly assets statements (e.g. checking and savings account, 401K)

  • Last two pay stubs (or four if paid once per week)

  • Last 12 months of cancelled checks, if previously renting with a private landlord.

  • Letters of explanation detailing any irregularities in salary, credit inquiries, or any other payment history.

  • Source of down payment. While cash gifts for down payment are allowed, the source of any large deposits must be verified.