Getting Pre-Approved vs. Pre-Qualified - What does it really mean?
It's real easy to confuse a buyer who is pre-qualified vs. a buyer who is pre-approved. But, think of what the words actually mean - you may be qualified to buy a property because of how much money you make. However, if you don't pay your bills on time and you have poor credit, you could still be declined for a home loan. If you are approved to do something - then that means someone else is permitting you to do what you say you can. You can home shop with confidence if you have a loan approval letter in hand.
Agents, buyers, and sellers may equate pre-qualification with pre-approval when in fact these two terms are apples and oranges. A pre-qualified buyer is someone who calls a lender on the phone and speaks about their financial situation. The lender, based on what the prospective borrower said to them, can conclude that the borrower is qualified to purchase. It doesn't mean, however, that the lender has approved them for a mortgage loan - just that based on what the borrower said they can afford an estimated loan amount.
But, the borrower who is pre-approved actually applies for a loan from the lender. They submit their paperwork and the lender "pulls" credit. The lender then reviews and verifies all the information obtained from the borrower, e.g., the loan application, pay stubs, bank statements, and credit report concluding just how much money the borrower is eligible to receive.
The lender will issue either a pre-qualification or a pre-approval letter - all parties to a real estate transaction benefit when the lender is actually pre-approving a borrower. Pre-qual, as they say in the mortgage industry, is not worth the paper it's written on.
So, don't get stuck with a prospective client based on their being pre-qualified - save your time, effort, and energy by asking your buyer for a copy of their pre-approval letter. And, spend a little time investigating mortgage companies that are able to issue pre-approval letters. If your buyer does not have a bona fide loan approval letter your previous search for several good lenders could be a godsend to your future clients.
And, if you are representing the seller, or you are the homeowner - be sure your offer contains a provision for a loan approval letter within a reasonable time of the effective date. Don't hesitate to ask the lender for updates to make sure all is going well. Lenders should not have an issue letting you know everything is "on course" with the clients loan approval process.
Gulf Coast Associates,
Bonita Springs, Florida