Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved vs. Approved
If you’re considering buying a home, you may have heard the terms “pre-qualified,” “pre-approved,” and “approval” used interchangeably. While all three terms are related to home buying, there are some subtle differences to be aware of. Let’s go through them now.
Getting pre-qualified is a good step if you’re only considering buying a home. Getting pre-qualified is as simple as entering information about your income, debts and down payment in a calculator and the calculator spitting out a pre-qualification amount. The pre-qualification calculator will tell you how much mortgage money you qualify for and how much you can afford to spend on a home. You don’t even need to leave home to do it. You can do it from home in your PJs if you want.
However, there are limitations to being pre-qualified. Mainly, it’s pretty basic and doesn’t include a credit check. The main idea is to give you a rough idea about how much you qualify to spend on a home to help you determine if it’s sufficient to meet your housing needs and wants.
For that reason, if you’re serious about buying a home, you might decide to skip getting pre-qualified and go straight to getting pre-approved.
The next step (or the first step in some cases) in the home buying journey is a mortgage pre-approval. When you’re pre-approved, our mortgage experts run the numbers for you and do a more thorough review of your finances to make sure you’re financially ready to buy a home.
Unlike a pre-qualification that doesn’t typically include a credit check, a pre-approval does. This is a crucial step. Although you may believe that your credit is strong, sometimes there can be errors that you aren’t aware of. Maybe you paid your credit card on time, but your credit report says otherwise. Maybe it says you deferred your credit card payments when you didn’t. If you wait until later on once you have an accepted offer to check your credit, you’re in a time-sensitive situation. It’s far better to have our mortgage experts review your credit in advance to make sure it’s in excellent shape like you thought.
Our mortgage experts also review your income and down payment by requesting a letter of employment, most recent payslips and bank statements. This helps avoid any surprises later on. Based on this, you’ll find out the maximum amount you can afford to spend on a home.
If you’re thinking of going with a fixed rate, our mortgage experts can also help you secure a rate hold. A rate hold is, as it sounds, holding a mortgage rate for you until you’re ready to buy. This makes sense if you think mortgage rates could go up. A rate hold typically lasts for between 90 and 120 days and doesn’t cost you anything. If rates go up, you’re protected. If rates go down, you get the lower rate. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Getting approved happens when you have an accepted offer on a property (either conditionally or a firm offer). Our mortgage experts will review your finances one final time to make sure nothing major has changed. We’ll ask for an updated letter of employment and most recent payslips along with the MLS Listing and Purchase Agreement for the home you’re buying.
Our experts will then go over the mortgage options one last time and help you decide the lender you’re going to move forward with for your mortgage. The application will be submitted, and in a few days, you’ll have mortgage approval. It’s as simple as that!