Once you’ve decided to buy a property, the first step is not to go house hunting. Instead, you should find out what you can borrow. In doing so, it is important to understand the difference between loan qualification and approval.

Pre-Qualified

Getting pre-qualified for a home loan carries little if any weight when it comes to actually getting the loan issued. Let’s take a look at why.

Its time to buy your first home and you’ve done the research. The first step is to find out how much you can borrow. Down to the bank you go for a sit down with a friendly home loan officer. This person asks you questions about finances, salaries, credit and so forth. You might even be asked to fill out a short questionnaire. After a surprisingly short time, the bank officer suggests a loan amount of around $300,000 is probable. Being really helpful, the bank officer even prints out a form letter with your name and the pre-qualification amount of $300,000. Wow, that was easy…perhaps to easy?

The problem with pre-qualifications is they are based on best guesses. The bank officer looks at no hard facts. When it comes time to actually apply for the loan, you can be assured the lending institution isn’t going to be willing to guess. In fact, you might be told you don’t qualify for a $300,000 home loan when push comes to shove. You might only qualify for $250,000. In nightmare situations, you might not qualify at all because of credit problems. In short, home loan pre-qualification is a waste of time for the most part.

Pre-Approval

Getting pre-APPROVED for a home loan is definitely your best option. Getting pre-approved for a home loan is an excellent strategy because you actually go through the process. Issues such as income, credit scores, personal wealth and so on are resolved. At the end of the process, the bank agrees to issue a loan up to a certain amount contingent on an appraisal of the home you eventually decide to buy. The lender will produce a letter indicating as much, and it is a very valuable letter.

A pre-approval letter is instant gold in the real estate market. If you were selling a home, would you prefer a buyer with a pre-approval letter or one without? The answer is obvious and leads to another advantage. In the current market, it is likely you will be bidding against other parties for property. A seller is much more likely to select your bid because they know the loan process will go smoothly. This can make all the difference when it comes to closing a deal.

Determining how much money you can borrow is the first step in the purchase process. Just make sure you get a pre-approval letter, not pre-qualification guesses.

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