January 25, 2024 3 minute read

How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage: A Step by Step Guide for Homebuyers

Buying a home is an exciting milestone, but it’s also a process filled with paperwork and financial scrutiny. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is a crucial step that not only gives you an advantage with sellers but also provides clarity on your budget. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting pre-approved for a mortgage.

Step 1: Assess Your Financial Health

Before reaching out to lenders, take a thorough look at your finances. Your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, income stability, and savings for a down payment will all play vital roles in your pre-approval.

  • Credit Score: Obtain a copy of your credit report to ensure there are no inaccuracies that could hurt your chances of approval. A high credit score will help you secure better interest rates.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio: Calculate your debt-to-income ratio, which is your total monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. A lower ratio indicates to lenders that you can afford to take on more debt.
  • Down Payment: Save for a down payment. The more you can put down upfront, the lower your loan and monthly payments will be.


Step 2: Gather Necessary Documentation

You will need to provide several documents when applying for a mortgage pre-approval, including:

  • Proof of Income: Recent pay stubs, tax returns, W-2s, or other documentation that proves your current income.
  • Proof of Assets: Bank statements, investment account statements, and any other assets that prove you can cover the down payment and closing costs.
  • Employment Verification: Lenders may call your employer to verify your employment and salary.
  • Identification: A government-issued ID and Social Security number are required for a credit check.


Step 3: Shop Around for Lenders

Interest rates and lender fees can vary significantly from one lender to another, so it’s important to shop around. Compare offers from different types of lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Step 4: Apply for Pre-Approvals

Once you’ve selected a few lenders with competitive rates, start the pre-approval process. Be prepared to fill out a mortgage application with each lender. They will conduct a hard credit inquiry, which may affect your credit score temporarily.

Step 5: Evaluate and Compare Pre-Approval Offers

Pre-approval offers will typically include the maximum loan amount, interest rate, and loan type. Compare these offers to see which lender provides the best terms for your situation. Look beyond just the interest rate; consider the annual percentage rate (APR), fees, and other costs.

Step 6: Understand the Pre-Approval Letter

A pre-approval letter is a document from a lender stating that they are preliminarily willing to lend you up to a certain amount of money for a home purchase. It’s important to understand that pre-approval is not a guarantee of final loan approval.

Step 7: Maintain Your Financial Status

Your pre-approval is based on your financial situation at the time of application. It’s essential to maintain that financial status by avoiding large purchases, new credit lines, or anything that could change your credit score or debt-to-income ratio.

Step 8: Use Your Pre-Approval to Buy a Home

With pre-approval in hand, you can confidently shop for homes within your budget. When you make an offer, include your pre-approval letter to show sellers you are serious and qualified.

Step 9: Finalize the Mortgage

Once your offer on a home is accepted, contact your lender to start the final loan application process. This will involve an updated credit check, property appraisal, and additional paperwork.

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage may seem daunting, but it’s a critical first step in the home buying process. By demonstrating to sellers that you have the backing of a lender, you’re more likely to have your offer taken seriously, putting you closer to securing your dream home.


Interested in listing a property or looking for a home to rent or buy? Give us a call at 617.314.9400 to get matched with a Senné Associate and start your real estate journey today.



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