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The Importance of Mortgage Prequalification and Preapproval

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May 4, 2023

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If you're thinking about buying a home, you've likely come across the terms "prequalification" and "preapproval." While they may sound similar, these two terms have distinct differences and are critical steps in the home buying process. In this Hitch guide, we'll explore the importance of mortgage prequalification and preapproval.

What is Mortgage Prequalification?

Mortgage prequalification is an initial step in the home buying process where a lender evaluates your financial situation to determine how much you can afford to borrow. It's a simple process that typically involves a quick conversation with a lender or filling out an online form. The lender will ask about your income, debt, assets, and credit score to estimate how much you can borrow and what your monthly payments may be.

Why is Mortgage Prequalification Important?

Mortgage prequalification is essential because it helps you determine what you can afford. By getting prequalified, you'll have a better idea of what price range you should be looking for when house hunting. It's also a helpful tool when working with a real estate agent, as they'll be able to tailor their search to homes that fit your budget.

Is mortgage prequalification the same as preapproval?

No, mortgage prequalification is not the same as preapproval. Prequalification is an initial estimate of how much you can afford to borrow, while preapproval is a more in-depth evaluation of your financials that includes a review of your credit score, income, debt, and assets, resulting in a specific maximum amount you're approved to borrow.

Does mortgage prequalification guarantee a mortgage loan?

No, mortgage prequalification does not guarantee a mortgage loan. It's simply an estimate of how much you may be able to borrow based on your financial situation.

How long does mortgage prequalification take?

Mortgage prequalification is a relatively quick process that usually takes only a few minutes to complete. Some lenders offer online prequalification, which can be done in as little as 15 minutes. Contact us today!

Can I be prequalified for a mortgage if I have bad credit?

Yes, you can still get prequalified for a mortgage if you have bad credit. However, your prequalification estimate may be lower, and you may be offered higher interest rates and less favorable terms.

Do I need to be prequalified for a mortgage before house hunting?

No, you don't need to be prequalified for a mortgage before house hunting, but it's highly recommended. Being prequalified can give you a better idea of how much you can afford to spend on a home and help you narrow down your search. It can also give you a competitive edge when making an offer on a home.

What is Mortgage Preapproval?

Mortgage preapproval is a more in-depth evaluation of your financial situation by a lender. It involves a thorough review of your credit score, income, debt, and assets. To get preapproved, you'll need to provide documentation, such as pay stubs, tax returns, and bank statements. Once the lender has reviewed your financials, they'll issue a preapproval letter, which states the maximum amount you're approved to borrow.

Why is Mortgage Preapproval Important?.

Mortgage preapproval is crucial because it gives you a clear idea of what you can afford. It also gives you a competitive advantage when making an offer on a home. When you have a preapproval letter, the seller knows you're a serious buyer who has already been approved for a mortgage. This can make your offer more attractive than someone who hasn't been preapproved.

How long does it take to get preapproved for a mortgage?

When you apply for a mortgage preapproval, the lender will request certain documentation from you, such as pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and other financial records. The amount of time it takes to get preapproved will depend on how quickly you can provide this documentation and how complex your financial situation is. For example, if you're self-employed, it may take longer to verify your income and assets compared to someone with a traditional job.

Once the lender receives all the necessary documentation, they will review it to determine whether you meet their lending criteria and how much you can borrow. This process typically takes 2-3 days, but it can take longer if there are any issues or complications that need to be resolved.

In some cases, the lender may also need to order a home appraisal or review other property-related documents, which can add time to the preapproval process. It's essential to be prepared and have all your documentation ready to help expedite the preapproval process.

Is a preapproval letter a guarantee of a mortgage loan?

No, a preapproval letter is not a guarantee of a mortgage loan. It's a statement from a lender that you're approved to borrow up to a certain amount, provided your financial situation doesn't change significantly before you close on the home.

Does getting preapproved for a mortgage hurt your credit score?

Getting preapproved for a mortgage typically requires a hard credit inquiry, which can temporarily lower your credit score by a few points. However, multiple inquiries within a short period for the same purpose, such as shopping for a mortgage, are often considered as a single inquiry and shouldn't significantly impact your score.

It's essential to note that the impact of a hard credit inquiry on your credit score is usually minor and temporary, lasting for only a few months. It's also important to shop around and get preapproved by multiple lenders to compare rates and terms. Doing so within a short period should only count as a single inquiry on your credit report and shouldn't significantly affect your score. However, it's best to limit the number of credit inquiries you have in a short period to avoid any potential negative impact on your credit score.

How long is a preapproval letter valid?

A mortgage preapproval letter is typically valid for 60-90 days, but the exact duration may vary depending on the lender's policies. After the preapproval letter expires, you'll need to update your financial documentation and go through the preapproval process again if you're still searching for a home.

It's important to note that a preapproval letter is not a guarantee of a mortgage loan, and it's subject to change based on any significant changes in your financial situation, such as a loss of income or increase in debt. It's also crucial to keep in mind that a preapproval letter is specific to a particular lender and may not be accepted by other lenders if you decide to shop around for the best rates and terms.

Mortgage prequalification and preapproval are essential steps in the home buying process. Prequalification gives you a general idea of what you can afford, while preapproval gives you a specific maximum amount. By getting prequalified and preapproved, you'll be able to house hunt with confidence and make an offer on a home with a competitive edge. At Hitch, we understand the importance of mortgage prequalification and preapproval, and we're here to help guide you through the process.

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1. Qualified applicants may borrow up to 95% of their home’s value. This does not apply to investment properties.2. HELOCs have a 10-year draw period. During the draw period, the borrower is required to make monthly minimum payments, which will equal the greater of (a) $100; or (b) the total of all accrued finance charges and other charges for the monthly billing cycle. During the draw period, the monthly minimum payments may not reduce the outstanding principal balance. During the repayment period, the borrower is required to make monthly minimum payments, which will equal the greater of (a) $100; or (b) 1/240th of the outstanding balance at the end of the draw period, plus all accrued finance charges and other fees, charges, and costs.The lender will calculate this amount by taking the outstanding Account Balance on the last day of the draw period and dividing it by 240 months and then adding any finance charge that accrues but remains unpaid during the monthly billing cycle plus any other fees, charges and costs to the fixed principal payment that is due. During the repayment period, the monthly minimum payments may not, to the extent permitted by law, fully repay the principal balance outstanding on the HELOC. At the end of the repayment period, the borrower must pay any remaining outstanding balance in one full payment.3. The time it takes to get cash is measured from the time the Lending Partner receives all documents requested from the applicant and assumes the applicant’s stated income, property and title information provided in the loan application matches the requested documents and any supporting information. Most borrowers get their cash on average in 21 days. The time period calculation to get cash is based on the first 4 months of 2024 loan funding's, assumes the funds are wired, excludes weekends, and excludes the government-mandated disclosure waiting period. The amount of time it takes to get cash will vary depending on the applicant’s respective financial circumstances and the Lending Partner’s current volume of applications. Closing costs can vary from 3.0 - 5.0%. An appraisal may be required to be completed on the property in some instances.4. Not all borrowers will meet the requirements necessary to qualify. Rates and terms are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility. This offer is subject to verification of borrower qualifications, property evaluations, income verification and credit approval. This is not a commitment to lend.5. The content provided is presented for information purposes only. This is not a The content provided is presented for information purposes only. This is not a commitment to lend or extend credit. Information and/or dates are subject to change without notice. All loans are subject to credit approval. Other restrictions may apply.