The Prequalification Process

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What is pre-qualifying and what does it mean?

At the request of borrowers, mortgage lenders will pre-qualify, or pre-approve, potential buyers prior to applying for a mortgage on a specific property. Lenders calculate a borrower's financial ability to make monthly payments, and pre-qualifying helps the lender make safer loans and the borrower to shop for a house within his means. By knowing ahead of time the amount of loan you can qualify for takes much of the mystery and guesswork out of the home-buying process, and may strengthen your bargaining position with a seller.
Preparations
Unless you're paying cash for your next home, you'll have to get a mortgage. For most home buyers the limits set by that mortgage and the requirements to get mortgage will to frame most of the choices that buyer will have on the home purchase. For this reason the very first step any buyer should take is to get a mortgage pre-qualification.

To get a mortgage pre-qualification, the buyer provides the lender with basic financial and income information. That information is used to calculate the amount that lender thinks the buyer can borrow based on the buyer's income, down-payment and overall financial situation. A pre-qualification is an important first step to home shopping but a prequalification is not the same thing as a mortgage pre-approval. A pre-qualification is a basic screen based on many assumptions. A pre-approval is a comprehensive look at financials, documentation and other representations for a determinative statement of what the lender can borrow.