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Pre-qualified or pre-approved — what’s the difference?
Mortgage pre-qualification is generally a quick, simple process. You provide a mortgage lender personal financial information, including your income, debt and assets. Based on your information, the lender will give you a tentative assessment as to how much they’d be willing to lend you toward a home purchase. Pre-qualification can usually be done over the phone or online and often at no cost. A pre-qualification is not a guaranteed loan.
Mortgage pre-approval is a more significant milestone in the process because a lender is actually checking your credit and verifying your financial information. If you’re pre-approved, a lender is making an actual commitment (subject to conditions such as a property valuation) to loan you money. Pre-approval is not necessarily a guarantee that you will receive a specific rate or mortgage from that lender because circumstances may change from the time you get-preapproved until the time you’re ready to make a purchase.
Pre-approvals are subject to your continued good credit and are usually good for 60, 90 or 120 days depending on the lender.