When you are ready to buy, getting pre-qualified is a good start, but to really show sellers you are serious, take the extra step to get pre-approved. A pre-qualification is merely an informal estimate of your income, assets and present debt to estimate the approximate price range you should be looking in for your new home. But a pre-approval means the lender is prepared to offer you a loan of up to a certain amount based on your credit, employment, and income and has determined what loan program is the best fit for you. Here are some of the items that I recommend buyers do in order to get pre-approved:
- Do a credit check before applying – This will give you an opportunity to clean any errors up before meeting with a lender. Even if your credit is good, mistakes are made all the time by retailers and institutions who make errors on names or social security numbers. These are errors you can clean up on your own before applying.
- Provide the paperwork – The lender will need a number of documents from you including:
- Asset and investment statements
- Bank account statements
- Credit card statements
- Auto loan statements
- Pay stubs for the last two months
- Verification of other income sources
- Tax returns and W-2s for the past two years
- Form of ID
- And, of course, the mortgage application!
The lender may ask for additional documents, but this will get you started. Meeting with a lender can feel overwhelming, but it is a critical step if you are buying and getting a mortgage. My advice? Keep your paperwork handy during the transaction and be prepared to provide additional information to the lender.