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A mortgage pre-approval and pre-qualification are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to different stages of the mortgage application process. Understanding the difference between the two can help you make informed decisions when you are shopping for a mortgage.


A pre-qualification is a preliminary assessment of your financial situation. You provide your income, debt, and assets information to a lender, who then evaluates your eligibility for a mortgage. This process can be done online or over the phone and typically takes less than an hour.

The lender will review your information, but they won’t verify it. That means they’re taking you at your word about your income and debts. They’ll then give you an estimate of how much they would be willing to lend you based on the information you’ve provided. However, pre-qualification does not guarantee that you will be approved for a mortgage.


A pre-approval, on the other hand, is a more in-depth process. It involves submitting an application for a mortgage, along with documentation to verify your income, debts, and assets. This process can take several days, and you’ll likely have to pay an application fee.

Once the lender has received your application and verified your information, they will give you a conditional commitment for a mortgage. This commitment is typically valid for a specific period, such as 90 days, and will specify the maximum amount you can borrow.

A pre-approval is more valuable than a pre-qualification because it provides a more accurate estimate of how much you can afford to borrow, and it gives you a better idea of the interest rate you can expect to receive. It also shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer, which can be an advantage in a competitive housing market.

In summary, a pre-qualification is a quick and easy way to get an idea of how much you might be able to borrow, but it’s not a guarantee that you’ll be approved for a mortgage. A pre-approval is a more thorough process that gives you a better idea of what you can afford, and it can make you a more attractive buyer to sellers.