Credit score

How to get a mortgage pre-approval

Pre-Approval FAQs

What are the steps to get pre-approved?

As noted above, the most important steps in the pre-approval process are when your lender:

  • Reviews your income and wealth documents
  • Performs a credit check
  • Writes a pre-approval letter stating how much you can afford

From there, your pre-approval will usually be valid for a few months. If you don’t buy a home within that time, you’ll need to repeat these steps to renew your pre-approval.

Why is it important to get pre-approved for a home loan?

Presenting a home seller with a mortgage pre-approval letter shows that your lender has assessed your finances and determined that you can afford to buy a home. A pre-approval letter can help your offer stand out and provide the seller with greater peace of mind knowing they are selling to a buyer whose finances have been verified.

Does it hurt your credit score to get pre-approved for a mortgage?

If your lender makes a thorough inquiry to access your credit report through one of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax™, TransUnion® or Experian® – your credit score may temporarily drop a few points. Rest assured, however, that this reduction will not cause significant or long-term damage to your credit.

Can you buy a house for less than your pre-approval?

Yes! Although your lender may approve you for a large mortgage, you don’t have to buy a home worth exactly that amount. When you make an offer on a property, you must account for all costs, such as your deposit, closing costs and utility bills as well as other living expenses to ensure you can afford to live in your new home.

What should I do if I can’t be pre-approved?

Your lender may deny you pre-approval or for the amount you want. Your credit score may be too low, your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) may be too high or the lender may decide that your income is not enough for the mortgage amount you want.

If you end up being turned down, talk to your lender about the specific steps you need to take to increase your chances of pre-approval and start planning ways to improve your financial situation.