How Long Is a Preapproval for a Mortgage Good For?

Mortgage preapproval is a time-sensitive document and is typically good for 30 to 90 days.
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Written by Taylor Getler
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Reviewed by Michelle Blackford
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A typical mortgage preapproval letter is valid for up to 90 days, though that can vary by lender. The letter from your lender tentatively estimates how much it is willing to lend you, and on what terms. This can give you a more realistic budget for your home search.

A mortgage preapproval letter also demonstrates to home sellers that you can likely secure financing to back up your offer, indicating that you’re a serious buyer.

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What is mortgage preapproval?

Mortgage preapproval is a nonbinding evaluation from a lender that indicates how much you may be able to borrow based on your credit history and finances. Unlike mortgage approval, which happens after you’ve selected a home that you’d like to purchase, you’re encouraged to pursue preapproval before you’ve even begun looking at homes in earnest.

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Preapproval also differs from prequalification, although they’re similar. You may receive mortgage prequalification from a lender after applying with self-reported information about your financial profile, whereas preapproval requires verification of your income, assets and credit score, among other factors.

How to get preapproved for a mortgage

  • Check your credit score for free. Every type of mortgage has its minimum credit requirements (and these vary by lender), but you can qualify for most mortgages with a score of 620 or higher. You’ll also want to review your credit report; if anything looks incorrect, you can dispute it and restore your credit score. 

  • Calculate your debt-to-income ratio. This number represents how much of your monthly pre-tax income is committed to existing debts, like car payments or child support. This figure gives lenders a clear picture of how much money you’d have to devote to a mortgage payment each month. You’ll qualify with the widest range of lenders (and likely get the best interest rate offers) if this score is at or below 36%, but some lenders will approve you with a higher level of debt. 

  • Gather your documentation. This will include personal information like your Social Security number and government ID, as well as bank and investment account statements, W-2s and tax returns, and pay stubs or other proof of income. You’ll also need to document any part of your down payment that is coming from a gift

  • Apply with multiple lenders. All mortgage preapproval applications submitted within the same window of time count as a single credit inquiry, and comparing options during the preapproval stage will help you narrow your choices when it’s time to apply for the mortgage. You can start your search with NerdWallet’s list of the best mortgage lenders

How to renew your mortgage preapproval

Keep your financial documentation on hand and get in touch with your lender before your mortgage preapproval window closes.

Confirm the letter’s expiration date

Your preapproval letter should either spell out the expiration date or list how many days the letter is valid (most likely 90 days or fewer). If there is any doubt, call or email your point of contact at the lender to confirm the date.

Contact your mortgage loan officer

Reach out to the mortgage loan officer listed on your letter and explain that you want to renew your preapproval. According to Bank of America, it can take up to 10 business days to receive a preapproval letter, so plan ahead. This way, you won’t experience a gap where you’re actively home shopping but haven’t been preapproved. This will also help ensure that the rate and total loan amount estimates you’re working with are timely and realistic.

Update your documentation

You’ll have to provide current versions of your preapproval documentation. This includes your most recent pay stubs and asset statements for your bank accounts, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. If you’ve experienced a major life event that will affect your borrower profile, like a divorce, you’ll want to update your lender. Your credit score will also take a temporary dip, since this reassessment involves a hard credit pull.

Think of the process as a “refresh” instead of an “extension,” since the amount and terms of your preapproval will likely change with your new letter.

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