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Get a mortgage preapproval

Get preapproved for your mortgage to prove you are a serious buyer.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, getting preapproved by a mortgage lender can make your home search simpler and ensure a seller takes your offer seriously. It also lowers the chance your loan application will be denied once you find the home you want to buy.

Here are three reasons you should get preapproved before you start your home search.

  1. It will focus your search. A preapproval letter is a good guide to how much house you can afford and should keep you from looking at homes outside your price range.
  2. It tells sellers you’re a serious buyer. If you have a preapproval letter, a seller knows your offer is credible and highly likely to close.
  3. It makes getting a mortgage simpler. To get preapproved, you’ll provide financial information proving you’re able to buy a home. Once your offer is accepted, the lender uses some of the same information to process your loan, leaving you with less work to get a mortgage.

Get started with NerdWallet's top picks

Rocket Mortgage
  • Quicken Loans is the largest FHA lender in the nation
  • Has a 1% down payment program for qualified buyers
  • Rocket Mortgage, from Quicken loans, allows you to complete the process entirely online and gives a loan decision in minutes
  • Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Read our Rocket Mortgage review
Get Started on Quicken's website
sofi_270x55
  • SoFi offers an all-digital lending platform with online application and loan tracking
  • Offers a variety of mortgage products, including jumbo and interest-only loans
  • No application, origination or other lender fees
  • Available in 27 states and Washington, D.C. (see full list below)
  • Read our SoFi Mortgage review
Get Started on SoFi's website
carrington
  • Specializes in loans to borrowers with lower credit scores, as low as 500 in some cases
  • Offers down payment assistance programs through housing authorities in some states
  • Requires online education course for borrowers
  • Available in D.C. and all states except AK, MA, ND and VT
  • Read our Carrington Mortgage review
Get Started on Carrington's website

Not sure which lender is right for you?

Consider working with a mortgage advisor, who can shop your mortgage with multiple lenders quickly, saving you time and effort. Connect with one of our mortgage advisors to find the best mortgage for you.

Once you’ve decided to get preapproved, here are six steps you should take. Remember to start early and stay focused.

  1. Review your credit report and FICO score to uncover any problems and determine if you need to improve your credit. Calculate your debt load to know where you stand.
  2. Contact the credit reporting agencies immediately if you see incorrect information on your credit reports.
  3. Pay all of your monthly bills on time and, if possible, in full.
  4. Prioritize past due accounts.
  5. Be prepared to show two years’ worth of tax returns, bank statements or other documentation to demonstrate consistent income.
  6. Control your monthly spending and avoid large purchases (such as a car) to lower your debt-to-income ratio.