Get a mortgage prequalification
Mortgage prequalification is an informal evaluation that helps you determine how much home you can afford. Get prequalified or even preapproved before you start shopping for a home.
The best lenders for your prequalification
- Offers loan products starting with as little as 3% down
- Doesn't charge lender fees, such as application, underwriting and origination charges
- Strengths: Offers an "underwriter reviewed" preapproval letter in as little as 24 hours.
- Weaknesses: Not available in all 50 states.
- Read our Better review
- Good for: borrowers seeking government loans, which are known for offering credit flexibility and low- or no-down-payment benefits.
- Read our AmeriSave review
- Good for: borrowers with solid credit who want to pay low fees and get an online experience with phone support. VA loans are an emphasis.
- Read our NBKC review
With a mortgage pre-qualification, a lender gives you an informal evaluation of whether you meet minimum requirements for a loan and how big that loan may be. This is a crucial step for those who aren’t sure whether they’re financially ready to buy a home. However, if you’re confident in your finances or have already been pre-qualified, you might want to get preapproved instead.
You can get prequalified in a couple of days or less. To get prequalified, you tell a lender some basic information about your credit, debt, income and assets. In return, you’re told how much you may be able to borrow. Keep in mind that the evaluation is informal and nonbinding because the lender doesn’t verify the information you provided or look at your credit report.
Depending on the lender, pre-qualification can happen in person, over the phone or online.
Unlike prequalification, preapproval requires proof of your debt, income, assets, credit score and history.
To get preapproved, you’ll need to provide documentation such as pay stubs, tax records and proof of assets. Once the lender verifies your information, which may take a few days, it should supply a preapproval letter you can show a Realtor or seller to prove you’re able to buy a home.
Remember that prequalification doesn’t guarantee preapproval. You can still be turned down if your financial documents don’t support the numbers you reported.
You could save thousands of dollars by shopping around. However, many consumers don’t do that. In a 2015 report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau found that 77% of consumers apply to only one lender or broker when seeking a mortgage. By shopping just three different lenders, borrowers could save more than $3,500 in just the first five years, according to the CFPB.