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One of the most common pieces of advice offered to prospective homebuyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. However, many buyers aren’t aware how long the pre-approval process takes and how it can cut into their time to look for a house.
Here’s what you can expect when you get a mortgage pre-approval, including the amount of time it takes to secure that pre-approval letter:
- How mortgage pre-approval works
- How long it takes to get a pre-approval
- How long does a pre-approval last?
How mortgage pre-approval works
Mortgage pre-approval confirms your creditworthiness for a home loan. When you get pre-approved, you’ll receive a letter from your mortgage lender that shows how much money you can borrow to buy a home.
While a pre-approval doesn’t guarantee full approval, it’s a fairly in-depth process that can provide some peace of mind and make you a more attractive buyer.
A mortgage pre-approval is different from a mortgage prequalification:
- Prequalification: The lender takes a look at your financial situation based on information you provide and gives you a ballpark estimate of how much mortgage you qualify for.
- Pre-approval: This process is more involved. It requires a full application and hard credit check, and you’ll need to provide additional documentation.
Some of the benefits of getting a mortgage pre-approval include:
- Giving you a better idea of what you can borrow and afford
- Making your offer stronger
- Speeding up the closing process
- Allowing you more time to compare lenders and rates and resolve any issues
How long it takes to get a pre-approval
How long it takes to get a pre-approval depends on the situation and lender. In general, lenders require certain documents to verify your finances — such as your W-2s and bank statements — as well as identification and employment verification.
They’ll also evaluate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), run a hard credit check to get your credit score, and look for any red flags on your credit report.
Some of the factors that can impact how long it takes to get pre-approved include:
- How long it takes you to gather supporting documents
- Whether there are mistakes on your credit report that need to be fixed
- Your employment status (since you might need additional info if you’re self-employed)
- Unusual circumstances involved with your assets
Keep reading: Does Mortgage Pre-Approval Affect Your Credit Score?
Having all of the required documents on hand before you start can also help speed up the process.
Pre-approved with traditional lenders
It’s not uncommon for a traditional lender to take up to 10 business days for a pre-approval.
To get an idea of your financial situation and determine if you meet all the requirements, a loan officer will comb through several pre-approval documents, including:
- W-2s (two years’ worth)
- Personal tax returns (two years’ worth)
- Business tax returns (two years’ worth, if applicable)
- Recent pay stubs
- Asset information (such as statements for bank, retirement, and brokerage accounts)
- Identifying documents (such as a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID)
- Profit and loss statements (if you’re self-employed)
Learn More: How to Buy a House: Step-by-Step Guide
Pre-approved with Credible
Credible offers a streamlined pre-approval process that allows you to secure a pre-approval letter from multiple lenders at once. Rather than waiting several days, you can find out how much you qualify for in a matter of minutes.
Our process is entirely online and user-friendly, and you can quickly generate letters for sellers and your real estate agent directly from your account.
|How long does it take?||1 to 3 days||3 minutes|
|Credit check||Hard credit pull|
(negative impact on your credit)
|Soft credit pull
(no impact on your credit)
|Online process||Typically minimal; instead processed via in-person visit at a branch or phone call with a licensed loan officer||100% online|
|Compare multiple lenders?||No, visit multiple lenders to receive multiple pre-approval letters||Yes, pre-approved across multiple lenders at once|
|Multiple pre-approval letters to make additional property offers?||No, must submit another request to lender for new pre-approval letter||Yes, generate additional letters instantly with a customized loan amount|
Ready to get pre-approved through Credible?
How long does a pre-approval last?
A mortgage pre-approval typically lasts between 60 and 90 days. Because your financial situation and the market could change, approval letters don’t last forever. If your offer isn’t accepted, you might need to get pre-approved again.
The expiration date for your pre-approval should be indicated somewhere on your pre-approval letter. You can find this date on the first page of your Credible pre-approval letter.
If you need to make changes to your streamlined pre-approval letter (such as adjusting your down payment or purchase price), you can go to your dashboard and update the information, and we’ll generate a new letter for you.
If you’re serious about buying a home, you’ll want to get pre-approved. Not only will a pre-approval inform you of the mortgage loan you qualify for, it also gives you an advantage over other buyers and makes the entire homebuying process a lot less stressful.