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When you’re looking for a house, it helps to have an idea of what you can spend. One way to find that out is to get a mortgage preapproval. A preapproval letter is a document from a mortgage lender telling you how much you can afford based on your credit report, income and assets.

Your preapproval is also the first step in your relationship with your lender. If you get preapproved before finding a home, you won’t have to start the whole application process once you’ve signed the purchase agreement. And many sellers and real estate agents won’t work with a buyer who’s not preapproved.

The Parts of a Mortgage Preapproval

At its most basic, a mortgage preapproval is a formal analysis of your financial situation. To get preapproved, you send in proof of your income, such as W-2s and tax returns, and proof of assets, such as bank statements.

You’ll also need to have your credit pulled. Pulling your credit allows your mortgage lender to get an idea of the monthly payments you have to make on your debts. Your credit report also tells your lender how you’ve handled paying debts in the past, letting them know if you’ll be a risky borrower.


In the end, you’ll get a dollar amount that represents how much you can afford to spend on a home.

It’s important to note that a preapproval is different from a prequalification. When you get prequalified, your lender doesn’t pull your credit or verify any of your information. This might cause problems if you make an offer on a house but don’t get approved for that amount.

It’s far better to know for certain how much you can afford upfront, and a preapproval can help you do that.

Using Your Preapproval

Once you have your preapproval letter in hand, you can go shopping for a house with confidence knowing that you can make a rock-solid offer.

Keep in mind, however, that preapprovals do have a time limit. At a certain point, the lender has to re-check your credit report and re-verify your income and assets. This time limit varies from lender to lender, but at Quicken Loans, preapprovals are valid for 90 days.

If you’re already working with a lender, it’s important to make your preapproval work for you. Let’s say you want to make an offer on a house for $150,000, but you’re preapproved for $200,000. One of the things you can do is adjust the amount of your preapproval letter to be lower so it doesn’t look like you’re lowballing the seller by offering less than you can afford.

Quicken Loans clients can make adjustments to their preapproval letter online with Rocket Mortgage. You can do this as many times as you wish, changing the letter to any price up to the full amount of your preapproval.

Are you ready to get preapproved and go house shopping? You can get preapproved online with Rocket MortgageSM by Quicken Loans, or you can get preapproved with a Home Loan Expert by calling (888) 728-4702.

Questions about mortgage preapprovals? Let us know in the comments!

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. im a first home buyer im super nervous cause of the credit check just dude to my credit card brought me down alot

    1. Hi Michael:

      I understand your nervousness. Home buying is a very involved process with several steps.

      Mortgage companies are required to report your application to the credit bureaus, which is a hard inquiry on your credit score. This does temporarily lower your score. However, I have three pieces of good news:

      First, FICO® considers all credit inquiries from mortgage companies to be one credit inquiry if they occur within the same 30-day timeframe. So you have the ability to shop around if you want. Second, as long as you do the right things such as pay your debts on time, your credit score should bounce back to where it was within a few months. Finally, they don’t consider your score any differently than they would have before your credit inquiry as long as you secure a loan within that 30-day period.

      If you’re shopping around and you haven’t applied with Quicken Loans yet, you can do so online with Rocket Mortgage or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. Have a great day!

  2. If I am pre-approved for a loan do they take in to account my past credit history before they offer that pre-approval? I just have some missed payments. They won’t come back later and say I’m denied because of that, will they?

    1. Hi Karen:

      We do take a look at your credit during the preapproval process. In terms of how late payments impact that, all late payments bring your credit score down a little bit until they drop off seven years later, but the older they are the less of an impact they have. I can tell you specifically that we very much focused on late mortgage payments in the last 12–24 months. I hope this helps. I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. They’ll be able to walk through your questions and concerns at a more detailed level.


  3. I have gotten mail that says am approved for 73,768.00. I want to get a mod.home .and use it to get it.I own the land to put it on.

    1. Hi Melvin:

      We can help you with that. I’m going to recommend you get started by talking to one of our Home Loan Experts. You can reach them at (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps!

      Kevin Graham

    1. That’s great to hear, Oscar! I just want to double check: Is there something we can help you with? Otherwise, we’ll keep your loan experience as smooth as possible!

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