How to Get Prequalified and Pre-Approved for a Home Loan

Two women moving in together sit and take in the new home.

Before you start shopping for a Columbus area home or make an offer on a house, it’s smart to get prequalified or pre-approved for a home loan. Not all mortgage lenders require you to go through the prequalification process, and some people opt to skip this step.

Prequalification is in your best interest, however, as it helps show sellers you’re an attractive and qualified buyer. KEMBA Financial Credit Union can help you understand the difference between pre-approval and prequalification, along with why and how to do both when you’re ready to buy a home in Ohio.

The Difference Between Prequalification and Pre-Approval

You may have heard the terms prequalification and pre-approval used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Prequalification is the first step you’ll take in the mortgage pre-approval process. Many lenders don’t charge a fee for a prequalification, which you can easily complete online or over the phone.

To get a mortgage prequalification, your mortgage lender will review your income, debt and assets, then give you a prequalification letter. This letter is a high-level estimate of how much the lender would allow you to borrow for a mortgage, as well as how much you can afford to spend on a home. Keep in mind that just because you qualify for a certain mortgage payment doesn’t mean that’s the best way to set your budget.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan helps you figure out how much you can truly afford. It takes the guesswork of out knowing how much the home will cost you and helps sellers take your offer more seriously. A pre-approval for a mortgage is much stronger than getting a prequalification. A pre-approval is a tentative commitment from a specific mortgage lender that outlines the details of the mortgage for which you qualify.

How to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage in Ohio

The mortgage pre-approval process is like applying for a mortgage in that you’ll need to provide many of the same documents, including:
  • Your previous two years of W-2s and tax returns
  • Your previous three months of pay stubs
  • Your bank account statements
  • A signed authorization to pull your credit
Once you send these documents to your mortgage lender, your lender will send the information to an underwriter for review, which includes a credit check. If you qualify, your lender will issue a pre-approval letter. This will outline the amount for which you’re pre-approved, along with any conditions that must be met and an accurate view of your mortgage interest rate. Pre-approval letters are typically good for 60 to 90 days, and most lenders charge a fee to issue one.

If you’re planning to buy a home in Ohio, getting pre-approved for a home loan is an important first step. Our mortgage pre-approval calculator can help you determine your likelihood of getting pre-approved. Contact a KEMBA Financial Credit Union mortgage advisor to learn more about the prequalification and pre-approval process. We can also help you continue the process by applying for a mortgage when you’re ready.


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