Tuesday, January 24, 2023 / by Teresa Dipeso
Do You Need A Pre-Approval Letter To Make An Offer?
Technically, the answer is no. However, it has become the common standard over recent years to include the pre-approval with the offer. Submitting an offer without a pre-approval is a surefire way to have it rejected immediately, so there's no use in doing so (except for one big caveat, which is explained below)! Think about it from the home-seller's point of view: why would they entertain an offer that can't be shown to really exist? Talk is cheap, and pre-approvals show that you can actually afford what you are offering.
What is mortgage pre-approval?
Basically, a mortgage pre-approval letter is a guarantee from a lender that it’s willing to finance your home purchase up to a certain dollar amount, based on financial info you’ve shared with it, such as your pay stubs and tax returns. Pre-approval should not be confused with pre-qualification.
These terms are often used interchangeably, but there is a big difference. A pre-qualification is provided based on info shared verbally that has not been verified. Pre-approval requires an underwriter to scrutinize your documentation and approve the income and assets for a loan.
For that reason, pre-qualification can be done instantly, while it can take up to five days to be pre-approved. So, unless you fall into the category below, you'll want your pre-approval in-hand and ready to go!
The Exception: Home-Buyers Paying Cash
The only buyer who definitely doesn’t require a pre-approval letter is one paying in cold, hard cash. Since this buyer doesn’t need a home loan, sellers know that they can move forward without fear that lack of financing might hold things up. However, cash-buyers will still need to submit a "proof of funds" letter with their offers, for the same reason. Anyone can claim to have $X, and many do who in fact do not! It's happened. A proof of funds letter doesn't have to be overly complicated. Any financial asset documents showing you possess the value of the offer in cash will do, even if the cash is in multiple places.
How to get mortgage pre-approval
If you’re convinced you must get a mortgage pre-approval letter, make sure you get the best one possible, by shopping around.
All lenders are not created equal. Be sure to ask your lenders questions like how long it will take to get pre-approved, and whether they’ve worked with similar properties.
One misconception is that if you apply for a mortgage with multiple companies, they’ll pull your credit, and that will hurt your score. While it’s true that applying for a mortgage will impact your score, companies know that rate shopping happens and credit inquiries for a mortgage within 30 days are only calculated as one inquiry for the same type of loan.
In other words, there are very few downsides—and many benefits—to getting this helpful letter in hand.
If you would like a list of local lenders specializing in Shore homes, I'd be happy to provide one!