How Long is a Mortgage Pre-Approval Good For?

Most mortgage pre-approvals are good for 90 days, and they’re simple to refresh at any time.

The mortgage pre-approval is your first big step towards homeownership. And getting pre-approved early in the process simplifies everything that comes next. 

No home seller will take you seriously unless you show them that you’re qualified. And as valuable as your pre-approval is to a seller, it’s even more so for you.

Your pre-approval shows exactly how much home you qualify for, which is essential for house hunting and will give you an estimated monthly housing payment so you can dial in your budget and figure out how much home you want to afford.

If you want to start house hunting with the intent of making an offer, get pre-approved now

What is a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

A mortgage pre-approval is a dress rehearsal for your actual mortgage.

The pre-approval process considers your financial situation (credit score, income, assets, etc.) to determine the loan size and interest rate you’re eligible for. Plus, you’ll receive an estimated monthly housing payment, which is essential for budgeting.

Pre-approvals let buyers know exactly how much home they can buy and provide the information necessary to determine how much home they want to buy.

Pre-approvals are also required for house hunting. Offers aren’t taken seriously by sellers and real estate agents unless a mortgage pre-approval accompanies them.

How Long Do Mortgage Pre-Approvals Last?

Mortgage pre-approvals are typically good for 90 days.

Interest rates are constantly changing, credit scores are updated monthly, and your financial situation can change over time. All these things can affect your maximum purchase price — for better or worse.

If you haven’t yet found a home when you’re close to that 90-day window, contact your mortgage expert and tell them you’d like to get your pre-approval refreshed.

You’ll provide some updated documentation; they’ll refresh your credit report and go over all the details again. If there are positive, negative, or no changes at all, they’ll let you know. And you’ll be given a fresh pre-approval letter good for another 90 days of house hunting.

How Do You Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

Pre-approvals are better than pre-qualification forms because a pre-approval considers your income, credit, and savings. When you're pre-approved, you get certainty about whether you can afford to buy and that's good to know for the seller, too.

Mortgage lenders provide pre-approvals.

To get a pre-approval, the mortgage lender will look at:

  • Credit
  • Employment and income verification
  • Income tax history
  • Total assets
  • Down payment and desired mortgage amount

Mortgage pre-approvals only take a few minutes to complete and can be done online, over the phone, or in person — whichever you prefer.

When Should You Apply for Pre-Approval?

Pre-approvals are the first big step towards homeownership.

Payment estimates, interest rate, down payment amount, and loan size are among the most critical pieces of information you’ll receive with your pre-approval. All of this is essential to budgeting and focusing on how much home you want to buy.

Get pre-approved as early as possible. By doing this, you’ll plan your purchase more effectively and always be ready to make a serious offer when you come across a home you love. 

Pre-Approval vs Pre-Qualification

What's the difference between a pre-qualification and a pre-approval? A pre-approval actually means something. When you're buying your first home, don't settle for a pre-qualification. Get the real thing. Get pre-approved.

A pre-approval is a complete look into your financial history and allows the lender to guarantee your approval for a specific loan amount and interest rate.

Pre-qualifications use basic income and credit history to estimate how much mortgage you qualify for, but they cannot be guaranteed. 

Pre-qualifications sound convenient, but pre-approvals allow you to submit an offer for a home and simplify the mortgage process once your offer is accepted.

Mortgage pre-approvals give you solid proof that you can get the mortgage you need to buy a home, allowing you to budget appropriately and submit an offer as soon as you find a home.

Mortgage pre-approvals expire after 90 days, so stay in touch with your mortgage expert to refresh if house hunting is taking longer than planned.

Dan Green

Dan Green

Dan Green is a former mortgage loan officer and an industry expert. He's appeared on NPR and CNBC, and in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and dozens of local newspapers. Dan has helped millions of first-time home buyers get educated on mortgages, real estate, and personal finance. Have mortgage questions? Ask Dan in the chat.

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