Wendy Wilson

There’s nothing more exciting than starting the search for your dream home. What could be better than having your own slice of the American dream?

However, if you’re serious about buying a home soon, you’ll need to work with a lender to get a pre-approval letter first. Having this letter greatly improves the chance of your offer being accepted, especially in a seller’s market.

In comparison to a pre-qualification, a pre-approval shows that your lender deemed you a serious, worthy buyer. A pre-approval letter also provides leverage to your bid on a home. Furthermore, it minimizes the risk of encountering hiccups along the way to homeownership.

So are you ready to get pre-approved but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place!

Our checklist provides all the critical details about what you need to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

A mortgage loan pre-approval checklist

When submitting your mortgage loan application, you’ll need to provide all sorts of documentation. These documents are required to verify the personal and financial information that you put on your mortgage application.

Lenders typically need the following documents before you can be pre-approved for a mortgage:

  • Documents that verify your identification, such as a Social Security card, passport, or driver’s license
  • Last two years’ W-2 and 1099 forms
  • Profit and loss statement (if self-employed)
  • Pay stubs for the last 30 days (if applicable)
  • Last two years’ tax returns
  • Statements from asset accounts, including bank and retirement accounts
  • Divorce decree or separation agreement (if applicable)
  • Landlord contact information for last two years (if you are renting)

Collecting these documents before filling out a mortgage application helps to speed up the process.

Some lenders may be able to get some of these documents directly from your bank or employer. However, it’s best if you provide everything to ensure that the documents are correct and complete.

Pre-approval process

The mortgage pre-approval process isn’t as bad as you may think. First, you’ll need to fill out a mortgage loan application with your preferred lender.

Most lenders allow customers to complete these forms entirely online, over the phone or in person.

You can apply for pre-approval to a single lender or choose to apply to several lenders. This allows you to shop around and find the best mortgage loan offer.

On average, it takes about 15 minutes to complete a mortgage loan application. The form, known as Form 1003, asks for personal, financial, and loan information.

After filling out the form and submitting it, your lender will pull all three of your credit reports. Then, your lender will analyze your credit scores along with your credit history.

Lender review and approval

After filling out an application and providing the required documents, the final step in the pre-approval for a mortgage process is the lender’s review and approval.

All of the information you’ve provided is sent to underwriting. Most lenders use a universal underwriting system that provides a computer-generated decision.

The process typically takes a few hours to a few days, depending on your lender’s schedule.

Final thoughts

While getting pre-approved for a mortgage does take a bit more effort, the benefits are well worth it. Be sure that you have all of the documents you need for a pre-approval letter so that you can start house hunting sooner!

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