What’s The Difference Between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?

  • Home
  • /What’s The Difference Between Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval?

Prequalification vs Preapproval
When you are shopping for a house, townhome, condominium, or investment property you want to buy, you will need either a pre-qualification or pre-approval letter to submit an offer to purchase. Either letter assures the seller of your seriousness and ability to obtain a mortgage for the purchase. We offer either service at no cost to you.

Call us! We’re available after hours and weekends, too. We’re a small business and work with local realtors. We can pre-qualify you whether you choose to work with us or not.

Hint: If you are competing with another buyer in making an offer on a home, a pre-approval letter carries more weight than a pre-qualification letter. We will be happy to send you a copy of your credit report for your review.

Pre-Qualified or Pre-Approved
What’s the Difference?

Getting pre-qualified means filling out a loan application, having your credit report reviewed, and talking with a loan officer who will provide a free pre-qualification letter to go with your offer. Getting pre-approved means you have also submitted supporting documentation on income and assets for review by a lender. It takes a little longer and requires more work on your part. If you’re ready now, just click here to begin our secure, online loan application.

You probably don’t want the seller to know exactly what you are qualified to buy. You should get a letter saying that you are qualified to buy a house at a certain address, without stating a dollar amount. In any event, we recommend you shop with the knowledge of what you qualify to purchase.

If you think you just want to get pre-qualified, keep reading. If you agree with our recommendation that you should get pre-approved, you might want to explore our topic, Why Should I Get Pre-Approved Before Shopping for Homes.

What We Need to Get You Pre-Qualified

  1. Employment – When you contact us, we will need to know your employment history covering the past two years.  If you have recently changed jobs but have stayed in the same field, that will be fine. If you have recently changed careers, then we will need to examine how stable your new job will be in deciding if you qualify for a loan. If you have recently moved from a W-2 or salaried job to being self employed, then you will have to provide at least one year’s federal tax returns to prove self-employed income.
  2. Cash on Hand – We will ask how much money you currently have in checking, savings and /or money market accounts. This is to ensure you can make a down payment and/or can cover the cost to sign for – or close – the loan. If you do not currently have enough money for your down payment or closing costs, then we will discuss your choices to obtain that money or negotiate those costs. Many loans allow gift money from family, or you can ask the seller to pay your closing costs, or you may be able to borrow the money from your retirement plan (contact your retirement plan administrator to see if this option is available).
  3. Credit Score – Most buyers have a ballpark idea of their credit score. There are lots of online free credit score offers for consumers. However, the credit score used to purchase a property is different. Only lenders can pull a Residential Mortgage Credit Report (RMCR) and review your credit report from the three largest credit-scoring agencies. This score, sometimes called a tri-merge score, is stricter, more conservative than what consumers see, to make sure your credit standing meets or exceeds current guidelines for obtaining a loan.

What If I Already Own Another Home?
If you have an existing house for sale, we will make sure you are qualified to carry both your current home mortgage and the new loan. This would allow you to put in a purchase offer called a non-contingent offer.

  • Bankruptcy. If you have a bankruptcy on your financial record as little as two years ago, we may still be able to help you get a mortgage to buy a home.
  • Divorce or Separation. If you are getting separated, please call us to discuss your options. We would be happy to go over the guidelines concerning when and how alimony and child support can be used as income.

After you have a contract to purchase property, you should ask for an offer or quote from several lenders to do your loan. You’ll want to let us quote you a rate and mortgage because we work with many lenders to compare rates and types of loans. If you used a pre-qualification letter, you’ll l have to do the extra step of getting approved by a lender at this time.

Hint: Even if you get a pre-qualifying letter from another lender, you can still ask us to do a rate quote comparison! You should always compare rates.

Often, clients are reluctant to share too much financial information. Let us reassure you, we have served North Carolina citizens for 15 years, and most of our clients are our neighbors! We promise to never share your information and to safeguard your privacy.


Why Work With Us?
Carolina Home Mortgage is local and an independent small business. You’ll find our rates are low if you do the comparison. For 15 years we have helped clients become our neighbors You don’t get to do that unless you offer quality and client-centered service.

Email your questions to
or call us at 919-869-8210. At the end of the day, we report to you, not the bank. We are available after hours and weekends, too!

Helping You Make Carolina Home!