Home buyers, and especially first-time buyers, would like to be in the best position to make their purchase once they have identified their dream home. The most challenging aspect of home ownership is invariably financing. Questions like which lending institution to approach, what loans should be applied for, how much loan to be applied for and how much time will it take for approval need to be answered.
The best ‘be prepared' move on this front is to become pre-approved for a home loan. Doing so means that this tricky and time-consuming aspect of home purchase has already been dealt with, and that one can enter the market focused squarely on the best options. Getting pre-approved also puts you in the strongest possible place when it comes to negotiating the best deal. 1.
What is the difference between loan pre-qualification and pre-approval?
Pre-qualification for a home loan is more or less like an educated estimate provided by the lending company. They will be letting you know the type of loan you could qualify for, and the maximum amount. The estimate is usually based on your financial history, loan eligibility and buying power. A pre-approval, on the other hand, is a written confirmation by the lender.
Before handing over the pre-approval certificate, loan officers will completely access your employment and remuneration information and do a complete ‘credit-worthiness' check. This involves collecting all the data related to your past and current debts, repayment history, disposable income, credit card record, etc. and running it through software that will calculate whether you could be a likely candidate for approval.
How to secure a pre-approved home loan?
While seeking to become pre-approved, it is always best to approach a lending company that you know or can be referred to by a friend, colleague or family member. The lender needs have the assurance that you are a credible borrower. However, do not stop searching after you have met the first possible lender.
Ask around and look for the lending institutions that that provide the most competitive interest rates and are known for their helpful customer service. The loan officer from the identified lending institute will then pay you a visit and help you streamline your financial statements so that you become ready to discuss your bank statements, investments, holdings, salary slips, income tax returns and other information related to your finances. This basically starts the process which will end with you becoming a pre-approved borrower.
What good will a letter of pre-approval do?
Firstly, a pre-approval letter lets you know the exact budget range you should be searching in. This helps you stay in sync with your financial reality and keeps you from allowing your focus to stray to properties that you cannot afford. Secondly, having a pre-approval letter means that you can grab an offer immediately when it comes across and is in your budget range.
The letter states that the finances are ready when you choose to ask for them. Important Note: it is highly advisable to work with lenders who have the ability to provide customized pre-approval letters, inclusive of the maximum purchase price. Sellers could get greedy if they see a greater loan amount than their quote.
Getting pre-approved for a home loan is a crucial step that can put you in the best possible position in the home buying process. It will give you both peace of mind and keep you focused on what what to look for and what to avoid in terms of affordability.
Anil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces