- Become pre-qualified for a loan: All you need to do is speak to a lender, who—based on asking you some questions about your finances—offers an opinion of the loan amount you are eligible to borrow. The lender doesn’t ask for any supporting paperwork to confirm what you say, and can change his or her mind when you come back to apply for a loan. There’s no charge for pre-qualification.
- Become pre-approved for a loan: This process is more complex and sometimes involves a fee. The lender will want information about your employment, income and debts to prove that you are a good risk.
Obviously, a lender’s pre-approval letter carries more weight with a seller than a pre-qualification letter because it is proof of your buying power on paper. Being pre-approved gives you an advantage when you’re among several buyers pursuing a property.
Pay off other loans.
If at all possible, consider paying off any high-interest loans before applying for a mortgage. The more debts—like car loans or credit card balances—that appear on your mortgage application, the smaller the loan amount the lender will be willing to offer.
Don’t pull a Pinocchio!
Never inflate your income or lie about employment dates. Not only is it illegal to falsify documents, it’s also a federal offense! And lenders can usually catch people who lie or greatly exaggerate information on their applications. If you lie, you will most likely get what you were trying to avoid all along, a denial for your loan.