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If you’re in the market to buy a home, you’re probably learning many new vocabulary words. Pre-approved and pre-qualified are some buzz words that you’ll need to know. There’s a big difference in the two and how each can help you in the home buying process, so you’ll want to educate yourself. With the proper preparation and knowledge, the home buying process will be much easier for you.  


Pre-Qualification


This is actually the initial step that you should take in the home buying process. Being pre-qualified allows your lender to get some key information from you. Make no mistake that getting pre-qualified is not the same thing as getting pre-approved.


The qualification process allows you to understand how much house you’ll be able to afford. Your lender will look at your income, assets, and general financial picture. There’s not a whole lot of information that your lender actually needs to get you pre-qualified. Many buyers make the mistake of interchanging the words qualified and approval. They think that once they have been pre-qualified, they have been approved for a certain amount as well. Since the pre-qualification process isn’t as in-depth, you could be “qualified” to buy a home that you actually can’t afford once you dig a bit deeper into your financial situation. 


Being Pre-Approved


Getting pre-approved requires a bit more work on your part. You’ll need to provide your lender with a host of information including income statements, bank account statements, assets, and more. Your lender will take a look at your credit history and credit score. All of these numbers will go into a formula and help your lender determine a safe amount of money that you’ll be able to borrow for a house. Things like your credit score and credit history will have an impact on the type of interest rate that you’ll get for the home. The better your credit score, the better the interest rate will be that you’re offered. Being pre-approved will also be a big help to you when you decide to put an offer in on a home since you’ll be seen as a buyer who is serious and dependable.  


Things To Think About


Although getting pre-qualified is fairly simple, it’s a good step to take to understand your finances and the home buying process. Don’t take the pre-qualification numbers as set in stone, just simply use them as a guide. 


Do some investigating on your own before you reach the pre-approval stage. Look at your income, debts, and expenses. See if there is anything that can be paid down before you take the leap to the next step. Check your credit report and be sure that there aren’t any errors on the report that need to be remedied. Finally, look at your credit score and see if there’s anything that you can do better such as make more consistent on-time payments or pay down debt for a more desirable debt-to-income ratio.


Perhaps one of the most challenging things about buying a home is saving for the downpayment. Collecting such a large sum of money can be difficult. The truth is that most buyers actually think that they need more than they actually do to buy a home. The downpayment doesn’t need to be a barrier to your path to homeownership. There are so many programs that offer low and even no down payment home loans. Read on to learn more about down payments and programs that can help you. 


First, let’s look at what a down payment is and how it can help you. If you put 10% down on a $200,000 home that’s $20,000. The downpayment minus the purchase price of the home is $180,000, and that's how much your home loan will be. The more money you can put down on the house, the lower your home loan will be and the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. A large down payment can indeed save you in the long term. If you’re looking to move into a home sooner rather than later, saving a considerable sum isn’t always possible.  


Low Downpayment Mortgages


You need to decide what type of home loan you need by the amount of downpayment you’re willing and able to put down. Some benefits go along with making a down payment, but there are some negatives. 


By making a substantial down payment you may despite your savings, leaving little money for emergencies. Your mortgage rate may not be affected by a large downpayment either. It can be hard to decide what type of loan to get and just how much you really can afford.  


FHA Loans


FHA loans are among the most popular type of home loans. The downpayment that’s required is just 3.5%. The requirements are simple, and you don’t have to be a first-time homebuyer to qualify. 


The drawback to an FHA loan is that you cannot cancel the monthly mortgage insurance that comes along with it unless you refinance the home. Traditional mortgage insurance is canceled when you have built up 20% equity in the house, but this isn’t the case with FHA loans. 


Another positive about FHA loans is that your credit score doesn’t have to be stellar in order for you to qualify. Some lenders approve FHA loans with credit scores as low as 580. 


VA Home Loans


Buyers who have current or former military service status can qualify for this zero down mortgage. These loans are benefits to veterans and current members of the Armed Forces. While no downpayment is required, buyers may put down any amount they wish. The only requirements are that buyers be members of the military either currently serving for 90 days or two years of active duty service if not an active member.   


The above options are great for those who can’t afford or don’t wish to put down large down payments but still hope to be homeowners. 



If you plan to buy a house, you'll want to apply for a mortgage before you launch your house search. That way, you'll have your finances in order and can narrow your home search accordingly.

Ultimately, there are several steps that you should take prior to applying for a mortgage, and these are:

1. Check Your Credit Score

A bank or credit union likely will analyze your credit score as it reviews your mortgage application. However, you can find out your credit score free of charge before you kick off the mortgage application process.

You are eligible to receive a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Submit a request for your credit report today, and you can receive comprehensive insights into your credit history.

2. Examine Your Earnings and Debt

How much you currently earn and your outstanding debt could play pivotal roles in your ability to acquire a favorable mortgage. Thus, you'll want to examine these factors closely so that you can better understand how lenders will view your mortgage application.

Also, if you have lots of outstanding debt, there is no need to worry. If you allocate the necessary time and resources to learn about your debt and pay it off, you can increase the likelihood of obtaining a favorable mortgage.

3. Establish a Budget

Although a mortgage may prove to be essential to buy a house, it is important to consider various homebuying expenses as well.

For example, you may need to pay closing costs, home inspection fees and other expenses throughout the homebuying process. If you're worried about having the necessary finances to cover these costs, you may want to start saving money for them as soon as possible.

It often helps to account for the costs associated with cable, electricity, internet and other home must-haves too. The aforementioned homeownership expenses can add up quickly, but those who plan ahead can ensure they have sufficient funds available to cover these costs.

As you prepare to search for a house, it usually is a great idea to hire a real estate agent. This housing market can help you prepare for each stage of the homebuying cycle and ensure you can achieve your homebuying goals.

Typically, a real estate agent will meet with you and find out what you want in a dream house. This housing market professional then can keep you up to date about residences that match or exceed your expectations.

Perhaps best of all, a real estate agent understands that no one should be forced to overspend to acquire their ideal residence. As such, this housing market professional will make it simple for you to discover a terrific house at a budget-friendly price.

Lastly, don't hesitate to reach out to a real estate agent for guidance before you apply for a mortgage. With a real estate agent at your side, you can learn about lenders in your area and find one that can provide you with the financing that you need to purchase your dream house.