In a previous tutorial, we examined the 11 steps to buying a home in Washington State. Loan pre-approval was one of the recommended steps.
Today, we will take a closer look at the mortgage pre-approval process in Washington State, and how it can benefit you as a home buyer.
What Is Mortgage Pre-Approval?
In simple terms, mortgage pre-approval is like being pre-screened by a lender. The mortgage company will examine your income, debts, assets, and credit score to determine how much they are willing to lend you.
The mortgage pre-approval process in Washington State is fairly straightforward and can generally be completed within a few days.
One of the goals is to determine how much you can realistically afford, before driving around town to view homes for sale. Some home buyers rush into the house hunting stage before they’ve even spoken to a mortgage lender. As a result, they often end up wasting time looking at properties that are well over their price range. Pre-approval can help you avoid this.
Three Reasons to Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
Getting pre-approved for a home loan in Washington State can benefit you in several ways. We touched on one of those benefits already. It can make your house hunting experience more efficient.
Here’s a complete list of pre-approval benefits:
- Getting pre-approved ahead of time will help you narrow down the real estate market to the kinds of properties you can actually afford, based on your financing. This can save you a lot of time and energy.
- Pre-approval can make sellers more inclined to accept your offer, since you’ve been screened by a mortgage company already.
- Real estate agents will be more willing to work with you. In fact, some agents in Washington State will only work with home buyers who’ve been pre-approved.
- Mortgage pre-approval gives you a much-needed advantage in the marketplace. It makes you a more competitive home buyer, when compared to someone who hasn’t been pre-approved by a lender yet.
Of course, if you’re planning to make an all-cash offer on a house, you won’t need to work with a lender. But the majority of home buyers in Washington State do use mortgage loans to complete their purchases. If you fall into this latter group, then a mortgage pre-approval could benefit you.
Loan Application, Documents and Pre-Approval Letter
As mentioned earlier, the pre-approval process in Washington State is mostly straightforward. The process usually begins with the borrower completing a standard loan application. The full name of this document is the Uniform Residential Loan Application, or Fannie Mae form 1003. (You can find a sample online, if you’d like to preview it.)
You’ll also be asked to provide a variety of documents during the mortgage pre-approval process. These documents are used for verification purposes, and they typically include tax returns, W-2 forms, pay stubs, and bank statements (among others).
Based on all of this, the lender will issue a pre-approval letter with a specified loan amount. You can use this letter to support your offer, when you’re ready to buy a home. The pre-approval letter shows sellers that you are serious about buying their home, and that you have your financing squared away. This works to your advantage.