Mortgage preapproval is when a lender verifies your finances to estimate how much a loan you could be approved for, and it’s an important step to take before shopping for a home and officially applying for a mortgage.
There are several reasons why you should get preapproved. For one, a preapproval letter shows sellers that you’re serious about buying a home. Plus, getting preapproved can be a way to estimate how much house you can afford, and what mortgage rate you can expect.
“A preapproval means that the lender has reviewed your credit, as well as all supporting documentation,” says Sam Sharp, executive vice president of national sales at Guaranteed Rate in Chicago. “This is considered the bare minimum in order to have your offer taken seriously when buying a home.”
If you want to establish a homebuying timeline, it’s important to know how long it takes to get a mortgage preapproval. Here’s a breakdown of the preapproval timeline, factors that can affect it, and tips to speed it up.
Mortgage Preapproval Timeline
How long it takes to get preapproved for a mortgage will depend on your preparation and the lender’s workload. Here’s a timeline that you can use so you know what to expect:
Timeline for Mortgage Preapproval
|Mortgage Preapproval Step||How Long It Takes||How To Prepare|
|Gather documentation||1 to 7 days||If you’re the kind of person who has a filing cabinet with pay stubs and tax returns meticulously sorted by date, then this step may take less time. If you tend to be unorganized, it’s time to do some digging.|
Your lender may ask for several documents, including:
— Pay stubs.
— Bank statements.
— Tax returns.
— Investment statements.
— Retirement account statements.
— Government ID.
— Social Security number.
|Check your credit||Instant if you use AnnualCreditReport.com; up to 15 days when you request it by mail or by phone.||Your credit score will be used to assess how much risk you pose to lenders. High credit scores indicate lower risk, and lenders may feel more comfortable offering you a more favorable rate. You’ll want to check your credit before you seek preapproval.|
There are different ways to find out what your credit score is, including:
— Checking your online credit card account.
— Using a free credit score service.
— Enlisting a government-vetted credit counselor.
— Requesting a credit report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.
Online requests can be immediate, but phone or mail requests could take around two weeks.
|Receive your preapproval letter||1 to 10 days||Now, the timeline is in your lender’s hands. Your lender will verify your finances and perform a hard inquiry on your credit, which will negatively affect it temporarily.|
If it’s difficult to verify your documentation, the process will take longer.
What Are Factors That Affect the Preapproval Timeline?
Several factors can affect how long it will take to receive your preapproval letter, including:
- The amount of time it takes to gather documents. The lender can only begin verifying your financial information once you submit all your required documents. It can help to create a list of required documents to make sure you don’t miss anything.
- The number of errors on your credit report. Credit report errors can take time to investigate and correct.
- The amount of information your lender must verify. If you’re self-employed, you can expect the lender to ask for additional financial information, which takes time to verify.
- The complexity of your assets. Owning unusual assets can delay the preapproval process with follow-up questions and further research. This may apply to you if you own a brokerage account or international property.
- The lender’s schedule. Sometimes workloads pile up and lenders are slow to respond.
4 Tips for Speeding Up Mortgage Preapproval
Now that you understand what can delay preapproval for a mortgage, here are four tips for making the process go smoothly:
- Prepare your necessary documents beforehand.
- Promptly turn in necessary forms.
- Know your credit score beforehand.
- Research online reviews and find a lender with a reputation of being timely.
Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about how long it takes to get preapproved.