How Long is the Pre-Approval Processing Time?
7 minute read
June 1, 2022


Before you start house hunting for a new home, the first reccomendation most prospective homebuyers hear is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. 

But few borrowers are aware of pre-approval processing time, mortgage pre-approval requirements, or how to make it happen.

Mortgage pre-approval helps first-time homebuyers and homeowners looking to buy a new home. They help by providing a loan estimate of how much you can expect to receive, a proposed interest rate, and the price range for your new home.

If you’re eager to get started and are wondering “how long does mortgage preapproval take,” let’s look at the process and timelines.

Different timelines

Government-backed mortgages such as FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans can have different mortgage pre-approval timelines than conventional home loans. 

Refinancing is on a different schedule as well (FHA streamline or VA Irrrl). 

A mortgage pre-approval letter can be one of the most valuable assets a prospective homebuyer can have—it lets sellers know you’re a serious buyer who is financially stable. 

Many home sellers won’t consider an offer to buy their house without a mortgage pre-approval letter.

Understanding mortgage pre-approval processing time and how to apply can give you an edge over prospective buyers who haven’t applied for mortgage pre-approval.

What is mortgage loan pre-approval?

Mortgage pre-approval is a lender’s initial assessment of your ability to purchase a house based on your financial information.

For mortgage pre-approval, lenders typically look at your credit history and rating, the amount of debt you are carrying—including debt from credit cards, student loans, or other personal loans, your income, and how much you plan to pay for a downpayment—if any.

Following the initial assessment of your financial situation, a lender will typically provide you with a mortgage pre-approval letter outlining the maximum loan amount you can receive. 

Is there a difference between mortgage pre-approval and prequalification?

Despite sounding similar, getting prequalified for a mortgage and mortgage pre-approval aren’t precisely the same thing.

Mortgage pre-qualification is typically a more relaxed process based on your conversation with a lender. The lender bases your eligibility for a mortgage on the information you offer—often without looking at your credit information or reviewing supporting financial documents.

A mortgage pre-approval is more formal. Your lender will ask you to provide W-2s, tax returns, bank statements, or other financial documents and complete a mortgage application to get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Your lender will also review your credit history by pulling a credit check from one of (or all three of) the major credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

How do I get pre-approved for a mortgage loan?

You can apply for mortgage pre-approval online, but you’ll still have to provide supporting financial documents. While the documents you need to provide can vary depending on the lender or program you choose, there are some general guidelines that all mortgage pre-approval requires, including: 

  • Pay stubs from your current employer (or multiple employers if you’ve changed jobs within the last year) as well as contact information for your employer(s)
  • Documents that prove your identity, such as a driver’s license or passport
  • W-2 tax forms for the two years immediately preceding your application
  • Bank statements for the two months immediately preceding your application
  • If you’ve moved during the last two years, you’ll need to provide a list of all the addresses you’ve lived in for the last 24 months. 

Additional paperwork can include:

  • If you’re divorced, a copy of your divorce decree showing any debts paid by your ex-spouse
  • If you receive—or pay—child support, you’ll need to provide details and have supporting documentation. 
  • If you’ve declared bankruptcy, you’ll need copies of your bankruptcy discharge papers if the bankruptcy occurred within the last seven years.

How does the mortgage pre-approval process work?

The best place to start the mortgage process is by getting a free copy of your credit report. 

This not only lets you know what your credit score is but also provides an opportunity for you to review the information on your file. 

Credit disputes

If you notice errors or mistakes on your credit report, reach out to the credit reporting bureau and request a correction. 

Once corrected, you can provide a new, updated credit report for your loan application. 

While each application is unique, generally speaking, there are four steps to the mortgage pre-approval process. 

  • Get quotes from different lenders and choose one
  • Gather the appropriate documents
  • Apply for a mortgage
  • Get a mortgage pre-approval letter

Get quotes from different lenders

Whether you meet in person, online, or over the phone, choosing a lender should always begin by getting quotes from different mortgage lenders. 

Aim to speak with three to five lenders and compare the different mortgage rates and terms each can offer. 

Then, choose the one that can offer you the best rate abd that you feel comfortable moving through the process with. 

Gather the appropriate documents

How smoothly and quickly your mortgage pre-approval process goes hinges on the documents you provide.

Gather your basic financial information before your start contacting agents, and be ready to track down any additional paperwork your lender might request. 

Waiting until after you’ve contacted a lender to get financial documents in order could mean dealing with unnecessary delays in your mortgage pre-approval processing time.

Apply for a mortgage

You can apply for your mortgage online, in person, or over the phone. 

When doing so, ensure you’re using the correct information before submitting. It’s also good to approach all lenders in the same timeframe.

Each time a lender pulls your credit report, it gets recorded, and too many can mean a dip of a few points or more. 

But when you reach out to several mortgage lenders within a 45-day window, credit reporting bureaus treat the multiple credit enquires as one—so there’s no impact on your credit rating. 

Get a mortgage loan pre-approval letter

Once your lender has reviewed your application and determined that you meet the mortgage requirements for the program you’re interested in, the loan officer will issue your mortgage loan pre-approval letter.

Keep a copy of your letter for your real estate agent to include with your offer to buy a house.  

How long does mortgage loan pre-approval take?

Depending on the lender you choose, how complex your financial situation is, and what documentation you have available, mortgage pre-approval can often happen the same day you apply—often within a few hours.

Because processing timeframes can vary between a few hours to a few business days—or longer, remember to ask about mortgage pre-approval timelines when you reach out to potential lenders. 

Get in touch with Assist Home Loans to guide you through your pre-approval process

If you’re serious about buying a house, getting a mortgage pre-approval is one of the best things you can do to help make the homebuying process less stressful.

Ready to start your application? You can start the process online.

Still have questions? Reach out to the loan officers at Assist Home Loan today.

We have the expertise for a wide range of mortgage products—both conventional loans and government options for new mortgages as well as refinancing choices.

Our licensed loan officers are ready to help you buy your dream home.