BuyingSelling March 7, 2023

Homeownership Terms to Know: Pre-Approval, Pre-Qualification & More

Throughout the home buying process, you’ll encounter several checkpoints. At every stop, you’ll get closer to the ultimate goal of purchasing your next home. Each one satisfies unique criteria required to become a homeowner, and each one has its own terminology. Before you begin your home buying journey, it’s helpful to know about pre-approval, pre-qualification, and proof of funds, and the role they play in a real estate transaction.


Pre-Qualification and Pre-Approval

What is pre-qualification?

Pre-qualification and pre-approval go hand in hand, but one precedes the other. Pre-qualification is a very early step in the home buying process leading to pre-approval. After sharing your financial information with your bank or lender, they’ll give you an estimate of the loan amount you can expect to qualify for. During this time, you’ll learn about the different home loans available to you to help you decide which is best. Pre-qualification usually only takes a few business days.

What is pre-approval?

A sibling to pre-qualification, pre-approval takes things a step further. Once you submit a mortgage application, you’ll provide your lender with the required information to perform a financial background check to assess your creditworthiness. You’ll get a pre-approval letter showing the lender’s offer of a specific loan amount, so you’ll know how much you can borrow. You’ll also get a better understanding of what interest rate you can expect to pay on your loan. Mortgage pre-approvals are typically valid for 60 to 90 days.

More information on the benefits of pre-approval and when to get pre-approved:

Once you’ve gone through the pre-approval process, it’s helpful to know which homes you can afford. Use our free Home Monthly Payment Calculator by clicking the button below. With current rates based on national averages and customizable mortgage terms, you can experiment with different values to get an estimate of your monthly payment for any listing price.


A close up shot of a real estate agent presenting a pre-approval mortgage agreement to their client. There is a calculator, a key, and a small model of a house on the real estate agent's desk.

Image Source: Getty Images – Image Credit: Thitiphat Khuankaew


What is a proof of funds letter?

Simply put, in real estate, a proof of funds letter is a document that proves to the seller that you have enough money available to purchase the home. Proof of funds letters may vary depending on the terms of the transaction. For example, if you’re making an all-cash offer, your letter will prove that you have enough liquid cash to complete the deal.

For more information on the home buying process, read our blog post on searching for a home:

How to Search for a Home: Buying Guide