If you want to show sellers you’re seriously interested in buying their home, getting mortgage pre-approval is a critical first step. It proves that, after digging through your financials, a lender is willing to give you money to buy a house.
“Getting pre-approved is a great way to differentiate yourself when making an offer,” says Linda Walters, a Realtor® in Wayne, PA.
Unfortunately, a pre-approval isn’t a one-and-done process. In fact, if your home search drags on for several months, there’s a chance your pre-approval won’t be valid after a certain point. Let’s explore how long a pre-approval letter remains valid and what to do if yours expires before you find a house.
Pre-approval vs. pre-qualification
It’s important to understand that pre-approval is different from pre-qualification.
To get pre-approval, the lender will review your financial information such as bank statements, pay stubs, W-2s or 1099s, a year or two of your tax returns, and your credit report. Once the numbers are crunched, the lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter certifying you are qualified to borrow a certain amount of money at a certain interest rate. Pre-approval does not lock you into a deal with a lender; in fact, it’s wise to speak to a couple of lenders before signing a mortgage.
On the flip side, getting pre-qualified for a loan is much less of a financial deep-dive. The lender simply estimates what you’d probably qualify for based on information you provide about your income, debts, and assets. It’s good information to have if you’re not sure you can get a mortgage, but it doesn’t mean as much to sellers as pre-approval does.
Why mortgage pre-approval matters
“If you want to purchase a home, you will have to demonstrate that you are financially able to buy it,” says Cathy Baumbusch, a Realtor in Alexandria, VA. “It doesn’t make sense to look for properties to purchase without first knowing what price range you qualify for and are able to purchase,” she says.
If you are in a competitive market, a pre-approval letter is often needed for your offer to be taken seriously.
How long does your mortgage pre-approval last?
It varies from lender to lender, but mortgage pre-approval is typically valid for about 90 days, according to Baumbusch. Your letter will have a date on it, after which it is no longer valid.
The reason pre-approval letters “expire” is because banks need the most up-to-date information about your salary, assets, and debts. Three months is long enough that you could have left a job, taken on new debts, or spent what was previously in your bank account.
In fact, even if you’re pre-approved, most lenders will want an updated set of pay stubs and bank statements around the time of closing. Hey, nobody ever said getting a mortgage was easy!
What do you do if your mortgage pre-approval has expired?
If you’re still house hunting past the expiration date on your pre-approval letter, you just need to get another one. If you go to the same lender, it “can be updated by reverification of your financial documents,” says Sheree Landerman, a Realtor in Farmington, CT.
You will need to provide updated pay stubs and bank statements, but if nothing major has changed in your financial world, it should be no problem to get a fresh pre-approval letter from your lender.
shared from realtor .com, written by By Audrey Ference
If you are debating purchasing a home right now, you are probably getting a lot of advice. Though your friends and family will have your best interests at heart, they may not be fully aware of your needs and what is currently happening in the real estate market.
Ask yourself the following 3 questions to help determine if now is a good time for you to buy in today’s market.
1. Why am I buying a home in the first place?
This is truly the most important question to answer. Forget the finances for a minute. Why did you even begin to consider purchasing a home? For most, the reason has nothing to do with money.
For example, a survey by Braun showed that over 75% of parents say, “their child’s education is an important part of the search for a new home.”
This survey supports a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University which revealed that the top four reasons Americans buy a home have nothing to do with money. They are:
- A good place to raise children and for them to get a good education
- A place where you and your family feel safe
- More space for you and your family
- Control of that space
What does owning a home mean to you? What non-financial benefits will you and your family gain from owning a home? The answer to that question should be the biggest reason you decide to purchase or not.
2. Where are home values headed?
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the median price of homes sold in May (the latest data available) was $252,800, which is up 5.8% from last year. This increase also marks the 63rd consecutive month with year-over-year gains.
If we look at home prices year over year, CoreLogic is forecasting an increase of 5.3% over the next twelve months. In other words, a home that costs you $250,000 today will cost you an additional $13,250 if you wait until next year to buy it.
What does that mean to you?
Simply put, with prices increasing each month, it might cost you more if you wait until next year to buy. Your down payment will also need to be higher in order to account for the higher price of the home you wish to buy.
3. Where are mortgage interest rates headed?
A buyer must be concerned about more than just prices. The ‘long-term cost’ of a home can be dramatically impacted by even a small increase in mortgage rates.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), NAR, and Fannie Mae have all projected that mortgage interest rates will increase over the next twelve months, as you can see in the chart below:
What does this mean to you and your family?
Only you and your family will know for certain if now is the right time to purchase a home. Answering these questions will help you make that decision.
Selling One, Buying Another
In a perfect world, you sell your old home and buy the new one on the same day. Given that things rarely turn out perfectly, here are some things to keep in mind as you negotiate the sale of one house with the purchase of another.
Time it right
Fall and spring are the best times for homes to move and you want to consider the season of the year when buying and selling. And if the closing dates aren’t going to coincide, a gap – rather than two mortgages – is the better. It’s easier and usually cheaper to find temporary housing than juggle two mortgages.