How long does it take to get pre-approved for a mortgage loan?

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Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we receive compensation from our partner lenders, which we will always identify, all opinions are our own. Credible Operations, Inc. NMLS # 1681276, is referred to herein as “Credible”.

One of the most common tips offered to potential buyers is to get pre-approved for a mortgage. However, many buyers don’t know how long the pre-approval process takes and how it can reduce their home hunting time.

Here’s what you can expect when you get pre-approved for a mortgage, including the time it takes to get that pre-approved letter:

How mortgage pre-approval works

Mortgage pre-approval confirms your creditworthiness for a home loan. When you get pre-approved, you receive a letter from your mortgage lender stating how much you can borrow to buy a home.

Although a pre-approval does not guarantee full approval, it is a fairly thorough process that can give you some peace of mind and make you a more attractive buyer.

A mortgage pre-approval is different from a mortgage prequalification:

  • Prequalification: The lender looks at your financial situation based on the information you provide and gives you a rough estimate of the mortgage amount you qualify for.
  • Pre-approval: This process is more complex. This requires a complete application and thorough credit check, and you will need to provide additional documents.
Point: It is best to obtain pre-approval at the start of the home buying process. Knowing how much a lender is willing to let you borrow can benefit you as a buyer by limiting the number of homes in your price range. It also shows sellers and agents that you are a serious buyer.

Some of the advantages of get a mortgage pre-approval include:

  • Give you a better idea of ​​what you can borrow and afford
  • Strengthen your offer
  • Accelerate the closing process
  • Giving you more time to compare lenders and rates and resolve any issues


How long does it take to get pre-approved

The time it takes to get pre-approved depends on the situation and the lender. In general, lenders require certain documents to verify your finances – such as your W-2s and bank statements – as well as verification of identity and employment.

They will also assess your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), perform a thorough credit check to obtain your credit score, and look for any red flags on your credit report.

Some of the factors that can affect the time it takes to get pre-approved include:

  • How long do you need to collect the supporting documents
  • If there are errors on your credit report that need to be corrected
  • Your employment status (since you may need additional information if you are self employed)
  • Unusual circumstances relating to your assets

Point: Check your credit in advance, review your credit report and correct any errors before applying for a mortgage pre-approval.

Keep reading: Does mortgage pre-approval affect your credit score?

Having all the required documents on hand before you start can also help speed up the process.

Ready to get pre-approved?
  • Instant simplified pre-approval: It only takes 3 minutes to see if you qualify for an instant simplified pre-approval letter, without affecting your credit.

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Keep in mind that not all loan products are available through Credible.

Pre-approved with traditional lenders

It is not uncommon for a traditional lender to take up to 10 business days for pre-approval.

To get a sense of your financial situation and determine if you meet all of the requirements, a loan officer will comb through several pre-approval documents, including:

  • W-2s (two-year value)
  • Personal tax returns (two-year value)
  • Company tax declarations (two-year value, if applicable)
  • Recent payslips
  • Asset Information (such as bank, retirement and brokerage account statements)
  • Identification documents (such as a driver’s license, passport, or other government-issued ID)
  • Profit and loss accounts (if you are independent)

Learn more: How to buy a house: step by step guide

Pre-approved with Credible

Credible offers a streamlined pre-approval process that allows you to get a pre-approval letter from multiple lenders at once. Rather than waiting days, you can find out how much you’re entitled to in minutes.

Our process is completely online and user-friendly, and you can quickly generate letters for sellers and your real estate agent directly from your account.

Traditional lenders Credible
How long does it take? 1 to 3 days 3 minutes
Credit check Hard credit drawdown
(negative impact on your credit)
soft credit
(no impact on your credit)
Online process Usually minimal; instead processed via an in-person visit to a branch or a phone call with a licensed loan officer 100% online
Compare several lenders? No, visit multiple lenders to receive multiple pre-approval letters Yes, pre-approved by multiple lenders at once
Several pre-approval letters to make additional real estate offers? No, must submit another application to the lender for a new pre-approval letter Yes, generate additional letters instantly with custom loan amount

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How long does a pre-approval last?

A mortgage pre-approval usually lasts between 60 and 90 days. Since your financial situation and the market can change, approval letters don’t last forever. If your offer is not accepted, you may need to get pre-approved again.

The expiration date of your pre-approval should be listed somewhere on your pre-approval letter. You will find this date on the first page of your Credible pre-approval letter.

If you need to make any changes to your simplified pre-approval letter (such as adjusting your down payment or purchase price), you can go to your dashboard and update the information, and we’ll generate a new letter for you.

If you’re serious about buying a home, you’ll want to get pre-approved. Not only will a pre-approval let you know what mortgage you qualify for, it will also give you an edge over other buyers and make the whole home buying process a lot less stressful.

Find a great agent today
  • More than 90,000 agents nationwide: Credible has partnered with major networks across the United States to give you access to agents who specialize in your market.
  • Don’t pay us a penny: Our agent network partners receive a commission from your real estate agent upon closing.
  • Personalized recommendation: Your agent recommendation is based on local real estate sales data and is personalized to your situation.

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Disclosure: Credible Operations, Inc. is a mortgage broker. We are not a real estate agent or broker and do not offer any real estate agency or brokerage services. All of these services are provided by a licensed real estate broker who has agreed to list their services on Credible’s website. These real estate brokers may receive compensation if you go ahead with their agent matching service.

About the Author

Miranda Marquet

Miranda Marquet

Miranda Marquit is an authority on mortgages, investing and business. His work has appeared on NPR, Marketwatch, FOX Business, The Hill, US News & World Report, Forbes, and more.

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