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Why Get Pre-Approved FIRST?

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet, once said that the future belongs to those who prepare for it. This is sage advice for home buyers who need to lay the necessary groundwork to buy the home of their dreams.

Anyone who has seen the news for the last 10 years knows that borrowing “ain’t what it used to be”. There are lots of new regulations and procedures in place, mostly with the intent of protecting the borrower. That being said, the same changes have made the borrowing process a little more arduous.

For that reason you should start the process earlier and certainly before you go home shopping.

There are 3 legs that your mortgage application needs to be able to stand on –

1. Income / Employment

2. Assets / Down Payment

3. Credit / Debt

It is never too early to start getting your "ducks in a row" in any of these 3 areas. It is strongly suggested that you meet with a mortgage banker for a professional consultation very early in this process.

Here's what the mortgage banker will do –

  • Pull a credit report and credit scores from all 3 repositories: Equifax, Experian and Trans Union.
  • Carefully review and analyze all 3 credit reports for accuracy and then calculate applicable monthly debt totals.
  • Calculate the income that will be used to offset your monthly debt.
  • Explain the acceptable sources and minimum asset requirements for the applicable mortgage loan program.

How will planning ahead help you?

  • Income – Certain types of income, commissions, bonus', part time, self employment, etc have to have been received for certain minimum periods. Other types of income need to be documented that they will continue for designated periods. So, timing may be everything for some applicants.
  • Down Payments – It's best to know how much cash you will need to close so you can be ready when the time comes. Also, if you don't want to be buried in unnecessary documentation of a paper trail, the mortgage banker will show you what assets to consolidate so that aggravation can be avoided.
  • Credit – The best practice is to check your credit report yearly for accuracy and to check for signs of identity theft but it really becomes critical when applying for a mortgage.

There is a fine line between approval and denial and it is drawn by your credit score! The rate of interest is also affected by your score, so if you don't make every effort to increase your credit score BEFORE application it may end up costing you an avoidable fortune over the life of your mortgage loan.

The Difference Between being Pre-Qualified and Pre-Approved

Without good preparation, many buyers get lulled into the mistaken notion that if a lender pre-qualifies them for a mortgage this means that they have been pre-approved for a home loan. Unfortunately, there's a world of difference between these two terms. If you've ever been confused by the two, we'll bring you up to speed on how these terms differ - and why a misunderstanding can mean disaster for borrowers.

The Skinny on Getting Pre-Qualified

Getting pre-qualified is the initial step in the mortgage process, and it's generally fairly simple. You supply a bank or lender with your overall financial picture, including your debt, income and assets. After evaluating this information, a lender can give you an idea of the mortgage amount for which you qualify. Pre-qualification can be done over the phone or on the internet, and there is usually no cost involved. Loan pre-qualification does not include an analysis of your credit report or an in-depth look at your ability to purchase a home.

The initial pre-qualification step allows you to discuss any goals or needs you may have regarding your mortgage with your lender. At this point, a lender can explain your various mortgage options and recommend the type that might be best suited to your situation.

Because it's a quick procedure, and based only on the information you provide to the lender, your pre-qualified amount is not a sure thing. The pre-qualification really is just the amount for which you might expect to be approved based on the information you have provided. For this reason, a pre-qualified buyer doesn't carry the same weight as a pre-approved buyer who has been more thoroughly investigated.

The Skinny on Getting Pre-Approved

Getting pre-approved is the next step, and it tends to be much more involved. You'll complete an official mortgage application (and usually pay an application fee), and then supply the lender with the necessary documentation to perform an extensive check on your financial background and current credit rating. (Typically at this stage, you will not have found a house yet, so any reference to "property" on the application will be left blank). From this, the lender can tell you the specific mortgage amount for which you are approved. You'll also have a better idea of the interest rate you will be charged on the loan and, in some cases, you might be able to lock-in a specific rate. With pre-approval, you will receive a conditional commitment in writing for an exact loan amount, allowing you to look for a home at or below that price level. Obviously, this puts you at an advantage when dealing with a potential seller, as he or she will know you're one step closer to obtaining an actual mortgage.

The other advantage of completing both of these steps - pre-qualification and pre-approval - before you start to look for a home is that you'll know in advance how much you can afford. This way, you don't waste time with guessing or looking at properties that are beyond your means. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage also enables you to move quickly when you find the perfect place. When you make an offer, it won't be contingent on obtaining financing, which can save you valuable time. In a competitive market, this lets the seller know that your offer is serious - and could prevent you from losing out to another potential buyer who already has financing arranged.

Once you and your
Realtor® have found the right house for you, you'll fill in the appropriate details and your pre-approval will become a complete application.

Getting Committed
The final step in the process is what's called a "loan commitment", which is only issued by a bank when it has approved you, the borrower, and the house in question. This means the home should be appraised at or above the sales price. The bank may also require more information if the appraiser brings up anything he or she feels should be investigated (i.e. structural problems, accessibility issues, outstanding liens or litigation in progress). Your income and credit profile will be checked once again to ensure nothing has changed since the initial approval.

A loan commitment letter is issued only when the bank is certain it will lend, so the commitment date on your purchase contract should be closer to closing than to the date of your offer. (The seller can ask to see that letter as soon as the date has passed, so beware of anyone who tries to put an early commitment date into your contract).

Wrap Up

· Plan ahead and speak to a mortgage banker as early as possible in the process

· Pre-approved and pre-qualified are not the same thing, so don't assume that the bank will provide your loan until you have the former.

· Have your pre-approval in hand so that you and your Realtor® can shop with confidence and make the strongest offers at the best price.

Posted in:General
Posted by DANIEL POULOS on May 27th, 2021 12:46 PM
View Comments (1)
Posted by DANIEL POULOS on May 27th, 2021 12:46 PM

Learn how to sell more luxury homes with low down payment, interest only financing up to $2.5M.  Consider this marketing tool instead of price reductions!

Posted by DANIEL POULOS on August 29th, 2018 12:50 PM

  1. You Need 25% Down to Finance a Condo.

    • Many major lenders restrict condo financing BUT…

      • Although FHA financing is generally not available, conventional loans with as little as 1-3% down can be used to purchase most condos as a primary residence

      • The condo association must carry adequate insurance for replacement value, have no major pending litigation against the association and have collect reserves of 10% of gross revenue in their yearly budget.  Other less likely restrictions may also apply.


  1. You Need a 660 Credit Score for Mortgages with Less than 20% Down

    • It’s not unusual for many lenders to set higher credit score requirements BUT…

      • Conventional financing is available with 5% down with a 620 credit score

      • FHA financing with 3.5% is available with a 580 score


  1. You Need to Wait 4-7 Years after a Bankruptcy, Short Sale or Foreclosure

    • Conventional and FHA loans require those waiting periods BUT…

      • Non-Prime loans require no waiting period with 20% down

      • With 10% down the waiting period is only 12 months

      • Rates are higher but it’s a perfect loan to buy now before prices go higher and refinance later

The lesson to be learned is "Do not take NO for an answer" before speaking with Danny Poulos and the Elite Lending Team at Milestone Mortgage!

Posted by DANIEL POULOS on August 8th, 2018 6:59 PM

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Posted by DANIEL POULOS on July 18th, 2018 9:56 AM


Self employed borrowers often find themselves struggling with debt ratios on their mortgage applications as a result of expense write-offs on their business tax returns.

Our No Tax Returns mortgage allows the use of bank statements to document cash flow to be used to calculate income in lieu of providing 1120's or 1040's.

Posted by DANIEL POULOS on July 12th, 2018 12:12 PM

Visit www.NoDepositUSDA for more details on this incredible loan product for low and moderate income families!

Search for properties that qualify for No Money Down USDA mortgage loans.  Danny Poulos and the Elite Lending Team at Milestone Mortgage specialize in no down payment rural property loans in Jupiter, Stuart, Palm City, Port St Lucie and the rest of Palm BeachMartin County and St Lucie County and others in Florida.

Posted by DANIEL POULOS on June 30th, 2018 1:48 PM

Hi, I'm Laraine Sacco, Realtor at Fite Shavell and Associates in North Palm Beach, FL

Often people make the mistake of not inspecting docks and seawalls when buying luxury waterfront property.

The problem is that most of the potential damage or weakness is in areas you can't see.

Only an certified underwater inspector can determine if your dock and seawall is going to survive the next tropical storm.

We've all seen hurricane videos of seawalls washing away and taking the dock, boat and yard with it. Can you imagine how expensive that is to restore?

Using underwater cameras and lighting, scuba divers conduct a non-evasive inspection that will give you the piece of mind that your seawall is not disaster waiting to happen.

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Posted in:General
Posted by DANIEL POULOS on June 5th, 2012 10:10 AM

Michael Brue of Keller Williams Realty in Jupiter FL explains why below market offers are not working for home buyers in today's market.

Hi, I'm Michael Brue from the Keller Williams Realty in Jupiter, FL  I'm here to tell you that what you don't know about buying real estate in today's market CAN hurt you.

Boy, have things changed in the South Florida and Jupiter real estate market in the last 6 months. Last year we were warning sellers that the most common mistake was ignoring lowball offers and not making a counter offer.

This year the shoe is on the other foot! Now, the biggest potential mistake a serious buyer can make is making a below market offer at all!

Today the low offer buyer is not likely to get a counter offer because more realistic buyers will step in and buy the home at a fair price.

There' s still nothing wrong with making a lowball offer if that's as much as your willing to pay and you don't care if someone else buys the house before you.

BUT if you are trying to buy the right house for you at a fair price then make a reasonable offer that the seller is likely to accept or counter before considering other offers.

I'm Michael Brue from Keller Williams Realty and thanks for visiting

Posted in:General
Posted by DANIEL POULOS on May 21st, 2012 11:40 AM

Jupiter real estate broker, Michael Brue of Keller Williams Realty explains why county records are not a good indicator of real estate taxes for a new home buyer.  He addresses millage rates, projected assessed values and homestead and other exemptions.

Hi I'm Michael Brue from the Keller Williams Realty in Jupiter, FL I'm here to tell you that what you don't know about real estate taxes CAN hurt you. I recently witnessed a situation where a home shopper was comparing the cost of several available homes by considering the current tax bills in Palm Beach County records.

The problem with this is that the current tax bill is almost never an accurate predictor of what the new buyer will pay for real estate taxes. For instance, you could have 2 identical houses for sale for $250,000 in the same neighborhood, one with a tax bill of $6000/yr and the other at $3000/yr. The difference can be attributed to when the house was bought, whether it was homesteaded and the owner's appropriate exemptions.

None of those things have anything to do with what your tax bill will be!

If you want to get your best estimate of taxes an experienced Realtor can research the millage rate in the town and multiply it by the predicted assessed value after sale minus your applicable exemptions.

Thanks for visiting  

Posted in:General
Posted by DANIEL POULOS on May 11th, 2012 5:46 AM


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