What Are the Different Types of Mortgage Preapproval?

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Unless you’re part of the estimated 32% of homebuyers who pay for a home purchase in cash, you’ll likely need a mortgage to purchase a house. As part of the process, it’s typical to get a mortgage preapproval before beginning a house search. Along with letting you know how much a lender is willing to provide in the form of a home loan, it helps establish you as a serious buyer, which works in your favor. However, it’s critical to know that there are different types of mortgage preapproval. Here’s an overview of the three most common options, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.


A mortgage preapproval is a process that essentially involves completing a mortgage application and undergoing specific verifications. Along with providing basic information like contact details, borrowers have to provide a range of supporting documents to prove their identity, demonstrate their income, and show other aspects of their financial situation, such as their current debts. Permitting the lender to perform a hard credit pull is typically a must, as well.

The lender then formally reviews the information, using their analysis to determine how much it’s willing to lend the borrower. The letter the lender offers can then help assist with the home-buying process, allowing the homebuyer to focus on homes within the approved financial range and establish themselves as a serious buyer.


A prequalification is less involved than a mortgage preapproval, typically only giving homebuyers a general idea of the amount they could potentially borrow. Generally, buyers need to provide details about their financial situation, much as they would with a preapproval, but the lender doesn’t complete any verifications. Additionally, many lenders don’t perform a hard inquiry during a prequalification, opting for a soft pull instead, which doesn’t affect your credit score.

Prequalification is also faster since verifications don’t occur, but they aren’t considered as formal as a mortgage preapproval. As a result, they don’t always establish an aspiring homeowner as a serious buyer, so they don’t offer the same amount of peace of mind to sellers when placing offers.

Underwritten Preapproval

An unwritten preapproval is more comprehensive and formal than traditional preapproval or prequalification. With this option, the lender doesn’t just verify the information given; it also completes most of the underwriting process. Underwriters take a closer look at specific details to assess the overall risk of offering the mortgage. Additionally, they may further verify certain information, such as contacting employers directly to confirm employment.

Generally, this type of preapproval takes the most time, but it comes with clear benefits. Buyers don’t just know how much they can borrow and the terms of the potential loan; they also know that approval is as close to guaranteed as possible. As a result, this option is incredibly attractive to sellers who worry about a mortgage falling through, which allows a borrower to stand out.

Plus, underwritten preapproval can speed up the closing process. Underwriting takes time, and it can often lead to delays if verifying some of the information proves difficult. By handling that in advance, closing delays are far less likely.