Buying in New York City? First, Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

New York home sellers have hordes of buyers to choose from—so why should they give their sweet apartment or house to little ol’ you? Here’s one major way to get the edge you need in this competitive market: Get pre-approved for a mortgage.

Mortgage pre-approval is a process in which lenders review your finances to determine how much they will loan you for a home. The resulting pre-approval letter shows home sellers you’re serious, and can put your money where your mouth is.

Mortgage pre-approval vs. pre-qualification: What’s the difference?

Pre-qualification is less rigorous: You give the lenders an overview of your financials, and they estimate how much you might qualify for. It’s a good starting point if you need a gauge of how large a mortgage you can afford, but other than that, it isn’t worth much.

“I tell most people they can take that pre-qualification letter and throw it in the trash,” says Patty Arvielo, a mortgage banker and president and founder of New American Funding, in Tustin, CA.

Pre-approval doesn’t mean you’re locked in with one lender; nor is that lender tied to you. It just gives your offer the necessary gravitas to grab a seller’s attention.

Paperwork needed for pre-approval

Before a lender will pre-approve you for a mortgage, you’ll need to provide some paperwork. Here’s what is typically required:

Once you have your pre-approval letter in hand, it’s usually good for three to six months, and extendable beyond that. That should give you plenty of time to scope out houses with a trusty guide by your side: a great real estate agent, of course.