Reliability: Great starting point but is less reliable. A pre-qualification does not guarantee you a mortgage, but it does give you a "good idea" of what to expect in the pre-approval stage.
Necessary: Good to do - usually done early in the process and before the official pre-approval
What's Required: Does not require a great deal of supporting documentation.
How To Get It: Often done through online calculators and worksheets.
What It Tells You: Prequalifications give you an estimate of what you can borrow.
Credit Check: A credit check is not mandatory.
Reliability: Very reliable, however, it is not a guarantee that a bank will give you a mortgage. You can still be denied the mortgage after getting pre-approved for certain reasons.
Necessary: Need to do - this is a mandatory step in the buying process (if you intend on getting a mortgage).
What's Required: Requires a lot more supporting documentation, such as pay stubs, your T4, and other documents that may be required.
How To Get It: Only done through a financial institution, bank or lender. You will need to go to your lender or financial institution and provide them with supporting documentation (see above).
What It Tells You: Preapprovals tell you what you can actually borrow.
Credit Check: A credit check is extremely likely.
Reliability: Most Reliable - Written Guarantee! This means that the lender has approved YOU and the PROPERTY that you are purchasing. In the majority of cases, getting a mortgage approval means that the lender will be giving you the mortgage.
Necessary: Need to obtain - this is a mandatory step in the buying process (if you intend on getting a mortgage). Without an official approval, the financial institution will not give you a mortgage.
What's Required: Requires the same documentation as the pre-approval process, plus an offer on a property.
How To Get It: Only achieved through a financial institution, bank or lender. You can only get an official approval with a written and accepted offer.
What It Tells You: Approval tells you that the financial institution is not only happy with you and your credit, but also with your purchase and the value that you are paying for the property.
Credit Check: A credit check is mandatory.
Click to download this amazing mortgage and pre-qualification app.
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Getting pre-approved might seem daunting, but your lender will guide you through it. The process will be even easier if you know what to expect and prepare for it. Before searching for homes and before booking any appointments, it is critical that you get a pre-approval first.
Here are the typical loan pre-approval and approval steps:
1) Prepare required documents for your pre-approval:
Two years of employment history, current employment status and salary are needed. Employment letters can be used to explain gaps in employment.
Two years of T4s and tax returns allow the lender to be sure that your salary is high enough to make the mortgage payments every month.
Most recent pay stubs for the last 30 days tell the lender that you’re still earning money similar to the amount on your tax returns. (This does not apply if self-employed, but the lender will likely require a profit and loss statement.)
List of assets, including bank statements, let the lender know that you have the money to cover the down payment, closing costs and a reasonable emergency.
2) Submit the application. Once you’ve prepared the required documents, the first step with the lender is to apply for a mortgage pre-approval. Of course, you will need to provide personal information, as well as general information about the property you're hoping to purchase, such as the address and estimated purchase price.
3) Provide your documents. Submit your documents, such as pay stubs, T4s, bank statements and employment history.
4) Get pre-approved in as little as 24-48 hours (in most cases). Once your loan application is submitted, you should receive your pre-approval in as little as 24 hours.
5) Make the offer and get your official approval. After the pre-approval process, and once you’ve made the decision to become a property owner, win the offer stage with a competitive offer and submit that offer to your lender for final loan approval. Since you have already submitted the above information to your lender, all that they need now is the agreement of purchase and sale (or, 'the offer'). They will order an appraisal on the property and work on getting you the official approval from there.
6) Remove your financing condition. Once you receive official approval from your lender, you can now remove your condition of financing, making your offer firm and binding (if no other conditions are outstanding).
You may be able to buy a home with a little as 5% down (situation dependant), but anything less than 20% down will require additional mortgage insurance fees (AKA mortgage insurance premium). To calculate your mortgage payment or mortgage insurance premium, click here.
Oftentimes, if you are buying a home for investment purposes (or if you are assuming a tenant), the lender will often require a minimum down payment of 20%.