Pre-qualification vs. Pre-Approval…What’s the Difference?

Many future DC homebuyers probably want to know the requirements for pre-qualification and pre-approval for a mortgage loan. As many may not think to ask “what’s the difference?”

 So here it is, short and sweet. And remember to consult a licensed mortgage professional for further clarification as well as once you’re ready to buy a home in DC!

 Pre-Qualification is simply having been informed of an estimated or an approximate amount of a mortgage that you should be able to qualify for. It doesn’t commit you to anything and there is no loan amount or interest rate promised, nor is it an in-depth look at your ability to purchase a home in DC (or anywhere). Simply put, there is a bit less of a guarantee that you will get a loan than if you went through the pre-approval (which will be pending while you’re in the active search for a home with an agent). It can take place over the phone or online with you supplying the basics and maybe just a bit of financial information (estimated annual income, home address, how long at residence, etc.). Usually, you can get pre-qualified at sites like, or on a bank or lender’s website. Once you’re given the details of pre-qualification, you’re not obligated to proceed with getting Pre-Approved. It is however, a good first step in seeing where you stand in this current market and hopefully a motivator to get you to purchase.

Pre-Approval for a DC home purchase, is a much more concentrated process, and the necessary first step to buying your home in DC when you’re ready to finally make the move. Undergoing the pre-approval process involves locking in an interest rate and determines what you REALLY can afford to buy in Washington, DC. Once you have decided you finally want to own a home, it is best to do so in person. It pretty much means you’re prepared to make an offer on the home you’ve found, where if you’re only pre-qualified, you’re not, although that is an important first step towards pre-approval.

Simply put, pre-Approval is always better. A “pre-qual” is like a car wash; a pre-approval is like a complete car detail!”


Shantee Haynes
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices
PenFed Realty
216 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
DIRECT: 202-355-5544
OFFICE: 202-608-1881

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