people just getting started may be "pre-qualified."
This simply means you’ve made contact with a lender and
briefly discussed finances and price ranges and a brief credit
report is checked. This does not mean that because you’ve been
pre-qualified you will get the loan. It just gives you a general
idea of how much house you might be able to afford.
best thing you should do, before looking at any homes, is to get
"pre-approved." By the time you are ready to
get pre-approved, you have chosen a lender that you’re willing
to work with. Getting pre-approved involves actually meeting
with the lender, providing all the documentation they require,
and completing a loan application. At this point, there are fees
involved, so make sure you are with a lender you like and trust.
The lender will then take your loan package and get it
this still does not totally guarantee the loan (unless something
drastic happens with employment, credit, funds, or personal),
but it is a very strong promise that by satisfying a few more
conditions, you will get final loan approval. Nevertheless, a
pre-approval shows your commitment as a buyer when submitting an
offer. Also, by this point, some lenders are able to lock
in a rate for a certain amount of days if the rates are
reasonable and you don’t want to risk paying a slightly higher
rate by the time you find and buy your home.