Karen Lawley | Revere Real Estate, Malden Real Estate, Lynn Real Estate, Boston Real Estate


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If you're ready to get serious about your home buying journey, one of the first steps is seeing various lenders. As you become more familiar with the process, you'll likely hear the terms preapproval and prequalified mentioned again and again. We'll look at how each letter works and what you should know before approaching a home seller. 

Prequalification Vs. Preapproval 

The key difference between a preapproval and prequalification is that the preapproval letter is much more involved. With a prequalification, the lender will look at the general state of the buyer's assets before estimating how much home they're likely to afford. Lenders are not diving into the buyer's past, which can make real estate agents wary of accepting prequalification letters. 

Preapproval 

With a preapproval letter, you're typically asked to provide the following:

  • Two year's worth of W2s
  • A month's worth of paystubs 
  • Two month's worth of bank statements 
  • Social security card 
  • Considering the amount of paperwork you need to provide (and the lender needs to process), preapproval letters can take months to generate. On the other hand, a prequalification letter can be procured in little more than 24 hours. 

    Additional Facts 

    Here are a few facts that can help you know more about what to expect:

  • Preapproval letters can cost several hundred dollars to generate. We recommend starting with your financial institution because you already have a relationship with them, and they may not charge as much. 
  • You may be able to lock down interest rates at the time of your preapproval letter. This is exceptionally helpful for those who want to know what their payments will be down to the penny. 
  • Make sure to calculate closing costs beforehand so you know exactly how much you'll owe out-of-pocket. 
  • Does It Help to Have Both?

    Not necessarily. Prequalification letters are generally recommended for homebuyers who may not know for sure if they're ready to buy. It's a general indication of how much money you'll get, which can help you decide if it's enough to get a preapproval letter. If you're in a buyer's market, you may be able to get away with a prequalification. However, it's generally the far less coveted letter that you can have. 

    A preapproval letter is definitely the best letter you can take to a seller when you're ready to make a bid on a home, but it's important to note that even these letters may fall through. For example, if a major event occurs (e.g., a job loss, etc.) between when your financial institution issued the letter and when you close on the home. Talking to a real estate agent or financial expert can make it easier to navigate it all. 


    The ultimate goal of a home search is to find a residence that matches or exceeds your expectations. To enjoy a rewarding homebuying experience, you need to prepare accordingly.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you reap the benefits of a successful homebuying experience.

    1. Narrow Your House Search

    Think about where you want to live. By doing so, you can refine your home search and look for houses in your preferred cities and towns.

    Also, creating a list of homebuying criteria usually is a good idea. This list can include home must-haves and wants, and ultimately, will help you further narrow your house search.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    Purchasing a house can be simple, particularly for those who get pre-approved for a mortgage. With a mortgage in hand, you can enter the real estate market with a budget. Then, you can pursue houses that fall within your price range and speed up your search for your dream home.

    To get pre-approved for a mortgage, it is important to review all of the mortgage options at your disposal. Meet with banks and credit unions and discuss various mortgage options. This will allow you to learn about the differences between adjustable- and fixed-rate mortgages and find a mortgage that corresponds to your finances.

    In addition, don't hesitate to ask mortgage questions when you meet with banks and credit unions. Lenders employ friendly, knowledgeable mortgage specialists, and these professionals will do everything possible to help you make an informed mortgage decision.

    3. Work with a Real Estate Agent

    A rewarding homebuying experience may be tough to achieve if you decide to pursue a house on your own. Thankfully, real estate agents are available who can provide plenty of guidance along the homebuying journey and ensure you can accomplish your desired results.

    If you work with a real estate agent, you can take the guesswork out of purchasing a house. First, a real estate agent will meet with you and learn about you and your homebuying goals. This housing market professional then will craft a homebuying strategy to help you achieve the best-possible results as quickly as possible.

    In addition, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about open house events, set up home showings and help you analyze the housing market. If you discover your dream house, a real estate agent will help you put together a competitive offer to purchase this home. Plus, if you have concerns or questions at any point during the homebuying journey, a real estate agent can respond to them.

    When it comes to simplifying the homebuying experience, hiring a real estate agent is essential. Because if you have a top-notch real estate agent at your side, you can get the help you need to seamlessly navigate the homebuying journey.

    Ready to find your dream house? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can enjoy a rewarding homebuying experience.


    A first-time homebuyer often proceeds cautiously as he or she navigates the real estate market. However, if this homebuyer discovers the "perfect" home, the risk to overspend to acquire this residence may prove to be too much to resist.

    It is important for a first-time homebuyer to understand what it takes to purchase a house at a price that matches or exceeds his or her expectations. That way, a homebuyer can avoid the temptation to overspend on a house and reduce the likelihood of breaking his or her homebuying budget.

    Now, let's take a look at three tips that a first-time homebuyer can use to minimize the risk of overspending on a house.

    1. Assess the Housing Market Closely

    The housing market frequently fluctuates, and a first-time homebuyer who identifies real estate patterns and trends may be better equipped than others to pay the right price for a residence.

    Having the ability to differentiate between a buyer's market and a seller's market is key. If a homebuyer understands the differences between these markets, he or she should have no trouble submitting a reasonable offer on a house based on the current housing market's conditions.

    In a buyer's market, there is an abundance of available houses and a shortage of property buyers. This market favors homebuyers, and as a result, a property buyer may be better equipped than ever before to acquire a great house at an affordable price at this time.

    Conversely, a seller's market favors home sellers and includes a shortage of high-quality houses and an abundance of homebuyers. In a seller's market, a homebuyer may need to submit a competitive offer on a house, or he or she likely risks losing a residence to potential rivals.

    2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

    Want to stick to a homebuying budget? With a mortgage in hand, a first-time homebuyer will know exactly what he or she can spend on a house and narrow a home search accordingly.

    To get pre-approved for a mortgage, a homebuyer should meet with several banks and credit unions. This will allow a homebuyer to learn about all of the mortgage options that are available and choose a mortgage that corresponds to his or her finances.

    Also, be sure to ask potential lenders plenty of questions about various mortgage options. By doing so, a homebuyer can boost his or her chances of making an informed mortgage decision.

    3. Collaborate with a Real Estate Agent

    A real estate agent can help a first-time homebuyer explore houses that fall within a specific price range, thereby reducing the risk that a property buyer will overspend on a house.

    In addition, a real estate agent is happy to provide honest, unbiased homebuying recommendations. This housing market professional understands the ins and outs of purchasing a house, and as such, will do everything possible to guarantee a property buyer can acquire a terrific residence at a budget-friendly price.

    Avoid the temptation to pay too much to buy your dream house – use these tips, and a first-time homebuyer can seamlessly navigate the property buying journey.


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    Many home buyers have lots of questions as they go through the buying process, especially first-time buyers. Whether you’re looking for a $50,000 house or a multi-million dollar luxury home, the questions are often the same.

    How Much House Can I Afford?

    Lenders use several factors in determining whether to loan you money, including your credit score, loan-to-value and debt-to-income. If you are self-employed, you could make $400,000 per year and still not afford a $150,000 home. Lenders look at your income, and if you are self-employed like many luxury home buyers, you use tax deductions and expenses to your benefit. However, doing that lowers your adjusted net income. If your adjusted net income plus depreciation doesn’t meet the debt-to-income bar for the lender, you won’t qualify for the loan. People in this situation need to find a lender who will lend based on bank statements instead of tax returns.

    How Convenient Is This Location?

    Luxury home buyers often have location concerns. You travel more and have more people — friends and relatives — visit. That means you need a home location that is convenient for travel. If travel convenience is a concern, ask your real estate agent about the distance to the airport, the ability to rent limos, and other travel concerns.

    How Much Down Payment Do I Need?

    Most loans require 20 percent down if you do not want to pay private mortgage insurance (PMI). However, if you are buying a multi-million dollar luxury home, that might be difficult if you don’t have liquid assets. Before you start looking, get a pre-approval from a jumbo lender, including the amount the lender requires with and without PMI. You can adjust the amount you are willing to spend or take the time to liquidate assets to get the down payment if you have your heart set on a home that requires a high down payment.

    What Does My Credit Score Need to Be?

    Conventional loans have a cap, which changes depending on your location and whether the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) increases that cap. If your mortgage is going to be higher than that cap, you will need to take out a jumbo loan unless you put enough down so that you are financing an amount below the cap. When you take out a jumbo loan, you are at a higher risk to the lender, so you have to jump through more hoops, including having a higher credit score.

    If you are applying for a conventional loan, especially a loan backed by the VA, Fannie Mae or Freddy Mac, your credit score could be as low as 500. However, with a jumbo loan, your score must be at least 680. Some jumbo lenders require scores as high as 720.


    If you have plans to buy a house as quickly as possible, it is important to maintain flexibility. That way, you can adjust your homebuying timeline at a moment's notice.

    Ultimately, there are many instances where you may need to modify your homebuying timeline, and these include:

    1. You are struggling to identify your dream home.

    It generally is beneficial to enter the housing market with homebuying criteria. These criteria can help you hone your house search and may be modified as you attend home showings and open house events.

    Also, think about where you want to purchase a house. If you would prefer to own a home in a big city, you can tailor your house search accordingly. Or, if you want to live in a small town, you can focus exclusively on residences in areas that match or exceed your expectations.

    Even with homebuying criteria in hand, however, changes to your homebuying timeline may be required. But if you remain patient and persistent throughout the homebuying journey, you can eventually discover your dream house.

    2. Home sellers are rejecting your offers to purchase.

    Once you find your dream residence, you may submit an offer to purchase it. Yet if your offer fails to hit the mark with a home seller, you are unlikely to receive an instant "Yes."

    If you find that your offers to purchase houses are rejected time and time again, you may need to adjust your homebuying timeline. Furthermore, you may want to rethink your homebuying strategy.

    To submit a competitive homebuying proposal, you should consider a house's condition and age, as well as the current state of the real estate market. This information can help you craft an offer to purchase that accounts for a variety of factors and likely will meet the needs of both you and a home seller.

    If a home seller rejects your offer to purchase a house, there is no need to worry. Remember, the real estate market offers many opportunities, and homebuyers who are diligent can continue to search for the right house at the right price.

    3. You have yet to find the right real estate agent.

    A real estate agent may hold the key to a successful homebuying journey. He or she can help you set realistic homebuying expectations and ensure you can achieve the optimal results.

    If you need to adjust your homebuying timeline, a real estate agent can help you do just that. Plus, a real estate agent will keep you up to date about new houses that become available in your preferred cities and towns and set up home showings. And if you decide to submit an offer to purchase a home, a real estate agent will help you put together an aggressive homebuying proposal.

    Ready to streamline your home search? Reach out to a local real estate agent today, and you can get the help you need to pursue your ideal residence.




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