What is a pre-approved home loan?
Pre-approval means different things depending on which lender you approach, but they all describe something similar.
Whether it is called conditional approval, indicative approval or approval in principle, pre-approval confirms that your application fits your chosen lender’s criteria but remains subject to conditions.
It is not a guarantee of finance.
How to get pre-approved for a home loan?
There are two main kinds of pre-approvals. Both require you to submit a full application and supporting documents like payslips and bank accounts.
What is different is the home loan pre-approval process. A full-assessment pre-approval gives you a stronger indication of where you stand than a system-generated pre-approval because the lender has had a much better look at your circumstances.
A summary of the two types of pre-approvals is below.
With a system-generated pre-approval, you submit a full application and usually some or all of your supporting documents. Unlike the full assessment approval, the supporting information is not assessed by the lender's credit experts.
This kind of easy home loan pre-approval can be received very fast, sometimes immediately, but it will have a lot more conditions and relies entirely on the information that you have entered into the system or told the lending expert, which has yet to be validated.
It is unreliable so you should never make an unconditional offer on a home on the strength of a system-generated approval.
This is where the lender’s credit experts do a full assessment including looking at the documents you supplied and getting a credit check from an independent credit agency. The lender will talk to you and ask you questions about anything they want to clarify and will potentially ask for more information on your finances.
Once they are satisfied with the information you have provided, they will give you a pre-approval, subject to an acceptable valuation of the property you plan to buy, and to no material changes in your financial circumstances.
This type of pre-approval will take a few days to be issued but it will save you a lot more time when you eventually come to seek final approval of the loan. It means that your lender has invested significant effort in assessing your financial position and is still willing to proceed to the next step.
Get pre-approved by starting a home loan application today.
Why get pre-approval?
Despite its conditional nature, it is still a very good idea to get pre-approval before making an offer on a property.
Pre-approval is the best indication that your lender finds your financial situation acceptable and is an important step to take before you go house hunting or make an offer on a property.
We recommend getting a “full assessment” pre-approval because this will give you a much better answer to the question “do I qualify for a home loan?” than a system generated pre-approval.
If you get a full assessment pre-approval, you are more likely to get a quick mortgage approval later.
Handy hint: Be sure to clarify with your lender which type of pre-approval they do, so you know where you stand when you go house hunting.
If your personal or financial situation changes between pre-approval and your final application, your lender will need to reassess your application. In some cases, it means you won’t get final approval. Changes that could affect your application would include losing your job, changing jobs, going part-time or becoming a contractor, having children, or taking out new debt.
Handy hint: It is a good idea to wait until your personal and financial circumstances are stable and you’re seriously considering a purchase before applying for pre-approval.
Pre-approvals typically last long enough for you to find a home or investment property if you are actively looking, but they don’t last forever. A few months is common. The expiry date is there because it is likely that your financial circumstances and the conditions in the property market will be different in a few months compared to now. Your pre-approval should clearly state when it is valid to.
Handy hint: Once your pre-approval expires, your loan eligibility will be assessed once again and a credit check may also be requested. If possible, line up a few potential properties to inspect or make an offer for so that the chance of failing to buy before the approval expires is reduced.
When you apply for pre-approval, you usually haven’t found a property, so the lender cannot assess whether the property will fit its lending guidelines. For this reason, pre-approval will include a condition that it is “subject to a satisfactory valuation”. As well as looking at the price, lenders will often rule out certain types of property as unacceptably risky or undesirable on their books. These could include:
- Highrise apartments
- Properties on unpaved roads
- Properties in remote areas
- Properties near large power lines
- Properties that are very run down
- Properties in particular suburbs
Handy hint: Be sure to ask your lender about what type of properties they don’t accept before you make an offer on a property.
Each time you apply for a formal pre-approval, your lender will run a credit check on you. These credit checks stay on your credit file, and if you have a lot of credit checks, it can reduce your credit score. This is because numerous inquiries could lead lenders to regard you as a higher-risk customer, as it suggests you may be short on cash or getting ready to rack up a lot of debt. For this reason, it is a good idea to only apply for pre-approval from your preferred lender, instead of applying to multiple lenders.
Handy hint: Most sellers are keen to lock in the sale, so if you can show them that you are well on your way to obtaining finance, it can give you an advantage over other buyers who haven’t got pre-approval.
To get pre-approved for a home loan, you can apply for a home loan online.
loans.com.au is an award-winning online lender that is proudly Australian and based in the heart of Brisbane, with offices in other capital cities. We are backed by the financial strength of Firstmac, which is Australia's largest non-bank lender. Firstmac has been operating successfully for 40 years and it has more than $12 billion in mortgages under management.