Are you Pre-Qualified or are you Pre-Approved? Do you know the difference?
There are many ways to differentiate the difference between being pre-qualified and being pre-approved. The easiest thing to ask yourself is, "Did I just make a phone call and talk with someone? or Did I turn in any paperwork like bankstatements, W2s, and paycheck stubs?"
If you said that you just made a phone call or maybe you just did a quick mini-loan application online, you're only pre-qualified. In today's market, a pre-qualification gets you no where with a seller if you're trying to write a strong offer on a house. Sellers want to see pre-approval letters. They want to know that you're so serious in obtaining financing for their home that you've turned in all the necessary paperwork so the only things left to do would be to meet the satisfaction of the property for the lender, ie: appraisal, title policy, flood certificate, etc...
With a Pre-Approval, there are also many less surprises when it comes to the final rate you're locked into and the type of loan you're finally approved for. And just because you get pre-approved before writing your offer, does not mean you can go buy a new car or appliances for the house and run up credit cards before closing. This will shatter your pre-approval as all pre-approvals are based on "no changes" between loan application and the time of closing.