Mortgage Pre-Approval In California

To obtain a mortgage pre-approval in California you must apply with a mortgage company that offers mortgage loans in the state of CA. You’ll have various options to chose from including Conventional, FHA and Jumbo loan programs with fixed and adjustable rates.

Usually a pre-approval can be completed within 24-48 hours.

The steps to obtaining a mortgage pre-approval are fairly straightforward.  In the article below I cover all the important information you need to ensure your pre-approval process is smooth and seamless. It may seem a bit overwhelming however thousands of First Time Home Buyers just like you complete the process every month. You can do this!

The Simple Steps To A Mortgage Pre-Approval

The process for a mortgage pre-approval in California doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to take long. use our four-step mortgage pre-approval process to help save you time and money.

Step One – Gather Your Income Documents

The first step to getting a mortgage pre-approval is to gather your income, asset and other documentation.

If you haven’t already you should take the time to learn some key mortgage terms before you begin our four-step process. It will put you in a better position to understand how to navigate the pre-approval process and you’ll have a better understanding of what the Loan Officer is saying and doing.

I’m going to break down the first step into three groups. The reason for this is because each group is going to provide a different set of documents to the Loan Officer. Find your group below, then gather the documents being listed.

W-2 Employee:

  • Your most recent two years of W-2 forms
  • Your most recent two paystubs
  • The two most recent asset statements from which your down payment will come from
  • If different, the two most recent asset statements from which you will pay the closing costs from
  • If you have a side business in which you file a IRS return for then obtain the two most recent returns
  • Make a copy of your Drivers License

Self Employed:

  • Two most recent years of tax returns. All pages, all schedules (federal) including your schedule K-1 if you received one
  • The two most recent asset statements from which your down payment will come from
  • If different, the two most asset recent statements from which you will pay the closing costs from
  • If you receive a W-2 from a part time job; the most recent two years of your W-2 and the most recent two paystubs you’ve received
  • Make a copy of your Drivers License

Retired or on Disability:

  • Two most recent years of tax returns. All pages, all schedules (federal) including your schedule K-1 if you received one
  • The two most recent asset statements from which your down payment will come from
  • If different, the two most recent asset statements from which you will pay the closing costs from
  • Your benefit statement (aka awards letter) for the retirement income (or disability income) you are receiving
  • Make a copy of your Drivers License

*asset statements could be your checking account, savings account or any other liquid asset account from which you can draw funds from

Having the above documentation ready to go BEFORE you obtain your quotes will really help with your pre-approval process. Let’s move on to Step Two!

Step Two – Find Highly Rated Mortgage Company’s

The second step is to find a highly rated mortgage company’s for your mortgage quotes.

But first, let me clarify an important point – I am going to assume you’ve decided the purchase price range you would like to be approved for. If not then check out our average monthly mortgage payment page to get an idea of what a mortgage payment will look like at various loan levels.

After you’ve had a chance to review that and determine what purchase price range is good for you, come back to this page and proceed as you were.

Now that you know your purchase price range lets find that great company to work with.

“How do you go about doing that?”

There are various things you can do to find great companies to work with. Reach out to friends, family, your realtor and use reputable online services like the Better Business Bureau to find the top-rated mortgage companies in California.

Obtain the contact information of two to four mortgage companies and reach out to them to let them know you are looking into buying your first home. But before you call or email these companies spend five to ten minutes researching their Loan Officers and handpick the Loan Officer you want to work with.

Someone who is experienced is so important. Now it’s on to Step Three!

California home

Step Three – Pick Your Partner

Finding that one company to work with is Step Three.

Here is what you need to do to chose which mortgage company you want to work with for your mortgage pre-approval.

  • Email or call the Loan Officers and let them know you’re a First Time Home Buyer
  • Advise them that you have your documentation
  • Be clear of the purchase price range you are looking to get approved for
  • Tell them the amount of money you have for a down payment (remember down payment funds do not cover closing costs)
  • Let them know what loan program you would like to be pre-approved for
  • Lastly, get ready to ask questions –  a ton of questions

If you don’t know what loan program to be pre-approved for then just go with a 30 year fixed to start off. It’s the best loan program for First Time Home Buyers. The most important thing you can do in Step Three is to ask questions.

Why is asking questions so important?

I think the answer will surprise you. Most will answer with “because you need to understand what’s going on” and yes that is true and one reason to ask lots of questions. But the reason I say it’s one of the most important things you can do is because it will give you a hint as to what type of person you are working with.

If the Loan Officer avoids answering questions or is trying to rush you through the process do you think that’s a good Loan Officer to work with?

Or would you rather work with someone who will answer all your questions in detail and not rush you through the process?

I assume everyone would want to work with the person who will take the time to answer the questions you have. Having a Loan Officer you can completely trust is the most important thing you can have when you move forward with buying a home.

At this point you’ll have a good idea of what these Loan Officers have to offer and what kind of terms they can provide. On to Step Four!

Step Four – Complete The Loan Application

Step Four is to complete an application and send in your documentation so the Loan Officer can complete the mortgage pre-approval.

The mortgage pre-approval should only take 24 to 48 hours from when all your documentation is in and your application is completed. The Loan Officer will contact you to confirm the pre-approval is complete and the terms in which you were pre-approved for.

Now you’re ready to go make an offer and with that offer, you can include a tour pre-approval letter. Having a mortgage pre-approval letter makes your offer much stronger than if you didn’t get pre-approved.

Loan Officer Kevin O'Connor

About The Author

Loan Officer Kevin O'Connor has over 17+ years of experience as a Mortgage Loan Originator and is licensed by the state of California and the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System. He has a top rating with the Better Business Bureau, Google, Yelp, and Zillow. CA DRE #01499872 / NMLS #247447

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