Pre-approval. Mortgage pre-approval is a common first step to getting a mortgage, and shows sellers you’re serious about buying a home. You don’t have to have a specific home picked out yet, you just fill out an application with one or more lenders and give them some documentation about your finances. This will be a “hard” pull on your credit so it can lower your credit score a few points. If you shop around for pre-approvals with multiple lenders try and do it all within a 2 week period, that will limit the impact the multiple requests have on your credit score. The lenders who pre-approve you give you a letter indicating that, based on what they know, they would give you a mortgage of an approximate value. A pre-approval is NOT a guarantee you’ll get a mortgage. And it does not mean you have to use that mortgage company. It is simply an indication from a lender that you’ve got a good chance of getting a mortgage from them along with general details about that mortgage. If you make an offer on a home, the pre-approval letter is usually submitted along with the offer. The amount you’re pre-approved for is NOT an indication of what you should spend. Your price range is YOURS to decide, not the mortgage companies.