Home loan pre-approval

Getting home loan pre-approval makes the property buying process easier. Here's how it works.

Last updated:

When a well-organised home buyer is getting serious about purchasing a property, they approach a lender and get pre-approval. It's not a compulsory step, but it gives you a better idea of how much (if anything) a lender is willing to lend you.

What does it mean to be pre-approved for a mortgage?

woman signing a contractMortgage pre-approval is an initial assessment from a lender indicating how much you may be able to borrow. It requires you to submit a brief application, usually online, and provide financial information for the lender to verify.

Some lenders call it pre-approval, conditional approval or approval-in-principle.

But pre-approval does not mean full approval. You may submit a full application later only to be rejected. But pre-approval gives you a better idea of how much you can actually borrow. It means taking the first step, and it shows a potential seller that you're serious about buying.

The smart home buyer arrives at an auction or inspection with a mortgage pre-approval and increases their chances of a successful purchase.

How long does pre-approval last for?

Most lenders can issue you a pre-approval lasting anywhere between three and six months. This gives you time to hunt for properties and get your actual application together.

Is pre-approval binding?

No. Getting pre-approval doesn't mean you have to borrow any amount of money from the lender. And the lender has no ultimate obligation to lend money to you. But it's a good start.

How do I get pre-approved?

Follow these steps to get your mortgage pre-approval:

How long does it take to get pre-approved?

With many lenders offering online pre-approval, the whole process can take hours rather than days.

Online pre-approval is usually a system-generated process that is very quick but doesn't involve a qualified credit assessor reviewing your pre-approval application.

Some lenders may offer this, while others may require a fuller assessment that involves a lender's credit department. This usually involves a credit report.

Your lender may offer one or both versions of pre-approval, and you might still be able to apply entirely online.

Get a free credit score check before you apply for a home loan

What are the benefits of pre-approval?

Pre-approval brings the following benefits:

  • You can get a more realistic idea of your borrowing power. This keeps you focused on properties you can afford.
  • It signals your seriousness to sellers. Pre-approval strengthens your negotiating position when it comes time to agree on a price. You will be considered a preferred buyer, similar to a cash buyer, and having a lender's seal of approval in place can help you win a bidding war against others who may not qualify.
  • A pre-approval can also reduce stress by helping to speed up the documentation process once you've found a home.

When should I apply for pre-approval?

You should get pre-approval once you've done your initial research. You should already have an idea of your borrowing power, your price range and the areas you're looking to buy in. Once you start looking seriously at properties with the intent to purchase then it is time for pre-approval.

What comes after pre-approval?

Once you find a property to buy, you need to get full or unconditional approval. This requires a more detailed application.

You should keep in mind that pre-approval doesn't mean you're guaranteed to get a home loan. The following need to happen first:

  • The lender must conduct a valuation of the property and be satisfied that you haven't paid too much
  • You need to provide a contract of sale
  • You shouldn't change jobs halfway through the process

Once your application is approved, your lender will explain all the fees and charges involved in establishing your loan and answer any questions you may have. Once this is completed, it's time to draw up the loan documents. You’ll need to read your loan contract carefully before signing, and your lender will check that you’ve filled out everything correctly.

Your conveyancer or solicitor can then review the contract of sale, before you and the seller can sign a copy. Once a settlement date has been arranged, your lender will provide confirmation of your loan details. This is also the time at which you can expect to be charged for stamp duty and registration costs.

Then it’s time to start managing your loan and, most importantly, this is also the time you get the keys to your new home.

Need a home loan? Start comparing

Rates last updated October 20th, 2019
$
Loan purpose
Offset account
Loan type
Repayment type
Your filter criteria do not match any product
Name Product Interest Rate (p.a.) Comp Rate^ (p.a.) Application Fee Ongoing Fees Max LVR Monthly Payment Short Description
2.84%
2.80%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Owner occupiers looking to refinance can get one of the lowest rates in the market with this variable rate mortgage. $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Refinancers only.
3.03%
3.04%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
Get one free online redraw per month and pay no ongoing fees. Application fees are waived for loans above $150,000.
3.02%
3.04%
$0
$0 p.a.
90%
This rate is effective from 21 October for all HSBC customers. Get a low interest rate loan with no ongoing fees. Plus you can make extra repayments and free redraw online. Available with just a 10% deposit.
2.99%
3.45%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
90%
Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Available with a 10% deposit. Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points at settlement, monthly and every three years, plus extra bonus points for a limited time.
2.84%
2.84%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
This rate will drop to 2.84% p.a on 29 October 2019 for new and existing customers. Enjoy flexible repayments, a redraw facility and the ability to split your loan. Plus, pay no application or ongoing fees.
2.99%
3.73%
$0
$375 p.a.
90%
Get a very competitive 3 year fixed rate with low fees and only a 10% deposit. Refinance to this loan and receive a $2,000 cashback when borrowing $250,000 or more.
2.84%
2.97%
$600
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
70%
A very low variable interest rate for home buyers with a 30% deposit. This product has a 100% offset account.
3.24%
3.20%
$0
$0 p.a.
80%
Athena offers one of the lowest rates in the market for investors looking to refinance their mortgage. No ongoing fees and no application fee. Principal and interest repayments. Refinancers only.
3.12%
3.32%
$599
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
80%
This is a competitive, flexible variable rate suitable for borrowers with a good credit history. Borrow up to 80%.
2.99%
3.42%
$0
$10 monthly ($120 p.a.)
90%
A competitive fixed rate mortgage available with a 10% deposit. Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points at settlement, monthly and every three years, plus extra bonus points for a limited time.

Compare up to 4 providers

Image: Shutterstock

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Related Posts

Home Loan Offers

Important Information*
Logo for UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount offer for Owner Occupiers (*now 3.09%, drops to 2.84% on 29 Oct), P&I $200K+
UBank UHomeLoan Variable Rate - Discount offer for Owner Occupiers (*now 3.09%, drops to 2.84% on 29 Oct), P&I $200K+

Take advantage of a low-fee mortgage with a special interest rate of just 2.84% p.a. and a 2.84% p.a. comparison rate.

Logo for Athena Variable Home Loan - Refinance (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Athena Variable Home Loan - Refinance (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Owner occupiers looking to refinance can get one of the lowest rates in the market with this variable rate mortgage. $0 application fee and $0 ongoing fees. Refinancers only.

Logo for Virgin Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)
Virgin Reward Me Fixed Rate Home Loan - 2 Year $300k+ Special offer (Owner Occupier, P&I)

Buy your home and lock in a low rate for the first two years. Available with a 10% deposit. Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points at settlement, monthly and every three years, plus extra bonus points for a limited time.

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com.au:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com.au is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Terms of Use, Disclaimer & Privacy Policy and Privacy & Cookies Policy.

2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    julieAugust 9, 2015

    Can you opt out of getting a loan after you have filled out all the paperwork for the loan and have been given a verbal that the loan is pre-approved subject to the lender (St George) evaluating all the paperwork and doing a valuation of the property in question?

    • Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MarcAugust 10, 2015Staff

      Hi Julie,
      thanks for the question.

      Home loan pre-approval is in many cases obligation-free, meaning that you can cancel it if you no longer require it or have found a better deal. The exact nature of a pre-approval agreement differs on a case-by-case basis depending on the lender, so I would recommend contacting St.George directly to find out if you can opt out.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

Ask a question
Go to site