If you’re planning to get financing for a house purchase, expect it will take months and even years to get approved and secure funding. Whether you’re applying for a VA home loan or an FHA loan, or refinancing your mortgage, getting approved for a loan will take time. 

Given the timeline from prequalification to approval, it’s crucial to prepare well ahead of time so that you can purchase the property without delays. If you’re applying for a VA or FHA loan, which can be a lengthy process, we recommend starting the financing process 6 to 12 months ahead of time.

To help you prepare for a home loan application, we’ve created a guide to help you navigate the process of prequalification, preapproval, and, finally, approval.


Prequalification is what you do before you start your search for a home. This is the first step in the mortgage process, and it can take between one to three weeks, depending on the lender, your financial situation, and the property.

This relatively simplistic process doesn’t require the borrower to provide any documentation, and it is usually done over the phone. However, prequalification does not guarantee that the final loan approval will be at the same terms.

Prequalification is not mandatory, but it gives you a good sense of what you can afford for a house and helps you become more familiar with the loan process.

Here’s what to expect during prequalification:

  • A lender will review your credit report
  • A lender will run a hard inquiry on your credit
  • You’ll provide information about your income, assets, debts, and employment
  • You’ll provide documents to prove your income and assets
  • You’ll be asked to give an estimate of the home you would like to purchase

Once you’re pre-qualified, you’ll be given a pre-qualification letter that will outline the loan value, interest rate, and length of the loan. This will be different from what you get approved for, which is why we recommend that you start with a pre-qualified figure and then, once you’re pre-approved, use that figure to negotiate with the seller.


Preapproval is the step before final approval. The lender will run a full credit investigation, review your assets, verify your income, and request certain documents before issuing final approval in the preapproval process.

The preapproval process can take three to four weeks. This can be a good time to keep shopping around as interest rates change daily.

During preapproval:

  • You must provide documents to prove your assets and income
  • You must submit paperwork to verify your employment
  • Your credit will be thoroughly reviewed
  • You’ll be asked to give an estimate of the home you would like to purchase


Approval is the final stage in the loan process. A lender has taken into account all the risk factors in your loan application and is ready to approve it.

Although the process from preapproval to approval can take days to weeks, there are certain cases where it can take months. The length of the process is determined by the lender’s ability to verify your income, assets, and credit history.

Finally, you’ll receive a final approval letter. This will outline the final loan terms, which are the amount of money you have been approved for, the interest rate, and the loan length. 


Mortgage financing is complicated, and the process can take time. If you’re looking to purchase a home, be sure to start the process early so that you can move into your new home without any delays. The more prepared you are, the easier the application process will be!

Are you having trouble looking for the best home loan in Santa Ana? Then, let our mortgage brokers at NetLending help you!  As our client, rest assured that you’ll avoid online mortgage shopping pitfalls while we help you get the best possible deal on your mortgage. Prequalify today!