BluefoxToday blog : Newest Pre-Approval Letter Myth

Newest Pre-Approval Letter Myth

Lenn Harley wrote a blog on Sunday in which she rightfully questioned the accuracy of what was being stated on another blog about Pre-Approval Letter. The writer of the blog that Lenn was questioning, stated that her Loan Officer had informed her that he would no longer be able to provide her with a Pre-Approval Letter for her Buyers because of restrictions imposed by RESPA. This information was incorrect, Pre-Approval Letters are very much alive and well. But before I go any further let me give three very quick definitions of what I consider a Pre-Qualification Letter, Pre-Approval Letter, and a Loan Commitment Letter. Keep in mind that these are MY definitions, and MY opinion. 

  • Pre-Qualification Letter: Loan Officer pulls credit, and inquires about income and maybe bank information. From that the Loan Officer makes a quick determination as to whether the Borrower could possibly qualify for a Loan up to a certain dollar amount.
  • Pre-Approval Letter: Loan Officer pulls credit, inquires about income and bank information, takes a full Loan Application, may or may not collect some documentation like paystubs. Runs all this information through DU or LP along with a hypothetical Sales Price, and looks for an Approved/Eligible or Accept.
  • Loan Commitment Letter: The Loan Officer does everything that he or she would do if there was a property, pulls credit, collects all necessary documents, Borrower signs a Loan Application along with disclosures, and everything is submitted into Underwriting. Everything that would be done for an actual Loan would be done except for an Appraisal, because there isn't a property yet. The Underwriter then issues a Loan Commitment Letter up to a certain dollar amount, based on a property being able to appraise later once a property is found.

Again these are MY definitions, other Loan Officers will have their own, including equating a Pre-Qualification Letter to a Pre-Approval Letter, because that is what they do for their Pre-Qualification Letters. You need to find out what your Loan Officer means when he or she uses those terms.

Having said all that, why would a Loan Officer make a statement like the one made in the blog mentioned above? The reason is that if a Loan Officer takes six pieces of information from a Borrower, RSPA requires him to then issue a Good Faith Estimate (GFE), because those six things constitute an Application in the eyes of RSPA, and they HAVE TO issue a GFE within 3 business days or be in violation. The six things are:

  • Borrowers Name
  • Social Security Number
  • Income
  • Property Address
  • Estimate of Value of Property
  • Loan Amount

So why would issuing a GFE present a problem? The problem is that with the new GFE that went into affect at the beginning of the year (which has its own problems, but that is another blog) the Lender is locked in to some of the figures (Lender Fees) for 10 days, and for some of the Fees they only have a 10% flexibility. Lenders are hesitant about being put in that position, especially since there is no property yet, and the Borrowers Credit Scores could change by the time a property is found, which might require Points to be charged.

If a Lender does not want to issue a Pre-Approval Letter, because they don't want to run the risk of having to issue a GFE and be locked into those fees, then they should be upfront and just say so, and not create a Myth that RESPA does not allow them to do so.

The other reason why a Loan Officer might say something like that is because they want to play with the Fees. Use a low figure to get a Borrower to go with him or her, and then tack on higher Fees and Points once the Borrower is ready to put a loan into process. Most of those games have gone away, but they do still exist.

If your Loan Officer will not give you a Pre-Approval or Pre-Qualification Letter for a Borrower, or if you are one of those who feel that a Pre-Approval Letter or Pre-Qualification Letter is worthless, then you need to find another Loan Officer, who will produce one that you can trust.

Most of my business comes from referrals from Realtors, so I am very careful about what I issue. When I issue a Pre-Approval Letter it is worth FAR MORE than the paper it is written on, and the only way that Borrower will not be approved for a loan, is because something that could not be foreseen at the time of application, later pops up.

Get your Buyers Pre-Approved by a trusted Loan Officer as early in the process as possible, and DO NOT accept the Myth that you cannot be given one!!!



Info about the author:

George Souto is a Loan Officer who can assist you with all your FHA, CHFA, and Conventional mortgage needs in Connecticut. George resides in Middlesex County which includes Middletown, Middlefield, Durham, Cromwell, Portland, Higganum, Haddam, East Haddam, Chester, Deep River, and Essex. George can be contacted at (860) 573-1308 or





 Info about the author:

George Souto NMLS# 65149 is a Loan Originator who can assist you with all your #FHA, #CHFA, and #Conventional #mortgage needs in Connecticut. George resides in Middlesex County which includes #Middletown, #Old Saybrook, #Middlefield, #Durham, #Cromwell, #Portland, #Higganum, #Haddam, #East Haddam, #Moodus, #Chester, #Deep River, and #Essex. George can be contacted at (860) 573-1308 or

Comment balloon 59 commentsGeorge Souto • July 20 2010 08:26PM


Great information, as far as I'm concerned the pre-qual letter is worthless.  The Loan Committment Letter seems to be the best way to go

Posted by Doris Freeman, Broker/Agent, Realtor, Madison-Gibson-Crockett (RE/MAX REALTY SOURCE) over 8 years ago

Thank you George for this much needed clarification.  Recommending for a feature to get the word out. :)

Posted by Kristen Wheatley, Supporting Success - Best Job in the World! (Better Homes & Gardens | The Masiello Group) over 8 years ago

Hi George ~ I am SO glad I ran into this post. I had been wondering about the post you refer to, it didn't add up for me either. Glad that you have dispelled the myth and actually even more importantly explained how anyone could come up with the idea of not issuing a pre-approval letter in the first place.

I think I will probably re-blog this too. It's really important that everyone knows about this.


Posted by Denise Hamlin, Broker/Owner, Helping Happy Clients Make Smart Choices (Cardinal Realty ~ 319-400-0268) over 8 years ago

HI George,  I didn't realize people didn't know.  I always have my buyers get a pre-approval letter before looking at properties.  I always say it prevents disappointments down the road.  Thanks for the blog, I'm sure many people out there are appreciative of the info. 

Posted by Debbie Aldrich, Salt Lake City Realtor - Salt Lake County, Cottonwood Heights (The Watts Group Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

Thanks for clearing that up, George.  You should join Snopes to discredit this rumore :)

Posted by Jane Peters, Connecting you to the L.A. real estate market (Home Jane Realty) over 8 years ago

George.. Thanks for this information, I read that blog and was wondering about the *pre approval letters*.  I was going to ask you... my mortgage consultant God, but you beat me to the bunch.

Posted by Valerie Osterhoudt, ABR, Cromwell, CT Real Estate ~ 860.883.8889 (Johnson Real Estate, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Doris, I can see why people would feel that way, but a Pre-Approval is many times the way to go because of time constraints, and if done by a Loan Officer that knows what he or she is doing, and can be of value.

Kristen, thank you and I am glad that you found the blog something that you can use.

Denise, glad I could clear this up for you.  There is to much misinformation out there, and it is important that we stick to the facts.

Debbie that is the smart thing to do, and like you said it prevents disappointment and confusion later on.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Jane .......... LOL ......... "Snopes" that is the first time that I have had that recommended.

Valerie it can be one of the things to talk about on the way to Boston for the Rain Camp :) :)

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

George - hoping this gets featured (I recommended it) as it is a very worthwhile read and clarification of the different types of letters. There sure is a lot of misinformation out there, and lenders all do things ab it differently. A pre-qual in this market seems to be a waste of paper. And even a pre-app without income verification is suspect.


Posted by Jeff Dowler, CRS, The Southern California Relocation Dude (Solutions Real Estate ) over 8 years ago

Jeff, it is the Loan Officer and not the method.  It is important to work with someone that you trust to Pre-Qualify/Pre-Approve your Buyers correctly.  Someone who takes the time to do it right, and put meaning behind the piece of paper they put out.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Thank you, George. One can often tell by the delivery when something ihas been thought out by a knowledgeable person. This looks like the real deal.

Posted by Glenn Roberts (Retired) over 8 years ago


Well done!

If only people would understand there is a cornucopia of possible complications!


Posted by William J. Archambault, Jr. (The Real Estate Investment Institute ) over 8 years ago

Glenn, thank you the kind words.

Bill well said, well said.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago


Time for that agent to find a new loan officer....

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

Posted by Ann Hayden, (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri) over 8 years ago

Ann, yep that is good advice in my book :)

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

George -- thanks for the clarification.  It does make it more difficult to sort out since, as you point out, loan officers may have varying definitions.  I encourage buyers to work with loan officers I recommend, but it doesn't always work that way.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) over 8 years ago

Joan, yes we Loan Officers do have different definitions at time, but it is the quality of what we put out that is important in the end.  Buyers would be well advised to follow the lead of those who want to make sure that a transaction goes smoothly from start to finish, and that usually only happens if everyone involved knows what they are doing.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

George, I agree with Jeff and hope this gets featured...I also suggested it.  I just had a client with the same issue, but the lender was up front about the reasons...this one is bookmarked.

Posted by Nick T Pappas, Madison & Huntsville Alabama Real Estate Resource (Assoc. Broker/Broker ABR, CRS, SFR, e-Pro, @Homes Realty Group, @HomesBirmingham & Providence Property Mgmnt, LLC Huntsville AL) over 8 years ago

Thanks so much for the clarification. Excellent information on the process of getting a loan. 

Posted by Diane Williams over 8 years ago

Thank you so much, that is GREAT info

Posted by Ken's Home Team LLC. | 360.609.0226 | Portland, OR & Vancouver, WA Real Estate Team, - SOLD IS OUR FAVORITE 4 LETTER WORD - (Ken's Home Team LLC.) over 8 years ago

Hi George -- I haven't read the post in reference but your definitions and practices mirror my understanding with exceptional loan officers I recommend around Cleveland.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) over 8 years ago

Nick the Loan Officer should not shy away from providing the Pre-Approval, but he did the right thing in being upfront as to why he would not do it.

Diane, you are welcome I hope that it is helpful.

Ken, thank you.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Chris, I would say most would understand it this way, but there are those that go into deeper detail with their Pre-Qualification Letters, and really go through the Pre-Approval steps.  Regardless what they call it, as long as what is needed to be done is done then it achieves the same means and I am OK with it.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Thanks for the clarification George. The last thing we need is more mis-information confusing the public.

Posted by Matthew Bartlett (Century 21 Masters/Lic. #01353034) over 8 years ago

Matthew, you are absolutely correct :)

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Since most homes are short sales and REO's, if you just include pre approval letter, bank statements showing funds to close, copy of EMD, full DU Findings, and access to the mortgage broker to discuss all loan conditions, then you should be good to go.  Also, include a copy of the credit report.  I think the loan should be posted to a network of mortgage brokers and we all put our heads together if this type of loan will pass, now if 100 brokers look at the loan and 99 say its a go, then most likely its a go...its that simple. 

Posted by Sameer Punjani ( over 8 years ago, I guess we are lucky in Connecticut because most of the homes here are not Short Sales or REO's.  I guess I would need to experience the type of market you describe in order to understand the need for what you propose.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Welcome back, George.

I'm glad you clarified that issue. Understanding what is meant by certain terms used by lenders, and the implications of the use of those terms for borrowers, is essential for ensuring that the process goes smoothly for all parties involved.

Posted by William James Walton Sr., Greater Waterbury Real Estate (WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group) over 8 years ago

There's a lot of confusion abounding with all of the changes in the mortgage industry recently.  This is a good post to clarify things as pre-approval letters are important to getting an offer accepted.

Posted by Christine Donovan, Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M (Donovan Blatt Realty) over 8 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  My clients have had pre-approvals and in this area, sellers like to see the buyer has taken the steps necessary to obtain a loan. 

Posted by Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED (RETIRED / State License is Inactive) over 8 years ago


I couldn't have said it better!  I am a loan officer and your definitions mirror mine.  Great post.  I am glad you did it.


Posted by Rich Conley - MLO (Constant Funding, Inc.) over 8 years ago

Thank you George that is definetly something that makes sense.  The other did not.

Posted by Tim Lorenz, 949 874-2247 (TIM LORENZ - Elite Home Sales Team) over 8 years ago

I have always felt more comfortable with a pre-approval and more so with a loan commitment.  In training for the agency I worked for at the time, I was told we needed to go with a loan commitment before signing a contract.  After having a few transactions go sour, I realized that the most important step in the process of buying was to be sure the buyer was ready, willing and able.  Thank you for defining the documents once again. 


Posted by Ann Gravel (Pat Bennett Realty) over 8 years ago

In Boca Raton, I must have at least 10 mortgage brokers calling on a regular basis to get business.  I work with 3 now and they all get business, including referrals to other agents.

Why would anybody let a mortgage broker tell them that they can't get a pre-approval letter?  I'd say, "See ya later, adios", and call the next guy on the list.  Why in the world is this such a big deal?  I really don't understand.


Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca Raton, FL

Posted by Scott Miller, (Best Connections Realty) over 8 years ago

George, thanks for the clarification.  Worried b/c without a Pre-Approval letter we would not be able to do business in my market area.  We don't use Pre-quals (or let's say they're not recommended).  A full loan commitment would not make sense when shopping with buyers b/c in this market most of what we have to purchase are short sales which can take up to several months.  Great post, thanks again.

Posted by Pamela Seley, Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA (West Coast Realty Division) over 8 years ago

George, I knew from the comments on the previously mentioned posts that you could clear away the fog and put some substance in to the rumors and mis-information. Too bad I didn't see this last night, but you posted it past my bed time.

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 8 years ago

William things always seem to go better when we understand each other, and a smooth transaction is what we all want.

Christine, confusion is a good, word, and many in the mortgage industry are still trying to figure things out.

Carla it is the same here.  A Pre-Approval is protection for all involved.

Rich thank you for the support

Tim, I was a little confused by the other Post as well, so I wanted to make sure that people did not think that Pre-Approvals were a thing of the past.

Ann a Commitment is good, but most Buyers do not have the time to go through that process, so as you pointed out a Pre-Approval is a good compromise.

Scott, the big deal is the Fees that a Lender could possibly be locked into if the Loan Officer does not correctly go through this process.  But you are right, if one is not willing to provide you with what you need, there are others that will, and that is who you need to be doing business with.

Pamela, I agree, I don't know of a Listing Realtor around here that would take an offer without a Pre-Approval Letter.  It sure would raise up a lot of red flags if they said they could not get one.


Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Ed, thank you.  By the way my bed time is coming sooner and sooner these days also ........... LOL

Thanks for recommending that I do this.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

I was hoping a good mortgage officer would respond to that ridiculous blog. It makes you scratch your head on why misinformation gets featured! From the moment I read it I knew it was flat out wrong.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) over 8 years ago

Morningh George,  So great that we can rely on the collective wisdon found here on AR.  Holding each other accountable adds a lot of value to the AR platform.

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 8 years ago


Thanks for you explanation.  Prior blogs and comments I thought I was playing the childs game 'telephone'.

Posted by Richard Weeks, REALTOR®, Broker over 8 years ago

How many people reading this have actually ever had a "loan commitment letter" for the average home purchase be it FHA or Conventional? I know exactly how many I have given out of the almost 3600 loans I have closed in my career. Those who say their pre-qualification letters aren't worth the paper they are written on all I can say is those must be some really bad loan officers who don't value their own time much less the relationship they should be trying to build with you and the home buyer.

Posted by Ken Cook, Content Marketer/Creator (Content, coding, marketing, host.) over 8 years ago

George -

Great post and what a great following you have!  Kudos! 

I think the LO that was quoted may be a broker.  From my understanding, they are un-able to do pre-approvals based on the fact that a GFE and pre-approval letter would need to be generated by their investor.

Furthermore, due to RESPA regs that state the only way you can collect documentation verifying income, asset, etc. prior to a GFE being issued is if the client voluntarily forwards that information to the loan officer.  There is another possibility that the LO's compliance department has taken the high road and does not allow their loan officers to collect this info even if it was volunteered until they have a transaction.

I would caution simply relying on a phone interview to collect info and running it thru an aus to generate a pre-approval.  There are too many cases that without validating the information a pre-approval may be generated and when the file gets to underwriting with the needed documentation, information was incorrectly offered via the phone interview.

My best advice is to get with a lender that will take a credit application, collect the documentation and submits the credit approval package to an underwriter.  At that point you have a fully credit approved buyer.

Great blog George.

Posted by Vin Biscoglio Envoy Mortgage Berlin, CT over 8 years ago

I enjoyed reading your post this AM, and I will be meeting with one of my lenders that I use and ask about this info ---- Thanks.

Posted by Lorraine or Loretta Kratz, Certified Negotiation Consultants (Crescent Moon Realty, Inc. & Land N Sea Auctions.) over 8 years ago

George - thanks for this.  Great information, well presented.  Those previous posts left me more confused about something I thought I had a decent handle on before that!

Posted by Brian Hart (Fine Homes Orlando) over 8 years ago

George: Thank you! Succinct and to the point!

Posted by Paul McFadden, Pest Control, Seattle, WA. (Paratex) over 8 years ago

George: I had to visit your original post as I had already commented on this in a re-blog. Thanks for the great info. You are putting "serious" LO's in a fantastic light and we really need that right now ;-) I am looking forward to reading more of your blogs. Best wishes...

Posted by Cari Anderson over 8 years ago

Bill Gassett, even through mistakes we can learn something, when they get clarified :) :)

Bill Gillhespy, yes that is one of the extra benefits of being here on AR.

Richard that is an original way of putting it :)

Ken, that was very well put.  I shake my head every time I hear those statements made.  Unfortunately we are some times judged by the actions of a few that do not know what they are doing.

Vin as you know at McCue we do have a Wholesale Department, and I am a little familiar with the process over there.  You are correct in saying that a Broker can not issue a GFE, at least without first running it through the Lender.  But that should not prevent him or her to issue a Pre-Approval Letter.  Most Pre-Approvals or Pre-Quals that I am aware of are issued without collecting all of the documentation.  You are right about the surprise that can arise as a result of just verbal information, but the fact is, that surprise still happen even with all the documentation being collected.  Most people do not have the time to wait a couple of weeks to get a commitment from an Underwriter before they can submit an offer.  It would be nice if they took care of that ahead of time, but that is not what usually happens.  By the way I have heard about you, but we have never met.  I hope we get the chance to meet some time :)

Lorraine, good luck I hope you get the answers that you are looking for.

Brian, I can identify with that, I often walk away from some blogs feeling the same way ........ LOL

Paul, keeping it simple is the only way I know how to do things :)

Cari, thank you and I hope to not disapoint you with my future blogs :)



Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

George - I'm so glad you wrote this post to clear up a lot of the misinformation that's out there.  I'm off to reblog this right now! :) 

Posted by Donna Bigda, Greater New Haven CT Real Estate (RE/MAX Alliance) over 8 years ago

Hi George:  Thank you for explaining those three letters in detail.  I love learning so I can be more informed when working with my clients.  

Posted by Sylvia Barry, Marin and Sonoma Real Estate Leading Expert (Coldwell Banker Previews International (#1 Marin_Sonoma_San Francisco_North_Bay)) over 8 years ago

George -

Anytime you'd like to grab a coffee or lunch let me know.  I'm right in Berlin. 


Posted by Vin Biscoglio over 8 years ago


You gave the gift of education and I thankfully receive it.......


Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 8 years ago

Hey George,

I never felt comfortable with them over here since I've seen a few fall through in the past. I've always been on the listing side so I can't tell you much about their LO or MB but I prefer to wait for the loan commitment before most of the concerns are gone. Once we get that...there usually isn't a way out for them to come back and say they can't get the loan in most cases. If they tell us they need more time then all they need to do is send a request in writing for an extension to the LC date within the allotted time in our sales contracts.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago


That pretty much sums it up real well. A trustworthy mortgage consultant will take care of the pre-approval letter and will make sure everything works as they are supposed to.

Posted by Esko Kiuru over 8 years ago

Hey George,

I think someone is looking for you to buy a pocket book on your blogs...I reported a few entries as they seem to be spam.

Posted by Neal Bloom, Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate (eXp Realty) over 8 years ago

Donna glad you liked it and are using it.  Thank you.

Sylvia, ActiveRain is a great place to get valuable information.  A lot of people on here that are knowledgeable in their fields.

Richie, Thank you, it is good to know that people feel that way.


Esko, you are right, that is why it is important to work with someone who knows what they are doing.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

Neal, a Commitment once the loan has been submitted is about as much of a sure thing as there is, but around here Listing Agents want to know that the Buyer has spoken to a Loan Officer and have a good idea that they qualify for a loan at the time the offer is made. Most often there isn't enough time to go through the more indebted process, and the Pre-Approval is the next best thing.

And thank you for alerting me to the Spam, I had not checked this blog yet today.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago


Given the state of the industry, I would think it is better to know the facts and be relatively sure no one is wasting time with a buyer who cannot buy...

Ann Hayden in Wildwood, MO

Posted by Ann Hayden, (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Select Properties-St. Louis Missouri) over 8 years ago

Ann, that is my thinking also.

Posted by George Souto, Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert (George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages) over 8 years ago

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