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Real Estate Home Mortgages/Preapproval and using credit cards for mortage


Greetings Eric,
This may be a basic question, but I was wondering when is the best time to obtain pre-approval from lenders?  I've obtained a pre-qualification letter from one lender thus far without requiring a credit check, and they advised me to hold off on pre-approval until the day I'm ready to submit an offer.  The purpose being to aim to only do two credit checks over the course of the process (i.e. One at time of offer and one at time of purchase?) and minimize any decrease to my credit score. On the other hand, realtors have encouraged me to obtain pre-approval asap from at least 2-3 lenders. All of this made me concerned because my credit score is right at 700, and i suppose that minimizing credit inquiries may be important in my case.  I'd appreciate any insight you can provide.

Also i was wondering about the possibilities of using credit cards to make mortgage payments?  I've read online about people using cards with "no interest for 12 months", low transfer fees, etc. Thanks!


First, let's dispense with the so-called "pre-qualifications". Since they don't entail a review of either your credit or income, they are quite meaningless.

As to pre-approvals, most of them are similar to pre-qualifications plus a credit report. Somewhat less meaningless, but still not the real thing.

An honest-to-goodness pre-approval involves a complete underwriting of your loan request; the only missing element is the property itself. For this to happen, you must know how much you are willing to spend on a property, and what the down payment is going to be. As you can imagine, very few lenders are willing to provide you with such a pre-approval, due to the many hours involved in producing a fully-underwritten pre-approval.

You can apply for a pre-approval with as many lenders as you want, but remember: all credit reports pulled in one 7-day period count as only 1 inquiry; that means that you need to condense your meetings with the various lenders to a period of 7 days or less.

As to the idea of making mortgage payments with zero-interest credit cards, make sure that you never exceed 40-45% of the credit limit of the card. Once you exceed 45%, you are classified as a credit risk by the credit agency and your credit score is hit severely.

Best wishes,

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This topic answers questions related to purchasing a home, owning a home, home ownership, mortgage education, mortgage applications, and mortgage needs whether buying a first home or refinancing a current loan. Issues related to home ownership, home equity, mortgage education, refinacing options, home improvment finacing, first time home loans, home equity loans, vactation home loans, and mortgages for investment homes are dealt with here also. Though not the primary focus of this topic, Home Equity Lines of Credits (HELOCS), reverse mortgages, and calculating home equity may also be asked. If you do not see your home mortgae, home finacing, or home equity question answered in this area then please ask a question here

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Eric Forster


Did your last mortgage broker or lender trick you into a messy situation which could cost you your home? I've been close to 30 years in the mortgage industry, and I've seen it all. Believe me, it is not pretty. As the owner of a mortgage company I am called frequently to testify as an expert witness in mortgage fraud cases and other cases where lenders did not fully disclose the terms of the loans they were offering to the borrowers. I have seen fraud being committed by borrowers - and by lenders. It's a tough world out there. And by the way - you are invited to visit my website,


More than 25 years in loan production and underwriting in Southern California.

Mortgage Bankers of America (Southern California Chapter)

Former columnist for AOL Financial Center and the author of a mortgage primer.

MBA (Finance)

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