"I'm Considering Buying Months Down the Road, Why Get Pre-Approved Now?" Long title, but simple answer -- because it gives you knowledge and time.
You'll be able to combine "crystal ball" forecasting regarding your finances with a good solid strategy provided by your mortgage officer. When you get a pre-approval (mind you, this is more than a pre-qualification - more on that in a later article), you start a relationship with your lender and your mortgage officer that will benefit you both now and down the road when you are ready to buy.
- You'll know, not just guess, your true price range, and even it's realistic for you to buy now. Maybe your needs/wants/desires and your bank account are a mismatch - maybe you need to dial back to just the needs, or wait longer, or conversely, perhaps even you've waited long enough already and were really good to go last year and just didn't know it.
- You'll have the bulk of the documentation for the future loan done and out of the way. Pre-approvals typically last for 60-90 days, but most lenders can do a quick refresh at the time of any offers, especially if you've been working with them during that time (see next benefit).
- Your mortgage officer will work with you regarding the "things you should do" and "things you shouldn't do" in order to improve or maintain your credit while you're looking for a property. Listen to them - other people have learned the hard way about the things they'll tell you to do or to avoid doing!
- You'll have time to address any issues that the might lender see. Better to take that time now when you have it than to scramble at the last minute and hope to get it get done in time for the contract to close. The more you can do ahead of time, the less stress that piles up on you during the flurry of activities between offer and closing.
- You'll have time to age any monetary gifts you might be receiving (e.g. from parents) or any 410(k) loans or the like that you'll be taking towards downpayment assistance. Better to get that done and the money settled into your account now as there are requirements about how much, how, when, and how long. Again, work with your mortgage officer on this, preferably before you do it.
- You'll be primed and ready to make a solid offer when you do see "that home". In some markets, the ability to do that means the difference between getting an offer accepted or not. Getting "that home" that's, well, ... priceless.
Convinced, but don't have a lender already in mind? Well, then, perhaps you'll wish to check out the team building section. :0)