Pre-Qualified VS Pre-Approval
The first thing to do when considering buying a home is to speak with a well respected lender and find out what home price you qualify. Your lender will either offer a pre-qualified or pre-approval letter.
Pre-qualifying is just the first step. It give you an idea of how large your loan amount can be. The second step is the pre-approval, a conditional commitment to actually grant you the mortgage.
Tell your lender you want a pre-approval letter. You do not want to be wasting time and money on inspections, appraisals, and option fees to find out you were only pre-qualified and NOT pre-approved.