Why Get PreQualified?
Pre-qualification acts as a dry run of the loan application process and free. The mortgage lender will give you an estimate of how much you can afford. The whole process may take only minutes or a few hours at most.
While a "pre-qual" is non-binding to the lender, it does serve as a good indication to potential sellers of your general creditworthiness.
Sellers often will NOT accept an offer without at least a pre-approval letter, so if you are serious about buying this is the first step towards getting you in your new home.