Steven Crews
(403) 870-2669

What Do You Need For a Mortgage Pre-Approval?

One very important part of your home purchase journey is the mortgage pre-approval and ultimately the mortgage approval. Before I speak with clients, we talk a little bit about the process and I let them know what I need for a mortgage pre-approval.

To obtain a mortgage pre-approval, you will need to provide confirmation of your income as well as the details about yourself, your date of birth, social insurance number, employment and address history for at least 3 years. You will also provide the lender with permission to pull a current credit report for review.

I've talked to clients who thought that they were pre-approved for a mortgage but the person hadn't obtained a current credit report. Without a credit report review, the pre-approval is worthless.

Therefore, if you meet a broker or banker who provides you with a mortgage pre-approval, make sure you ask if they checked your credit report. If they didn't, then you should speak with someone else.

Let's review in more detail the information that you will provide as well as the specific documents that you will bring for a mortgage pre-approval.

What information do I need to provide for a mortgage application?

When you start the mortgage pre-approval process, your broker or lender will complete a mortgage application. You will provide the following details about yourself:

Your Personal Information:

  • Your legal name, including your first, middle and last names
  • Your marital status and number of dependents
  • Your current address
  • If you have lived at your current address for less than 3 years, then you would provide your previous addresses for at least 3 full years.

Your Employment Information:

  • Your current employer, your position and tenure
  • If you have worked with this employer less than 3 years, then you will provide previous employment details for 3 years or more

Your Assets and their value:

  • The year make and model of your vehicles
  • The year make and model of any recreational vehicles you own including skidoos, quads, RV's, boats, etc.
  • Your Investments, RSP's, TFSA's GIC's and the banks that hold these assets
  • Your savings and chequing accounts including the banks that hold these for you
  • Summary of Properties that you own, the address, the value and original purchase price and current property tax details

Your Liabilities, the amount you owe and the payments:

  • Credit cards that you have and the current balances outstanding
  • Personal Lines of Credit that you have and the current balance owing
  • Personal loans, including the balance and payments
  • Vehicle loans or leases, including balance owing and payments
  • mortgages that are registered against property that you own including the balance and payments

At this point, you will be providing the information only. You should be able to provide these details off the top of your head. Your broker (or lender) isn't looking for exact numbers here.

The details here will form the basis for an underwriter to review your application to provide a decision.

After completing this information with your broker (or lender) the next step is to obtain your credit report.

What Credit Details Do I Need For Mortgage Approval?

When you apply for a mortgage, your broker (or lender) will ask you to provide permission to order a credit report. You don't really need to do anything except provide a signature.

The credit report will provide your broker (and lender) a credit score and details about you. The credit report will have your address history, your employment history, a summary of all your credit cards, lines of credit and loans.

The report will also show recent inquiries from other lenders. To qualify for a mortgage with a competitive interest rate, you must have good credit. Typically, a credit score of 650 or higher will be sufficient for to qualify for a mortgage. Lenders may consider an application with a credit score of 620 but a higher score is better.

What Can I Do To Maintain a Good Credit Score?

My goal here isn't to go into great detail about credit in this article. There are 2 things you can do to improve your credit or maintain it:

  • Make you minimum monthly payments on time, every time.
  • If you hold a balance on your credit cards or lines of credit, keep the balance under 75% of the credit limit. (under 50% is better)
  • maintain at least 2 pieces of active credit. 2 credit cards, or a credit card and loc, or a credit card and loan

You want to have 2 pieces of active credit in good standing. When it comes to credit, time heals all wounds. If you had issues with your credit in the past, then the more time you wait, the more your credit score will improve provided you are maintaining 2 pieces of active credit in good standing.

I plan to write a more details article about credit. In the mean time, you can visit a friends website that talks about credit, how to improve it and how to fix it. His website is called

The Credit Advice section of his website is very good.

In addition to checking your credit, your broker (and lender) will want to take a look at your income documents. Let's look at a summary of what you will need to provide based on the type of income you earn.

What Income Confirmation Documents Do I Need For Mortgage Pre-Approval?

The documents that you will provide to confirm your income will depend on the source of your income. I will list all the different sources of income below, search for the income type that's appropriate to you.

Types of Employment Income:

  • Salaried
  • Salaried Plus Bonuses
  • Hourly
  • Hourly plus Overtime
  • Multiple Part-Time Jobs
  • Self-Employed Sole Proprietor
  • Self-Employed with Corporation

Documents Needed For Salaried Employed

As a salaried employee, you will be asked to provide two documents:

  • Letter of Employment, dated within 30 days
  • Recent Pay Stub, dated within 30 days.

The Letter of Employment should be on company letter head. The letter should include the following details:

  • Your Rate of Pay, specifically how much you earn yearly or monthly or how ever you are paid.
  • Your Position, that is, your job title
  • Your Tenure, when you started with the company
  • Should be signed, by an HR Representative or Manager
  • There should be a contact number for the person signing

Documents Needed For Salaried Employee Who Also Receives Bonuses

If you are a salaried employee who also receives bonuses, then the bonus income can be included in your income confirmation to qualify for a mortgage. The lender will want to see at least a 2 year average of your income to include bonuses.

The best way to document your bonus income is with the following documents:

  • Letter of Employment, dated within 30 days and includes your salary amount and bonuses received the last 2 years
  • Recent Pay Stub, dated within 30 days
  • Last 2 years Notice Of Assessments or T4's

These documents described above will provide your broker with enough information to determine your earnings and calculate a mortgage pre-approval.

Documents Needed For An Hourly Employee

As an hourly employee, you may have the flexibility to work more or less hours each week. A lender will want to know how many yours you are guaranteed each week to get you qualified for a mortgage.

Therefore, you will need to provide the following:

  • Letter of Employment, dated within 30 days, including your rate of pay and guaranteed hours
  • a recent pay stub that reflects the guaranteed hours for the pay period, that are stated on the employment letter

For an hourly employee, the Letter of Employment should be on company letter head and include the following details:

  • Your hourly rate of pay
  • The number of hours you are guaranteed every week or every pay period or every month (depending on how you are paid)
  • Your Position, that is, your job title
  • Your Tenure, when you started with the company
  • Should be signed, by an HR Representative or Manager
  • There should be a contact number for the person signing

If you work over time or aren't guaranteed any hours, then you will want to provide documents appropriate for an hourly employee who works overtime.

Documents Needed For An Hourly Employee Who Also Works Overtime

As an employee who can work overtime, if you want to include your overtime income when you qualify for a mortgage, then you must provide documents to verify how much additional income you earn. Lenders want to see that you can maintain this level of income over at least 2 years.

Therefore, they will want to see how much you have earned over the last 2 years. As an hourly employee with no guaranteed hours or an hourly employee with lots of over time, you must provide the following documents:

  • Letter of Employment, dated within 30 days
  • recent pay stub, dated within 30 days
  • last 2 years of Notice of Assessments or T4's (note, some lenders prefer Notice of Assessments others prefer T4's and some like both)

If you have worked for a company for 2 years and earn overtime but you didn't start January, so the income on your income tax return isn't really correct, then you will want to provide more documents.

I would suggest that you speak with your broker to review what would be needed to confirm your income in this case. Your broker will want to build a case for your income with the lender.

Documents Needed For An Employee Who Has Multiple Part-Time Jobs

If you have a couple of part time jobs, then the same criteria would apply. A lender will want to see if you can sustain this amount of work over a longer term, therefore will ask for a 2 year average of your income.

You will want to provide the following documents:

  • Employment Letter for both jobs, dated within 30 days, stating your hourly rate of pay
  • Recent Pay Stub, dated within 30 days, for both jobs
  • 2 years of Notice of Assessments and T4's

In this case, lenders will often ask for both the T4's and Notice of Assessments. Sometimes they wont but you might as well bring these with you in case they do.

Documents Needed For A Self-Employed Sole Proprietor

If you are self employed, then the documents required to confirm your income can vary. I have written a couple articles about self-employed mortgages. I encourage you to read these articles as well:

To start the mortgage pre-approval process when you are self-employed, then you should provide the following documents:

  • 2 years of Personal Income Tax Returns (the T1Generals)
  • 2 years Notice of Assessments

With these documents, your lender will take the income number on line 150 of your return and average that income over the 2 years to determine how much mortgage you qualify for.

In some cases, the income reflected on line 150 of your income tax return can be increased by 15%. Some lenders may add some non-cash expenses to your income to help more closely reflect your real cash flow.

Documents Needed For A Self-Employed Applicant who Draws Income From A Corporation (Limited Company)

If you are self-employed and you have a corporation, then your lender will request the following documents from you:

  • 2 years of personal income tax returns (the T1Generals)
  • 2 years of Notice of Assessments
  • 2 years financial statements for your corporation

When you own a corporation, you may not draw all your potential income from the corporation. Depending on how much down payment you have, the lender could look at the financials and potentially include additional income for qualification purposes.

Every lender looks at your documents a little differently when you are self-employed. Review the articles that are listed above and consult a mortgage broker (connect with us), to see what options are available to you.

What's next after I provide my details to a broker or lender for a mortgage pre-approval?

The next step in the process if the adjudication. Your broker (and lender) will review your documents and your credit and make some calculations to determine how much mortgage you qualify for.

I created a mortgage pre-approval calculator, that you can try out. Click here to go to the mortgage pre-approval calculator.

Your broker can provide you with a pre-approval amount within a couple of hours, if not right away. Your broker will then submit your file to a lender to secure an interest rate and obtain a lender pre-approval.

The lender pre-approval typically takes 2 or 3 days.

Once you have mortgage pre-approval, then you can start searching for a home in your price range.

What if my mortgage pre-approval is denied?

If you are denied for a mortgage pre-approval, you will want to find out the reason for the decline. There could be a credit issue. There could be an income issue or you could have too much debt. By finding out the reason, you can then create a plan to fix the issue and get qualified asap.

If you have been denied, connect with us and get a second opinion. We have helped many clients to get back on track and purchase a home sooner than they expected.

There are solutions and options if you have had some blemishes on your credit. If you have too much debt, we may be able to offer you an action play to reduce the debt or restructure so that that payments are lower.

If your income was an issue, we may have another lender who would look at your income differently than the lender you spoke with.

Client Example, declined for a mortgage pre-approval

I met with a client a few months ago. He met with his bank a few weeks prior and was not approved (denied) for a mortgage pre-approval. He was going to work on building up his savings and then applying again in 6 months.

His father-in-law recommended that he speak with myself and my team. I reviewed this clients details and checked his credit. He had a couple of vehicle loans. One loan had a year left to pay it in full and the second loan had 6 months left before it was paid off. The loan payments totaled over $900 per month.

I helped him to restructure these 2 loans into one lower payment, under $350 per month. We also showed him how to move some of his savings around to take advantage of the RSP Home Buyers Plan.

It took a couple of days to get the details sorted out, but then he was pre-approved for a mortgage amount that was more than he expected. He was ecstatic. By shuffling around his savings, he was going to get a tax refund in the spring for almost $5,000.

This client found a home on the weekend, has been approved by one of our lenders and excited to be a first time home owner in about 45 days from now.

It's always a good idea to get a second opinion if your bank has denied your mortgage pre-approval. A second set of eyes could see something that your bank missed.

Do you need a down payment for pre-approval?

You do not need to have the down payment at that time you apply for mortgage pre-approval. If you find a home, then you will be required to come up with a down payment equal to at least 5% of the purchase price. The down payment could be your savings or a gift from a family member.

It's also possible to borrow the down payment in some cases. However, a borrowed down payment is a specific program that not all lenders will approve. The criteria is more stringent when you borrow funds for the down payment compared to requirements if you have saved the down payment.


We have reviewed what you need for mortgage pre-approval. We have reviewed the income documents expected based on the type of employment that you have.

If you are looking to purchase a home and want a mortgage pre-approval, our team can help. Connect with us. Try our mortgage pre-approval calculator.

Related Articles

Recent Posts

Check out some of our recent articles.
13116 Bonaventure Drive SE, Calgary, AB  T2J-5J5
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram