I recently had a newly preapproved client ask me that question. It’s quite a timely one! Before this market, I would say that a preapproval letter used to be good for about 90 days assuming that none of the information on provided on the loan application has changed. Now-a-days, you have to factor in guideline changes and interest rates. You’re really not approved by the sales price or loan amount, it’s based on the total mortgage payment and funds for closing (down payment, closing costs, prepaids/reserves, etc.) along with any other conditions (such as having a certain amount in your savings account after closing).
Assuming that the loan program you’re preapproved with does not have guideline changes and still exists, before you write an offer on a home, I recommend that you contact your mortgage originator to make sure you’re still approved based on that home’s property taxes and current interest rates. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to get an updated Good Faith Estimate with current rates and actual property taxes. If you’re asking the seller to pay closing costs, let your mortgage originator know so they can verify the amount will be allowed per guidelines. If you’re offering less than you’re preapproved for, your real estate agent may want to have a preapproval letter that is written specifically for the offer (especially if you’re asking the seller to pay closing costs).
Program changes? Boy, we’ve had a few. There are also changes with private mortgage insurance and various lender guidelines too. I recommend that people who are in the market right now as “preapproved” buyers, check in with their mortgage originator on a weekly basis (if you’re actively looking) and before you present that offer to make sure it meets current guidelines and that you are still qualified based on the present rate.
Don’t be surprised if your mortgage originator requires you to provide your most recent paystubs and copies of your asset accounts (where your down payment is coming from) before providing an updated preapproval letter.
Last note: Be careful when searching blogs for information on mortgage programs and guidelines. If the posts are even a few months old, the information may very well be outdated (if it was correct in the first place).
Note: I have modified this post. I had incorrect data (kind of ironic).