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Which documents do I need to get home loan pre-approval?

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Getting pre-approval is an important step in the early stages of the home loan process. Not only does it give you an idea of how much you can borrow, it signals to vendors that you’re serious when it comes time to make an offer.

While pre-approval is a preliminary step to actually applying for a loan — and isn’t set in stone once granted — it still requires plenty of paperwork. Below, we’ve compiled some of the main things your lender will ask for when you seek pre-approval.

Proof of identification

Before they can do business with you, your lender will have to verify your identity. To do this, they will need a few forms of ID, which can usually be broken down into primary and secondary documents.

Examples of primary documents

  • Australian driver’s licence
  • Australian passport
  • Australian birth certificate
  • Foreign passport

Examples of secondary documents

  • Medicare card
  • Australian citizenship certificate
  • ATO assessment notice (up to 12 months old)
  • Phone, gas, or electricity bill (up to 12 months old)

Lenders will typically require some combination of the two. For example, ANZ asks applicants to provide at least one primary document or two secondary documents, while NAB requests two primary documents (one photographic and one non-photographic) and one secondary document.

Proof of income and employment

Your income and employment status will feature quite prominently in your lender’s assessment of you. Simply put, the more you earn, the more confidence your lender will have in your ability to pay off a loan.

Some income documents your lender might ask for include:

  • Recent payslips
  • Most recent tax return
  • Bank statement showing salary payments
  • Your employment contract or a letter confirming your employment
  • Super fund statement (if you’re receiving superannuation)
  • Shareholding certificates or dividend statement notice (if you receive investment income).

Things get a bit more complicated if you’re a casual worker or self-employed, as there’s less certainty around your hours and how much you earn. Thankfully, there are still ways to assure your lender that you’re financially stable.

For example, casual workers might be asked to provide proof that they’ve been with the same employer for at least six months, along with payslips which show their latest year to date earnings summary. 

And borrowers who are self-employed can still get in lenders’ good books so long as they can provide their business’ notice of tax assessment, profit and loss statement, and balance sheet, along with proof that their ABN has been registered for the requisite amount of time.

Proof of savings

Lenders will like to see evidence of genuine savings, that is, money that you’ve saved up over time rather than acquired overnight. If your deposit is entirely made up of money you inherited or received as a gift, your suitability as a borrower may be called into question. 

Having saved up a substantial amount over several years signals to lenders that you’re both responsible with your finances and can regularly set aside enough money to be able to service a mortgage.

Breakdown of living expenses

You'll also need to provide a breakdown of your living expenses so your lender has an idea of where your money is going each month — and whether there’s room in your budget to make regular mortgage repayments.

Some things your lender will be looking at include how much you spend on:

  • Groceries
  • Private vehicle costs (such as petrol and car insurance)
  • Public transport costs
  • Utility bills
  • Recreational costs (such as entertainment and dining)

Breakdown of any debts

Finally, your lender will want to know about any other debts you might have and how they might affect your ability to pay off a mortgage. These might include:

  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Other home loans

Whether or not you’ve been a responsible borrower in the past will be a major factor in how much a bank will ultimately be prepared to lend you. So try to pay off as many lingering debts as you can and consider cancelling any credit cards you no longer use.

Frequently asked questions

What is pre-approval?

Pre-approval is a statement provided by your bank indicating how much they might be willing to lend you. While there’s no guarantee that you’ll be granted the loan you were pre-approved for, having a rough idea can help you narrow your search to properties that you can afford.

Will I need the same documents when I officially apply for a loan?

The good news is that many of the documents your lender will ask to see before they can grant pre-approval are the same as those you’ll need when you formally apply for a loan. So when the time comes to make an offer, you’ll have most of the paperwork ready.

Will getting pre-approval impact my credit score?

Whether or not pre-approval will affect your credit score will depend on how many applications you submit. Each application involves a credit check, and if too many are conducted over a short period of time it might give lenders the impression that your bids for credit are being rejected.

To keep this from happening, make sure you research potential lenders ahead of time and only apply for pre-approval with the one or two that seem to best suit you. And if your pre-approval is about to expire before you’ve found a home, consider extending it rather than re-applying.

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Niko Iliakis
Niko Iliakis
Money writer

Niko Iliakis is a finance journalist at Mozo specialising in home loans, property and interest rate movements. With an eye for facts and figures, Niko deep-dives into topics to help readers understand key info and make more informed financial decisions. He is ASIC RG146 (Tier 2) certified for general advice.