What is pre-approval? A pre-approval is the process that helps determine the amount you can borrow to purchase a home. This is a simple process in which your mortgage lender looks at your income, assets and credit scores and determines the different loans you could get approved for, the amount you could borrow and what your interest rate might be.
Now, without a pre-approval you won't really know what price range you should be looking into, SO to answer the question on WHEN should you get pre-approved, the answer is at the beginning of the process.
This is the first step that needs to be taken in the process of purchasing a home to avoid looking at houses out of your price range, wasting your time, and potentially missing out on your Dream Home. Why? When it is time to make an offer for a property, one of the documents that is needed is your pre-approval to be able to make your offer competitive. Not only that, once the pre-approval letter is done, you are saving time not just for yourself but for everyone involved in the transaction.