It sounds like you’re actually getting a preapproval letter and not a simple prequalification letter.
Here’s the difference:
The prequal letter can be done relatively quickly – you could have this within the hour if the lender gets to it right away. It’s a cursory look at your numbers without an underwriter looking at all your financials. It’s not as reliable as a preapproval. For example, I had a listing a few months ago in which a buyer submitted a prequal letter from Bank of America. I spoke to the lender and he confirmed that the buyer could get the loan. But it turned out that when she eventually handed in all her financial documentation she was, in fact, not qualified for the loan. The initial prequal process involved the lender simply asking her a few questions. He took her at her word and provided her with the letter. The deal ended up falling through because she didn’t go through the preapproval process up front and she was poorly prequalified.
In order to get a preapproval letter, you need to submit all your information which is then sent through the underwriting system. This can definitely take a week. However, the difference is that the preapproval letter is stating that you are pre-approved for the loan. This letter holds more weight with sellers so it’s more valuable to you.
I would suggest that you call the lender and ask them explain to you exactly what their process is. Ask them to clarify if you will be getting a prequal or a preapproval. Ask them if your file is with an underwriter. If it’s with the underwriter, then try to hang in there a little longer.
By the way, if you’re not happy with the customer service you’re getting from your lender or you don’t feel like your lender has built a good rapport with you, you don’t have any obligation to work with them. You can always use the preapproval letter, and still get a loan from a different lender. You are free to shop rates. You should feel comfortable with the lender you are working with. Make sure they communicate well with you because this is crucial during a real estate transaction. Also, if you do decide to talk to another lender, I suggest you get a copy of your credit report from the first lender. They are supposed to send you a copy of it, but if for some reason you don’t receive it, just ask and they will send it to you. You can then give a copy of this credit report to other lenders so that they don’t need to pull your credit again. The credit bureaus are not supposed to penalize you for pulling your credit multiple times within a 30 day period (I believe) when you’re shopping lenders, but if you can avoid it altogether, I would.