There is a difference in being pre-approved and pre-qualified. The best of the two is pre-approved.
A pre-qualified approval is basically a loan officer taking a limited amount of information from a client, inputting this information into the computer to see if the ratios would be that would be approved by a lender. No lender is selected for this pre-qualification.
Depending on what part of the country you are in this is what is expected, recognized and is normal in order to obtain the services of a real estate agent. You would normally be issued a pre-qualification letter to show to your real estate agent. It would be submitted with any offer you would make to a seller.
A pre-approval is when a loan officer collect all the necessary documents to get a full approval for a mortgage loan. the documents would be w-2 forms and taxes for 2 years, bank statements and 401K statements, pay stubs, and would obtain a credit report.
He/she would submit the documents to a mortgage underwriter. Based on the information submitted by you the underwriter would approve your mortgage loan, pending you buying a house within the amount of your pre-approval.
Your pre-approval would indicate the interest rate, loan amount based on your income and debts you are required to pay on your credit report.
Once you have your pre-approval there would be conditions that must be accomplished in order for the complete and final approval. You would need an appraisal, and perhaps additional pay stubs or bank statements as this information would be considered old after 30 days.
Even though a pre-approval is the desired document in searching for a house, a pre-qual is an acceptable document in certain parts of the country where a pre-approval is not done. In California, at one time, you were able to get a pre-approval. In Mississippi you are only able to get a pre-qual. Lenders do not issue pre-aprovals.
I think you might be ok as in Florida it might be acceptable to obtain a pre-qual as oppose to a pre-approval. Speak with your real estate agent to find out the acceptable document issued in Florida.
I hope this has been of some benefit to you, good luck.