Knowing if you are pre-approved should be the first step in your house hunting process. Whether you have been given a "Pre-Qualification" or a "Pre-Approval" is important to know. One sets you up for success and the other potential disappointment.
Mortgage penalties are one of the most important terms of your mortgage. The conversation about penalties should happen when you are choosing a lender not when the penalty is having to be paid. Not knowing could cost you thousands of dollars.