The pre-qualification goes a step beyond that to actually approve you from a credit perspective. My way of looking at the difference is you get pre-qualified to see what you want to do, and you get pre-approved to be in a position to actually do it.
There is nothing worse than loosing out on a home because you could not provide a strong pre-approval letter. Listing agents are starting to demand not only strong pre-approval letters that specifically mention what steps the lender has taken, but proof of funds and even Fannie Mae approval printouts!
This is an excellent program for eligible and qualified 1st time buyers (or buyers buying in the target areas) of the City of Sacramento and the unincorporated County of Sacramento.