Usually a buyer will first get pre-qualified for a mortgage, then get pre-approved before searching for homes in their preferred area. So does one make you a stronger buyer than the other?

Absolutely: A pre-approval from a lender is A guarantee in writing to grant you a loan up to a specified amount.

A pre-qualification is an informal determination by a mortgage broker or lender stating how much mortgage you can afford.

When making an offer on a home, the seller will feel more confident in accepting or negotiating your offer to purchase on his/her home.