How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?

Watch on wrist - mortgage application length

The average time a mortgage application takes is between 4-6 weeks. Buying a house can be a lengthy process, but the mortgage application is usually quick unless there are any major issues.

This article discusses the steps involved in the mortgage application process, as well as how to speed up the process and get the keys to your dream property faster.

Short for time? Here’s a quick video overview of the mortgage application process.

Mortgage Application Timeline

How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?

The time it takes to process a mortgage application can vary depending on a few different factors. Here is a handy infographic showing the 6 stages and continue reading for more a in-depth explanation.

infographic showing the mortgage application process timeline

1. Mortgage In Principle

To start the mortgage application, most people request a mortgage in principle. This is a written statement from a lender stating the amount they are willing to lend you.

This helps to determine the value of property you can get a mortgage for. It shows estate agents and sellers that you can afford to buy the house in question, giving you a potential advantage over other buyers. Submitting all the required documents at the start can also speed up the application process.

Obtaining a mortgage in principle is a quick process, as the lender will only run some basic checks at this stage. To get a mortgage in principle, you need to have certain documents. These include your passport, six months of bank statements, and proof of income. Once you have these papers, you can discuss the specifics with your mortgage broker.

A mortgage in principle doesn’t guarantee borrowing the stated amount. Poor credit history or mismatched income could lower the amount they are willing to lend.

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2. Apply For Mortgage

Evidence You Need to Provide

Filling in the application form should not take very long, but you need to make sure you have all the right documents. A mortgage broker can help you submit the required documents and complete the administrative tasks on your behalf. This can speed up the application process a lot.

The lender will often as for the following information and documents:

  • Details of the property you have put an offer forward for. This will include information regarding the seller’s estate agent and proof of your deposit.
  • Valid ID and proof of your current address (usually needs to be a utility bill dated in the last three months or similar).
  • Three months of bank statements.
  • Up to six months of payslips to prove your income, including any bonuses, overtime and additional financial benefits received from your employer. If you are self-employed, lenders will usually ask for your last 2 years of Tax Calculations & Tax Year Overview documents through HMRC.

Other Requirements:

Credit Check 

As part of the application, the lender will perform a comprehensive credit check. If you already have a mortgage in principle, the lender would have already done a credit check on your credit file.

If there are any credit details that the lender was not aware of, such as missed payments or other adverse credit, this could mean your mortgage application is declined. There are many types of mortgages available. If one lender rejects you, you can still get a different mortgage, but it may have higher interest rates.

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3. Property Valuation and Survey

Before a mortgage lender will approve a mortgage, a property valuation needs to be carried out. This is usually carried out by someone appointed by the lender and allows them to check that the property is valued at the amount you are borrowing. It helps them to protect themselves from losing any money. The buyer may be required to pay for the valuation or it could be included in the mortgage services.

For example, if they lend you £200,000 and the property is worth £180,000, there would be negative equity. If you defaulted on the mortgage, the lender would probably not be able to sell the property for the value they loaned to the borrower.

If the lender is happy with all of the documentation provided, they will go ahead and approve the mortgage. Depending on the details they receive, they could give less or more money than initially promised.

How Long Does a Valuation Take?

Generally, the valuation can be carried out quickly, between two days to a week, but it depends on the surveyor’s schedule. The valuation itself can be done in less than half an hour, depending on the size of the property.

The property survey, on the other hand, can take much longer and includes a thorough assessment of the property condition. However, this is completed after the mortgage application has been processed and approved.

4. Receive Mortgage Offer

Once the mortgage valuation has been completed, the mortgage offer will shortly follow. The time it takes depends on how fast the surveyor sends the valuation details to the lender. This could take just a few hours, but it could take them a few days if they have a busy schedule.

The mortgage applicant will receive the offer in around 2 to 20 days after the valuation is complete.

Once the mortgage application has been accepted, the solicitors have a lot of work to do. They will be required to review the draft contract and discuss any concerns they have with the sellers’ solicitors.

How Long Does a Mortgage Offer Last?

If there are any delays between receiving the mortgage offer and completing the property purchase, this could lead to the mortgage offer expiring. This is why it’s crucial that your solicitor is as efficient as possible. Typically a mortgage offers lasts for 6 months, but this can vary from one lender to the next.

5. Exchange Contracts

Before exchanging contracts, a large number of conveyancing searches will need to take place and this can take some time.

In some cases, the searches can all be completed in just a few weeks, but it can take much longer if there are any complications. Conveyancing searches include:

  • Local authority searches
  • Land registry searches
  • Environmental searches
  • Water authority searches
  • Chancel repair searches
  • Location specific searches.

If any problems are discovered in the searches, this can impact whether the property sale goes through or not.

The searches could reveal issues that identify the property may be difficult to sell at a later date. For example, if the area is at high risk of flooding or if the property is built in an area that was formerly used for mining.

Often, it is these conveyancing searches that tend to hold up the date of exchange. But an efficient solicitor will work with reliable third-party companies and keep chasing until they receive all of the searches back.

Once all of the searches have been completed and the buyer’s solicitor is happy with the results, they will inform the buyer and agree on a completion date with the seller.

6. Mortgage Completion

Once a completion date has been agreed, the solicitor will need to ensure that the financial arrangements are in place. The payment of the deposit needs to be made into the solicitor’s account, ready to transfer to the seller’s solicitor. This will then be transferred to the seller on the completion day.

The full process from mortgage offer to exchanging contracts will usually take up to two months.

After completion, there are still some tasks left like paying stamp duty and sending title deeds to the mortgage lender. Once this has been completed, the solicitor will send their final bill.

How a Broker Can Speed Up The Process

Using a mortgage broker can speed up every aspect of your mortgage application process. A key benefit is that they can help you find a mortgage that you are likely to be approved for. This will save a lot of time and avoid harming your credit rating. 

A mortgage broker can also speed up the administration work, as they ensure all the necessary documentation is ready as quickly as possible.

A mortgage broker will know the requirements for each lender and will be able to explain to the applicant which documents will be required, such as how many payslips, bank account statements etc.

Communication with the solicitor is also a lot more efficient with a mortgage broker. They can help chase outstanding conveyancing and even pre-empt any conveyancing issues, such as local area searches as they have worked with other applicants in the same area.

If you’re in need of a mortgage or looking to remortgage, we can help! Our experienced mortgage team offers impartial advice and will make sure the mortgage application process goes as smoothly as possible. Contact us today to discuss your mortgage needs.

Gerard BoonB.A. (Hons), CeMAP, CeRER

Gerard is a co-founder and partner of Boon Brokers. Having studied many areas of financial services at the University of Leeds, and following completion of his CeMAP and CeRER qualifications, Gerard has acquired a vast knowledge of the mortgage, insurance and equity release industry.