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How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?

Written by Reviewed by Emma Lunn

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 2nd Jul 2020) 7 minute read

The average time for a mortgage application to be processed is between 18 to 40 days.

There are dozens of different lenders, hundreds of mortgage products and different circumstances for each home buyer, so there is no exact time for how long your mortgage will take from application to acceptance.

However, the more organised you are, and the quicker you can get paperwork and payments done on your end, the quicker the overall application will be. In this guide, Compare My Move takes you through the mortgage application process step-by-step so that you’re prepared when the time comes for you to begin the house buying process

This article will cover the following:
  1. How Does the Mortgage Application Process Work
  2. How Long Does It Take to Get An Agreement in Principle?
  3. How Long Does it Take to Get a Mortgage Offer?
  4. How To Speed Up Your Mortgage Application
  5. How Long Is a Mortgage Offer Valid For?
  6. Save on Your Home Purchase with Compare My Move

How Does the Mortgage Application Process Work

Before you start looking for a property to buy and applying for a mortgage, you’ll need to know how the process works. 

Work out your budget - Before looking at houses and starting the mortgage application you’ll need to work out your budget. This will depend on how much you are comfortable spending, how much you can afford to pay in mortgage payments each month, and how much you’ll be able to borrow as a mortgage. 

Find a mortgage broker - You can apply for a mortgage with a bank, building society or through a mortgage broker. There are a number of advantages to hiring a mortgage broker. With thousands of mortgage products on the market at any point in time, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. An independent broker or adviser can save you time and money by searching the whole market, or a large section of the market, for the best mortgage for your circumstances

Get a mortgage agreement in principle - A mortgage agreement in principle is a quick and easy way to find out how much a particular lender might lend you to buy a property. You can approach a mortgage lender directly for an agreement in principle. You can apply for a mortgage in principle with a bank, building society or through a mortgage broker.

Complete a mortgage application - You’ll need to provide details of your income and outgoings for your mortgage application. The lender will use the information you provide to carry out an affordability assessment – this will help it decide if you can afford your mortgage both now and in the future. 

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How Long Does It Take to Get An Agreement in Principle?

An Agreement in Principle (AIP) can be obtained on the same day you apply for it, providing it is successful. During your first meeting with your chosen mortgage lender, they can provide you with an AIP, giving you an idea of how much you can borrow. 

An agreement in principle will also indicate to sellers and estate agents that you are serious about purchasing a property.

The AIP will take into account your finances - including income and outgoings - and your credit score and will give you an idea of what price range you can look at. 

At this time, the lender will also want details of your employment, such as how long you've been at your current role and evidence of payslips. They may require further information on your employment if you are not working 'regular' hours and terms, such as those looking to get a mortgage on a zero-hour contract

Banks such as Halifax will be able to provide an AIP with no charge and no obligation to apply for a mortgage with them. According to their website, this takes just 15 minutes. Barclays will allow you to apply for an AIP online, without affecting your credit score and again, without obligation to choose them as your mortgage lender. 

A mortgage agreement in principle is not a formal mortgage offer and does not guarantee a mortgage. The lender has no obligation to honour an agreement in principle. Once you have the agreement, you will usually have six months to apply for a mortgage.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Mortgage Offer?

Obtaining the official mortgage offer is the longest part of the process, with the lender having to complete a number of checks and searches on both the buyer and the property. 

Below we detail the key stages of the process - from reviewing your credit score to the house valuation. 

Reviewing Your Credit Score

Your credit score can be affected by a number of factors, some of which may come as a surprise to you, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. 

The amount you have moved in recent years can lower your credit score, whilst being on the electoral register can boost your score.

Having a credit card which is used responsibly and paid off in full on a regular basis can also contribute to a positive credit score, showing that you can and will pay back what you owe and that you handle money responsibly. This will set you in good stead for achieving the credit score you need for a mortgage

Furthermore, large amounts of debt or a payday loan taken out in the last few years will count against you when applying for a mortgage.

The Underwriting Process

The underwriting process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete. Upon receiving your application, your chosen mortgage lender‘s underwriting team will review your income, financial commitments, outgoings and how much deposit you’re putting down. 

This is Money found that there are almost ten times more mortgage products available to borrowers who have a 10% deposit as opposed to a 5% deposit. This can increase your chances of getting approved quicker, with many lenders preferring to over 90% mortgages. 

Financial commitments and outgoings will be considered as a marker for how much you spend on average. This gives the lender an indication, alongside your income, of your relationship with money and whether you will be comfortable able to make your mortgage repayments.

The more information you can provide upfront, the quicker the process will be. 

Valuation

The property valuation is a key part of the application process and many mortgage lenders will require a valuation to be conducted on the house. This will reassure the lender that the house is worth the purchase price and ultimately, the amount they are lending. 

The valuation will be carried out by the lender, and although some may offer it free of charge, the average cost stands at £300-£400. As a result of the valuation, they may need further assurance of the value and condition of the property, such as damp survey if signs of damp are found. 

Issues like this can delay the process whilst you source a specialist to carry out an independent survey and return it to the lender for approval. 

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How To Speed Up Your Mortgage Application

As mentioned above, being as prepared as possible and providing as much information as possible, such as bank statements and wage slips, will help speed up the mortgage application process.

To prepare for a mortgage interview with your lender, it would be worth checking your credit score on a site like Experian.

Reviewing your credit score beforehand allows you to see where you stand and how you can improve your score prior to your official application. As we’ve mentioned, it could be something as simple as being on the electoral register. 

Some homebuyers will opt to use a mortgage broker for their mortgage application, which can sometimes speed up the process. However, your own bank will already have an idea of your financial history, which can also save time. 

How Long Is a Mortgage Offer Valid For?

Most mortgage offers are normally valid for 6 months, to account how long it takes to buy a house - from offer to completion. The purchase must be completed during the time the mortgage offer is valid.

In the event your offer expires, most bank and building societies will let you renew your offer, understanding that a property purchase can often be lengthy and complex. However, it’s strongly advised that you reapply swiftly as there is no legal obligation to extend the term of the offer. 

Save on Your Home Purchase with Compare My Move

Compare My Move will help you at every stage of your house purchase. From comparing conveyancers, hiring a chartered surveyor and helping you find a removal company, we’ll be there for you. Compare your move with us and save up to 70% on the costs.

Adele MacGregor

Having written for PerformanceIN, WalesOnline, Grazia Magazine and The Olive Press, Adele now writes advice articles for home movers, first-time buyers and house sellers alike.

Emma Lunn

Reviewed by Emma Lunn

Freelance Personal Finance Journalist,

Emma Lunn is an award-winning journalist who specialises in personal finance, consumer issues and property.