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How long does it take to get a mortgage?

There is no definitive mortgage application timeline that guarantees how long it will take for a mortgage to be approved. Each step throughout the mortgage application process can range from taking a few minutes to hours or even several days.

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The time it takes to get a mortgage will depend on a number of factors:

  • Having a good credit rating

  • Having a reliable and steady income

  • The outcome of the mortgage valuation survey

  • If you are buying a home from someone who is waiting to move into their new home first

However, you can roughly split the mortgage application process into two phases. The quicker you get the first part done, the quicker you might be able to get the second part completed.

How long does a mortgage application take?

The first step in the mortgage application timeline – getting a mortgage agreement in principle – should be the easier part, but it all depends on a few things which are explained below but which generally rely on your circumstances. Depending on how organised you are and how quickly you want the process to move, you may be able to apply for an agreement in principle straight away.

The second step – the full underwritten application leading to a mortgage offer – is more complicated as the length of time and outcome can also depend on outside factors that you might have no control over.

If you are remortgaging, often you can speed up the mortgage application timeline significantly in comparison to the standard mortgage offer process.  

How long does it take to get a mortgage agreement in principle?

A mortgage in principle (sometimes known as an agreement in principle or a decision in principle) is an agreement with the mortgage provider that, based on your income and credit rating, they would be happy to lend you a certain amount of money to purchase a property.

The amount of money they agree to offer you will depend on your income and your credit score. The agreement in principle is exactly that because it is not a guarantee.

The second part of the mortgage process can be fraught with complications that could make the lender adjust the initial agreement, or even render it void.

As a result, the agreement in principle is often the quickest part of the mortgage application process. If you have all the right documents ready and have picked out the deal that you want then it can take only 15 minutes to reach an agreement.

In some cases it can take a few hours for the mortgage lender to fully review the paperwork, and sometimes it can take a few days if there are further issues.

What you usually need for a mortgage in principle:

  • 3-6 months' of bank statements

  • proof of your income

  • passport

If you are seeking a mortgage from your current account provider, they might be able to give you a mortgage in principle much easier, as they will already have nearly all of your necessary information on file.

However, that should not be the main reason you decide to take out a mortgage with that provider – always compare the mortgage market first.

If you have a good credit rating then you are likely to get a mortgage in principle within a few minutes. If you have a negative mark on your credit file or a generally poor score, then you could be rejected, or it could take a few more days and further requests for information for the lender to feel satisfied about your application.

Although the lender will want to assess more of your information and documents to fully approve the mortgage, the agreement in principle is usually a solid indicator that you will be able to get the full underwritten application sorted out and complete the home buying process.

Completing the mortgage application

After you have received an agreement in principle, you can begin the second part of the mortgage application.

When putting in an offer to buy a property, you will usually show the seller proof of your mortgage in principle as evidence that you should be able to complete the process.

However, once the offer is accepted, there is usually a long process to carry out the purchase and finally be able to move in.

How long does it take for a mortgage to be approved?

Getting the mortgage itself is not usually the longest part of the final part, but there are external factors that could delay you being able to confirm and offer the borrowed cash to the seller.

Usually, the mortgage lender will need further assurance that you will be able to repay the mortgage. The financial regulations put in place on the mortgage market after the Great Recession have generally made it harder to get approval on an application.

The regulations have included stress tests and more stringent checks on everyday spending. This is to ensure that the applicant's lifestyle and financial situation can still repay the mortgage in spite of potentially trying difficulties, such as an interest rate rise, unexpected unemployment or illness.

Once this process has been completed – it can sometimes only take a few hours – then you should be allowed to proceed with the legal and surveying obligations.

However, the mortgage provider will demand that you have a mortgage valuation survey carried out on the property first. This is not the same as a property survey. The valuation process typically takes around two weeks, but this can vary depending on circumstances.

The mortgage valuation survey will usually be carried out by an independent surveyor appointed by the mortgage provider and they will check out the property and study the housing market to ensure that the asking price of the home is equivalent to what you are trying to borrow.

The purpose of the survey is that the bank or mortgage provider wants to make sure that they are getting a good deal on the money they are lending you. If they deem the property to be worth less than what you are asking to borrow for a mortgage, then they could deny your application or ask you to pay a higher deposit to secure more cash.

How long does it take to get a mortgage offer after valuation?

After the survey has been completed, if the lender is willing to make you a mortgage offer then you’ll receive an official mortgage offer and you can proceed with the purchase.

The final stage of the timeline is that you may then need to wait on the seller to finish their home buying process. This can hold up the entire process as the seller could be unwilling to sell until they have found a place and can finally move out.

Can you speed up the mortgage application timeline?

You can speed up the mortgage process by using a mortgage broker, as often they will complete a lot of the paperwork and administration that comes with the process. They can also find the best deals available for your circumstances, rather than having to do all of the research yourself. 

To ensure the process moves as quickly and efficiently as possible, it is also advisable to have all of the relevant paperwork to hand, including valid ID documents, a minimum of the latest three months of bank statements and payslips to prove your stable income, including proof of any bonuses or overtime payments if applicable. 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

Typically, a standard mortgage offer will be valid for six months and a remortgage offer will be valid for three months. Standard mortgage offers are valid for a longer period of time to factor in the length of the process from start to finish. 

Rather than a validity period, some lenders instead apply a completion deadline. This means that once the deadline has passed, you may be required to update or refresh your circumstances. At this stage, the lender may amend your offer and alter the amount you are able to borrow depending on any change in your circumstances.

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