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How long is a mortgage offer valid for?

As the latest mortgage statistics show, the length of a mortgage offer will vary from lender to lender, but it’s usually valid for a period of three to six months.
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How long is a mortgage offer valid for?

The home buying process can take a long time with multiple unexpected delays, so knowing how long your mortgage offer is valid for will be useful for making the necessary plans to finalise the purchase of your home. 

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What is a mortgage offer?

A mortgage offer is an official confirmation from a lender that they will lend you the mortgage necessary to finance the purchase of a home. This will only be provided once you have completed a mortgage application and fulfilled the lender's affordability criteria, which typically includes income and credit checks.

Mortgage lenders also carry out a valuation of the property you plan to buy, to be sure that the mortgage loan is equal to the value of the property and that the price you’re paying is in line with the market average for its type.

What is a mortgage in principle (MIP)?

A mortgage in principle, often referred to as an agreement in principle or decision in principle, is a theoretical mortgage offer. It is intended to guide you in your search for a suitable property, as it outlines how much you can borrow from them, assuming you meet their criteria when you go through the full application process.

As this is not an actual mortgage offer, it should be used as a guide to the type of deal you should be able to obtain when you commit to a full application, however, it’s important to understand that the size of the loan, the interest rate, and the term features are all subject to change.  

An agreement in principle is also incredibly useful when it comes to making an offer on your chosen property. It shows the seller that you have serious intent to buy and can help move the home buying process along more quickly. 

In fact, estate agents have become increasingly reluctant to show properties to prospective buyers that don’t have a mortgage in principle in place, so this can be a key tool in your hunt for the perfect home. 

How do I get a mortgage in principle?

It’s a good idea to compare mortgages using comparison sites or by speaking to a mortgage broker rather than rushing into the first deal you find. There are thousands of mortgage deals available on the market, and the best deal for you may be a mortgage type that you hadn’t considered. Make sure you factor in any arrangement fees when comparing the cost of deals, as those with the lowest interest rates often have high arrangement fees, which could make them more expensive overall.

You can usually apply for an agreement in principle online with a mortgage broker or your chosen lender. A mortgage broker will be able to compare more deals for you, but ensure that they don’t charge for setting up your mortgage in principle, as some will. You’ll need to enter how much you want to borrow, your income and any existing financial commitments into the form and you should get a decision (in principle) straight away. Remember, this is not a mortgage offer!

Once you have the agreement in principle, you will be given a document stating that you have a mortgage in principle with that lender for the specified sum of money. You are not tied into this lender at this stage, however, and until you go through the full application process, you will still be able to change your mind, should a better deal come along.

Does a mortgage in principle guarantee that I’ll be offered a mortgage?

An agreement in principle does not guarantee you will be approved for a mortgage as you will only have provided basic information in order to get it. 

The actual mortgage application process will include full assessment of your proof of income and outgoings, a credit search, and a detailed look at your bank statements to understand your complete financial circumstances and ability to cover the monthly repayments.

How long does a mortgage in principle last?

A mortgage agreement in principle typically lasts between 60 and 90 days, which typically allows enough time to find and have an offer accepted on a property. 

If you don’t manage to find a home or get an offer accepted in that period, however, you can re-apply for a mortgage in principle if your current one expires.

It’s a good idea to ask whether the lender will search your credit file, as multiple credit searches in a short duration won’t help your credit score. Not all lenders carry out a credit check at the agreement in principle stage, and a broker should be able to direct you to those lenders who don’t. 

How long does it take to get a mortgage?

How long it takes to get a mortgage offer will depend on various factors, such as the lender's affordability criteria and assessment timelines as well as how straightforward your application is. The average time you should expect to wait is around two to six weeks from putting in your application until you have an official offer. 

Once you have the all important offer, there is no real average length of time to complete a mortgage, as each application is entirely unique. There are many factors that contribute to the processing of your home purchase, and many of them will be out of your control, for example, if you’re in a chain. 

Ultimately, to minimise impact from the factors that are within your control, preparing well in advance of your mortgage application gives you the best chance of a smoother and quicker transaction. Our guide to applying for a mortgage will help you in your preparation. 

Can I get a mortgage offer before I’ve chosen a property?

It’s not possible to get a formal mortgage offer before you’ve chosen a property, as the lender’s mortgage approval will include evaluating the property, as well as your own personal circumstances. 

They will need to be sure that the property chosen is a suitable investment, and that you are not paying more than the property is worth. Some lenders also shy away from certain types of property, so you’ll need to have information about the construction type and location before you finalise the lender that’s right for you.

How long does a mortgage offer last?

As the latest mortgage statistics show, the length of a mortgage offer will vary from lender to lender, but most are valid for a period of three to six months. 

Some lenders start the validity period from the date you put in an offer on the property, some from the date of your mortgage application, and others will specify an actual date by which you must have completed, so it’s important to be clear on the validity rules before signing the offer.

Ask the mortgage provider at the decision in principle stage to see how quickly you would need to finish the home buying process for your offer to remain valid. If you are buying a new build property off plan, you may need to ask them to extend the offer period in line with the property's construction completion date.

Can I extend my mortgage offer?

It’s possible to ask the mortgage lender for an extension of your existing offer, although this won’t always be possible, especially if the offer has already expired. 

If you anticipate that you will need an offer extension, it’s best to notify the lender as soon as possible, as they often require a few weeks’ notice to extend your mortgage offer. 

A typical extension, where possible, would be for around an additional month, although some lenders will be more flexible, especially if the delays are outside of your control.

What should I do if my mortgage offer expires and can’t be extended?

In the event that your mortgage lender refuses you an extension, you’ll need to reapply for a mortgage and go through the same process and checks all over again. You may also have to pay for a new valuation and other fees.

This is why a mortgage broker can be helpful to have on board, as they will be able to keep you updated on the progress of your purchase at every stage, and give you a heads up, should there be any delays that require you to apply for an offer extension. 

Can a mortgage offer be withdrawn?

There are certain circumstances whereby a mortgage offer may be withdrawn after you’ve signed. This is rare, but may be possible if:

  • Your finances drastically change - for example, if you lose your job or become too ill to work

  • The property drops in value due to changes in the market

How to re-apply for a mortgage

First of all, it’s important to realise that in the current turbulent mortgage market, your original deal may not be available anymore. It’s therefore a good idea to begin the entire process again to ensure you’re still able to get a mortgage with competitive interest rates and terms that suit your needs. 

Bear in mind that if your circumstances have changed since your original application, especially if you have a lower income, for example, you may find it harder to meet the affordability criteria for the size of loan that you need.

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