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How long is a mortgage offer valid for?

Shujath Hussain
Written by Shujath Hussain, Content editor

Edited by Cathy Hudson, Finance content writer, 21 December 2021

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 it is going to give you a mortgage to finance the purchase of a home. You will only get a mortgage offer as a result of filling out a mortgage application and fulfilling the lender's affordability criteria to prove that you are capable of paying the debt back in full and on time.

A mortgage lender will also need to carry out a valuation of the property you wish to buy so it can be sure that the money it’s lending to you is at least equal to the value of the property and in line with the price you’re paying.

What is a mortgage in principle (MIP)?

A mortgage agreement in principle, sometimes known as a decision in principle, is a more informal version of a mortgage offer. It is a way for a lender to show what it’s in principle or in theory willing to allow you to borrow.

An agreement in principle is useful for showing to a seller when making an offer, as it can show serious intent to buy and help move along the home buying process more quickly. Sellers may be cautious about getting tangled up in the nitty gritty of the home buying process if they think the buyer might have to back out as a result of not being able to get a mortgage for the amount they need.

How do I get a mortgage in principle?

First, compare mortgages using comparison sites or by speaking to a mortgage broker to see which are the best deals for you and which lender you might want to apply for a mortgage with. Make sure you factor in fees when comparing the cost of deals as they can make one with a lower interest rate more expensive overall than one with a higher rate.

You can usually apply for an agreement in principle online with your chosen lender. You’ll need to enter details including how much you want to borrow, your income and existing financial commitments and will get a decision straight away. Alternatively you can get one through a mortgage broker.

Once you have passed the agreement in principle stage, you will be given a document stating that you now have a mortgage in principle with the lender for the specified sum of money. This will give sellers and estate agents more confidence that you are serious about buying a home and are likely to be able to get a big enough mortgage, which could help speed up the process.

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

An agreement in principle does not guarantee you will get approved for a mortgage. You will only be asked for basic information such as your income and how much you want to borrow. You may need to provide a few months' payslips as well. The lender will then run a credit search to see if there are any issues that would prevent you from being approved for a mortgage.

The actual mortgage application will go into more detail, including by looking at your bank statements to understand more about your financial habits and how they may impact your ability to cover your monthly mortgage repayments.

How long does a mortgage in principle last?

An agreement in principle typically lasts between 60 to 90 days, which might give you enough time to have an offer accepted on a property. You can re-apply for a mortgage in principle if your current one has expired, but be careful not to do it too often as each credit search by a lender could appear on your report and too many searches could mark your credit score down.

How long does it take to get a mortgage?

If all goes according to plan, the best case scenario would usually give you a mortgage in about two weeks, but for many people it can take about a month or even longer. How long it takes to get a mortgage will depend on various factors, such as the lender's affordability criteria and assessment timelines as well as how straightforward your application is.

Getting an agreement in principle first can also help to speed this up as the lender will already have some of your information and will be able to process your full application quicker.

Ultimately, though, having all your information and paperwork ready and up to date is the best thing you can do to get a mortgage as quickly as possible. 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

Most mortgage offers last between three and six months. The expiry date on the offer will vary depending on the lender and whether you are getting a mortgage or a remortgage. For example, some lenders will begin the validity period from the date you put in an offer on the property, while others will set the timer from the date you put your application in.

Mortgage providers have different rules on their mortgage offer timelines, so it's worth finding out what those are at the decision in principle stage to see how quickly you would need to be able to finish the home buying process.

If you are buying a new build property off plan, you may need to ask the lender to extend its offer in line with the completion of the property's construction.

If you think there might be delays in activating the mortgage to complete the purchase and you want to get a fixed-rate deal, look for ones that run for a certain number of years rather than to a fixed end date. For example, some fixed-rate deals might simply say they last for two or five years, whereas others will have an expiry date roughly two or five years into the future. If there are delays on deals with fixed dates you wouldn’t get the maximum fixed-rate period.

What should I do if my mortgage offer expires?

If you’re not able to complete your purchase before your mortgage offer expires, which can happen if the new build you’re buying isn’t finished on time, ask your mortgage lender for an extension. It may need a few weeks’ notice to extend your mortgage offer so you should contact it as soon as you know that the completion date will be delayed.

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.

How to re-apply for a mortgage

If you do need to re-apply for a mortgage, don’t automatically go with the lender you had your mortgage offer with. Shop around to see whether you could get a better deal elsewhere. Your original deal may also not be available anymore.

Bear in mind that if your circumstances have changed – you have a lower income for example – you may find it harder to get a mortgage than before or not be able to borrow the same amount.

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