Your Essential Timeline: How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take Today?

by Kate Stratton

Last Updated 28th September 2023

6 Minute Read

Applying for a mortgage and wondering “How long does a mortgage application take?”. This timeframe can fluctuate due to factors like your financial situation, the lender’s efficiency, and the complexity of the underwriting process.

In this article

In this article, we’ll guide you through the stages of the mortgage application and what can affect the timeline, so you know exactly what to expect.

Key Takeaways

  • The mortgage application process typically takes 2 to 6 weeks, involving steps like obtaining a mortgage agreement, a full application, underwriter review, and ultimately receiving the mortgage offer.
  • Several key factors affecting approval time include the applicant’s credit rating, the property’s valuation, financial status, and the lender’s efficiency, with external factors like property chains and market demand also playing a role.
  • Using a mortgage broker can streamline the mortgage application, offering tailored advice and facilitating communication between all parties, while organising financial documentation and being proactive with agents can expedite the process.

Understanding the Mortgage Application Timeline

The mortgage application process can seem daunting, but with proper knowledge, you can navigate it smoothly. The mortgage application timeline is typically broken down into stages, each with its own duration and requirements. These stages include:

  1. Obtaining a mortgage agreement in principle
  2. Submitting a full mortgage application
  3. Underwriter review
  4. Reaching the mortgage offer

Submitting a full mortgage application, if all documents are prepared, can be done within a day. After this, the mortgage offer typically follows within 17 to 25 days. However, this timeline can vary depending on the evaluation and approval process. In some cases, the process can be expedited to as fast as 24 hours.

Starting With a Mortgage Agreement in Principle

Securing a mortgage agreement in principle is a key initial step in the mortgage application process for those serious about home buying. This document is an indication of your creditworthiness and provides an estimate of how much you can borrow based on your income and credit score. It essentially gives you an edge in the property market, showing sellers and estate agents that you mean business.

You can usually get a mortgage agreement in principle instantly or within 24 hours. To obtain it, you’ll need to provide a form of identification and financial documents, such as 3-6 months of bank statements and proof of income. One common question is how reliable is a mortgage in principle or more specifically, how long does a mortgage agreement in principle last. Its validity typically lasts between 30 to 90 days, depending on the lender.

Mortgage Application Documents

The Full Mortgage Application Submission

After securing your mortgage agreement in principle, you’re ready to move forward to the submission of a full mortgage application. This step requires a thorough collection of your information and documentation to establish your eligibility and repayment capability. Standard documents include:

  • Bank statements
  • Tax calculations
  • Proof of identity
  • Other necessary documents

Lenders might also request additional documents, such as details of other loans, insurance policies, and information about the property seller or estate agent. It’s essential to have all these documents ready to prevent any delays in the mortgage application process.

Awaiting the Mortgage Lender’s Underwriter Review

Once your full mortgage application has been submitted to the same lender, patience becomes key as you await their review. Your application will go through the lender’s underwriting process, where underwriters examine the risk you and the property pose. They focus on:

  • Your income
  • Your debts
  • Your age
  • Your credit history
  • Your personal circumstances

They also perform fraud checks and a stress test, as recommended by the Financial Conduct Authority, to evaluate if you can handle increased mortgage rates.

Underwriters also evaluate the property valuation report to confirm the property’s worth and to check for any legal encumbrances (claims on the property) or structural issues that might impact the mortgage approval. Proactive communication on your part can facilitate the continuity of the mortgage application process. And remember, once you receive your mortgage offer, you must complete the transaction within its validity period to avoid any complications.

Key Factors Influencing Your Mortgage Approval Time

While quick mortgage approval may be appealing, it’s important to remember that getting your mortgage approved is influenced by a range of factors. These include:

  • Your credit rating
  • The property’s valuation
  • Your financial situation
  • The efficiency of the lender’s process

Applicants are legally required to inform the lender of any changes in their employment, income status, or property purchase price that could affect the mortgage offer. Any significant change in your financial information after pre-approval can lead to the denial of the mortgage. Also, remember that the mortgage underwriting process can take from a couple of working days to weeks, depending on the case’s complexity and other factors such as internal staffing policies and loan application volume.

Credit Rating and History Checks

In the mortgage approval process, your credit rating and history are of huge importance. Lenders use credit reports to evaluate how reliable you’ve been with repaying past debts and predict your future financial behaviour. Having a strong credit score can lead to a more straightforward approval, as lenders view these applicants as lower-risk borrowers.

However, note that having no credit history or too much credit card debt can affect your mortgage application. It’s possible to obtain a mortgage with no credit history, but it may lead to less competitive interest rates and unfavourable mortgage types. On the other hand, while credit card debt itself does not prevent mortgage approval, the amount of debt and your repayment history are critical factors.

Dog on Bed of Nice Home with High Valuation

Property Valuation and Survey Insights

The valuation and survey results of the property also significantly affect your mortgage approval. A mortgage valuation, also known as a mortgage valuation survey, is conducted to ensure the property provides adequate security for the loan and the asking price is correct. Any significant issues or deficiencies are assessed during this process.

The valuation process for a mortgage involves the following steps:

  1. A surveyor performs the valuation and submits the report to the lender within a fortnight.
  2. The valuation results are compared to the sale price.
  3. If the valuation aligns with the sale price, it is a positive step toward approval.
  4. However, if the valuation is lower than the sale price, it may affect the mortgage offer and loan amount.
  5. In such cases, you may need to renegotiate the price or face a declined mortgage application.

From Mortgage Offer to Exchange of Contracts

Receipt of your formal mortgage offer paves the way for the exchange of contracts. But before you do that, both you and your solicitor need to review the mortgage offer carefully. Make sure you understand all aspects of the offer, such as:

  • Early repayment charges
  • Loan fees
  • Monthly repayments
  • Interest rate
  • Mortgage term

After reviewing and accepting the mortgage offer, your solicitor will coordinate with the seller to set an exchange of contracts date, outlining the terms of the purchase. This exchange signals readiness to proceed and usually occurs within a week or so after the issuance of the mortgage offer. However, this can vary based on individual circumstances.

Finalising the Legal Work

Finalising the legal work involves local authority searches and the conveyancing process, which typically takes around one month on average. Local authority searches are a necessary part of the conveyancing process and can take approximately 4 weeks depending on the local authority and housing market activity.

Once an offer on a property is accepted, the conveyancer prepares for the exchange contracts, which legally binds the buyer and seller, ensuring that all terms are met. Leveraging the expiration of a mortgage offer is an effective strategy, as solicitors must complete the transaction before it expires, driving them to work efficiently with a ‘no sale no fee’ guarantee.

Setting the Completion Date

Setting the completion date is a critical step in the mortgage application process. This date is agreed upon once the buyer’s solicitor approves the property title and sale terms, and when all necessary funds are ready. These funds include:

  • Mortgage offer
  • Deposit
  • Legal fees
  • Stamp duty

On the completion date, the seller vacates the property, the buyer completes payment, and possession is transferred along with the keys to the new owner. Completion typically occurs within one to two weeks after accepting the mortgage offer, but this can be subject to change based on various influences.

There’s usually a one-week gap between the exchange of contracts and the completion date to allow for necessary moving arrangements and utility transfers.

How Mortgage Brokers Can Streamline the Process

The mortgage application process can seem a daunting task. This is where mortgage brokers, acting as a liaison between you and the mortgage lender, come in. They can expedite the approval process by efficiently managing documentation and addressing queries promptly. They shop around to ensure you get the best mortgage rate, simplifying the mortgage application process over directly approaching banks.

Dedicated Mortgage Broker

The Role of a Mortgage Broker in Coordination

Acting as a vital link between borrowers and lenders, mortgage brokers:

  • Facilitate efficient communication and smooth information exchange.
  • Provide valuable advice to applicants on suitable lenders.
  • Maintain constant communication to nudge the lender, thus speeding up the mortgage application process.

Apart from providing advice, brokers also:

  • Oversee the organisation and timely completion of necessary documentation for the mortgage application.
  • Take a proactive approach to minimise errors and prevent delays.
  • Ensure a smooth sailing mortgage application process.

Advantages of Mortgage Advice from Experts

Expert mortgage advice, especially for first-time home buyers, can prove invaluable. Mortgage brokers can:

  • Assess individual financial situations.
  • Help borrowers navigate through various mortgage options.
  • Provide tailored solutions to meet specific needs.

Expert mortgage advisors guide clients throughout the entire mortgage process, leveraging their established relationships with lenders and up-to-date knowledge of market criteria and policy changes.

Preparing for Success: Tips to Speed Up Your Mortgage Application

Despite the inherently lengthy nature of the mortgage application process, employing certain strategies can expedite it. As mentioned, one of the key strategies is using a mortgage broker to streamline the process by efficiently managing documentation and addressing queries promptly. But that’s not all.

Organising your financial documentation in advance is another way to speed up the process. Here are some necessary documents to gather and keep in a folder for easy access:

  • ID
  • Bank statements
  • Payslips
  • Utility bills

This can help streamline the process when needed for various purposes. Being honest about any financial issues on the mortgage application can also increase the chances of approval and avoid delays.

Organising Your Financial Documentation

Lenders typically request the last three to six months’ bank statements and recent payslips, as well as additional documents for self-employed individuals or other income sources such as benefits or maintenance payments. Applicants must also provide proof of identity and address. This can be a current passport or driving license photo card, and you may also need to supply evidence of legal residency if you are not a UK national.

Additional verification documents may be required, such as evidence of the deposit source, which is necessary if the deposit is a gift and might need a lender’s gift form or bank statements from the giver. It’s critical to ensure all submitted documentation is complete, with no missing signatures, and online submissions should be clear and legible with all relevant details visible.

Organising Mortgage Documents

Staying Proactive with Estate Agents and Solicitors

Frequent communication with your solicitor (like weekly updates) keeps the conveyancing process moving forward. Setting clear deadlines with your solicitor for each stage of the conveyancing process can provide structure and help avoid unnecessary delays.

Leverage your estate agent’s financial incentive in the transaction’s completion. They can:

  • Liaise with both parties’ solicitors
  • Apply pressure on your solicitor to expedite the process
  • If there are delays on the other party’s end, don’t hesitate to contact them directly. They can then put pressure on their solicitor to speed up the process.

The Impact of External Factors on Your Mortgage Timeline

Your mortgage timeline can also be significantly influenced by external factors. For instance, finding an unoccupied property can shorten the property chain, potentially speeding up the mortgage application process. Lower interest rates can lead to increased housing demand, which may contribute to expediting the mortgage timelines as buying becomes more affordable.

The efficiency of the seller’s estate agent and the seller’s actions can also create delays and affect the overall mortgage timeline. For instance, if the seller increases the price after an offer has been made, it can lead to complications and delays.


Understanding the timeline of the mortgage application process can seem daunting, but with the right information and guidance, it doesn’t have to be. From obtaining a mortgage agreement in principle to exchanging contracts, every stage of the process has its own duration and requirements. Various factors can influence your mortgage approval time, including your credit rating, property valuation, and even the efficiency of your lender’s process.

However, with the help of a mortgage broker, you can streamline the process, making your journey towards homeownership smoother and less stressful. So, equip yourself with the right knowledge, stay organised and proactive, and you’ll be on your way to owning your dream home.

Want some help along the way? Get in touch or book in a call to see what we can do for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

It usually takes two to six weeks to get a mortgage approved, but the process can be accelerated by working with a mortgage broker who can find the best deals for you. Keep in mind that a mortgage offer is usually valid for 6 months.

Why is my mortgage application taking so long?

Mortgage applications can take a while due to the numerous steps and checks involved. Delays may also occur if necessary documents are pending or if the lender is experiencing a high volume of applications.

What is a mortgage agreement in principle, and how long does it take to obtain one?

A mortgage agreement in principle gives you an idea of how much you can borrow based on your income and credit score. You can usually obtain one instantly or within 24 hours.

What documents are needed for a mortgage application?

You will typically need bank statements, tax documents, proof of identity, and other standard documents for a mortgage application. Additional documents may be requested based on your specific financial circumstances.

How can a mortgage broker help me in the mortgage application process?

A mortgage broker can help you by managing documentation, addressing queries promptly, and negotiating with lenders for more favourable loan terms, streamlining the application process for you.

Mortgage Advisor Peterborough

Instant book a Quick Mortgage Chat...

Got a question for us? Instantly book a quick mortgage chat so we can learn more about your needs and any questions you may have.