How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?
For most people in the UK, a mortgage is the most appropriate way to secure the funds to buy a property. It’s the most common property loan, typically repaid in monthly payments over 20 – 30 years.
If you’re looking to buy a property, it’s likely that a mortgage will be your first point of contact.
Unlike with some types of personal loans or a bridging loan, the mortgage application process can be lengthy.
In most cases, a mortgage will involve borrowing hundreds of thousands of pounds, and because this is repaid over such a significant amount of time, a mortgage application requires a thorough exploration of your finances and credit score.
Depending on whether you’re applying for a residential or buy to let mortgage, lenders will analyse either your income and employment or the value of the property you are buying and how much rent you can feasibly charge a tenant.
Mortgage applications also require extensive verification of your identity for security purposes. With this in mind, there are a range of factors that could affect the length of your application process.
In this detailed exploration, we delve into the intricacies of mortgage application timelines.
From the initial steps to the final decision, understanding the factors that contribute to the duration of the process can help you chart your course confidently.
How long does a mortgage application take?
A typical mortgage application takes between 4 - 12 weeks, depending on the process of your lender, the complexity of your mortgage, and the accuracy and completeness of your paperwork.
This is subject to variance, both in your actual mortgage application, and in the negotiations around it.
A multitude of factors could impact the mortgage application timeline as you move from one step in the process to the next in your mortgage application.
It’s a back and forth between yourself, your lender, and any other parties involved, such as surveyors, solicitors, or underwriters which each introduce major dimensions for delays.
Can I Get a Mortgage Quickly?
If everything goes well, and you’re completely prepared, a standard mortgage application can be completed quickly.
These times can be even shorter if you’re working with a mortgage broker, which can make the process smoother, faster, and more reliable.
What Affects Mortgage Timings?
Timelines for mortgages can vary greatly depending on a few major factors that you need to keep in mind.
Some are within your control, such as:
The completeness of your application
Making sure you have prepared all your documentation in advance
Making sure the documents you have provided are accurate
Your communication with your lender or broker
In most cases, these factors are within your control, and for many mortgages cases, beginning your application with a clear idea of what is needed from you and all of your paperwork pre-prepared is likely going to save you a lot of time.
Putting time into these rationally minimises the time you’re going to spend waiting for your mortgage to clear.
Unexpected Changes and Delays
On the other hand, there are some aspects of the mortgaging process that you don’t have control of which contribute.
Keep an eye on this:
Each lender’s processes for calculating offerings and approving/rejecting applications
More complicated mortgage types such as expat, poor credit and complex income mortgages can have additional processes which may increase the application time
Communication on the side of your lender or broker
These are more variable and you can’t change them. This is the kind of change that can lead any given part of the mortgaging process to become drawn out.
They can be hard to deal with and the best thing you can do is produce a buffer of good choices on what you can control.
Of course, a big part of understanding the variability of mortgages is about managing your expectations.
Step one (optional): Work with a broker
Working with a broker can save you time and help ensure you have a reliable and efficient mortgage application process.
They remove many of the slower steps, such as researching lenders, and can complete your application on your behalf, presenting it in the best possible light for that specific lender.
A good broker can help buffer some of the time-sinks you may fall into when applying for a mortgage.
They’re able to help you navigate the paperwork, stay up to date with your application, and scout out problems throughout the process.
We work with a range of experienced brokers who can advise you on your options going forward. Give us a call at 0117 403 4474 to see what we can do for you.
Step Two: Compare Deals
Exploring your options can be overwhelming, so it can be helpful to use a mortgage comparison site.
That’s why Fair Mortgages exists - we organise a variety of mortgage deals from across the market in clear, easy-to-navigate terms.
Comparing deals can absorb a significant amount of time if you’re not familiar with the market.
Researching mortgages, lenders and the differing eligibility criteria that comes with each product is a crucial part of the process, and there’s a lot of bases to cover if you’d like to do it effectively.
This can add time to an already lengthy process – depending on how much free time you have in the day to spend on it. After work, family commitments, admin, travel, and all the other fun stuff.
Step three: contact a lender
Once you’ve found a product you like the look of, you can reach out to the lender.
If you’re looking to save as much time as possible, an experienced broker will typically make this process quicker by contacting lenders on your behalf.
If you use a mortgage broker, you also won’t need to research lenders, as a good broker will have an in-depth knowledge of the market and can advise you on your options.
Lenders will typically have a large borrowing department, with people who are happy to proactively manage your account.
You can expect a fast turnaround in the early stages of getting a consultation, outlining your needs, and getting a further meeting or assessment.
This step also involves exchanging documentation and securing a mortgage in principle. If you’ve been clear and upfront with your situation (income, deposit, and paperwork) then it can proceed quickly.
Step four: agree on a deal with your seller
In many cases, negotiating a deal with your seller and provider can be fast. However, sellers are still human, so how eager they are to accept your offer may vary, especially when courting multiple offers.
This process depends on communication, your solicitor, and the seller’s. Be prepared to deal with some back and forth – especially if you’re trying to haggle a seller down from their original price.
In newbuild purchases and other direct-to-developer buys, you’re likely to have an easier time with this step.
Step five: finalising the contract
Once the seller accepts your offer, the process of getting together a signing may take up to a few days.
Depending on the size of the sale and the schedule of your seller, this process can be relatively smooth.
It’s an essential part of the mortgage process, as your provider will require a seller’s details to confirm the sale and the release of the loan.
At the end of this process, you will sign the title deed and take official, legal ownership of the property.
Step six: moving in (and admin)
While the title deed concludes your mortgage application process in some ways, it’s also going to be relevant later.
The application process will not be fully completed until you have paid all the relevant fees, taxes, and stamp duty.
The reality is that mortgages take a while, for most people, for good reason. Rushing a mortgage application may lead to inaccuracies or further problems.
Banks and other financial institutions tend to move slowly because thoroughness is the most important in mortgage lending!
You’ll typically go through both an automated underwriter process, and then a manual underwriter.
Automated processes typically run the hard maths on your risk profile and whether the bank wants to take you to a second round. Then a human will review your file and adjust your deal, confirm it, or reject it.
The only way to speed the mortgage application up, therefore, is to make it easy for the manual underwriter to say ‘yes’, with an attractive financial situation and good paperwork!
How quickly do you get a mortgage decision?
In some cases, you can get a mortgage in as little as a week, but this is quite rare. In most cases, a standard mortgage application will take 2 – 6 weeks.
While many mortgages are completed efficiently, there are a lot of factors that can cause delays.
From issues cropping up in your application, to varying interruptions on the side of the lender, it’s advisable to manage your expectations regarding the timeframe of your mortgage application.
How can I speed up my mortgage application?
One way to speed up your mortgage application is to pre-prepare your documents and make sure your application is completed fully and accurately.
You can also work with a mortgage broker to help ensure a smoother mortgage application process. A mortgage broker can use their industry expertise to communicate with lenders efficiently and find you the best mortgage deals.
Why is my mortgage offer taking so long?
The simple answer is that your mortgage is taking a long time because it’s a complex process that can get held up in thousands of ways.
Mortgage offers involve a significant amount of financial investigation into your situation, including your credit file and income. These can get held up by countless things, as can the legal developments of your own deal, for example.
These are all added on top of the possible operational delays that your mortgage provider may have. Large organisations with many clients and internal procedures around compliance, risk management, and more.
These can be glacial in resolution when any kind of query or risk comes up. During a mortgage application, especially, this can get stuck on the automated process or the manual one – and each comes with different possible delays.
How long does it take to buy a house in the UK?
Buying a house in the UK will typically take 3 months or more, depending on the specifics of your mortgage, your seller, and the exchange process. These can expand significantly in response to any number of problems:
Financing issues (for yourself or your seller)
Legal hold-ups (for yourself or your seller)
Unexpected collapse of a seller’s next property purchase
Changes in your financial situation
These can come out of nowhere, and it’s reasonable to expect mortgages to take longer than the ‘best case scenario’.
It can be beneficial to plan some time buffers into your mortgage application, so you’re not taken off guard by unexpected circumstances.