How long does a mortgage application take?

How long it takes from submitting your mortgage application to getting it approved can vary, but most people can expect it to take about a month if everything goes smoothly. You can help the process along by ensuring you have all your documents ready to go when they’re needed.

7 min read
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How long does a mortgage offer last?  

A typical mortgage offer will last for about six months, though a remortgage offer tends to last about three months. This is because the initial process of purchasing a home takes longer than remortgaging to a new mortgage deal, so the offer needs to be valid long enough for the buying process to complete.

Why is my mortgage application taking so long?  

There are many steps involved in getting a mortgage, which means there are lots of opportunities for delays. Plus, there’s a huge amount of information that needs to be processed during a mortgage application, and numerous checks you need to go through.

For example, if you haven’t supplied a required document, or there’s a spelling mistake on your application form, the rest of the process can’t continue until it’s resolved.

Can you speed up a mortgage application? 

While much of it is beyond your control, there are a couple of tips and tricks to speed up the mortgage application process.

Get your paperwork together before you apply 

It sounds obvious, but it really helps to have everything to hand before you apply for your mortgage. There’s a lot of paperwork involved and if you’re having to dig around for every piece after it’s been requested, then your application is going to be delayed.

Here’s a quick list of some of the things you’ll need:

  • proof of identity (e.g. a valid driving licence or passport)
  • proof of address (e.g. utility bills or council tax statement)
  • proof of income (this is usually at least three months’ worth of payslips and potentially bank statements)
  • P60
  • proof of deposit (this may be on your bank statement if it’s from your savings, proof of inheritance, or a signed letter with ID detailing that the deposit is a gift)

Check your credit report is up to date 

All lenders will thoroughly check your credit report, so it’s essential that it’s accurate. Use an online tool to view your full report and update anything that doesn’t look right. It’s essential that the information on your application form matches what’s on your credit report. The seemingly smallest inaccuracy can cause delays whilst they’re investigated by the lender.

Consider using a mortgage broker 

Using a mortgage broker (like Ocean Finance) can help speed up the process because they know what they’re doing and they deal with lenders on a day-to-day basis.

A mortgage broker can lead you through the process (and do a lot of the fiddly bits for you) and make sure you know what you need to provide in order to help it go smoothly.

Buying a house timeline  

Here’s a quick timeline to help you get a better understanding of the time it takes to buy a house and the steps involved - from mortgage application through to completion:

1. The underwriter reviews your application 

Underwriting is the process mortgage lenders go through to assess the level of risk to them in lending you money. It involves looking carefully at your application, assessing your affordability and carrying out a credit check, then weighing this all up against their lending criteria.

This may be the first step in the process, but it’s also one of the most important. If the underwriter completes this in-depth analysis of your income and expenditure and credit history and deems you as too high risk to lend to, then your mortgage application will be rejected. This is why it’s really important to:

  1. make sure you provide all the required information
  2. make sure your credit report is as ship-shape as you can get it

The length of this process can vary depending on whether the underwriter requires further information from you, but it can be as quick as a week.

Do all mortgage applications go to underwriters?  

Yes. As underwriters assess the level of risk for the lender, it’s an essential part of the process that any legitimate lender wouldn’t go without.

2. Valuation of your current property 

If you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll skip this step – but if you’re not, the valuation of your current property is what comes next.

As the seller, it’s your responsibility to get your current property valued. Doing so will help you get a better idea of how much equity there is in your home to use towards your next house purchase.

There are online valuation tools that you can use for free, but the best way to get an accurate valuation is to use a chartered surveyor. This can take anything from a few days to a few weeks depending on how busy the surveyor is.

3. Valuation of your new property 

As your new property is the lender’s security against your mortgage (meaning that, in the event that you can’t make your repayments, they could repossess the property), they’ll want to ensure it’s worth the amount they’re lending. The mortgage lender will conduct a basic valuation in order to do this.

Again, how long this will take will depend on the schedule of the surveyor, so it can take anything from a few days to over a week.

Is a valuation survey the same as a building survey?

No. The valuation survey is conducted by and for the benefit of the lender only. It’s a way for them to ensure that the property is worth the amount they’re lending.

A building survey, on the other hand, is a thorough health check of the property that will pick up on any potential problems. It’s not a legal requirement to have a building survey, but it can help you to negotiate the price if it brings expensive repair work that’s needed to light.

4. Receive your mortgage offer 

If the lender is satisfied with the decision of the underwriter, the valuation of the property and your application overall, then you’ll receive your mortgage offer. This will be in writing and will be valid for three to six months.

5. Conveyancing process 

Your conveyancer will have been working in the background throughout all the steps above, but once you get to this stage their real work begins. They’ll conduct lots of checks to make sure that everything is in order on the seller’s side. This includes environmental checks, checking the Land Registry (to confirm the seller is the current legal owner), the contract, and other administrative tasks.

5. Exchange contracts 

The penultimate stage is the exchanging of contracts. This will be done on an agreed time and date by your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor. The process involves them confirming that the contracts are identical, before sending them off to be signed by both parties.

If you’re in a chain (where there are more than two parties involved), there’s more potential for a delay to occur.

This is because the whole process can only go ahead when the sale of multiple properties has been agreed upon and all the paperwork has been done.

6. Completion

The completion of the purchase will be on a specified date. Completion is achieved when the solicitor has confirmed the receipt of all the money that’s due. Once this has happened, you can collect your keys from the estate agent and officially move in.

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