Moving to a new house is a long and confusing process. There are viewings, offers, negotiations, surveys, solicitors, estate agents and more all thrown into the mix. This is before you’ve even thought about the fact you’ll need to apply for a mortgage.
The mortgage application process can drag on for weeks, maybe even several months and will leave you wondering ‘why is my mortgage application taking so long’…
Wonder no more – we have the answers you need! We’re also going to talk you through the different stages of the mortgage application process and give you our top tips to help first-time buyers not feel so scared when applying for a mortgage.
Ready to just get stuck in? Use this menu as a guide, or just start from the beginning and get scrolling:
- How long does a mortgage application take?
- What is the mortgage application process?
- Why is my mortgage application taking so long?
- What happens after mortgage application?
- Mortgage application tips for first-time buyers
How long does a mortgage application take?
If everything goes to plan, the mortgage application process should take between 4 to 6 weeks, with a possible further 2 weeks to get an official approved offer.
This time may differ and will depend upon how long each stage of the mortgage application takes. Not sure on what the different stages of the process are? We’ve got you covered… *HINT – next section*
What is the mortgage application process?
The mortgage application process can be long and confusing, especially if you’re not clued up on what to expect. To help you out, we’re going to talk you through the process, starting from before you actually apply for a mortgage, to help give you the best chance of being approved:
- Work out your budget – Working out what you can afford is crucial to knowing what size mortgage to apply for and also what price range of house is within your reach. Some lenders will only lend to those who have saved up a 10% deposit first, so you need to make sure you’re able to afford to do this, before applying for a mortgage. If you need a bit of help with deciding, you could use this calculator to help you see how much you will be able to borrow to cover the cost of the rest of the property (excluding the deposit)
- Consider whether you’re ready to apply for a mortgage – This sort of fits in with being able to afford it but you also need to ensure you have a good credit score. Having a poor credit score or no credit history can lead to your mortgage application being rejected and so you should improve this before you’re ‘ready’ to apply for a mortgage. You should also make sure you’re in a job with a steady income in order to prove you will be able to repay the debt. TIP – if you recently moved jobs, it may be a good idea to wait a little while so a mortgage lender can see a steady income
Once you’ve considered these points and feel you’re ready to get a mortgage then great – you’re ready to go through the steps of the actual mortgage application process:
- Find a mortgage and a lender – There are lots of different types of mortgages which you will need to consider before finding a mortgage lender. When you’re looking for a mortgage lender you need to ensure you get one who understands the whole process and will be able to advise which is the best mortgage for you. Make sure you look around at all the different mortgage lenders to be sure you’re getting the best deal – some can cost thousands more over the course of the mortgage
- Obtaining a decision ‘in principle’ – Once you’ve picked a mortgage that suits you, you may want to ask for a decision in principle. This is a document from your chosen mortgage lender stating that they will lend you a certain amount theoretically, based on your credit score, as long as they’re happy with other details, such as your ID, property valuation, proof of earnings, etc. Your decision in principle will have an ‘expiry date’ so make sure you’re aware of this if you haven’t yet found a property you like
- Official mortgage application – Once you’ve submitted an offer on a property and it has been accepted, then you can submit an official mortgage application. If you’re using a mortgage broker, they will manage the process for you and will only contact you should they need to. A ‘hard credit check’ will be conducted during this time and your personal information will be assessed in detail
- Valuing the property – Your mortgage lender will instruct a surveyor to carry out a valuation on the property you’re buying to ensure the property is worth what you’re asking to borrow. The reason a mortgage lender takes this step is as a precaution. If you failed to pay your mortgage, the lender would then take possession of the property and they want to be sure they could sell it on and make back the debt. You may also hear of a valuation being called a house survey, but it’s important to remember it’s different to that of a Home Buyers’ survey
- Getting an official offer – Providing everything goes well with your mortgage application, you will soon receive an official mortgage offer. As we said earlier, it should take about four to six weeks to receive an official offer, but it may take longer if there are factors causing delays (which, little spoiler, is what we’re about to go through in the next section…)
Why is my mortgage application taking so long?
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re trying to push the ‘moving house process’ along and everything seems to take forever. The mortgage application process is just another step which can cause everything to slow.
After weeks have gone by, with you having no official offer, you start to question ‘why is my mortgage application taking so long?’ which, lucky for you, we’ve got together a list of why this may be, to help you better understand the process and allowing you to see if there’s anything you can do to provide a little ‘nudge’:
- Backlog – As the vast majority of people have been working from home, processes start to take longer than they would usually, especially in an industry like mortgages which requires lots of paperwork and back and forth communication. This will mean there’s a backlog of applications, which staff will still be catching up on, with some still working from home
- Busy housing market – The housing market is currently at its busiest, with thanks to the stamp duty holiday causing people to flock to the market, pushing demand for houses (and mortgages) to increase. The housing market was also shut down for a few months at the start of the pandemic and so this caused a build-up of demand. As a result of these factors, everyone who works in a job related to the property industry has become overworked, further increasing the backlog and the delays
- Mortgage holidays – Mortgage lenders have had more things to deal with alongside looking at mortgage applications. For example, with the uncertainty of the pandemic, a large number of people have been enquiring about mortgage holidays, further adding to the workload of mortgage lenders
- Impact of lockdown – With the initial lockdown springing upon everyone so suddenly, very few, if any, were prepared to work from home and so staff would initially have had minimal access to files and paperwork needed to complete their jobs, further increasing the workload and backlog
- Not using a mortgage broker – Not using a mortgage broker can be a reason why your mortgage application is taking so long, as using a mortgage broker helps to speed up the mortgage application process. A mortgage broker is up to date on the latest deals on the market and will know which ones you’re most likely to get. They will also help you fill out the mortgage application and will speak with your solicitor to make the process quicker
- Poor credit history – As you may guess, getting a mortgage with poor credit history is quite tricky. A poor credit history doesn’t provide the lender with much assurance that you will be able to make the repayments and so the lender will likely take longer doing a more intense check into the credit history, which will naturally slow the process down
- Incorrect details – If any details given to the mortgage lender are incorrect, the lender will not be able to approve your mortgage application and so will have to come back to you to get the correct information, slowing the process down. Even worse, in some cases the mortgage lender may just refuse your mortgage application
What happens after mortgage application?
After you have gone through the mortgage application process, you will find out whether you have been given an official offer. If you choose to accept the mortgage offer, your solicitor will then take over as they begin the conveyancing process.
Your solicitor will be working towards the exchange and completion of the property and will only really contact you should they need you to answer any questions or sign any paperwork.
If your mortgage application is refused, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, you should check that all the information provided to the lender is correct, as this can cause them to refuse your mortgage application. Whilst doing your mortgage application, make sure you review everything carefully in order to eradicate any potential mistakes.
It may also be a case that you’re not earning enough or spending too much, and this has caused the lender to decide you wouldn’t be able to afford the repayments and so they don’t want to take the ‘risk’.
In this case, it would be a good idea for you to rethink the size of the mortgage you would be getting and what you can afford and how better to budget, to allow you to go through the mortgage application process again and hopefully get a more successful outcome.
You could also look into getting a ‘guarantor mortgage’ which is where you get a relative or close friend to agree to accept responsibility for the deb, in the case you’re unable to make any repayments.
How long does a mortgage offer last?
A mortgage offer will generally last about six months, with remortgage offers normally lasting about three months. It’s important you check whether the time frame you’ve been given for your offer is from the point of you submitting your mortgage application or from the point of the official offer.
If, for whatever reason, you miss the deadline for your mortgage offer then you will likely be able to reapply to the same mortgage lender, but you will have to go through the mortgage application process again.
Your eligibility will be reassessed, as your circumstances may have changed and so your mortgage offer may change depending on this.
Mortgage application tips for first-time buyers
We know how difficult finding a house as a first-time buyer is. That’s before you’ve thought about the mortgage application process, which will be a whole new complicated world to any buyer, let alone a first-time buyer.
To help make things a little easier, we’ve got together our best tips for first-time buyers to make the mortgage application process run as smooth as possible:
- Make sure you’re on the electoral roll – this will make more sense as you start to read further down the list, but being on the electoral roll allows you to give the mortgage lender proof of your identity and allows them to see proof of your address and how long you’ve lived there
- Make sure you have at least three months’ worth of bank statements –you will need to provide your mortgage lender with statements to prove you’re able to pay the repayments and to show you don’t have any outgoings or ‘bad habits’ – gambling in particular can get you into a bit of trouble when it comes to trying to get a mortgage
- Proof of deposit and income – for the deposit, your lender will want to see the build-up of savings which lead to this deposit. They will want to know where the money has come from. For example, has it been gifted by a family member? Has it come from a loan which you will have to repay? However you’ve saved your deposit, the lender will want to know. For proof of income, you will need to provide three months’ worth of pay slips to show a steady income to prove you will be able to make the repayments
- Obtain your credit file – your mortgage lender will want to look at your credit file to get an idea of your credit history whilst deciding whether or not they will offer you a mortgage. You could use ‘Checkymyfile’ which will give you a detailed credit report, which you can use as proof of your credit rating
- Liabilities – by liabilities we mean debts, loans, credit cards, hire purchases, anything alone those lines. It may be a good idea as you start working up to a mortgage application to not take out any credit, as this will slow the process down and mess up your application
- Do a budget planner – when deciding what mortgage you will be able to afford, it’s a good idea to do a budget planner. Write down a list of all your transactions (basically what’s going out and what’s coming in), so you can see your disposable income and what size of mortgage you should apply for
- ID and address verification – as proof of your identity, you could use an in-date driving license or passport. For your address, you will need to provide a statement which proves your residence, whether this be a bank statement or utility bill. This is why being on the electoral roll is advantageous as this shows proof of your address
You’ve made it to the end of learning about mortgage applications, including the answer to ‘why is my mortgage application taking so long’! *phew* If you enjoyed this article and want to have a go at writing one yourself, get in touch with us today!
Millie is a perfectionist with a passion for property and writing articles. You’ll find her researching the latest housing trends and the newest up and coming areas worth investing in.