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How long does a mortgage application take?

Jenni Hill
Last Updated 17 June 2024

If you’ve saved a deposit and found a home you’d like to buy, it’s time to submit a mortgage application. But how long does a mortgage application take and how can you speed up the process? Keep reading to find out!

In this guide

You might also like: Steps to getting your first mortgage.

How long does it take to get a mortgage?

It usually takes between two to six weeks to complete a mortgage application. The exact amount of time will vary depending on the lender, the complexity of your financial situation, and the housing market, but you can often speed up the process by using a mortgage broker. This is because a mortgage broker helps search from across the market and thousands of mortgage products to ensure you apply for a deal you’re eligible for and get the best deal for you and your personal circumstances. 

They often have access to a wider choice of mortgage deals than you could find alone - for example, at Tembo we search over 20,000 to find the best way to make home happen for you. Mortgage brokers also deal with the admin side of buying a home, from preparing your mortgage application to liaising with the home seller and solicitors.

Pssttt. Did you know we’ve been voted the UK’s Best Mortgage Broker by our customers for three years running?

Learn more: What to look for when viewing a house

How long does a mortgage application take through a broker?

Applying for a mortgage through a mortgage broker can be quicker than going directly to a lender. With Tembo, our average is just 8 days. But other brokers can take longer than this if they do things in a more 'traditional' way.

Want to get your foot in the door ASAP?

If you want to get the wheels turning on your journey to homeownership, create a personalised Tembo recommendation today to get started. We’ll compare thousands of mortgage deals across more than 100 lenders, to find the best deal for you and even uncover ways you could boost your buying budget.

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What are the stages of a mortgage application?

Step 1: Getting a Mortgage in Principle.

Estimated time: Up to 24 hours (it takes just a few minutes with Tembo)

First things first, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a Mortgage in Principle (MIP). This is a document that will give you an idea of how much you can expect to borrow and proves to sellers and estate agents that you’re ‘good for’ the money. Some estate agents won’t even let you view a property if you don’t have a MIP already! 

Thankfully, you can get a Mortgage in Principle within 24 hours if you apply through a lender. Use a mortgage broker and it’ll often be quicker. With Tembo, you can get a mortgage in principle within 10 minutes

Learn more: how long does a mortgage in principle last? 

Step 2: Putting your mortgage application together

Estimated time:  (1 day+)

Once you’ve found a property you’d like to buy, it’s time to apply for your mortgage. You can do this with the same lender that gave you a Mortgage in Principle, but you can choose a different lender if you wish.

If you’re using a mortgage broker and a few months have passed since you got your Mortgage in Principle, they can run a quick search to see if another lender would offer better interest rates or terms. Mortgage rates change all the time, so a deal you saw a few months or weeks ago might not be available any more. When you create a free mortgage recommendation with Tembo, your plan auto-updates every month, so you can always see personalised live rates.

You’ll usually need the following documents for your mortgage application:

  • Bank statements
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of deposit
  • A valid form of ID
  • Proof of address (like utility bills)

Learn more: What to do in the 6 months before buying a house

Step 3: Waiting for approval

Estimated time: 4-6 weeks (8 days with Tembo)

After you submit your application, your lender will do a credit search to see how you’ve handled debt in the past. They’ll also carry out an affordability assessment to make sure you can afford the mortgage you want.

Each lender will have their own affordability criteria, but most will let you borrow between 4 to 4.5x your income. In some cases it may be possible to borrow 5 times your income, but you’ll usually need a big deposit or a ‘professional’ job. Take a look at our Can you get a mortgage for 5 or 6 times your salary? guide to learn more.

The lender will also carry out a valuation on the property to make sure it’s worth the asking price. 

You won’t need to do anything at this stage. The lender will carry out the necessary checks and get back to you (or your broker) if they need more information. If everything goes to plan, you’ll receive a formal mortgage offer from your lender and you’ll be one step closer to picking up your house keys! Take a look at our buying a house timeline to see what’s next.

If your mortgage application is declined, don’t panic. You can always apply for a mortgage with a different lender. To find out what went wrong and avoid another rejection, it can be a good idea to speak to a mortgage broker first.

How do I know when my mortgage is approved?

You'll know your mortgage has been approved when you receive a formal mortgage offer from your lender. Most lenders will send you an email first, followed by official documents in the post. If you applied for your mortgage via a broker, they’ll usually be the ones to tell you the good news. Hopefully, you’ll already have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge! 

Why is my mortgage offer taking so long?

There are lots of reasons why your mortgage offer can take longer than expected. 

  • Your lender is dealing with a high number of applications at once. Your application may be delayed if there’s a backlog of applications to get through.
  • Your lender has an extensive underwriting process. Some lenders carry out more time-consuming checks than others.
  • Your application is considered complex. If you’re self-employed, you’ve got a low credit score, or you’ve recently started a new job, it can take the lender a little longer to carry out all their affordability checks.
  • Your circumstances have changed since you got your Mortgage in Principle. Perhaps you’ve missed a credit card payment, changed jobs, or you’ve recently gone on maternity leave, for example.

How to speed up a mortgage application?

You can speed up your mortgage application by having all the necessary documents at the ready before applying. Also, try to respond to any requests for additional information as quickly as possible. Applying through a broker can also help. An experienced mortgage broker will have helped hundreds or maybe even thousands of people like you to get on the ladder. They’ll know the mortgage industry inside out and exactly what steps to take and when. They’ll also have built good relationships with lenders!

How long does a mortgage offer last?

Most mortgage offers tend to last 3 to 6 months, though the time limit can vary from one lender to another. If your mortgage offer expires before you get your foot in the door, speak to your lender. They may be willing to extend the offer or give you a new one. It can be a good idea to speak to a broker if you haven’t already. They may be able to find you a much better mortgage deal than you applied for before, or a new one if your old mortgage offer expires.

We’ve helped thousands of people make home happen

If you’re wondering how much you can afford to borrow or you’ve already found the home you’d like to buy and are ready to find the right mortgage for you, create a Tembo plan today. We’ll compare thousands of mortgages across more than 100 lenders and help you potentially boost your budget to buy your dream home.

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