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How reliable is a Mortgage in Principle?

Jenni Hill
Last Updated 26 March 2024

If you’ve saved a house deposit and you finally feel ready to buy your first home, the next step is to get a Mortgage in Principle. This is essentially a document which says ‘this person could afford to borrow £££….’

Once you’ve got a Mortgage in Principle, you’ll have a good idea of what type of property you can afford and in which location. This can make the house-hunting process so much easier. You’ll avoid falling in love with homes that are out of your budget and you’ll usually find that estate agents and sellers will take you more seriously too.

But how reliable is a Mortgage in Principle?

In this guide

How do I get a Mortgage in Principle?

You can get a Mortgage in Principle by answering a series of questions about your income, savings and credit history on a mortgage broker or lender’s website. The questions are designed to assess your affordability and work out how much you can afford to borrow.

If you request a Mortgage in Principle from a lender, they’ll only compare mortgages that they offer themselves. Whereas if you apply through a mortgage broker, like us, your Mortgage in Principle will be based on deals from across the whole market.

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Complete our free online fact find to generate a personalised mortgage recommendation. We’ll show you all the ways you could get on the ladder and even boost your buying budget. For each of your eligible schemes, we’ll give you a free, downloadable Mortgage in Principle.

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Your Mortgage in Principle isn’t legally binding, no matter where you get it from. So if you decide to put your house hunt on pause, you’re under no obligation to push ahead with a full mortgage application.


Good to know

If you want to until you’ve saved a bigger deposit or increased your income, a Lifetime ISA can be a great place to save! You can place up to £4,000 each tax year into your LISA and you’ll get a free 25% bonus off the government on top of your savings. Here’s our guide on how to open a Lifetime ISA to help you get started.

How reliable is a Mortgage in Principle?

A Mortgage in Principle tends to be a fairly reliable indicator of how much you can borrow, but it isn’t a formal mortgage offer. When you apply for a mortgage, the lender will carry out more thorough affordability checks than what’s conducted when you get a Mortgage in Principle. If your financial circumstances have changed or the lender learns new information that suggests you may struggle to afford the loan, they may offer you a lower figure than what was on your Mortgage in Principle, or reject your application completely.

Your Mortgage in Principle will also have a deadline, usually between 3-6 months. If it takes you longer than this to find a property you’d like to buy, you’ll need to get a new Mortgage in Principle or extend your existing one once it expires. 

So although a Mortgage in Principle is fairly reliable, there’s no guarantee that you will get the mortgage you need. To learn more, take a look at our guide: Agreement in Principle. What can go wrong?

Read more: What to do if your mortgage application is rejected?

What happens after a Mortgage in Principle?

Once you’ve got a Mortgage in Principle, you can start house hunting! You’ll have a good idea how much you can afford to borrow and when you find a property you love, you can make an offer. If the offer is accepted, get in touch with your lender or broker to begin the mortgage application process. It’s at this stage that they’ll carry out more in-depth affordability checks. 

They’ll also have questions about the property you’re buying, such as its location and its asking price. They’ll also carry out a valuation to make sure it’s worth the money. If they believe the property is overpriced, they may offer you a lower figure or turn down your application.

Some properties are difficult to get a mortgage on, such as steel-framed homes or leasehold properties with high ground rent or service charges.

Learn more: Does a Mortgage in Principle affect your credit score?

You might also like: How to negotiate on house price

Is a Mortgage in Principle enough to make an offer?

Yes, a Mortgage in Principle is certainly enough to make an offer on a property. You’ll find it easier to convince a seller to accept your offer than you would if you didn’t have a Mortgage in Principle at all. This is because home sellers and estate agents don’t want to take the property off the market only for the buyer’s mortgage application to get rejected. By having a Mortgage in Principle, you can show them that you’re a serious buyer and you can afford the property.

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