How long does it take to get a mortgage?
Buying a home is a tricky business, and aligning all the different factors can pose a logistical nightmare. You’ll want to get your mortgage advice, deal, lender and agreement decided as soon as possible so you can act fast. We look at how long it takes to get a mortgage and what you need to consider.
How long does it take to get a mortgage?
It’s possible to apply for a mortgage “Agreement in Principle”, which states what a lender is likely to lend you based on some information online or over the phone in a couple of hours. It involves you providing some basic information about your finances and a credit check, but it’s not a 100% guarantee you’ll get the full mortgage until all the paperwork has been done at a later stage. Indeed, it’s worth remembering that the lender’s rates could change over the two to three months for which it’s valid.
It does however show vendors that you’re serious and ready to go.
In terms of securing a mortgage offer, there’s no hard and fast rule over the time it takes, but most of us can expect to wait around a month (between 18-40 days) from application to mortgage offer – provided the process goes smoothly and your application is relatively straight forward.
Why does it take so long?
The lender will need to obtain and process details about your income in the form of wage slips, bank statements or self-assessment returns (if self-employed) alongside outgoings, including childcare. They will also want proof you live at your current address and the name of your solicitor who’ll carry out the transaction, as well as details of the property you’re buying and the estate agent selling it.
The lender will then want to conduct a mortgage valuation survey (not to be confused with a building survey) of the property you want to buy. Depending on how busy their surveyors are this can take a few days or more than a week.
Once the lender has their mortgage valuation, they should then make you a mortgage offer.
How can I speed things up?
A broker can help since they’ll already be familiar with the mortgage products on the market, including the specific criteria each lender looks for. This can considerably cut back on the time you’ll spend doing your own research and avoids you having to make appointments with or speak to individual lenders directly.
Have all the documents you’ll need handy and send them through as soon as possible. It’s also a good idea – but not a stipulation – to make a list of all your financial outgoings as well as your income because your broker/lender will want to know that you’ll find the mortgage affordable.
Lenders these days are competing hard for your business and they want to give you a mortgage. But the difference between a mortgage being approved or never seeing the light of day could be your credit record. Missed payments, for instance, can reduce your chances of success.
To speed up the process, be honest – point out any missed payments to your broker or lender beforehand and talk them through. Historic items can be explained away if you’re back on track again. If there’s an error on your credit record (you can get hold of it yourself very cheaply or for free) then get it fixed.
If, on the other hand, there are items that can’t be easily explained then look for a lender specialising in mortgage finance for those with poor credit records. But expect to pay a higher rate of interest as the lenders will be viewing the mortgage as higher risk.
“Not everything will always run smoothly”, explains our mortgage expert David Hollingworth at London & Country. “But the best way to make sure your mortgage application ticks over nicely is to find the right deal and make sure you fit the criteria. I’d also advise you to shop around to make sure you get the best all round value from across the market.”
How long does a mortgage offer last?
You’ll find a standard mortgage offer is typically valid for up to six months, whereas a re-mortgage is usually for three months (although it can also be six months). The difference is down to the fact that a purchase will typically take longer from application to completion.
Some lenders have a completion deadline instead of a time limit. If you go past this you can still use that lender for a mortgage but your criteria will be re-assessed so you’ll be starting from scratch again. If your circumstances have altered you may be offered a new deal.