How long does it take to get a mortgage?

28 November 2022

How long does it take to get a mortgage?
If you are planning on buying a property, one of the questions you might be wondering is how long does it take to get a mortgage?

Whilst every mortgage application is different, this guide will hopefully help you to understand how long each of the different stages of a mortgage application usually takes, as well as providing a few helpful tips on how to speed up the process.

Step by step guide to applying for a mortgage

  1. Mortgage Agreement in Principle
  2. Find a suitable property
  3. Mortgage Application
  4. Mortgage Valuation of the Property
  5. Receive Mortgage Offer
  6. Exchange Contracts
  7. Complete

Factors that might slow down or jeopardise a mortgage application

  • Not having the right documents
  • Supplying incorrect or outdated information
  • Unexpected things in your credit history
  • Issues with the property valuation
  • Slow chain with other buyers and sellers

Mortgage Agreement in Principle

The mortgage agreement in principle, also known as a decision in principle, is a recommended yet optional first stage of buying a property. The agreement in principle is a non-binding indication of how much you could borrow, without a hard credit check. Instead, the agreement in principle application will involve a ‘soft’ credit search, which does not leave a permanent mark on your credit record. Whilst it isn’t mandatory to apply for an agreement in principle, it is recommended as it gives you a clearer idea of your budget, as well as showing to estate agents that you are a more serious buyer. 
Applying for an agreement in principle can take less than an hour, if you have all of the
necessary paperwork and it is a smooth application. An agreement in principle will typically
be valid for between 30 to 90 days, depending on the lender.

To speed up your agreement in principle application, bring the following information along
with you when applying:

  • At least three, and up to six months’ worth of bank statements
  • If employed, three months of payslips
  • If self-employed, tax calculations for up to three years
  • Photo ID, such as driving licence or passport

Mortgage Application

If you have had an offer accepted on a house, it is then time to start your mortgage application. You do not need to apply for a mortgage from the same lender who provided the agreement in principle, as the AIP is non-binding. Applying for a mortgage from the same lender that you received the AIP from might speed up the process, as they will already have completed some of the preliminary steps to the application. 
Completing the mortgage application in person is not a quick process, and can take up to six
hours in certain circumstances. 

Documents to bring along to your mortgage application

Where possible, it is always best to supply original documents. Copies might not be accepted, or they might require extra verification. 

  • Photo ID such as passport or driving licence
  • At least three, and up to six months’ worth of bank statements
  • If employed, three months of payslips
  • If self-employed, tax calculations for up to three years
  • Three to six months’ worth of utility bills and council tax bills
  • A P60 from your employer, which shows the tax you’ve paid in the tax year
  • Proof of earnings for last three years 
  • Address and details of the estate agent you wish to buy a property from
  • Financial details of all outgoings
  • Proof of any benefits that you are entitled to and receive
  • Credit card and personal loan statements

If you turn up to your mortgage application well-prepared with all of these documents, the
process should be straightforward and take just a few hours.

your mortgage application has been submitted, the lender will conduct a hard search of your credit record. This will be recorded on your credit file, and will be visible to future lenders who conduct credit checks. The lender’s underwriter will study how much you are currently borrowing, and how reliable you have been in repaying your financial obligations previously. The lender will also arrange for a valuation survey of your property to be undertaken. They will do so to ensure that the property they would be lending on is worth what you are trying to borrow. The valuer will carry out a series of structural stability checks and calculate the property price relative to the current property market. 

Most property surveyors will complete their report within a day. This report will be submitted to the underwriter, who will make the final decision on the property value. If they deem that the property value is less than you have offered the seller, this could slow down the process, or lead to your application being denied. You could also be asked to pay a higher deposit or a higher interest rate, to cover the increased risk to the lender from a lower valued property. Typically, it will take a fortnight from the point of your application for your mortgage lender to complete the relevant checks. Should all be to their satisfaction, this is when they will make a formal mortgage offer, however this can take up to another fortnight to receive. 

Your mortgage offer will typically be valid for six months, which should give you plenty of time to complete the rest of the process. However, it is worth checking whether this six month period starts from when the application date or from when the offer was made. Should you not have completed by the end of the offer period, the lender may wish to re-evaluate your offer, or request that you reapply. You can request an extension of the offer, however these are dependent on the lender’s own policies and typically are not for a lengthy period of time. 

Exchange of contracts

Exchanging contracts can be the longest part of the mortgage application, typically taking over two months. Exchanging contracts is the process of swapping signed contracts with the seller. You will also pay your deposit, which will also make the sale of the property legally binding. 
The length of time that exchanging contracts will take will largely depend upon how many other properties are in the same chain as you. The longer the chain, the longer the process will likely take.


The completion date is when you will take legal ownership of the property and when you can collect the keys. Completion is typically set for two weeks after the exchange has taken place.

If you are ready to start your mortgage application, we would love to help! Our team of
mortgage experts are well-placed to offer comprehensive and tailored advice to help you find
the right mortgage for you. Book an appointment to start your journey with us here.

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