How to Apply for a Mortgage

, by Matt Stevens

Contemplating the purchase of a home can make the mortgage application process appear overwhelming rather quickly. The necessity of providing extensive information and completing numerous forms might seem like a formidable task, but adequate preparation can smoothen the whole process significantly.

This article aims to provide you with a guide on applying for a mortgage. It includes a step-by-step walkthrough of the entire application process, ensuring an easy and stress-free experience for you. We’ll cover:

How long does it take to get a mortgage?

While the timeline can vary for each case, a relatively straightforward mortgage application may be processed and approved within 30-40 days from submission. On average, the process typically spans 6-8 weeks in total. However, for more intricate applications or in cases where the lender faces a backlog, the duration may take longer.

What do mortgage lenders look for?

To start off, it’s useful to know exactly what mortgage lenders consider when they are reviewing applications. Each lender has their own set of eligibility criteria by which they measure your suitability. However, they will generally look at your income, outgoings, employment type, credit history, and deposit.


Lenders will assess your overall household income, comprising your regular primary salary along with any additional earnings from a second job, freelance work, benefits, commissions, or bonuses. This evaluation typically involves a review of your recent payslips or, if you're self-employed, an examination of your accounts.


In ascertaining your mortgage affordability, lenders will seek documentation showcasing your expenditures. This includes details on credit cards, personal loans, pensions, and childcare costs. This comprehensive assessment ensures your ability to keep up with your monthly mortgage repayments.

Employment type

Lenders closely look at the nature of your employment to gauge the frequency and amount of your income. If you fall under the category of 'non-standard' employment, such as being on a zero-hour contract basis, securing approval for your application might present additional challenges, but it's certainly not insurmountable.

Although many lenders prefer a consistent employment history, approval is still attainable even with occasional gaps, as long as there's a reasonable explanation. Moreover, there are specialist mortgage products tailored for individuals with more complex income sources.

Credit history

Lenders assess your loan repayment track record through a scrutinisation of your credit history. This record includes information of previous loans, such as credit cards, car financing, mobile phone agreements, overdrafts, and mortgages. It not only outlines the extent of credit extended to you but also evaluates your repayment reliability.

While blemishes on your credit reports may influence the range of available mortgage deals, it's important to note that securing a mortgage is still feasible. Numerous mortgage products cater to individuals with adverse credit. The key lies in identifying the right lender tailored to your unique situation.


Lenders invariably factor in the size of your deposit when evaluating your mortgage application. As a rule, a larger deposit enhances your likelihood of securing approval. This stems from the perception that a substantial personal investment in the property designates you as a less risky borrower. Typically, a sizable deposit not only improves your approval prospects, but also grants access to a broader array of cost-effective deals and favourable interest rates as well.

What do you need to apply for a mortgage?

Securing a mortgage involves navigating through a considerable amount of paperwork. Any oversight in this process could lead to the rejection of your application by the lender. Hence, it is highly advisable to gather all the necessary documents beforehand. Lenders typically request the following documentation:

  • Proof of income

  • Latest P60 form

  • At least one or two years' accounts from an certified accountant if you're self-employed

  • Proof of identity

  • Proof of address

  • Bank statements for your current account from the last three to six months

  • Tax return form SA302, especially if you have multiple income sources

  • Evidence of your deposit (e.g., a savings statement or letter if it is a gifted deposit)

  • Documentation related to any bonuses or commissions

Accuracy is vital during the application process. Ensure that the information on the application form aligns precisely with the documents provided. For instance, avoid rounding up your salary if the figure on the payslips differs. Additionally, furnish details about the property you intend to purchase, including the address, estate agent information, and details of your chosen solicitor (we’ll speak more on this later).

How to prepare for your mortgage application

Work out your budget

To identify the scope of properties within your financial reach, it's essential to work out your budget. Your budget essentially comprises two components: the first being your deposit which is a substantial upfront payment towards the property. While many lenders typically seek a minimum of 10% of the property's value as a deposit, alternative schemes, like shared ownership, allow mortgages with a lower 5% deposit.

The second aspect is your borrowing capacity, determined by your income. Lenders generally cap the loan amount at 4.5 times your annual income. For example, if your annual income is £25,000, your potential borrowing capacity could reach up to £112,500. Find out how much you could borrow up to right now by using our mortgage calculator.

Review your finances

Lenders extend mortgage offers based on their assurance of your ability to manage the repayments, as previously mentioned. In their meticulous examination of your finances, they may even conduct a stress test. Such a test aims to assess whether you could still comfortably meet your repayments in the event of rising interest rates or unforeseen changes in your circumstances down the road.

To get an idea of where you stand financially before applying, you can use our free credit check tool (£14.99 per month after the free 30-day trial). Using it will help you to spot possible mistakes and instances of fraudulent activity on your record so that you can address any problems as soon as possible. The trial and subscription can be cancelled at any time.

Speak to a mortgage broker

The majority of people getting a mortgage choose to hire the expertise of a mortgage broker. A mortgage broker can offer valuable insights into your borrowing capacity, assess your likelihood of home loan approval, and recommend the most suitable mortgage type and deal tailored to your specific circumstances.

In addition to providing guidance on the optimal borrowing amount, a mortgage broker can play a large part in refining your application, thereby minimising the risk of rejection. They’ll also guide you through all the extra fees and charges to expect so you know how much you’ll end up paying overall.

The mortgage application process

The mortgage application process can be broken down into 6 steps:

1. Get an agreement in principle

An agreement in principle (AIP), also referred to as a decision in principle (DIP) or a mortgage in principle (MIP), is a preliminary statement from a lender indicating the amount they are willing to lend you before you formally submit a mortgage application. Although it doesn’t represent a guarantee, an AIP provides a reliable estimate of your borrowing capacity. This information is invaluable for effective budgeting and signals to sellers that you are a committed buyer when viewing properties.

2. Find your property and make an offer

It's advisable to initiate your house-hunting journey directly after securing an AIP. Once you've identified a property that aligns with your preferences, you can then proceed to make an offer. While it's significant to take your time during the house-hunting process, it's noteworthy that many AIPs are typically only valid for 30 days, though some may extend to a period between 60-90 days.

3. Talk to a solicitor

To ensure all legal aspects of the property purchase are addressed, you'll require the services of a solicitor. Your solicitor plays an important role in the process, undertaking various tasks such as conducting checks and searches to identify any potential concerns, such as planning issues or third-party rights over the property. Further, they also handle other critical responsibilities like ensuring accurate payment of stamp duty, facilitating fund transfers, obtaining new title deeds, finalising a completion date, and formally submitting the mortgage application.

4. Make a formal mortgage application

The subsequent phase involves the formal application for your mortgage. Collect all the requisite documents discussed earlier and submit them to the lender, guided by your broker's advice. Once the formal application is in motion, the reins are no longer in your hands. With your application officially submitted, you can patiently await as the lender’s underwriters diligently examine all the details. Typically, this step takes approximately 4 to 6 weeks for the lender to process the mortgage application.

5. Get a valuation

While your lender will conduct their own valuation to ensure the property aligns with the agreed purchase price, it's also worth arranging an independent valuation on top of this. This independent assessment serves as an extra layer of scrutiny, discerning potential issues or defects that might incur future costs, such as foundational or interior issues.

6. Exchange contracts and move in

After securing a formal mortgage offer from your lender and ensuring that all necessary paperwork has been completed by your solicitor, the next step involves exchanging contracts, setting a completion date, and finally, stepping into your new home.

Keep in mind that a formal mortgage offer typically holds validity for approximately 3–6 months and is specific to the property it's associated with. Should your current purchase arrangement fall through, securing another property will necessitate applying for a new mortgage offer.

How a mortgage broker can help you apply for a mortgage

Although you have the option to apply for a mortgage directly with a lender, enhancing your chances of approval through the guidance of a mortgage broker is strongly suggested. Several reasons support this recommendation. Firstly, a whole-of-market broker can meticulously assess your finances and situation, providing insights into the most suitable mortgage types, recommending lenders, and determining the appropriateness of specific deals.

Secondly, they streamline the process by conducting thorough product research and liaising with lenders on your behalf, expediting the overall application procedure. Lastly, your broker's extensive familiarity with the application process allows them to get through it seamlessly, leveraging their experience to guide you from initiation to completion, ensuring all essential paperwork is promptly submitted to the lender.

We trust that you now have a better understanding of the mortgage application process and its typical duration. If you seek assistance in identifying the best mortgage deal and navigating the application process, our seasoned team of expert mortgage brokers is ready to provide support. Feel free to reach out to us today at 01915809890 and you’ll find us happy to help.

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Company Information

The Mortgage Genie Limited is Registered in England and Wales with Company Number 9803176. The Mortgage Genie Limited is an Appointed Representative of PRIMIS Mortgage Network, a trading name of First Complete Ltd. First Complete Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Most Buy-to-Let Mortgages are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The guidance contained within this website is subject to the UK regulatory regime and is therefore primarily targeted at consumers based in the UK.


Depending on the complexity of your mortgage there may be a fee for our mortgage advice and arrangement service, which will be discussed and agreed before you make a mortgage application. A typical fee is £293 and will never be more than 1% of the mortgage amount.