On average, in the UK, once you’ve submitted a mortgage application, it takes 4–6 weeks for your lender to approve it. But the more honest answer is: it depends.

A few different things affect how long a mortgage application takes, like which lender you’re applying with, what information they’ve asked you for, and how complex your situation is. 

From start to finish, it can take 4 to 6 weeks to complete everything – and sometimes longer.  

Now, that doesn’t mean you’ll have months of back-and-forth trying to convince lenders you’re eligible for a mortgage. In fact, it’s usually a smooth, simple process, punctuated by a bit of waiting around. 

Let’s go through each step, so you know what happens when.

How long does each stage of the mortgage application process take?

1. Getting a mortgage in principle (up to 24 hours)

First off, it’s a good idea to get a mortgage in principle (MIP). An MIP is a certificate that gives you an idea of how much you can borrow – very much optional, but is a handy thing to have. It proves to sellers and estate agents that you’re likely to get a mortgage and you’re a serious buyer.

You can apply for an MIP online with a mortgage broker or lender. It can take up to 24 hours sometimes, though with Habito, you can get your MIP in less than 10 minutes. Try it now.

To get a mortgage in principle, you’ll need information about your income, expenses, and how much you’ve got saved for a deposit. Read more about mortgages in principle here.

2. Putting your mortgage application together (1 day or more)

Once you’ve found a property you’d like to buy – which itself can take weeks or months, of course – it’s time to apply for your mortgage.

You can do this with the same lender that gave you your mortgage in principle, or with a different lender. Habito can help you find the best deal from 90+ lenders, just so you know.

To get started, pull together the following documents:

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

Here’s a list of everything you’ll need.

Most lenders won’t ask you to dig out anything too complicated or obscure, but it’s always good to set aside a couple of days to prepare everything. 

How long this stage takes also varies based on whether you’re using a mortgage broker or not. A broker does a lot of the application paperwork for you and helps you check your documents. It could take longer if you’re going it alone.

3. Once you’ve applied (4–6 weeks)

After you submit your application, your lender will run a credit check on you and do what’s called an ‘affordability assessment’ to make sure you can actually afford the mortgage you’ve applied for. (Sidenote, a good mortgage broker will have made sure you can afford the mortgage before you apply, so you can feel more confident in your application!)

The lender will also carry out a valuation survey on the property to make sure it’s worth what you’re paying for it.

At this stage, you won’t need to do anything. Your lender will carry out the checks and get back to you (or your broker) if they need to confirm any of the details you’ve provided – or if you need to send them more information.

Most mortgage lenders give you a point-of-contact if you have questions. If you’re working with a broker, they’ll handle any day-to-day communication that needs to happen, and they’ll also keep you updated on the progress of your application.

This mortgage approval process generally takes several weeks to wrap up. Once it’s finished, you’ll receive a formal mortgage offer from your lender. That means it’s official: your application has been approved. You’ll usually get this in the mail, though if you’re using a broker, they’ll likely give you a heads-up it’s on the way.

If your mortgage application is declined, that doesn’t mean you won’t ever get a mortgage. But it’s likely to add another few weeks to your mortgage journey, as you’ll then have to apply to another lender.

How can you speed up the mortgage application process?

To make things run a bit smoother (and quicker), we recommend setting aside all of your documents and paperwork ahead of time. This includes your ID, recent bank statements, payslips, employment contracts, and utility bills. Stick them in a folder, file, or drawer, so you’re not rummaging for them later.

Meanwhile, if you’re self-employed, it’s a good idea to chat with an accountant before you apply to make sure you can prove your income. You’ll typically need your last two years of tax returns at a minimum. Though with a few mortgages, like Habito One, you only need 1 year’s accounts if you’ve been working for yourself for less than 2 years.

Beyond that, working with a mortgage broker (like Habito) can speed things up. Mortgage brokers can advise on which lenders are most likely to accept you, which lowers your chances of delays or rejection. They’ll also handle all communication between you and the lender and will give them a nudge if they’re dragging their heels. 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

Your mortgage offer will usually last for around six months. Your mortgage offer letter will tell you the exact date the offer expires.

In most cases, six months will be plenty of time to complete your new property purchase, so the expiry date shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

If your mortgage offer expires, don’t worry. You can still apply for a new mortgage with the same lender (or a different one). And if you’ve been promoted and are earning more, or you’ve saved up more for a larger deposit during that time, it might even be that you can end up being able to borrow more.

How long does it take to release mortgage funds?

When your purchase is about to complete, your solicitor or conveyancer will contact your lender and ask them to release the mortgage funds – meaning, to make the money available.

The lender will send the money to your solicitor or conveyancer, who’ll then send it on to the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. Once that’s happened, you can officially complete the property purchase and become the legal owner of your new home. 

Most lenders will take between one and seven working days to release the funds, but it depends on the lender. This part’s a waiting game – your solicitor or conveyancer will handle it for you, keep you updated, and let you know if you need to do anything else.

Move quicker with Habito

Habito is a whole-of-market broker with access to almost every type of mortgage available (over 20,000 from 90+ lenders). 

We’ll help you find the best mortgage for your situation and guide you through the entire process, from handling the application paperwork to pestering your lender for updates, all for free. Get started today.