Once your offer has been agreed with the seller, the Road to Exchange race is on! A key part of that process is to get a formal mortgage offer. However, the mortgage timeline can vary by mortgage lender, how complex your financial situation is, as well as whether you are prepared with all the documents required.
In short, the amount of time required to get a mortgage offer can be anything from as little as one week, to as long as three months. Below we outline all the steps of the mortgage timeline, as well as tips and tricks to speed it up.
Mortgage Application Timeline
There are many steps in the mortgage process, which is why sometimes the mortgage timeline can end up taking months. However, if you are prepared with all your documentation, are on top of any requests from your mortgage lender, and have a straightforward financial situation, it can take as little as two weeks.
Below are the usual mortgage timeline steps you will need to complete before getting a mortgage and eligible to Exchange Contracts.
- Getting a mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP)
- Submitting all your Proof documents, including
- Proof of ID
- Proof of Address
- Proof of Employment
- Bank and/or credit card statements for affordability checks
- Submitting the formal mortgage application (it can be rather long and detailed)
- Mortgage property valuation
At the end of this process, the mortgage lender will issue you a legally binding mortgage offer. At this stage, you will have to accept or decline it. If you accept, you will likely be required to pay the mortgage application fee at this point (if you do not decide to have it included in your mortgage amount).
It is at this stage, with a formal mortgage offer, that you can then proceed to Exchange of Contracts. There are some other requirements your conveyancer will need, such as searches and information packs from the vendor, as well as your deposit, before being able to Exchange Contracts.
How Long is the Mortgage Timeline?
It depends on when you are measuring from. First, you need to submit all your documents, and the mortgage team will review that they have all the documents they need. This usually takes a few days.
Second, you might need an initial phone call with a mortgage advisor (either at the broker or at the mortgage lender). This might take a few days to schedule. During the call you will be asked questions about your documentation, and other pertinent questions to your application. Once that is done, the advisor will write up their notes and send the application on to the underwriting team.
Third, the underwriting team is the one that will actually provide a mortgage offer. They usually take a week, sometimes up to 3-4 weeks, depending on how busy they are. In addition, they might have to come back with questions and request additional information, in which case there will be a delay as you respond, and as they re-evaluate the extra information provided. Most underwriting teams work normal office hours and not on weekends.
Fourth, once the underwriters are satisfied on your creditworthiness and affordability, a mortgage valuation needs to be done. The time it takes for a valuation can vary a lot – if it is an online or desktop valuation, it might be done within a day or two. If the underwriter wants to send someone out physically, it might take one to two weeks or even longer.
Finally, when the valuation comes back, the underwriter will usually take a few days to finalise the mortgage offer, and issue you a legally binding mortgage offer.
From submitting documents to getting a formal mortgage offer, the mortgage timeline can be anything as quick as 1-2 weeks, or as long as 3-5 weeks or even longer for more complicated cases. Therefore, it is important that you or your broker track to the progress of the application, provide any documentation or answers as soon as possible, and gentle prod the mortgage process along if it is meandering.
How to speed up mortgage application timeline
There are a few ways to speed up the mortgage process, in order to get a mortgage offer quicker.
The first is to use a mortgage broker. They will flag up all the documentation they will need so you can have ample time to collate. In addition, because they have direct lines of communication with the lender, they will be able to prod the process along. As they are professionals, they will ensure the application they submit ticks all the right boxes and the information is presented in the right way. Finally, because they have submitted many applications in the recent past, they can give an accurate view of the mortgage timeline.
The second is to get all your evidence and documents in order. For example, payslips might take weeks to get from your HR or Payroll Department. Request them as soon as possible, instead of waiting till you are asked for them. You might probably need bank statements, in which case start compiling them in the months ahead.
The third is to be proactive. Every lender and broker now has an online tracking system, which you can check progress on the mortgage timeline. If it looks like progress has stalled, be proactive and chase. Do not feel bad about “wasting time” or “harassing” the broker or mortgage lender. They are there to offer you a service, so you have every right to chase if the mortgage timeline is not progressing as quick as you would like.
The fourth is to see if you can get the mortgage valuation done earlier, instead of at the end of the underwriting process. However, be aware of the financial risk – if the underwriters do not offer you a mortgage and the valuation has been done, you may have to pay for the valuation!
The fifth is to choose a lender who has efficient and quick underwriting processes. However, there is no one lender that is the best; it depends on the volumes of applications they are getting at that time. If they have a market leading rate, you can bet they are being inundated with applications, and their mortgage timeline is longer than usual. One pro tip we can give is to check on the MoneySavingExpert mortgage forum, to read fresh feedback on current mortgage applications, to see which mortgage lenders are struggling with their mortgage timeline. You can then decide whether to avoid that mortgage lender or not.
Mortgage Timeline by Bank / Mortgage Lender
Every bank or mortgage lender will have a different set of standards for how quick they will process mortgage application timelines. We have gone through their websites, talked to industry insiders, and collated data from First Time Buyers we know, to come up with a rough guide of mortgage timelines by bank or mortgage lender below.
Quick links to each bank’s mortgage timeline:
- HSBC Mortgage Timeline
- Natwest Mortgage Timeline
- Nationwide Mortgage Timeline
- Santander Mortgage Timeline
- Halifax Mortgage Timeline
- Barclays Mortgage Timeline
- Platform Mortgage Timeline
- Accord Mortgage Timeline
HSBC Mortgage Timeline
- 2 weeks wait for an appointment with a Mortgage Advisor / Manager for the phone interview. Feedback from First Time Buyers is that it can sometimes be as long as 4 weeks
- Normally, it takes 7 days after the mortgage interview for your application to be reviewed by an underwriter. However, sometimes if the application is super straightforward, it will not need to go to underwriting, and just go direct to valuation. However, in 2020 we have heard cases of taking up to 3-5 weeks for an underwriter to review cases.
- If you are not a HSBC customer, you will need to get a login via post, so you can go into your application/account and confirm details. This takes up to 3-4 working days.
Natwest Mortgage Timeline
- After submitting documents, typically it takes 5-10 working days for them to process through. If all the documents are in order, then you can proceed to the next step of booking in a valuation.
- Typically, Natwest will request payslips 3-4 days after you submit your application, so try to have these handy and ready!
- If a physical valuation is required, reports from First Time Buyers say that it then adds another 2-3 weeks of waiting to the mortgage timeline, before the underwriters can issue a mortgage offer.
- Once a valuation is completed, it typically takes 5-7 working days for the underwriting team to complete the rest of the process and issue a mortgage offer.
- For complex cases, that require detailed underwriting assessment, the typical mortgage timeline once all documents received is 10-15 days for a decision to be made.
Nationwide Mortgage Timeline
- Nationwide use automated systems, which mean if you are a vanilla case then your mortgage application timeline can be very quick and efficient.
- We have heard reports of mortgage offers being given the same day as the valuation! This must mean that the surveyors they use are very quick, uploading directly to their systems after visiting the property, and that Nationwide use automated decision making.
- In addition, if you are a long-standing customer with Nationwide and have your pay going into their current accounts, as well as a good credit history with them, sometimes they do not even need payslips to be uploaded.
- Valuation booking is typically offered the day after your application has been submitted.
- Valuations happen at the earliest 7-14 days after you book it in.
- There are numerous cases of First Time Buyers getting a mortgage offer within 2 weeks with Nationwide, provided you are a vanilla case. This is regardless of whether you apply with a broker or direct. Therefore, Nationwide ware one of the fastest banks when it comes to the mortgage timeline.
Santander Mortgage Timeline
- Santander is known to be more picky than other lenders, and thus the Santander mortgage timeline is generally slower, especially if it is not a vanilla case (eg self employed, etc).
- Feedback from First Time Buyers have been that the quickest is around 2 weeks in terms of Santander mortgage timeline, from submitting application to getting a mortgage offer.
- Once you submit your application, it typically takes 5-7 working days for the mortgage team to assess your application. Typically, they will ask for copies of your payslips at this point of the mortgage application timeline, so make sure you have them ready .
- Once the valuation is complete, and all documents are provided, it sometimes takes up to 2 weeks for the underwriters to provide a mortgage offer.
- If it is a desktop valuation, there have been cases where the Santander mortgage offer has been provided on the same day.
- The frustration with Santander is that they are not very good at communicating updates or progress, so make sure you or your broker are proactive in chasing them for updates.
Halifax Mortgage Timeline
- Halifax have the fastest mortgage timeline we have seen recently, out of all the banks! One First Time Buyer we know got a full mortgage offer within 5 days of having the interview with the mortgage manager. The key was that the valuation done was a desktop valuation, and the case did not have to go to the underwriters to process.
- With Halifax, they normally offer the option of booking in a valuation at the same time as the mortgage application and uploading all your documents, which helps to speed up the mortgage timeline considerably.
- Halifax are very good with vanilla cases – but if you have any complexity in your application, such as being self-employed, high LTV, some adverse event on your credit report, or KYC issues, then the process is considerably slower.
- If you are using Help To Buy, feedback from First Time Buyers is that the Halifax mortgage timeline is much slower, adding on at least a few extra weeks to the process.
- If a physical valuation is required, unfortunately with Halifax it looks like they have a wait anything from 1 week to 5 weeks for the valuation to be done, depending on your local area.
Barclays Mortgage Timeline
- After documents are submitted (and mortgage manager interview, if required), Barclays usually take up to a week for a mortgage advisor/manager to go through your documents and come back with any additional requests.
- If you apply via a broker, it seems that Barclays allows for valuations to be booked in on the same day the application is submitted, which can save time in the mortgage timeline.
- If an in-person valuation is required, dates are usually offered 7-14 days later. The valuation report then takes up to 3-5 working days to be sent back to the underwriters. The guidance from Barclays is that once the valuation comes back, it usually takes 5 working days for the underwriters to finish their assessment and provide a decision (or request for more information).
- Barclays is notorious for additional KYC documents being requested. If you do get a request for additional documents as proof of your identity or address, it usually takes another 4-6 working days for the team to confirm you have passed, after you upload the additional documents.
- The quickest Barclays mortgage timeline we have seen is 8 days between submitting documents and receiving a mortgage offer. The slowest we have seen in the past year is about 2.5 months, due to failing underwriting the first time, additional documents requested, and a valuation that came back lower than the property price.
- Barclays sends out the hard copy of the mortgage offer via second class post, which will take 2-4 working days to reach your conveyancer. Your conveyancer is only able to proceed to Exchange of Contracts once he or she has that hard copy.
Platform Mortgage Timeline
- Platform have been very popular due to their low rates and low fees, and throughout 2020 we heard multiple feedback from First Time Buyers that they have been very slow in terms of their mortgage timelines.
- After application has been submitted, the next step is booking in a valuation. This typically takes Platform 7-10 days to get to this step, although some First Time Buyers had to wait 14-18 days to get to the valuation booking step.
- If you pay to upgrade the valuation, the valuation will then take place after underwriting is almost complete instead of before.
- Guidance from brokers and also from Platform is that from application submission to mortgage offer, the Platform mortgage timeline is taking at least 4 weeks, and usually 6-8 weeks.
Accord Mortgage Timeline
- They are quite a small mortgage provider, so we have limited experience of them here at First Time Buyer Help.
- Brokers we know have indicated between 2-3 weeks mortgage timeline for the vanilla cases. The one First Time Buyer we know of who went through Accord got their mortgage offer in 3 weeks after application.
- Once you submit an application, if no additional documents are required, then the valuation booking step can be available in 4-6 working days.
- If a physical valuation is required, then the timeline between booking and valuation is about 2-3 weeks, but up to 4 weeks if surveyors in your area are busy.
- If additional documents are required, the Accord mortgage timeline can be stretched to be very long – it takes them about 5-7 days each time they get new documents, to assess. Therefore if there are multiple cycles of document or information being requested, each cycle adds an extra week to the process!
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Originally posted 1st May 2021 but it has had minor updates since then.