What is the Mortgage Application Timeline?

Read on to learn more!

Updated: November 22, 2023
Matt Crabtree

Written By

Matt Crabtree

 

Buying a home is one of the most exciting times of your life, but it can also be incredibly stressful. You’ve found your dream home, you placed your offer, and now you’re just waiting on the mortgage process. It seems like it’s taking forever! 

Most people that apply for a mortgage are used to credit cards or personal loans that are often processed within a day or two. But this isn’t how the mortgage process works. It’s a big investment, and one that you might be paying on for the next 30 years. It makes sense that the process might be slightly more involved. 

Hang tight and work through the process. When your lender request and documents or information, be quick about getting in touch with them. In this guide, we go over the mortgage application timeline and what to expect from the process. 

Mortgage Application Timeline Overview

There are a lot of steps involved in obtaining a mortgage.

From obtaining your mortgage in principle to finding a home to finally exchanging contracts and completing the purchase. Some steps are quick, while others might take anywhere from 1–3 months

Take a quick look at this time timeline breakout. 

  • Obtain mortgage in principle (pre-approval) — 2–4 days
  • Find your home — varies
  • Complete mortgage application — 1–2 weeks
  • Mortgage valuation, inspections, etc. — average 2 weeks
  • Conveyancing — up to 12 weeks
  • Exchange contracts — average 30–60 days
  • Complete and finalize — 1–4 weeks

Each of these steps has unique processes to go through, although some of them are happening simultaneously. Even with things running smoothly, you should plan for somewhere around 60 days for the application timeline. 

Obtain Mortgage in Principle

A mortgage in principle is much like obtaining a pre-approval. This is your first step to even know how much you can afford to spend and whether you are likely to be approved when you submit the complete mortgage application. A mortgage in principle is meant to provide you an idea of how much you may be able to borrow. 

This helps to provide you a shopping range so you can be sure to look for homes that fall beneath this limit. Some lenders will provide you an instant mortgage in principle approval, but others may take a couple of days to get you results. It simply depends on the lender. 

This is generally pretty quick and then you can start looking for your home!

Many people try to skip the mortgage in principle step, but it really is a valuable process. The first benefit is that it gives you a clear indication of the amount you might be able to borrow so you don’t shop way out of your price range. What you think you can afford and what the lenders say you can afford doesn’t always match up. 

In addition, this gives you the time to start budgeting and have clarity on where to start. Estate agents and property owners really appreciate it when you’ve taken this step. It’s a sign of good faith that you’re serious and that you know what type of mortgage you can take on. 

Find Your Home

Finding the home that calls to you can vary. It’s possible you will go out looking and find the dream home the first place you go. It’s also possible that you will spend 1–3 months looking for the perfect place to call home. 

We know you’re in a hurry to find your home to settle in to. Sometimes, time is not on our side if you’re moving for work or something like that. However, it’s important to take your time and find a home that meets your needs and is in the area you want. After all, this will be a long commitment.

You don’t want to purchase a home that isn’t going to work for you a year down the road. 

Of course, unexpected things can occur, but it’s best to do your best to find something that will be a long-term fit. Then, you place an offer with the agent that you are using. Not all offers are accepted right away. There may be some negotiating and they may choose another offer. Keep going until you find the right fit and get an accepted offer! 

Take note that while you are looking for your home, mortgage in principle offers can expire. It will be important to keep those dates in mind in case you need to obtain a new mortgage in principle before you find your home. 

Complete Mortgage Application

Now it’s time for the paperwork. Completing the mortgage application itself might not take you very long. It’s mostly a form to complete, but then you also have to submit the appropriate documents too. And after that, your mortgage lender will go over everything with a fine tooth comb. 

Some lenders have an online mortgage application process, while others may work via paper. This could also affect your timeline if one or the other is easier for you. Many times, completing the mortgage application is up to how quickly you turn things in or provide responses when the lender needs something. 

The lender will process your application and determine if you are approved. This generally takes an average of about two weeks to complete, assuming you provide all documentation required up front and respond quickly to follow up requests. During the mortgage application, they look at many things. Here are a few. 

  • Credit History
  • Income
  • Work History
  • Finances and Assets
  • Mortgage valuation

Take care in choosing your lender. There are plenty of options out there and you want to use one that has a good reputation and will suit your needs. Consider whether you already have a banking relationship somewhere, or whether you want to use another third part that you’ve heard about. 

Mortgage Valuation, Inspections, Survey, Etc.

While you are waiting for mortgage completion, there will be some added steps along the way. Those steps include any kind of survey, inspection, or valuation process that you request or your lender requires.

You can request your own survey if you like, but your lender will require a survey and valuation for the mortgage process too. 

These steps typically take anywhere from 2–3 weeks as they schedule the professional to value the property, wait for the review to be sent back to them, and review that data themselves to look for issues. 

If surveys and inspections return any concerns, there may be further negotiations with the current homeowners for required repairs or updates before the mortgage lender will finalize this mortgage. In addition, the value of the mortgage will have to be with a certain range of this valuation to ensure you are not overpaying. 

Some people choose to get the survey before making their bid for purchase. This is up to you and your solicitor. 

Set your expectations as every home may have some sort of issue. Very rarely are homes in absolutely perfect condition. What you or your lender requires repairs for may vary, or you may accept the property as it is too. In some cases, you may be able to ask for a discounted price as well. 

Conveyancing

The conveyancing process is what takes the longest of the mortgage application timeline. This process is required and can take up to 12 weeks to complete in some cases. At the shortest, you’re looking at close to 6 weeks minimum. A conveyancer or a licensed solicitor must be used. They handle the legalities before the property purchase can be finalized. 

During the conveyance process, the professional will ensure you can legitimately transfer ownership of property and that you and the seller qualify for this transaction. They look into the history of property, draw up the legal documents for the contract exchange and property transfer, and make sure there are no hiccups. 

Conveyancers have specific processes they go through. If they run into any problems, it can make it take longer. There is little you can do to speed this up, you simply have to wait for their processes to be completed. 

Contract Exchange

Once the mortgage is ready and in place and your conveyancing is on the move, you can begin the contract exchange process. This is the part where your conveyancer works with the seller’s conveyancer to exchange contracts and start finalized the process.

At this point, you need to be prepared to submit your initial deposit for the home you plan to purchase. This is a contract and it is legally binding, which is why it happens after many of the other steps. 

If you haven’t already, you need to obtain the appropriate insurance in place and start preparing for completion. The contract exchange process can vary, but plan on anywhere from 2 weeks to 30 days. Most of the time, the completion date is set for about two weeks after contracts are exchanged. 

This leaves time for any final processes that need to occur, and allowing you to make any necessary final preparations as well. 

Complete and Finalize

You’ve finally made it!

After what feels like months (and it might have been), you’re getting the keys to your new home. On the completion date, you and the seller will sign all of the final paperwork and officially transfer ownership of the property. On this day, the home becomes yours. 

Final Thoughts

How long it takes to complete a mortgage timeline from start to finish can vary quite a bit depending on the situation. However, if you plan for a 60–90 process, this is a solid expectation in most cases. Always be responsive to your lender and be prepared to provide any documentation or information that is requested along the way. Be patient if you can. 

Soon, you will be holding the keys to your brand-new home, and it will be such an accomplishment to be proud of! What an exciting moment.

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