How to Apply for a Mortgage and Understanding the Application Process

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Home Mortgage Application How To Apply For A Mortgage And Understanding The Application Process
Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: March 11, 2024

In this article, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about applying for a mortgage, including a complete walk-through of the application process from start to finish, the documents you’ll need and how a broker can help make things easier for you.

What does the mortgage application process involve?

There are a number of stages to the process. Here’s a step-by-step guide…

Speak to a broker

Before doing anything, it’s wise to talk to a qualified mortgage broker who’ll be able to advise you on how much you can afford to borrow, how likely you are to be approved for a home loan, and what type of mortgage would best suit your circumstances. You may find you’re in a position to borrow more (or less) than you first thought.

A broker will also be able to advise you on which lenders to approach and which to avoid. For example, if your situation is in any way complex (previous bad credit issues or inconsistent earnings history, for example), a broker may suggest a specialist lender.

Get an agreement in principle

An agreement in principle (AIP) – also known as a decision in principle or mortgage in principle (DIP/MIP) – is a statement from a lender outlining how much they’re prepared to lend you before you formally apply for a mortgage. While it’s not a guarantee (a lender will want to conduct further – more detailed – credit and affordability checks before confirming its offer), it gives you a pretty good idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow so is very helpful when it comes to budgeting.

Find your new home and make an offer

Now it’s time to start house hunting. Once you’ve found a property you like, you can then make an offer. Having an agreement in principle always looks good as the vendor will know you’re a serious buyer. If the property is highly sought after, it’ll give you an advantage over others who may not have their AIP.

While you don’t want to rush the house-hunting process, it’s worth bearing in mind that many agreements in principle are only valid for 30 days, but some can be in place for between 60-90 days.

Instruct a solicitor

You’ll need a solicitor to make sure all the legalities of buying the property are met. Your solicitor will carry out a range of tasks including:

  • Carrying out checks and searches to see if there are any concerns you need to know about such as planning issues or anyone having rights over the property;
  • Ensuring you pay the correct amount of stamp duty
  • Transferring funds
  • Obtaining new title deeds
  • Agreeing on a completion date
  • Make a formal mortgage application

Make a formal mortgage application

Next, it’s time to formally apply for your mortgage. You’ll need to gather all necessary documents together (see below for more details) and send them to the lender. Your broker will advise you of what’s required.

Get a valuation

Your lender will do its own valuation of the property to make sure it’s worth the amount you’re paying for it. However, it’s a good idea to get your own, independent valuation carried out. This will flag any problems or defects with the property that could end up costing you down the line, such as mould or unstable walls.

Receive your formal mortgage offer, exchange contracts and move-in

Once you’ve received a formal mortgage offer from your lender and your solicitor has completed all their paperwork, it’s time to exchange contracts, agree on a completion date and move into your new home.

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Documents you’ll need

Applying for a mortgage involves a fair amount of paperwork. If you miss anything, your lender might not be able to approve your application.

That’s why it’s worth getting all of your documents in order beforehand. Lenders generally require…

  • Proof of income (typically your last three months’ payslips or 2-3 years certified self-employed accounts. You may also need to show three months’ bank statements)
  • Your latest P60 form (showing how much you earn and the tax you pay each year)
  • proof of ID (passport or driver’s licence)
  • Proof of address (a utility or credit card bill)
  • Evidence of your deposit (for example, a savings statement)
  • A letter from the person gifting you the deposit, if the deposit is a gift
  • Evidence of any bonuses or commission
  • Your current mortgage statement if you already have a mortgage
  • Credit reports
  • Estate agent details
  • Solicitor details

If you’re applying for a joint or multiple-applicant mortgage each applicant will need to provide separate documents for their own proof of income, ID, bank statements etc. 

How a broker can help

While there’s nothing stopping you from applying for a mortgage directly with a lender, if you want to increase your chances of being approved, it’s worth seeking advice from an independent mortgage broker.

There are a number of reasons for this.

  • An independent – or whole-of-market – broker will be able to review your finances and your situation and tell you which type of mortgage you should apply for, which lenders to approach and whether a particular deal is right for you.
  • They’ll be able to do all the product research for you and speak to lenders on your behalf, which will speed up the process.
  • Your broker will know the application process by heart and will use their experience to guide you through it from start to finish, making sure you send all essential paperwork to the lender.

Need help finding a broker? Get in touch and we’ll match you with one from our extensive network who’ll be able to contact you straight away to get started.

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What do lenders consider when assessing applications?

Each lender will have its own set of eligibility criteria when it comes to assessing mortgage applications but, in general, they’ll look at the following:


Lenders will want to know how much you – and anyone you’re buying the property with – earns and whether that income is regular. They’ll do this by looking at your recent payslips or set of accounts if you’re self-employed.

What to do if you have a complex income

A complex income is when you earn in any other way than a straightforward salary that’s paid into your account every month.

Freelancers often fall into this category as their salaries can fluctuate month-on-month and can be irregular. However, there are plenty of other reasons you may have a complex income. For example, you may earn commission or bonuses, work overtime, or could be a company director earning a combination of salary and dividends.

While it’s still possible to get a mortgage if you have a complex income, it may be slightly harder as lenders won’t be able to use their standard set of affordability criteria.  But your broker will be able to identify the right lenders who can best deal with this type of application.


To establish whether you can afford the mortgage, lenders will request to see evidence of your outgoings. They’ll want to know about things like credit cards, personal loans, car loans, pensions and childcare costs to make sure you’ll be able to cope with your monthly mortgage repayments.


Many providers have an upper age limit of 75 for taking out new loans. That’s not to say older borrowers can’t get a mortgage. There are plenty of options available. You may just need to use a provider who specialises in later-life lending if you fall into this category.

The role your credit history plays

Lenders will look at your track record of paying back loans by reviewing your credit history. This will contain details of all your past loans including credit cards, mobile phone agreements, overdrafts and mortgages. Your credit reports also record how much credit you were given and how good you were at making the repayments.

Having black marks on your credit reports doesn’t mean you can’t get a mortgage. It may, however, impact the range of deals available to you. If you’re worried about any type of bad credit showing on your report, a broker will be able to identify lenders that specialise in these situations.

Head to our credit reports page to find out how to download your credit reports for free.


Lenders will take a keen interest in your type of employment to assess how much and how regularly you’re paid. If you’re in what’s deemed ‘non-standard’ employment – for example you’re self-employed, you work part-time or you’re a contractor – it could be trickier to get your application approved, but it’s far from impossible.

Most lenders like to see consistency in your employment history, but it is possible to get approved if there are gaps. In these instances, the lending decision might come down to how long the gap is (anything over six months will need a good explanation) and why it occurred.

Property type

The type of property you’re buying could affect whether a lender approves your application or not. If you’re buying a non-standard property – such as a house with a thatched roof, a listed building, or a barn conversion – you may find it trickier to secure a mortgage. This is because lenders will be concerned about resale potential if they have to repossess your home. Non-standard properties often require a lot of maintenance and specific insurance, which can be costly. As a result, there tends to be less demand for them.

There are still plenty of lenders who’ll lend to you. Your choice may just be more limited.


Lenders will always take into consideration the size of your deposit. Typically, the larger your deposit, the more chance you’ll have of getting your mortgage approved. That’s because lenders will view you as a less risky borrower if you have a larger amount of your own money invested in the property.

If you have a sizeable deposit, you’ll probably also have access to a wider range of cheaper deals and rates.

As well as the size of your deposit, lenders will also want to know where your deposit has come from. Lenders have strict anti-money laundering rules in place to make sure money used for mortgage deposits is legitimate. There are various ways to prove where your funds have come from, including bank or savings account statements, evidence of a sale of a property or proof of an inheritance.

Get matched with a broker to guide you through the application process

Whatever your situation, if you’re ready to start the mortgage application process, it’s worth speaking to an independent broker first. They’ll be able to guide you through the journey, ensure you have all the correct documentation, and advocate for you with lenders.

They can also often secure highly competitive deals and may have access to exclusive products that aren’t available to the general public, which could save you money.

Our broker-matching service can connect you with an expert who can help you with the mortgage application process.

Give us a call on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry and get matched with a broker today for a free initial conversation.

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There’s no hard and fast rule but if your application is pretty straightforward, it can be as quick as 30-40 days from submission to being approved. On average, you should expect the process to take up to 6-8 weeks (particularly for more complex applications). 

The general advice is to begin the mortgage application process before you start house hunting. Having financing in place early on will put you at an advantage over other buyers and will reduce the chances of delays once you’ve found a house. Applying early also means you’ll have a more accurate picture of how much you can spend.

You’re not legally obliged to get insurance for a mortgage but for some lenders, building insurance and life cover will be a precondition for letting you borrow money.

Another type of protection that homeowners usually consider is mortgage protection payment insurance (MPPI). This comes in several varieties and can cover “unemployment only”, “accident and sickness only” and “accident, sickness and unemployment”.

Your broker will be able to advise you on the type of cover you need.

No, for the most part, mortgages in Wales work in exactly the same way as mortgages in England and use the same criteria too.

The only real differences are related to the government schemes such as Help to Buy, Shared Ownership and Right to Buy. As these are run by the Welsh Government, some of the specifics can vary.

For full details, use the links below to head over to the Welsh Government’s official website for each scheme.

There are brokers in our network who specialise in the Welsh market, so if you’re looking for a mortgage there, they could potentially help you secure an exclusive deal that’s superior to what you’d find on the high street or on Google.

Yes, it’s possible. Being diagnosed with cancer doesn’t mean your application will get automatically turned down. Getting a mortgage is based on a number of different criteria – income/outgoings, age, and credit history. What a lender is most concerned about is that you can pay back any loan you take out.

A mortgage provider won’t generally ask about the state of your health but in asking about your income there may be some anomalies if you have cancer. For example, if you’ve had to stop working your income may change. On the other hand, you may receive a level of sick pay that covers your mortgage or have a form of insurance protection such as critical illness pay that covers your mortgage in the event that you can’t pay it.

Some government benefits are available to cancer patients such as disability benefits and it’s possible that this could be used as additional income that could help pay off your mortgage.

Yes, you can.  If you’re someone’s power of attorney then your responsibilities may include making sure the individual you’re acting on behalf of has somewhere to live indefinitely.

Not all mortgage lenders will consider a mortgage application under these circumstances. Some won’t even entertain the notion of allowing an attorney to apply for a mortgage on behalf of the person who appointed them, and those who can accommodate this usually place extra scrutiny around the agreement to double-check that there’s nothing underhanded going on.

Many lenders who are open to power of attorney mortgage applications request additional underwriting assessments and may insist on manually checking the finer points of the deal. It’s not uncommon to encounter additional requirements and caveats here.

For a power of attorney mortgage application, the lender might request the following…

  • A copy of the power of attorney documentation
  • Extra checks from their underwriters and the lender’s legal department
  • Office of the Public Guardian permission if an attorney is borrowing on the donor’s behalf
  • Some lenders will decline outright if the attorney and donor are both borrowers
  • Some lenders will only allow an attorney to remortgage on behalf of the donor

If you’re still unsure what you need to do in these circumstances, it’s best to contact a mortgage broker who will, with their experience, be able to guide you through the process.

If you’re a politically exposed person, you might find it more difficult and time-consuming to get a mortgage. Some lenders, such as Clydesdale Bank and Accord Mortgages, reject applications from anyone falling into this category outright. However, there’s a fair selection of mortgage providers to choose from if you’re politically exposed, but your political status will likely mean undergoing extra checks. Information about your political status will not appear on your credit report, but lenders often check a separate register to fully understand the potential risks involved.

Mortgage lenders are obliged to take a closer look at applicants with this status since the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) states it as a requirement. Politically exposed people are generally considered to be more vulnerable to financial crime, such as…

  • Bribery
  • Money laundering
  • General abuse of public office for personal gain

As a result of these extra checks, a mortgage application can take longer to process than it would for somebody without this status. This is one of the reasons why people who fall into this category need a mortgage broker, as they can shave time off the process by helping you prepare your documents and introducing you to the right lender, first time.

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

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Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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