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What Happens When a Mortgage Goes to Underwriting?

See what happens when a mortgage goes to underwriting and how an expert broker can help you navigate the process

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Pete Mugleston

Author: Pete Mugleston - Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: May 16, 2022

As you go through the process of buying a property, there are a number of different stages before contracts are exchanged and you receive the keys to your new home. One of those stages is the mortgage underwriting process. It’s an important part of any mortgage application and can take some time.

When you’re planning to buy a home it’s helpful to have an idea of how long it could take and which processes can take longer and what they entail. Mortgage underwriting is an essential part of any home purchase that requires a mortgage, no matter what mortgage you apply for.

We’ve written this article to give you a better idea of what happens during the mortgage underwriting process in the UK and what steps are taken during it.

What is the underwriting process of a mortgage?

Mortgage underwriting is the process during your mortgage application where the underwriters check what level of financial risk your lender would be taking by agreeing to give you a mortgage.

Professional underwriters use a series of checks to decide how likely it is that you will default on the mortgage loan you’ve applied for. If they think there’s a big risk you might not repay the mortgage in accordance with the agreement, then your mortgage application could be declined.

An experienced mortgage advisor, like those we work with, can answer all your mortgage-related questions, including the underwriting stage and help with your application to ensure you apply for the right loan and can give all the required details for it.

It’s important to always give the correct information as the mortgage underwriting process compares all the answers on your application to your financial history and any discrepancies could mean they won’t approve your mortgage.

What happens when a UK mortgage goes to the underwriting stage?

When your mortgage application goes into the underwriting stage in the UK, the underwriters use a variety of sources of information to assess your attitude to credit, repayments and lifestyle.

Underwriters will assess your creditworthiness and the degree of potential risk involved in the agreement based on information from credit referencing checksbank statements, your financial history and your mortgage application form.

Why do underwriters need this information?

The credit referencing checks show UK mortgage underwriters how many applications for loans and credit cards you’ve made in the past. They also show them if you’re a reliable borrower and pay back your loans in line with the agreed terms.

Your bank statements can be cross-referenced with your application form to show that your regular income and outgoings are in line with the answers on your form.

They can also highlight your general attitude to money. For instance, if there are a lot of payments related to gambling on your bank statement, this could suggest you have a high tolerance for risk, which could reflect badly on your commitment to repay a long-term mortgage. While it’s possible to use gambling income for a mortgage deposit in some cases, keep in mind that evidence of recurrent gambling will be red flag for some lenders.

Your financial history paints a picture of your broader attitude to money. Mortgage underwriters like to see a steady picture where you always repay any credit agreements and that your income is regular and reliable.

As we said, your mortgage application form is used by underwriters during the process and throughout the different steps, to cross-reference against the other financial information sources to ensure you’re telling the truth about your finances.

If you have a bad credit history, it can be harder to get a mortgage but it is still possible to do so, with the right advice.

The advisors we work with arrange mortgages with bad credit for customers every day and will go through all available options with you in detail.

How long does mortgage underwriting take?

Electronic mortgage underwriting checks can take less than an hour. However, that’s once the underwriter gets to your application and provided everything is straightforward and reveals nothing of concern.

It’s important to understand that if the mortgage underwriter doesn’t have all the requested information, this will delay the process and the time it takes. In addition, if further manual underwriting checks are required then the process can take longer.

Once your mortgage application is next in line to be assessed by the underwriter and provided they have all the information requested from you, then it’s likely they will complete the process in a few days.

Your mortgage application can then move onto the next step in the process.

A fully qualified mortgage broker can help make sure you have supplied all the correct information for the underwriting process to get underway and go smoothly. Then your mortgage application can move forward to the next stage.

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What happens if a mortgage is declined during the underwriting process?

If your application is declined during the mortgage underwriting process, your mortgage lender or advisor should advise you of what the problem was. In some cases, you can fix the problem and re-submit your mortgage application with the same lender.

However, there can be times when the issues identified by the mortgage underwriter imply you’re not fitting criteria or an inability to repay the mortgage you’ve applied for.

If this happens, you may need to rethink your plans and consider a different option, including:

Your mortgage advisor can help you make the right decision to move forward with your house purchase and satisfy the requirements of any mortgage underwriting checks for future applications.

Got questions about mortgage underwriting? Speak to an expert!

If you’re looking for a mortgage and want to ensure you sail through the underwriting process, speak to a qualified and experienced mortgage advisor like those we work with can help.

Contact us on 0808 189 2301 or fill in our online enquiry form.

We’ll put you in touch with one of the experienced mortgage brokers we work with.

As well as helping you navigate the mortgage underwriting process, they’ll be happy to answer any questions you have, source the right mortgage and find a suitable lender with the best rates too.

Ask a quick question

We know everyone's circumstances are different, that's why we work with mortgage brokers who are experts in all different mortgage subjects.

Ask us a question and we'll get the best expert to help.

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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 OMA of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of the most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The information on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs.

Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.

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