How Long Does the Mortgage Application Take?

Jul 30, 2023
44 People Read
The mortgage application process is the first step to owning a home. Find out how long the mortgage application takes.
Table of Contents
  1. How long does the mortgage application take?
  2. Understanding the mortgage application
    1. Personal Information
    2. Employment and Income
    3. Financial Assets and Liabilities
    4. Credit History
    5. Property Information
    6. Down Payment
  3. The bottom line

Securing a mortgage is a crucial step towards owning your dream home. Whether you're a first-time buyer or a seasoned homeowner looking to refinance, the mortgage application process is a pivotal journey that can influence your financial well-being for years to come. 

However, the path to mortgage approval is not always straightforward, and the time it takes to complete the mortgage application can vary significantly depending on multiple factors. 

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of the mortgage application timeline, exploring the key steps involved and shedding light on the elements that can expedite or prolong the process. 

How long does the mortgage application take?

The duration of the mortgage application process can vary depending on several factors, including the lender's efficiency, the complexity of the application, and the borrower's responsiveness in providing required documentation. 

On average, the process can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days. However, it's essential to note that it could be shorter or longer based on your unique circumstances.

Here's a breakdown of the typical mortgage application timeline:

1. Pre-approval stage: This is the initial step where you gather your financial information and submit it to a lender for pre-approval. Pre-approval can take as little as a few hours to a few days.

2. House hunting: The length of this stage is entirely dependent on how long it takes you to find a suitable property. It could be days, weeks, or even months.

3. Loan application: Once you've found a property, you officially apply for the mortgage. The application itself usually takes about 1 to 2 hours to complete.

4. Processing: After submitting your application, the lender will review it and request additional documentation, such as income verification, bank statements, and tax returns. This stage typically takes 2 to 4 weeks, but it can be longer if there are delays in obtaining the necessary documents.

5. Underwriting: During this phase, the lender evaluates your application and verifies that you meet their criteria for lending. Typically the underwriting process usually takes around 1 to 2 weeks.

6. Closing: Once your loan is approved, you'll schedule the closing date. The actual closing process can take a few hours. However, getting to the closing table may take a few days to a week to coordinate all the parties involved.

Keep in mind that unexpected delays can occur during the process, so it's essential to stay in communication with your lender and promptly provide any requested documentation to ensure a smoother and quicker process. 

Understanding the mortgage application

The mortgage application is designed to provide detailed information to the lender to determine your creditworthiness and assess the risk of lending you the money. 

Here are the main things to know about the mortgage application:

Personal Information

Providing accurate personal information is essential for the mortgage application. Lenders need to verify your identity and ensure that you are who you claim to be.

Your full legal name, date of birth, and contact information, including a current address and phone number, are standard requirements.

Employment and Income

Lenders want to see that you have a stable source of income to ensure you can make timely mortgage payments.

You'll typically need to provide information about your current job, including your job title, employer's name, and how long you've been employed there. If you have recently changed jobs, you might need to explain the reason for the change.

You'll also need to disclose your total income, which includes your salary or wages, as well as any additional sources of income such as bonuses, commissions, rental income, or investments.

Lenders will often ask for recent pay stubs or income verification documents, such as W-2 forms or tax returns, to verify your income.

Financial Assets and Liabilities

This section of the mortgage application aims to provide a comprehensive picture of your financial health.

You'll need to disclose all your financial assets, such as bank accounts, savings, investments, and retirement accounts.

Lenders want to see that you have sufficient funds to cover the down payment and closing costs, and they also consider your financial reserves as a measure of your ability to handle unforeseen expenses.

On the liabilities side, you'll need to list all outstanding debts, including credit card balances, student loans, auto loans, personal loans, and any other ongoing financial obligations.

Lenders calculate your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) by comparing your total monthly debt payments to your gross monthly income. A lower DTI is generally favorable for mortgage approval.

Credit History

Your credit history plays a significant role in the mortgage application process. Lenders will pull your credit report to assess your creditworthiness and gauge the level of risk in lending to you.

They'll look at factors such as your credit score, payment history, credit utilization, and the length of your credit history.

A higher credit score demonstrates responsible credit management and increases your chances of getting approved for a mortgage with favorable terms and interest rates.

If your credit score is not as strong, you may still qualify for a loan, but you might face higher interest rates or other less favorable loan terms.

Read more: The Role of Credit Scores in Mortgages

Property Information

In this section, you'll provide details about the property you intend to purchase. This includes the property's address, type (e.g., single-family home, condo, townhouse), and the estimated purchase price.

The lender needs this information to evaluate the property's value and ensure it meets their lending criteria.

The property's location and type can also impact the loan terms and interest rates. For example, certain loan programs may have specific requirements or restrictions for properties located in rural areas or high-rise buildings.

Down Payment

The down payment is a crucial aspect of the mortgage application. It represents the portion of the property's purchase price that you'll pay upfront, while the remaining amount will be financed by the mortgage loan.

The down payment is expressed as a percentage of the purchase price.

A larger down payment has several advantages: it reduces the loan amount, lowers your monthly mortgage payments, and may even help you qualify for a better interest rate.

Some loan programs may require a minimum down payment percentage, while others offer flexibility based on factors like your creditworthiness and the type of property you're buying.

Additionally, a down payment of at least 20% of the purchase price often helps you avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI), which is an additional monthly cost that protects the lender in case you default on the loan.

Read more: The #1 Tip When Saving for a Down Payment

The bottom line

The mortgage application process is a critical and necessary step in achieving the dream of homeownership, but its duration can vary significantly depending on various factors. 

While some applicants may experience a swift and seamless process, others might face delays due to complex financial situations or documentation requirements. 

To expedite the application process, applicants should ensure they have their financial documents in order, maintain clear communication with their lender, and be prepared to address any potential issues that may arise. 

By being patient, diligent, and well-prepared, prospective homeowners can increase their chances of securing a mortgage efficiently and setting the foundation for a bright and stable future in their new abode.

Related: What is a Hard Inquiry?

Trending: What Lenders Look for When Issuing a Mortgage

Table of Contents
  1. How long does the mortgage application take?
  2. Understanding the mortgage application
    1. Personal Information
    2. Employment and Income
    3. Financial Assets and Liabilities
    4. Credit History
    5. Property Information
    6. Down Payment
  3. The bottom line