A guide to applying for a mortgage

The mortgage application process explained


Applying for a mortgage can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Knowing what to expect at each stage can help to make the process a little easier and improve your chances of a successful application.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through everything you need to know – from cleaning up your credit score to getting your official mortgage offer.

Remember your mortgage is secured on your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments.

Check your credit score

Before you apply for a mortgage, it’s a good idea to check the health of your credit score. Your score represents your creditworthiness and will be used by your lender to determine your eligibility for a mortgage.

Your credit score is calculated using a points system, based on what is in your credit report. Generally speaking, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for a mortgage. So, it’s usually wise to clear any outstanding debts you have before applying.

You can find out more about improving your credit rating in our guide to buying your first home.

See how much you can borrow

While specific criteria may vary depending on your lender, mortgage affordability assessments are largely based on your income and expenditure. This is because your lender will need to make sure you’re able to cover repayments after all of your other outgoings.

You can find out how much you can borrow using an online mortgage affordability calculator.

Obtain a decision in principle

Once your lending potential has been assessed, you can apply for a ‘decision in principle’. This is also known as an ‘agreement in principle’ or a ‘mortgage promise’.

A decision in principle is a document stating what a mortgage provider would be willing to lend, subject to you completing a full application. While it doesn’t mean you’ve been granted a mortgage, it does provide you with a way to show genuine intent to buy when viewing properties.

When you apply for a decision in principle, your lender may carry out a soft credit check to help them evaluate the risk involved in lending to you. In most cases, a decision in principle won’t impact your credit score. This is because a soft credit check won’t leave a visible footprint on your report.

Alongside your credit check, there are other details your lender will ask for. This is likely to include:

  • Your address history (usually for the last three years)
  • Your income (including your salary, bonuses, benefits and pension schemes)
  • Your expenditure and existing credit agreements (for example, credit cards or other loans)

A decision in principle is typically valid for between 60 to 90 days, but this does vary based on your lender.

Make your offer

Once you’ve found a property you want to buy, and you’ve decided how much you’re going to offer, you’ll usually make your offer via the estate agent. The estate agent will then pass your offer onto the seller.

If your offer is accepted, you should receive confirmation from your estate agent. Once you have this, you can appoint a solicitor to handle your purchase and liaise with your lender to finalise the mortgage agreement.

Find a mortgage deal

Finding the right mortgage deal can be complex and time-consuming. This is where seeking advice from a specialist mortgage broker could help.

A good mortgage broker will have access to the whole of the market, including deals that may not be available on the high street. They’ll also be able to advise on affordability, term length and the types of mortgages that are available to you – for example, fixed-rate or tracker.

To help establish the right deal for you, a Specialist Mortgage Adviser will ask you a number of questions. This might include how much you can comfortably commit to each month, which will dictate how long your mortgage term should be.

To explore your options in more detail, get in touch with our expert mortgage team today.

Wesleyan Financial Services (WFS) provides broker and advice services. WFS is paid a fee by the mortgage lender upon completion of the loan.

Finalise your mortgage application

Once your offer has been accepted and you’ve found a mortgage deal, you can proceed with your official application.

While requirements will vary among lenders, you’ll typically be asked for the following information:

Personal information

Your personal information includes your full name, date of birth, contact details and current address, as well as address details for the last three years.

Employment and income details

You’ll need to provide your lender with information about your current employment status, including the name, address and contact details of your employer. You’ll also need to supply documentation to verify your income, such as payslips, P60 forms and bank statements.

Depending on the lender and specific circumstances, there may be additional documentation requirements. For example, proof of self-employment income (usually two or more years of certified accounts and/or self-assessment records), divorce or separation documentation and details about any other properties you own.

Financial information

Your financial information includes your savings, investments and any outstanding debts you have. You may be asked to provide bank statements, investment statements and details about any loans or credit cards you hold.

Credit information

Your mortgage application will involve a full credit check. This will provide the lender with information about your financial history, including your credit score and any outstanding debts you have.

Property details

Your lender will also require information about the property you are purchasing or remortgaging, including address, purchase price and type (for example, freehold or leasehold).

Identification and proof of address

You will need to provide identification documents, such as a passport or driving licence. You will also need to prove your address, which is typically done using a utility bill or bank statement (or a combination of documents).

Mortgage deposit details

Your deposit details include the amount of money you’re putting towards the property purchase, as well as the source of your funds.

When you apply for a mortgage loan, it’s common for your provider to ask for proof of deposit. This might include bank or investment account statements, signed contractual agreements or certain forms of certification.

Accepting your mortgage offer

Once you’ve completed your application, you’ll receive an official mortgage offer which you will need to sign if you choose to accept. Your offer will usually be valid for three to six months, which will give your solicitor enough time to complete their searches.

If your offer expires before the property purchase is finalised, it’s likely that you will have to reapply for your mortgage – be that with the same lender or a different lender.

Some lenders will allow you to extend your offer for a further three months at the rate you applied for, but this isn’t guaranteed and should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

Exchange contracts and pay your deposit

Once your solicitor has completed their searches, they should send you a contract to sign which will complete the sale and mean you are legally bound to buy the property.

As part of the exchange of contracts, you’ll need to pay your deposit if you haven’t already. This is paid to your solicitor, who will hold the money before sending it onto the seller on completion of the sale.

Agree a completion date

The final stage of the home-buying process is to agree a completion date. This will happen when the contracts are signed by you and the seller.

On completion day, the money you are borrowing from the bank is transferred to the seller. This will also include your deposit. At this point, you will be the official homeowner and can begin the process of moving in.

Mortgage payments are usually paid on a monthly basis, with the first one due within 30 to 45 days of the loan beginning. However, it’s important to confirm these details with your lender to determine the exact date of when your mortgage payments will begin.

You might be interested in…

Find a mortgage

There aren’t many things in life more important than a home. Whether you’re buying your first property or seeking a better mortgage deal, see how Wesleyan Financial Services can help.

Mortgage affordability calculator

Wondering how much you can afford to borrow for your home? Use our free mortgage affordability calculator to estimate the amount you’ll be able to borrow.

Buying your first home

Stepping onto the housing ladder is as daunting as it is exciting. This guide takes you through the basics of a mortgage and how you can increase your chances of a successful application.