Applying for a mortgage is a big process, so that's why our consultants at John Charcol will guide you through your options, timescales and key stages of the application and make sure all your queries are answered before submitting a successful thorough application. 

In this guide:

  • What’s the Mortgage Process?
  • What’s a Decision in Principle?
  • About Mortgage Requirements
  • How Long Does a Mortgage Application Take?

What’s the Mortgage Process?

You should enjoy finding your dream home. It’s a happy, exciting time. But this can be hard to remember when you’re worrying about saving a deposit and keeping up with monthly mortgage payments.

It’s not as overwhelming when you know what to expect at each step in the mortgage process, what you can afford and how long everything will take.

Taking out a mortgage can be time-consuming, depending on your circumstances. Leaving it to the last minute is unrealistic. If you’re unlucky, you may find that by the time you’re finally ready to snap up that perfect property, another buyer has beaten you to it – purely because they were better prepared. Learning about the process makes it easier to start it sooner. It also gives you an idea of what the next few months hold, which means you can start planning your future.

Here are 6 simple steps to a successful mortgage application:

1. Pre-Application
2. Initial Application
3. Assessment and Affordability Checks
4. Valuation
5. Offer
6. Completion


Before you apply for a mortgage, you need to make sure you’re in a good financial position. Gather credit reports from 3 external bodies and check that there’s no information which could deter a lender. If any information in your credit report is incorrect, contact the agency so they can amend the error as soon as possible.  Lenders may have issues if you’re not on the electoral roll, have previously missed payments on credit commitments or have defaults or county court judgments recorded against you.

You also need to assess your financial situation. How’s your credit score? Is this the right time to apply for a mortgage? A bad credit score can be severely detrimental to the deals available to you, so consider whether you need to improve your rating before starting your mortgage application.

If you’ve never applied for a mortgage before, you can use our online table to compare mortgage rates for an initial idea of the deals available to you.

There’s a lot of jargon to get your head around when you first start your research, especially if you’re a first-time buyer. Some of the terms you want to look out for include:

  • Mortgage type, e.g. fixed, variable or tracker

The interest rate on your mortgage. Your interest rate won’t change if it’s a fixed-rate, whereas the interest on a variable rate mortgage may move up and down. Tracker rate mortgages are a type of variable rate and are usually directly linked to the Bank of England base rate; they can go up as well as down. 

  • Initial rate

The rate of interest you’ll pay at the start of your mortgage before any introductory rate ends. 

  • Monthly repayments

The amount you must pay each month towards your mortgage once your contract starts based on the product interest rate, the method of repayment and the overall mortgage term. 

  • Mortgage duration

The duration of your mortgage refers to the length of the time that the introductory rate is valid. It may be that you’ve chosen a mortgage rate that’s fixed for an initial period. 

  • Scheme fees 

The money you’ll pay to arrange the mortgage. Scheme fees cover costs such as arrangement, valuation and property surveying. Mortgage fees will typically cost you anywhere from £0 up to £2,000, depending on the chosen product. You’ll also have to pay Stamp Duty on anything above £125,000, or over £300,000 for first-time buyers.

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