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Speed up your mortgage application process

Get your paperwork lined up before you apply.

Updated

You can take steps to ensuring your mortgage application sails through as quickly as possible. But it’s will likely take a couple of weeks — or even months.

How to speed up your application

Ensure your application moves along quickly by following six steps.

1. Get your documentation ready.

Lenders will need certain documents to process your application. You’ll need to provide proof of identity, proof of employment and information on your income, assets, expenses and liabilities. Having all this information handy when you apply will save you time.

2. Provide proper documentation.

Providing the wrong documents is just as bad as not having any documents to provide to your lender. Your lender may need certified copies of certain documents, and will also look for certain things on your paystub. If your paystubs don’t meet your lender’s requirements, your application could grind to a halt.

If you’re having trouble getting a requested document, talk to your lender — don’t just substitute something else that you think should work.

3. Know your credit history.

You should be well acquainted with the entries on your credit report before you even sit down with a mortgage consultant or broker. Bad marks on your credit file could see your application slowed down or even rejected. Check your credit before you apply to save yourself any nasty surprises.

4. Build up your down payment.

The more you have saved up for a down payment, the more attractive you’ll be to lenders.

A small down payment will also cost you in the long run. If you have less than a 20% down payment, you’ll have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is an insurance policy that covers your lender in the event that you can’t repay your mortgage. It generally costs around 0.5% to 1% of your mortgage annually.

5. Pay down or eliminate your debt.

The fewer liabilities you have when you apply for a mortgage, the better your chances of success. A lender will look at any outstanding credit accounts you have and use them to assess your ability to repay a home loan.

Your application will be most impacted by revolving debt, like credit cards. Paying down your credit cards will help a lot with your application. While long-term debts, like a car payment or student loan, can also affect your ability to qualify, they’re generally less important.

6. Pay attention to detail.

Mistakes on your paperwork might not derail your mortgage application entirely, but they could certainly make it a much lengthier process. Make sure you pay close attention and fill out the form completely and accurately.

Mortgage timeline

From application to closing, it usually takes around one to two months to get a mortgage. But it can be faster if you have the right application and the lender isn’t overwhelmed with other applicants — or a lot longer if there are problems with your application.

How long does preapproval take?

You can often get preapproved in just one or two days. This doesn’t mean that you’re guaranteed an accepted application, but it does give you a good idea of what kind of loan you’ll be able to qualify for so that you can start shopping for homes.

Lender processing times

Processing times vary from one lender to another. Some can turn an application around within a couple of weeks, while others could take months. It’s a good idea to ask your lender about the timeframe before applying — especially if you’re under a specific time restraint, like if you have a lease that’s about to end.

Submitting a loan application

For your loan application to progress past preapproval, you’ll need to provide documentation on your assets, income, expenses and liabilities. You’ll need to either bring these documents with you to your consultation with a mortgage broker or lending specialist or submit them online, depending on your lender.

Your mortgage broker will provide a list of all the things you need to supply before you come to the consultation and your lending specialist should provide you with the same information.

You should be able to provide the following information:

  • Copies of your recent paystubs. Generally you’ll need several months worth of paystubs, though it can vary from lender to lender. If you’re self employed, talk with your lender about how to prove your income.
  • Information about additional income. If you have rental income, freelance income or income from any other source, you’ll need to bring documentation showing how much you make. This can include bank statements, receipts and/or tax returns.
  • Information about assets. Details about things like stocks, investments, CDs, savings accounts, other real estate you own or any other assets or financial accounts.
  • Details of your expenses. This can include student debt payments, car and insurance payments, credit card payments and your monthly budget.

Private mortgage insurance

If your loan-to-value ratio is over 80%, then your application will be passed to a private mortgage insurer. This can take another several days or more and may require an additional credit check.

How should I apply?

The best way to apply depends on your financial history and what you’re looking for in a lender.

Applying with a mortgage broker

The primary benefit of applying for a mortgage through a broker is that you can leverage their industry knowledge and networks to find a suitable product. Typically, a broker has access to a large database of providers including banks, lending societies, credit unions, and non-bank or specialist lenders. A broker can be especially useful if you’re a borrower with bad credit or if you’re having trouble with your application.

Applying at a branch

A bank loan officer generally acts in a similar way to a mortgage broker, but they represent the lending institution and can match you with the best loan available from that institution. If you’re an existing customer of the bank or credit union and you have a good credit history, you can negotiate for a competitive deal on your mortgage.

If you prefer to speak with someone face-to-face, then you may benefit from applying in person as you’ll have a direct contact to help you through the application process. As there is no intermediary involved, such as a broker, the bank representative will be an expert on the lender’s application process, lending policies and products, which may speed up the process.

Applying online

Applying online lets you compare many different lenders and can help you get a great deal on a mortgage. You can also generally upload any necessary documents right away, instead of waiting for an appointment with a broker, which can save you time and help your application be processed faster.

My application got rejected. Why?

Your mortgage application could be rejected for many reasons. But most come down to seven factors:

  1. Your income is too low
  2. Your debt is too high
  3. Your down payment isn’t large enough
  4. The property isn’t acceptable as security for a home loan
  5. You have bad credit history
  6. You have a short employment history
  7. You’ve applied too many times

Fortunately, you can do something to avoid these rejections. Build a bigger down payment, wait to apply until you’ve been in your job a bit longer, seek help from a lender specializing in bad credit or pay down your existing debts before you reapply.

Bottom line

Applying for a new mortgage can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months or more, but you can speed up your mortgage application process by getting everything ready ahead of time. And once you’ve gathered all your documents and you know you’re ready to buy a house, compare mortgages and apply for one that’s the right fit.

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