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How To Apply For Mortgage

Buying your first home is an exciting milestone, but navigating the mortgage application process can be daunting. Understanding each step of the process will help you approach it with confidence and increase your chances of securing a mortgage. This guide will walk you through how to apply for a mortgage in the UK, offering tips and insights specifically tailored for first-time buyers.

1. Understand What a Mortgage Is

A mortgage is a loan you take out to buy property or land. Most run for 25 years, but the term can be shorter or longer. The loan is ‘secured’ against the value of your home until it’s paid off. If you fail to keep up with your mortgage repayments, the lender can repossess your home and sell it to recover the money you owe.

2. Check Your Credit Score

Your credit score plays a crucial role in determining your mortgage eligibility. Lenders use it to assess how risky it is to lend you money. Here’s how you can check and improve your credit score:

  • Check Your Credit Report: Obtain your credit report from major credit reference agencies like Experian, Equifax, or TransUnion.
  • Fix Errors: Look for any mistakes and get them corrected.
  • Reduce Debt: Pay off outstanding debts and avoid taking out new loans.
  • Manage Credit Accounts: Keep old accounts open and use them responsibly to build a good credit history.

3. Determine How Much You Can Afford

Before applying for a mortgage, you need to know how much you can afford to borrow. This depends on your income, expenses, and the size of your deposit. Use online mortgage calculators to get an estimate of how much you can borrow and what your monthly repayments might be.

4. Save for a Deposit

The size of your deposit affects the mortgage deals available to you. Generally, the more you can put down, the better the mortgage rate you’ll get. Most lenders require at least 5% of the property price as a deposit, but aiming for 10-20% can secure you more favorable terms.

5. Get a Mortgage in Principle

A Mortgage in Principle (MIP), also known as an Agreement in Principle (AIP) or Decision in Principle (DIP), is a statement from a lender saying they’re willing to lend you a certain amount based on the information you’ve provided. It’s not a guarantee, but it shows sellers you’re serious and financially capable of buying a property.

Steps to get a MIP:

  1. Choose a Lender: Research and compare lenders to find one that suits your needs.
  2. Provide Information: You’ll need to give details about your income, outgoings, and credit history.
  3. Credit Check: The lender will perform a credit check to assess your financial stability.
  4. Receive MIP: If approved, you’ll receive a document stating the amount the lender is willing to lend.

6. Choose the Right Mortgage

Mortgages come in different types, each with its own features. The main types include:

  • Fixed-Rate Mortgages: The interest rate remains the same for a set period, usually 2-5 years.
  • Variable-Rate Mortgages: The interest rate can change based on the lender’s standard variable rate (SVR).
  • Tracker Mortgages: The interest rate tracks the Bank of England base rate plus a set percentage.
  • Offset Mortgages: Your savings are offset against the mortgage balance, reducing the interest you pay.

7. Gather Necessary Documents

When you apply for a mortgage, you’ll need to provide several documents to prove your identity, income, and financial situation. These typically include:

  • Proof of Identity: Passport or driving license.
  • Proof of Address: Utility bills or council tax statements.
  • Proof of Income: Pay slips, P60, or tax returns if self-employed.
  • Bank Statements: Usually for the last 3-6 months.
  • Credit Commitments: Details of any existing loans, credit cards, or other financial commitments.

8. Complete the Mortgage Application

Once you’ve chosen a mortgage and gathered your documents, you’re ready to complete the application. This can be done directly with the lender, through a mortgage broker, or via an online platform.


  1. Fill Out the Application: Provide detailed information about your personal and financial circumstances.
  2. Submit Documents: Upload or send all the required documents.
  3. Pay Fees: Be prepared to pay application fees, which can vary between lenders.

9. Wait for the Lender’s Decision

After you’ve submitted your application, the lender will assess your financial situation and the property you want to buy. This involves:

  • Underwriting: A thorough review of your financial documents.
  • Property Valuation: The lender will arrange for a valuation of the property to ensure it’s worth the amount you’re borrowing.

10. Receive the Mortgage Offer

If your application is successful, you’ll receive a formal mortgage offer. This document outlines the terms of the mortgage, including the interest rate, repayment period, and any conditions.

11. Exchange Contracts

Once you have your mortgage offer and are satisfied with the terms, you can proceed to exchange contracts with the seller. This is a legally binding step where you pay the deposit and agree on a completion date.

12. Complete the Purchase

On the agreed completion date, the remaining funds are transferred to the seller, and you receive the keys to your new home. Your solicitor will register the property in your name with the Land Registry.

Tips for First-Time Buyers

  • Use a Mortgage Broker: A broker can help you find the best mortgage deal and guide you through the application process.
  • Be Honest: Provide accurate information to avoid delays or rejections.
  • Budget for Additional Costs: Remember to factor in costs like stamp duty, legal fees, and moving expenses.
  • Get Professional Advice: Seek advice from financial advisors or solicitors to ensure you’re making informed decisions.

Applying for a mortgage can seem complex, but by understanding each step and being well-prepared, you can navigate the process with confidence. From checking your credit score to completing the application, each stage is crucial in securing the mortgage you need to buy your first home. Always seek professional advice when needed and take your time to find the best deal that suits your financial situation and long-term goals.

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