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Mortgage Application Durations and Timelines

The process of applying for a mortgage to purchase a new home can seem long and complicated to many hopeful homebuyers. Navigating the various steps from pre-approval to closing requires patience and understanding. Most homebuyers want to know – how long does a standard mortgage application really take from start to finish?

A standard mortgage application typically takes 2-3 months to complete. This includes 1-2 weeks for pre-approval, a variable time for house hunting and making an offer, 1-2 weeks for the loan application, 2-4 weeks for processing and underwriting, and finally 1-2 weeks to close the deal. Delays may occur due to credit issues, appraisal delays, title problems, employment verification delays or incomplete documentation.

A man off-screen holding a colorful model house

What are the Steps in the Mortgage Application Process?

The key steps in a standard mortgage application include:

  1. Pre-approval – Getting pre-approved by a lender for an estimated loanamount before house hunting. This takes 1-2 weeks.
  2. House Hunting and Offer – Finding a home and making an offer contingent on securing financing. This can take a few weeks to a few months. 
  3. Loan Application – Completing a full loan application with income and asset documentation. Lenders require 1-2 weeks for processing.
  4. Processing and Underwriting – The lender verifies all documentation and approves the loan. This step takes 2-4 weeks.
  5. Closing – Legal documents are signed and the home sale is finalized. Closing typically takes 1-2 weeks after underwriting.

The total timeline is usually 2-3 months, but can extend longer depending on any setbacks with your creditemployment history, or other factors. The number of mortgage applications in the United States is expected to increase by 4.3% in 2023. (Source: Mortgage Bankers Association)

How Long Does Each Step of the Mortgage Application Process Take?

Now let’s look at typical timeframes for each major step:

1. Pre-approval Timeframe

Being pre-approved for a mortgage can take anywhere from a few days to a couple weeks, depending on your lender’s processes and workload. Pre-approval indicates to sellers that you are qualified to obtain a mortgage, making your offer more attractive.

The average mortgage approval time in the United States is 33 days. (Source: Mortgage Bankers Association). It is possible to get pre-approved for a mortgage before you start shopping for a home. This can give you an idea of how much you can afford to borrow and can make the home buying process go more smoothly. (Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau)

2. House Hunting and Offer Timeframe

The house hunting process takes different amounts of time for every borrower. In a slower market, it may take you a few months to find the perfect home. In a faster market, it could only be a few weeks. Writing an offer and entering negotiations can range from days to weeks.

3. Loan Application Timeframe

Once your offer is accepted, your lender will need 1-2 weeks to collect and verify all required documents for your full loan application. Be prepared to provide pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements, and other financial details. 

The average credit score for a mortgage borrower in the United States is 700. (Source: Experian). The most common reason for mortgage denial is credit score. (Source: Mortgage Bankers Association)

4. Processing and Underwriting Timeframe

The most common type of mortgage is the conventional fixed-rate mortgage (FRM), which accounts for about 70% of all mortgages. (Source: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau). After submitting your complete application, the lender will take 2-4 weeks to verify the details and underwrite your loan. The underwriter examines your creditdebtincome, and collateral. Any issues that come up may add more time to this step.

The average down payment on a home purchase in the United States is 6.6%. (Source: National Association of Realtors)

5. Closing Timeframe

Once approved, you can complete closing within 1-2 weeks in most cases. Closing includes a final property walkthrough, signing legal paperwork, transferring funds, and getting your home keys!

Pre-approval1-2 weeksGetting pre-approved for an estimated loan amount before house hunting
House Hunting and OfferA few weeks to a few monthsFinding a home and making an offer contingent on securing financing
Loan Application1-2 weeksCompleting a full loan application with income/asset documentation
Processing and Underwriting2-4 weeksLender verifies all documentation and approves loan
Closing1-2 weeks after underwritingSigning legal documents and finalizing home sale

What Factors Can Delay the Mortgage Application Process?

While ideal timeframes are 2-3 months total, it’s common for delays to add weeks or even months to the mortgage process. Watch out for these potential slowdowns:

1. Credit Issues

Low credit scores below 620, recent late payments, maxed out cards, and errors on your credit report can prompt additional scrutiny and cause delays.

2. Appraisal Delays

If the appraisal comes under your purchase price, it can take time to renegotiate or contest it.

3. Title Problems

Title searches may uncover undisclosed liens, easements, or other issues that must clear before closing.

4. Employment Verification Delays

Lenders closely verify your income and employment history. Gaps or discrepancies lead to extra verification time.

5. Incomplete Documentation

Every forgotten pay stub or unsigned form adds more delay. Stay organized and respond quickly to requests.

How Can You Speed Up the Mortgage Application Process?

To help your mortgage move faster, be proactive in these areas:

1. Get Pre-approved Before House Hunting

Early pre-approval shows sellers you can close quickly and maximizes your offer strength. Shop with a pre-approval letter.

2. Keep Your Financial Situation Stable

Don’t change jobs, apply for new credit, or make major purchases while applying for a mortgage. The median home price in the United States is $438,700. (Source: National Association of Realtors)

3. Respond Quickly to Lender Requests

Promptly submit every requested document and remain in close contact with your loan officer. 

4. Work with an Experienced Real Estate Agent or Broker

Solid agents help coordinate timelines and set realistic expectations.

What Happens After Your Mortgage Application is Approved?

Once approved, you’ll confirm the final loan details and interest rate. Next is the home inspection, appraisal, and securing homeowners insurance. You’ll need to pay remaining closing costs like title fees, recording fees, and prepaid taxes.

The final walkthrough ensures the property’s condition matches the purchase agreement. Finally, you sign the closing documents, the title transfers, and you get to move into your new home!

After an intensive application process, closing day feels well earned. Your hard work secures favorable mortgage terms for your new residence. Keep up with payments on time to build equity and establish positive credit history. With patience and diligence, you can navigate the mortgage process successfully.


The standard mortgage application timeline lasts 2-3 months but can vary based on your financial details. The major steps include pre-approval, house hunting, application, underwriting, and closing.

The average mortgage term in the United States is 30 years. (Source: Mortgage Bankers Association). The most common way to apply for a mortgage is through a bank or credit union. (Source: National Association of Realtors)

Delays may occur, so start the process early and maintain contact with your lender. With preparation and persistence, your dream of homeownership will become reality once you hold those front door keys on closing day!

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

How long does it take to be approved for a mortgage?

The time it takes to be approved for a mortgage depends on a variety of factors, such as the type of loan, the lender, the borrower’s credit score, and the required documentation. Generally, it takes between 45 to 60 days to be approved for a mortgage. The process begins with the loan application, followed by a credit check, verification of income, and appraisal of the property. Once all of these steps are completed, the lender can make a decision on the loan.

What are the stages of a mortgage application?

The stages of a mortgage application typically involve obtaining a credit report, completing a loan application, submitting supporting documents, having the loan approved, and signing closing documents. During the loan application process, lenders will typically review the borrower’s credit score, income, assets, and debts. After the loan is approved, the borrower will be required to sign closing documents and provide additional information as needed. Finally, the lender will disburse the loan funds and the mortgage process is complete.

How do I know if my mortgage application is approved?

Once a mortgage application is submitted, the lender will review it to determine if the borrower is approved. The lender will analyze the borrower’s credit score, income, and other financial information to decide if the loan can be approved. If approved, the borrower will receive a loan approval letter from the lender. The letter will outline the loan terms, such as the amount, interest rate, and repayment schedule.

How long does it take to get approved or denied for a mortgage?

The process of getting approved or denied for a mortgage typically takes between 30 to 45 days. During this time, a mortgage lender will review a borrower’s credit history, employment history, income, and other financial information to determine whether or not they are eligible for a loan. The process can be expedited if all required documents are provided in a timely manner.