Last updated: Aug 29, 2023

What is a mortgage in principle?

Noemie Williams DipPFS
Mortgage & Protection Adviser DipPFS at Mortgages for Doctors

What is a mortgage in principle?

When it comes to buying a home, one of the first steps you'll probably take is obtaining a mortgage in principle, also known as a ‘mortgage agreement in principle’ or a ‘decision in principle’.

This preliminary approval from a lender is an essential tool for home buyers, providing an idea of how much you can borrow and helping you navigate the property market with confidence.

In this article, we'll explore what a mortgage in principle is, why it's important, and how to obtain one.

What is a mortgage in principle?

A mortgage in principle is a statement from a lender indicating how much they’re willing to lend you for a mortgage. It’s based on an assessment of your financial situation, including your income, credit history, and any outstanding debts.

While it’s not a binding agreement, it’s a strong indication that you’re likely to be approved for a mortgage up to a specified amount.

Why is a mortgage in principle important?

Obtaining a mortgage in principle offers several advantages. Firstly, it gives you a clear understanding of your borrowing capacity, enabling you to narrow down your property search to homes within your budget. This saves time and ensures you don't waste effort on properties that are out of your price range.

Secondly, a mortgage in principle demonstrates to sellers that you are a serious buyer. When making an offer on a property, having a mortgage in principle can give you a competitive edge over other potential buyers who have not yet obtained one.

Sellers are more likely to consider your offer favourably, knowing that you have taken the necessary steps to secure financing.

Lastly, a mortgage in principle streamlines the mortgage application process. Once you’ve identified a property and your offer has been accepted, having a mortgage in principle can expedite the formal application process. The lender will still need to conduct a valuation and perform additional checks, but having the initial approval in place reduces the overall time required to finalise the mortgage.

How do you get a mortgage in principle?

Obtaining a mortgage in principle is a relatively straightforward process. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you navigate through it:

  1. Research lenders: start by researching different lenders to find the ones that best suit your needs. Consider factors such as interest rates, repayment terms, and customer service.
  2. Gather documentation: prepare the necessary paperwork to support your mortgage application. This typically includes proof of income, bank statements, identification documents, and details of any outstanding debts.
  3. Credit check: the lender will perform a credit check to assess your creditworthiness, so ensure that your credit report is accurate and up-to-date.
  4. Submit your application: approach your chosen lender and submit your application. Be thorough and provide accurate information to maximise your chances of approval.
  5. Decision and offer: the lender will review your application and assess your affordability. If approved, they will issue a mortgage in principle certificate or a written offer indicating the maximum amount they are willing to lend you.

It’s important to note that a mortgage in principle is not a guarantee of a mortgage offer. The lender will still need to conduct a more detailed assessment of the property and your financial circumstances before finalising the mortgage.

Additionally, a mortgage in principle is typically valid for a limited period, usually around three to six months, so be mindful of this time frame when conducting your property search.

Obtaining a mortgage in principle is an essential step in the home buying process. It provides clarity on your borrowing capacity, strengthens your negotiating position with sellers, and streamlines the mortgage application process. By following the steps outlined here, you can confidently approach lenders, secure a mortgage in principle, and take the first stride.

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