Underwriting is one of the most important parts of the mortgage application process: it’s the loan approval process by which lenders qualify their home buying borrowers. Your underwriter is the person who gathers all the pertinent information and performs the math and magic that puts a six-figure loan — and eventually the keys to your new home — in your hands.
So it makes sense that waiting for an underwriting decision can cause a bit of nail-biting. Many prospective borrowers are eager to know how long underwriting takes and whether or not they should panic if they haven’t heard anything for a while.
The short answer: it depends, and don’t panic! For the longer answer, keep reading.
What is underwriting?
Underwriting is the process of verifying your eligibility for a mortgage loan. It is generally advisable to go through the pre-qualification or pre-approval steps before you even start seriously looking at homes.
For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about the length of the underwriting process at the point when you’ve found a home you love and made an offer. Along the way, you’ll be asked to provide a variety of information and documentation to your underwriter, who uses those materials in order to make a decision on your home loan application.
How long does the underwriting process take?
Underwriting can take as little as a few business days or as long as several weeks. The exact length depends on several factors like how much extra information your underwriter may require in order to make a decision and how promptly you, as a potential borrower, respond to any requests they have. Your lender may also simply be dealing with an onslaught of loan applications — so there’s not necessarily any need to panic if you don’t hear back right away.
It’s also important to understand that even once the underwriting process is complete, the entire closing process, from submitting your down payment to performing the final walk-through, can still take as much as 45 days or longer. Which means lots of time to pack those boxes and get ready for the big move!
What information does an underwriter need to qualify me for a home loan?
Home lenders are required by federal guidelines to assess the repayment ability of their borrowers — which means they need to review your financial information and several documents in order to determine whether or not you’re a qualified borrower. Although each lender may have slightly different requirements, common information used in the underwriting process include:
- Tax returns
- Bank statements
- Credit score and credit report
- Income and employment verification
Underwriters may also assess your debt-to-income ratio (or DTI), calculate your interest rate and monthly mortgage payment, and address any discrepancies or problems in your credit history. You may also be asked to provide additional documents like letters of explanation for items in your file such as a lapse in employment, or asked to offer credit references if you’re applying as a foreign national, for example. You can always check in with your loan officer to learn more about exactly what they need to process your application — and when you might expect an answer.
Once your application has been processed, you may be offered full approval (which means you’re ready to go!) or conditional approval, in which case your lender may require some more documentation and explanation.
The good news is, although most mortgage lenders have pretty strict requirements for borrowers, there are alternative mortgage programs available that may not require all the same documentation as traditional ones do.
One such program? You guessed it: Quontic’s Community Development Loans (CDL)1, which are specifically designed to help qualified borrowers whose paperwork might look a little bit different — but who still deserve the keys to their dream home. One common example, especially given the proliferation of the gig economy: self-employed borrowers, who might not have the W-2 pay stubs most mortgage lenders require, but do have the funds it takes to afford a loan.
As one of only 3% of American banks with a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) certification, Quontic is committed to helping underserved communities by providing access to the financial services and products they need. We assess not just your basic paperwork, but your entire financial situation, and along with our Community Development loans, we also offer FHA loans1, VA loans1, and other ways of becoming a homeowner. We offer competitive mortgage rates and will walk you through the mortgage underwriting process one step at a time. Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer, looking into an investment property, or refinancing existing real estate, we’re standing by to discuss the right mortgage for your needs. Get started today by visiting our website.
1All lending products are subject to approval. Rates, program terms & conditions are subject to change without notice. Not all products are available in all states or for all amounts. This does not represent an offer to enter into a loan agreement. Other requirements, restrictions & limitations apply. Information is accurate as of September 24, 2021.