The Mortgage Process: What to Expect

Bethany White March 31, 2022 | 5 min read
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When you’re gearing up for a home purchase, it’s important to know what to expect from the mortgage process. That’s why we wrote this quick guide to walk you through it from rate quote to close. We hope you already got your steps in today, because this will only take 10.

The mortgage process in 10 steps

  1. Get a free rate quote (or two)
  2. Choose a loan originator
  3. Get pre-approved
  4. House shop
  5. Make an offer
  6. Lock your rate and get an appraisal
  7. Apply for your home loan
  8. Underwriting
  9. Final review
  10. Closing time (bust out the bubbly)

1. Get a free rate quote (or two)

In the early stages of the mortgage process, start by getting free rate quotes from a few different lenders. This will give you an idea of which lender can give you the best rates, and will help you set your budget going forward. To get your free rate quote, most lenders will have you answer a few questions about what you’re looking for, including:

  • Are you buying a home or refinancing your current mortgage?
  • What kind of home are you looking for?
  • Will this be your primary residence?
  • When are you looking to buy/refinance? Where do you want to live?

…and more. The more information you provide, the more accurate your rate quote will be—but a quote is not a commitment, so it’s ok if you’re not sure exactly what you’re looking for at this stage.

2. Choose a loan originator

Once you’ve compared rate quotes, it’s time to choose a loan originator. Your loan originator will be your point of contact for all your questions and updates about your mortgage application, so make sure the chemistry is right. A loan originator you can communicate smoothly with makes all the difference in your experience.

3. Get pre-approved

At this early stage of the mortgage process, consider getting preapproved for financing. To get preapproved, you’ll provide your lender with information like your credit score, income, debts, and more to give them a full picture of your finances. Based on this, your lender will give you a preliminary loan offer in the form of a preapproval letter that’s good for 60 days. Oh, and the best part? This letter could help give you an edge over other buyers when you make an offer on your house.

4. House shop

With the loan amount you’re preapproved for as your budget guide, it’s time to house shop. If you’re not sure where to begin, the right real estate agent can help you narrow down your options. And don’t forget to have fun!

5. Make an offer

Once you’ve found your house, it’s time to make an offer. This is where that handy preapproval letter comes in. In a nutshell, it helps prove you’re good for the purchase price if the seller accepts your offer. Congrats, your offer was accepted by the seller! At this point, you’re ready to go over loan options and rates with your lender to find the best fit for you.

6. Lock your rate and get an appraisal

When you’ve landed on the right loan type and found the rate that fits your budget, it’s time to lock that rate and get an appraisal of the home. An appraisal is requested by your lender, and its purpose is to make sure the value of the home matches your offer (or exceeds it).

Pro Tip: Did your appraisal value come back lower than your offer? Try these steps to close the gap.

7. Apply for financing

Finally, it’s time to apply for your home loan! It typically takes a week or two to finalize your application, but that depends on the complexity of your loan, how thorough the information you provide is, and other factors. Some of the documentation you may need at this stage includes:

  • Most recent pay stubs
  • Employment records
  • Bank statements
  • Tax returns
  • Government-issued ID
  • Social security number

8. Underwriting

Underwriting is the part of the mortgage process where your lender assesses the risk of approving your loan and makes their final decision. This stage of the mortgage process falls mostly on your lender, but keep an eye out for notifications about any additional information or action items they need from you to keep your application moving.

9. Final review

You’re almost done! At this stage, you and your lender will go over your paperwork one last time to ensure everything is correct and ready for closing. You’ll be provided with a closing disclosure that outlines your financial responsibilities for your home loan. Take some time to make sure everything looks good on your end—once it’s got your seal of approval, you’re ready to close.

10. Closing time

At closing, you’ll sign any remaining documents, pay any closing costs owed, and (drum roll please) get the keys to your home. Feels good, doesn’t it? When you’re ready to take that first step, we’re here to help. Get started with your free quote today.

The best mortgage is a predictable mortgage. The more you know going in, the better your home loan process will be.

Ready to make moves?

One of our loan originators is standing by to assist you with your free rate quote.
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About the Author
When Bethany was a kid, her mom took her to the zoo, museums, and more fun spots—then made her write essays about them. Now, Bethany deploys those skills as a copywriter at Cardinal Financial and has to admit: she owes her mom one. When Bethany’s not dreaming up fresh takes on mortgage lending, you can find her running, spoiling her cat, and refusing to improve as a chef.