Mortgage Timeline: From Early Research to Final Approval

In theory, there’s no limit on the mortgage timeline and how long you can look around and shop for a mortgage lender. Whether you’ve been dreaming about being a homeowner since a little kid, saving for and planning on buying a home for years, or working in the real estate industry most of your adult life, some people literally spend a lifetime learning about and shopping for a mortgage lender.

As the time approaches to actually look for a home, a lot of people want to know how long it takes to get a mortgage so they can set up a timeline and to-do list for buying a home or other real estate property. On an expedited schedule with an offer already accepted on a property that’s ready to be appraised—or if your new mortgage is a refinance—you may be able to get a mortgage in as little as a few weeks.

But this type of mortgage timeline is the exception that proves the rule, and if you’re like most savvy buyers, you’ll want to start the mortgage process before you start looking at real estate. Thus, the entire mortgage process without any problems is likely to take 4-6 weeks. Peak seasons in certain markets can also lead to a high volume of mortgage processing and closer to 8 weeks to complete the process.

Again, this is without any issues coming up along the way. Getting a mortgage and finding the right property to buy go hand-in-hand. Whether it’s a highly competitive real estate market or latent issues with the property itself, many of the potential issues are beyond the control of both the borrower and the lender.


Choosing a Mortgage Lender (1 Week to 1 Month)

From Prequalification to Preapproval (1 Week to 2 Months)

Preapproval to Final Approval (3 Weeks to 3 Months)


Other Mortgage Timeline Resources

We’re not naive enough to think that we’re the only ones who have tried to provide this kind of resource. We think our timeline offers a great combination of detail and clarity, but here are the approaches taken by:

Money Magazine

Home Buying Institute

Freddie Mac