October 24, 2023
Fees Free Mortgage Team

What Is a Mortgage in Principle?

October 24, 2023 - Fees Free Mortgage Team

What Is a Mortgage in Principle?

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or taking a step up the property ladder, understanding how a mortgage in principle works is crucial. In this guide, we’ll explore what a mortgage in principle is, why it’s an essential part of your homeownership journey, and how it positions you in a favourable light when you’re ready to make a move on your dream property. 

What is a Mortgage in Principle?

A mortgage in principle, often known as a decision in principle or agreement in principle, is a written estimate or statement from a lender indicating how much they might lend you. It’s based on some basic information about you and, while not a binding offer, it gives you an indication of what you could potentially borrow, helping you gauge your affordability range when house hunting. 

What Is the Difference Between a Mortgage in Principle and a Formal Mortgage Offer?

As mentioned above, a mortgage in principle acts as a preliminary step in your mortgage journey. It’s essentially a lender’s statement, saying, in principle, they’d be willing to lend a certain amount to you based on some basic checks of your financial situation. While it does give you an edge, especially when house hunting and negotiating, since sellers see you as a serious buyer, it’s not binding for either party. 

Contrastingly, a formal mortgage offer is the real deal. After you’ve chosen a property and gone through a thorough application process with the lender, which includes detailed credit checks, assessment of your full financial situation, and property valuation, the lender then decides if they will offer you the mortgage and on what terms. This offer is a formal contract, detailing the exact terms, conditions, and specifics of the mortgage loan they’re offering. Once you accept this offer, the lender is committed to lending you the money, and you’re committed to the repayment terms and conditions outlined. 

So, while the mortgage in principle offers a glimpse into your borrowing potential, the formal mortgage offer solidifies the lender’s commitment to you. Each plays a crucial role at different stages of your home buying journey, ensuring you navigate with confidence and clarity. 

What Are the Advantages of Securing a Mortgage in Principle?

A mortgage in principle stands as an empowering tool in your arsenal. 

Firstly, securing a mortgage in principle is like receiving a nod from the lender. It suggests that, based on preliminary information, they’re inclined to back your homeownership dream. Having this confidence backing your property journey can be a real boost as you explore property listings and open houses. 

House buying is often a delicate negotiation process. With a mortgage in principle in hand, you present yourself as a serious buyer, with the financial preparation to match your intent. Sellers and estate agents are more likely to consider your offers favourable, knowing there’s less risk of financial hiccups down the line.

With a clear idea of how much lenders might be willing to offer, your property search becomes more focused. You can efficiently filter out homes outside your budget, saving you precious time and reducing potential heartbreak from falling in love with properties just out of your reach. 

Though the mortgage in principle is an initial step, having it simplifies the subsequent steps in the mortgage process. Lenders already have basic details about your finances, which could make the formal application and approval processes a tad swifter. 

How Do You Apply for a Mortgage in Principle? 

Wondering how to get your hands on a mortgage in principle? The process is more straightforward than you might think. 

Financial Self-Assessment

Before you approach a lender, it’s crucial to have a crystal-clear understanding of your financial standing. A mortgage in principle is essentially a lender’s vote of confidence in your ability to repay a mortgage. So, start by creating a detailed list of all your monthly expenses, any outstanding debts, and your sources of income. This review will help you to project an accurate financial image of you when you approach the lender (or have your broker approach one on your behalf). 

Choose Your Lender or Broker

The landscape of mortgage lending is vast, and every lender has their own criteria. You can directly reach out to a bank or a specialist mortgage lender. Alternatively, approaching a mortgage broker might offer a broader perspective, given their access to multiple lending sources. They can help identify which lenders are likely to accept you and offer the best terms. And the good news? With Fees Free Mortgages, you’ll receive expert guidance without the added cost of advisory fees. 

Document Gathering

Being prepared is half the battle won. Lenders or brokers appreciate applicants who come well-prepared. So, to ensure you’re not taken by surprise, make sure to consolidate your essential documents. This typically includes proof of income (like recent payslips, P60, or tax returns), evidence of regular expenses, a record of any outstanding debts, and identification documents. By being organised, you can expedite the mortgage in principle application process. 


A mortgage in principle application is a precursor to a formal mortgage application. So, start the ball rolling by engaging with your chosen lender or broker, and filling out the necessary form which gathers details about your finances and the property you have your eyes set on. This can usually be done online, over the phone, or in person. 

Credit Check

Lenders want to gauge your financial responsibility before giving a nod for a mortgage in principle. Most lenders conduct a ‘soft’ credit check for mortgages in principle. Unlike a ‘hard’ check, this won’t impact your credit score or leave a footprint on your credit file. It’s merely to get a snapshot of your financial behaviour. 

Mortgage in Principal in Hand

If all goes well, you’ll receive your mortgage in principle, as a statement from the lender indicating their willingness to lend a certain amount to you. This usually remains valid for 60-90 days, depending on the lender. But, remember, while it’s a positive indicator, it’s not a guarantee of a final mortgage offer. 

What Are The Factors Lenders Consider for a Mortgage in Principle?

So, now you have what a mortgage in principle is, and how you can apply for one, but what does it take to secure a mortgage in principle? It’s not just about whether you can manage the monthly payments –  there are several factors that contribute to your lender’s approval. 

Credit History 

Your credit history is your financial autobiography, telling the story of your reliability in managing debt and making timely payments. Lenders peruse this narrative to gauge the risk associated with lending to you. It includes your record of loan repayments, outstanding debts, and if you have any red flags like bankruptcy or County Court Judgements. This history highlights your financial discipline and helps lenders predict your future behaviour. A stellar credit score significantly boosts your attractiveness as a borrower. 

Employment Status and Income

Your job status, whether you’re a permanent employee, a contractor, or self-employed, directly impacts your income stability. Lenders assess the steadiness of your income, and thus, your ability to meet mortgage payments over time. Regular income equates to lower risk for lenders. They need assurance that you have the financial capacity to take on a mortgage without stretching yourself too thin. 

Outstanding Debts

Any ongoing financial commitments, like personal loans, car finance, or credit card payments, are reviewed. Lenders evaluate these existing obligations to understand how they might affect your ability to afford your future mortgage payments. More debts mean more plates to spin. Lenders need to be sure you can balance these commitments without dropping the ball on your mortgage payments. 

Deposit Size

The amount you’re putting down as a deposit on your property purchase matters. It’s not just about having skin in the game, it’s about how much. The larger your deposit, the less money you need to borrow. A sizable deposit demonstrates your saving discipline and decreases the lender’s risk. Essentially, it’s a safety net that protects lenders in case property prices fall or if there are issues with repayments. 


It’s not all about what you earn, it’s also about what you spend. Lenders analyse your regular outgoings, including bills, subscriptions, and even lifestyle choices, to comprehend your spending personality. Understanding your expenditure habits helps lenders assess whether you live within your means and can handle the financial responsibility of a mortgage. 

Does a Mortgage in Principle Guarantee a Mortgage Offer?

The questions of whether a mortgage in principle guarantees a mortgage offer is a common one among homebuyers, especially if you’re navigating the process for the first time. While the short answer is no, a mortgage in principle doesn’t guarantee a mortgage offer, there are numerous reasons as to why:

Detailed Verification

The actual mortgage application process is much more thorough. Lenders will require detailed documentation, including bank statements, salary details, expenditures, employment history, and more. They’ll assess not only your ability to repay the loan but also the property’s value and suitability as security against the mortgage. 

Fluctuating Financial Circumstances

Circumstances can change between the issuance of the mortgage in principle and the formal application for your mortgage. If your financial situation changes, for example, if you lose your job, take on additional debts, or if there are significant changes in the market, these could influence your lender’s original decision. 

Property Appraisal 

Your lender’s willingness to grant a mortgage will depend on the appraisal of your property. If the property is valued at less than the buying price, your lender might reconsider the loan amount they are willing to offer. 

Lender’s Internal Policies 

Finally, the decision can be swayed by the lender’s internal policies, which might change between the time you receive a mortgage in principle and the time you apply for the mortgage. This could be due to shifts in the economy, housing market trends, or changes in risk appetite for the lender. 

How Fees Free Mortgages Can Help You in Securing a Mortgage in Principle

The process of getting a mortgage in principle isn’t without its complexities, and navigating it alone can feel daunting. 

That’s where Fees Free Mortgages can make the difference. Our expertise is not just in understanding the numbers, the documents, or the market, it’s in understanding you. We stand by your side, deciphering the fine print, enhancing your financial portrait, and liaising with lenders to turn your homeownership dreams into concrete plans. 

But our role doesn’t end with securing your mortgage in principle. We’re your ally throughout this journey, invested in making your path to homeownership as smooth and cost-effective as possible. From demystifying mortgage terms to negotiating on your behalf, we’re steadfast in our commitment to bring you home. 
Ready to take your first step with confidence? Reach out to Fees Free Mortgages today. Let’s transform the uncertainties of your mortgage in principle into a hassle-free journey with a trusted partner by your side. Your dream home awaits, and together, we’ll ensure you open the door.

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