Mortgage Underwriting Process

Step By Step Detail On Mortgage Underwriting Process

After a lot of house hunting, you’ve finally found the home of your dreams. A house with the right amount of rooms and a beautiful front yard so, what do you do next? How do you turn yourself into a homeowner from being a potential buyer? It’s simple, you apply for a mortgage to finance the purchase of your new home. As simple as it sounds there’s a lot that goes into applying for a mortgage and one of them is the mortgage underwriting process. If you’re a potential buyer, here’s a Step By Step Detail On Mortgage Underwriting Process.

What Is Mortgage Underwriting Process?

An underwriting process merely determines whether a buyer is able to pay back the loan to the lender. It is a process due to the lender, assessing the risk of lending money. The lender here will assess and verify your income, debts, assets, etc. towards the decisive approval for your loan.

What Goes Into Mortgage Underwriting

A mortgage underwriter’s responsibility is to assess the overall risk of the potential buyer, and whether he/she would be able to repay the mortgage. The underwriter evaluates the factors which help the lender comprehend a buyer’s financial condition that including –

Additionally, the underwriter also aids the lender in determining if the buyer may or may not see a forthcoming loan approval. The motive of this process is to ensure the buyer doesn’t end up closing a mortgage that they can’t afford. An underwriter further will investigate the buyer’s credit history, order an appraisal, verify the income and employment, analyze the Debt-To-Income Ratio, and lastly, verify your payments and savings. 

Here’s what an underwriter does:

1. Review Your Credit History: This includes a thorough examination of your credit report, credit score, and payment history.

2. Analyze Your Finances: Lenders typically adhere to federal financing guidelines. For example, Fannie Mae guidelines require borrowers to have a maximum loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of 97 percent, a credit score of 640 or higher, and a maximum debt-to-income (DTI) ratio of 36 percent. The lender might also incorporate its own criteria. Additionally, they’ll consider specific aspects of your financial situation. If it’s an income-producing property, they might assess whether you plan to occupy the property alongside tenants and take into account your financial reserves, such as investments, assets, and savings.

3. Conduct a Property Appraisal: The approval of your loan is influenced, in part, by the relationship between the amount you’re borrowing and the value of the home you’re purchasing (used as collateral). As a result, the underwriter will request a property appraisal to ensure that the asking price aligns with recent sales of comparable homes in your area.

4. Render the Approval Decision: Once all the necessary reports and paperwork are gathered, the underwriter makes the critical decision to approve or deny your application.

Types of Underwriting Categories

There are three main types of underwriting process. Those are: loans, insurance, and securities.

Loan Underwriting

All loans, in some capacity, undergo the process of underwriting. This involves the evaluation of an applicant’s credit history, financial records, collateral value, and other factors that vary based on the loan’s size and purpose. The appraisal duration can range from a few minutes to several weeks, depending on whether human intervention is necessary.

The most common form of loan underwriting that involves human underwriters is for mortgages. This is the type of underwriting that most individuals encounter. The underwriter assesses an individual’s income, liabilities (debt), savings, credit history, credit score, and more, considering their unique financial circumstances. Mortgage underwriting typically has a “turn time” of a week or less.

Refinancing often takes longer, as buyers facing deadlines receive preferential treatment. The loan applications can be approved, denied, or suspended. The most receive “approval with conditions,” requiring clarification or additional documentation.

Insurance Underwriting

In insurance underwriting, the focus is on the potential policyholder – the individual seeking health or life insurance. The medical underwriting for health insurance was used to determine pricing and coverage decisions. These are based on health status, often considering pre-existing conditions. However, since 2014, under the Affordable Care Act, insurers are no longer allowed to deny coverage or impose limitations based on pre-existing conditions.

Life insurance underwriting aims to evaluate the risk of insuring a potential policyholder based on factors such as age, health, lifestyle, occupation, family medical history, hobbies, and other criteria determined by the underwriter. The outcome of life insurance underwriting can lead to approval, along with various coverage options, prices, exclusions, and conditions, or outright rejection.

Securities Underwriting

Securities underwriting, which evaluates the risk and appropriate pricing of specific securities. That are related to Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), is typically conducted on behalf of a potential investor, often an investment bank. Following the underwriting process, the investment bank may purchase (underwrite) securities issued by the company attempting the IPO and then sell those securities in the market.

Underwriting ensures that the company’s IPO will raise the necessary capital and provides the underwriters with a premium or profit for their services. Investors benefit from the vetting process that underwriting provides, enabling informed investment decisions.

This type of underwriting can encompass individual stocks and debt securities, including government, corporate, or municipal bonds. Underwriters or their employers purchase these securities to resell them for a profit, either to investors or dealers (who sell them to other buyers). When multiple underwriters is involved, it is referred to as an underwriting syndicate.

What Is Automated Underwriting Vs Manual Underwriting

A mortgage underwriter has two options to assess the loan application. The first is to do it manually and the other through software. The one with software is known as automated underwriting. An automated underwriting process is much easier and faster than the manual one as a computer evaluates it. Although, it has some limitations that are non-negotiable like inconsistent income, poor credit score, etc. That may be a deal-breaker for borrowers. Hence, in such circumstances, manual underwriting is an easy option. Furthermore, in some situations, lenders combine automated and manual underwriting to avoid the complications of the loan application.

Mortgage Underwriting Process Steps




As explained above in brief, an underwriter evaluates your finances and forwards them to the lender. Although, there are more aspects that need to be analyzed while proceeding with the underwriting process. Some of the aspects are given below.

1. Income

While assessing a buyer’s income the underwriter requires a set of documents as proof to determine if he/she can cover the monthly mortgage payments. As a buyer, you’ll need to submit documents like –

  • W-2 (of last 2 years)
  • Bank Statements (2 most recent ones)
  • Pay stubs (2 most recent ones)

Furthermore, if the buyer is self-employed or has a share in a business. There are some additional documents that need to be submitted. Such as –

Adding to the above, the underwriter will verify if the buyer’s income is as mentioned in the payslips (or any other format where the income details are provided). Also, the underwriter will verify your employment status with the employer as well. 

2. Assets

Your assets help you qualify for a mortgage. As they can sold for hard cash if you fail to satisfy the outstanding loan amount. An underwriter will go through your savings accounts, stocks, and property if any. As the closing amount ranges from anywhere from 3%-6% lenders use assets to make sure the buyer makes monthly payments post-paying closing costs.

3. Credit

It is one of the most important aspects of mortgage approval, is assessing your credit score. An underwriter will evaluate your credit score to understand how well you have managed to repay your past loans. Assessing your credit score helps the underwriter to predict your capacity to repay the loan. 

4. Collateral

The underwriter needs to understand the worth of the house you’re interested in buying. The motive for seeing the collateral risk is to avoid putting the buyer’s money in a house that is not worth it. Hence, as a part of the closing process, the lender will order an appraisal.

Potential Underwriting Consequences

There can be only three possible consequences of the underwriter’s evaluation as given below.

1. Conditional / Contingent Approval

You can submit documents to satisfy the underwriter’s questions. Although, you’ll be clear to close while the documents go through the assessment. One of the most common requests includes verification/proving large amounts of deposit in the buyer’s bank. In such situations, a gift /donation letter from the donor is vital to prove it’s not a loan.

2. Suspension

This means there are significant questions in your file for which a loan officer will work with you closely to resolve the underwriter’s questions.

3. Denial

If the buyers got the loan pre-approved and review of their finances thoroughly, their loan will still be ultimately declined.

How Long Does Underwriting Take To Complete?

The underwriting process takes up to 5-8 days. Although, there are dependencies like your financial condition, loan type, missing paperwork, etc. that may prolong the whole process. Additionally, a point to remember, underwriting is a mere part of the process. A complete closing can take up to 40-50 days in total.

Tips for Smooth Mortgage Underwriting Process

1. Organize Your Documents

The key to a streamlined mortgage underwriting process is to have all your financial documents ready before applying for a loan. Keep the following document ready when you apply:

  • Employment details from the past two years (for self-employed individuals, include business records and tax returns)
  • W-2s from the last two years
  • Pay stubs covering 30 to 60 days before application
  • Comprehensive account information, including checking, savings, CDs, money market accounts, investment accounts, and retirement accounts
  • Additional income details, such as alimony, child support, annuities, bonuses, commissions, dividends, interest, overtime payments, pensions, or Social Security payments
  • A gift letter if you’ve received funds from friends or relatives for your down payment

2. Enhance Your Credit Profile

A lower credit score can make mortgage approval challenging and result in a higher interest rate. Improve your creditworthiness by taking the following steps:

  • Pay down existing debts
  • Avoid applying for new loans during this period
  • Aim for a favorable debt-to-income (DTI) ratio (ideally 36% or less)
  • Review your credit report for errors and dispute inaccuracies

3. Consider a Larger Down Payment

The underwriter also evaluates your loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which compares your loan principal to the property’s value. A higher LTV ratio puts the lender at more risk if you default on the mortgage. You can improve this ratio by making a substantial down payment upfront. Borrowing less through a larger down payment increases your chances of qualification. Don’t hesitate to explore down payment assistance programs or seek support from family and friends.

By following these steps, you’ll pave the way for a smoother mortgage underwriting process. Also, well-prepared and maximizing your chances of loan approval.


A pro tip to speed up the process is to keep the documents in place, maintain a good credit score and always put a larger down payment. This way it’ll make the mortgage underwriting process a smooth sail. Furthermore, if you are in a hurry to move out and don’t have time for a traditional home-selling process then sell your house to Elite Properties. We buy houses as-is which means no hassles of legal documentation. We close a deal in less than 7 days and offer you hard cash. Call us today at 718-977-5462 and sell your house fast for cash.

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