With many mortgage lenders, you can apply for a mortgage online, and the process can be completed in 45 minutes or less if you have all of your information ready ahead of time. Your lender will ask for financial and personal details on either the Uniform Residential Loan Application or a similar standardized form. Here’s what to expect.

What is included in a mortgage application?

The Uniform Residential Loan Application is used by the overwhelming majority of lenders in the U.S., but you might come across another similar application in the process of finding financing for a home. All applications have the same purpose: “to gauge whether a potential borrower is financially stable enough to pay back a home loan,” explains Chuck Meier, senior vice president and mortgage sales director at Sunrise Banks in Minnesota.

The application will ask borrowers for information regarding their financial situation, including income and assets, as well as personal information like Social Security number. You will also be required to provide documentation corroborating the information you provide.

The Uniform Residential Loan Application, specifically, includes the following sections:

Section I: Type of mortgage and terms of loan

The first section of the mortgage application asks you to indicate the type of mortgage you’re seeking, such as conventional or FHA. You’ll then need to define other basic details such as the amount being borrowed, the interest rate, the loan term and type of amortization (fixed, adjustable, etc.). A loan officer can help you determine which loan is right for you and help you identify the terms and conditions of the loan.

Section II: Property information and purpose of loan

In this section, you’ll be asked to provide the property address and indicate whether the loan is for a purchase, refinance or construction, as well as whether it’s a primary residence, second home or investment property, who will own the property and how it will be titled.

Section III: Borrower information

This section asks for detailed information about the borrower and co-borrower, including your Social Security number, current address, years of school completed and marital status. You’ll also have to provide residence history.

Section IV: Employment information

Both borrowers will need to provide the contact information for their employer, how long they’ve been on the job and in the profession, their position or title and the type of business. You’ll need to provide previous job details if you’ve been at your current job for less than two years.

Section V: Monthly income and combined housing expense information

This section compares your income and expenses to determine whether you can afford the mortgage. You’ll need to fill in your monthly income, including your base income, bonuses, overtime, commissions, dividends and interest, rental income and any other income.

You’ll also need to fill in your monthly housing costs, both current and proposed, such as rent or your first mortgage, HOA fees or mortgage insurance. Note that self-employed borrowers likely have to provide additional information.

Section VI: Assets and liabilities

In this section, you’ll list assets including savings, checking and retirement accounts and any properties you own. Under liabilities, you’ll include all debts such as car loans, credit cards, other mortgages and any alimony or child support you’re obligated to pay.

Section VII: Details of transaction

As the name suggests, this section includes details of the transaction like the purchase price or refinance amount, the cost of any home improvements or repairs, the land price (if it’s being purchased separately), estimated prepaid items and closing costs, mortgage insurance premiums (if applicable) and any discount points the borrower is paying.

Section VIII: Declarations

In this section, the borrower(s) must answer yes or no to questions about their past financial situation, including:

  • Are there any outstanding judgments against you?
  • Have you declared bankruptcy or had a property foreclosed in the last seven years?
  • Are you party to a lawsuit?

If the answer to any of the questions is yes, you’ll be asked to include an explanation at the end of the application.

Section IX: Acknowledgement and agreement

This signature section is legally binding. In it, the applicants verify that the information provided in the mortgage loan application is true and correct, and acknowledge that the lender may verify the information provided.

Section X: Information for government monitoring purposes

The final section of the mortgage application is optional demographic information to be provided to government agencies. If you choose to participate, you’ll be asked to identify your race, gender and ethnicity so that the government can verify the lender’s compliance with fair housing laws.

Documents needed to apply for a mortgage

Before filling out the mortgage application, it’s smart to collect the necessary documents and information ahead of time, particularly if a mortgage lender is assisting you in person or by phone. Here are the documents you’ll want to have at the ready:

  • Employment information (name, address and phone of all employers in the past two years)
  • Income information (W-2s from the past two years, and pay stubs from at least the past month)
  • Additional income information from the past two years (for example, dividends or interest, pension, Social Security)
  • Bank statements from the past three months (for example, checking and savings, CDs, money market accounts, 401(k) or other retirement accounts)
  • Form 4506-T or 4506T-EZ from your loan officer authorizing the lender to access your tax returns
  • Signed purchase contract

If you’re self-employed, own a business or get paid through commissions, you’ll likely also need to provide additional information, such as:

  • Federal tax returns from the past two years, including business tax returns (such as Form 1120, 1120S or Schedule K-1/1065)
  • Business records from the past several years (for example, P&L statements)

Note your lender might request more documents during the underwriting process. This is common and expected — sometimes, a lender just needs more information so that they can clearly understand your risk level and determine your ability to repay.

Mortgage application tips

Preparation is key when applying for a mortgage. In addition to having all of your paperwork in order, there are a few things you can do to help ensure a successful application:

  • Document the source(s) of the down payment. If a family member is helping you make a down payment, for example, have them sign a gift letter confirming where the funds came from and what they will be used for.
  • Keep your job the same. If you can help it, avoid quitting your job or starting a new one while your application is being processed. The lender can deny your loan if your employment situation changes.
  • Refrain from large purchases. Big-ticket charges can be a red flag to lenders, who may become concerned about your capacity to afford the mortgage. Ditto to opening a new line of credit or missing a debt payment, which can impact your credit history. Be especially careful if you’re already close to your maximum affordability.

Important considerations when applying for a mortgage

While applying for a mortgage won’t be a huge detriment to your credit score, your score can have an impact on the interest rate you get on your loan. When comparing rates, compare the whole loan offer and any fees, as well, which can affect your overall costs.

In addition, find out about the length of the rate-lock period, and whether you will need to pay additional points or fees to receive the quoted rate. There are typically 30-, 45- and 60-day rate locks that guarantee your rate for the specified time. It’s important to make sure that the lock period is long enough to allow you to close on the property.

If you have questions about locking your rate, or about the application in general, consult with the loan officer to talk through any concerns.