You may be wondering why, in principle, you are interested in a mortgage in the first place instead of just applying for an actual mortgage. The simple answer is that obtaining a mortgage is in principle faster and less expensive. They can often be sorted in less than an hour if there are no problems, and it should only take a few days at most. This exempts you from seriously going in search of a home and allows you to make a firm offer for a home that you like the look of. In principle, a mortgage is not a formal mortgage offer, nor is it guaranteed that the lender will grant you a mortgage in the future. A mortgage is in principle exactly what it looks like – an indication of what a lender can in principle lend you. It remains to meet the mortgage criteria in practice and is not a promise or guarantee.