Understanding Mortgage Underwriting: The Common Reasons for Loan Denial


There’s nothing more exciting than a new home purchase. It can be both exciting and stressful. Exciting, because you have found your dream house and can’t wait to call it your own. Stressful because you have to go through the process of getting a mortgage loan, and there is always a chance your mortgage loan application gets denied. In this article, we will answer the question, “How often do mortgages get denied in underwriting?” and discuss the common reasons for loan denial during the mortgage underwriting process.


Mortgage underwriting is the process of evaluating a borrower’s financial situation, credit history, and ability to repay a mortgage loan. During the mortgage underwriting process, the lender will review the borrower’s credit report, tax returns, pay stubs, bank account statements, and other financial documents. The lender will also consider the value of the home, the loan amount, and the borrower’s down payment and debt-to-income ratio (DTI). The DTI is the percentage of your monthly income that goes towards debt payments. A high DTI indicates that you may have difficulty making mortgage payments, which can lead to a loan denial. DTI is typically called Debt Service Ratio by mortgage professionals.

One of the most common reasons for loan denial is a low credit score. Mortgage lenders use credit scores to determine the interest rate and terms of a home loan. A low credit score can result in a higher interest rate, making it more difficult for the borrower to afford the monthly payments.

Another reason for loan denial is a high debt-to-income ratio. Mortgage lenders prefer borrowers with a lower DTI because it indicates that they have more money available to make mortgage payments.

Mortgage rates also have a significant impact on your ability to get a mortgage. The higher the interest rates, the greater the monthly payment and less chance you will survive the dreaded “stress test”.

First-time homebuyers and self-employed borrowers may have a harder time getting approved for a mortgage loan. Lenders prefer borrowers with steady jobs and a consistent income. New job changes or gaps in employment history can be red flags for lenders. Self-employed borrowers may have a more difficult time proving their income and may need to provide additional documentation to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Another reason for loan denial is bad credit history. Lenders look at the borrower’s credit report to determine their creditworthiness. Late payments, collections, and bankruptcies can all negatively impact a borrower’s credit score. Student loans and high debt from tools like credit cards, can also affect a borrower’s ability to qualify for a mortgage loan.

Lastly, mistakes on your mortgage application can also cause your mortgage to be denied in underwriting. Using your appropriate legal name, being truthful on income and your financial situation can help you when qualifying for a mortgage.


Understanding the mortgage underwriting process is crucial for homebuyers. To increase the chances of mortgage approval, borrowers should maintain a good credit score, have a low DTI, and provide all necessary documentation during the loan application process. If a mortgage loan application gets denied, homeowners can explore other loan options such as FHA loans, VA loans, or conventional loans. It is also important to note that mortgage lenders are subject to regulations under the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which protects borrowers from predatory lending practices. By being aware of the common reasons for loan denial, borrowers can take steps to improve their financial situation and increase their chances of homeownership.


How can a cosigner help ensure you qualify for a mortgage?

A cosigner can help you qualify for a mortgage by increasing the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio and allowing you to purchase a more expensive home. A cosigner is essentially someone who takes joint responsibility with you for repaying the loan. Their good credit score, home equity of their own and financial standing can be used to boost your mortgage application, thereby increasing your chances of being approved for a mortgage.

It’s important to note not all lenders accept cosigners, so you should speak with your mortgage broker to find out if it is an option. Typically there should be a familial relationship between the mortgage applicant and the co-signer. When submitting an application with a cosigner, the lender will require additional documentation from them as well. Additionally, the purchase price of the home must fall within certain limits in order for the cosigner to be accepted.

Ultimately, a cosigner can provide you with some extra financial assistance and peace of mind when applying for a mortgage. It’s important you thoroughly discuss this option with your mortgage broker before making any decisions. They will help guide you on the best course of action and ensure that all requirements are met.

What is a gift letter and how can it help you get an approved mortgage?

A gift letter is a document which states that money or property being provided to homebuyers, is a gift and not required to be repaid. It provides evidence of the donor’s ability and willingness to provide funds for closing costs or down payments associated with getting approved for a loan. As such, it can be crucial in helping individuals secure mortgage approval.

When the donor of a gift provides funds for a loan, they will need to provide information such as their name and address, the recipient’s name and address, the dollar amount of the gift, and a statement that no repayment is expected. It’s important to note that different loan types may have different requirements for providing proof of a gift or loan.

In addition, the donor may need to provide proof of funds such as a bank statement or canceled check and gift tax returns may be required in certain situations. It’s essential for prospective homebuyers to understand all state laws pertinent to gifts and loans and their potential impact on any mortgage loan approval.

Gifts are accepted if they are from immediate family members. Also, every mortgage lender has its own unique gift letter format and your donor will need to complete and sign that lender’s template gift letter.

Can a mortgage pre-approval be withdrawn by a lender?

Yes, a mortgage pre-approval can be withdrawn under certain circumstances. For example, if the lender discovers new information that suggests you cannot comfortably afford the loan amount or if your credit score has changed significantly during the approval process, they may decide to withdraw their offer of pre-approval. Additionally, if your appraised value is lower than expected and causes an issue with the loan-to-value ratio, the lender could also decide to withdraw their offer.

Lastly, if you refinance your existing mortgage or purchase a new home, it could affect your ability to obtain pre-approval and lead to a withdrawal of their offer. It is important to keep in mind that these situations will vary by lender and loan type so be sure to discuss your specific circumstances with them in order to determine if a pre-approval could be withdrawn.

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