A mortgage promise is an indication from a lender of the amount they may be willing to offer a borrower. It is not tied to a specific property and should not be confused with a mortgage offer.
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Despite the name, a mortgage promise does not constitute a contract between either party and does not guarantee a mortgage will be offered for any amount, however it shows the borrow is in a position to take out a mortgage so long as the information given by the borrower is correct, and the lenders valuation of the house is sufficiently high to permit lending the promised amount.
Mortgage promises are useful to lenders as they give a clear indication of the price range of property they should be looking at. They are also becoming popular with vendors as they demonstrate that a potential buyer is considering all aspects of the purchase process.
Usually a mortgage promise will not involve the lender carrying out a credit check, or any checks on the borrowers, but will rely on the information supplied by the potential borrower. For this reason they cannot be seen as a cast iron guarantee.
Mortgage promises are of most use when housing markets are moving fast and potential buyers are competing for houses. In some cases estate agents or vendors may only offer viewings to potential purchasers who have a mortgage promise, although this is often a tactic to push people towards their own mortgage advisers.