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What Documents Do I Need to Get a Mortgage?

Read about the documentation you’ll need to get a home loan and what to do if you don’t have the necessary documents.

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, updated on August 8th, 2023       

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We often hear borrowers ask: “What documents do I need to get a home loan?”  Many people are taken by surprise at the amount of paperwork they need to provide.  Although all lenders vary slightly in their requirements for what documents are needed to apply for a mortgage, the fundamentals remain constant.

Whatever your situation, whether you’re wondering what documents are required for pre-approval or preparing for full loan approval, you can find the loan that's just right for you by comparing different lenders and types of loans available with Savvy.

The documents you’ll need either for loan pre-approval or full mortgage approval fall into five basic categories: personal identification, income, debts, expenses and assets. 

All lenders will ultimately need to know these details about you and your household before deciding whether to accept or reject your loan application.

1. Personal Identification:

You’ll need to provide 100 points of ID, including at least one document that includes your photo and a signature, and at least one Category A document, which includes:

  • Passport (must be current or expired no more than 2 years)
  • birth certificate
  • Australian citizenship certificate
  • driver's licence (currently valid)

In addition, you’ll need two of the following Category B documents when applying for a home loan:

  • Centrelink or Medicare or Seniors card
  • employee ID card with photo
  • Motor Vehicle Registration form
  • security licence
  • University or TAFE ID card
  • Veteran Affairs gold card
  • Land Titles Office record or mortgage documents
  • bank statements OR credit or debit cards
  • rent receipt records
  • council rates notice
  • electoral enrolment card
  • utility bills

2. Proof of income

You’ll need:

If you’re an employee

  • two or three of your latest payslips
  • your employment contract, OR
  • a letter from your employer stating your salary, length of employment and employment status (such as permanent or casual)
  • you may be asked for three months’ worth of bank statements proving income has been received

If you’re self-employed

  • two years’ worth of tax returns showing your income
  • your latest Business Activity Statement

If you receive income from a rental property

  • your rent book showing payments your tenant has made to you
  • bank statements showing proof of income received from your rental property
  • your tenant’s rental contract

If you receive government benefits

  • copies of your benefit statements from the past three months

Any other income?

  • proof of any other form of income (such as from child support or interest received from savings or investments)

3. List of your debts (liabilities)

Your potential new lender will want to know exactly what you owe other people, including all other car or personal loans, credit cards, store credit agreements or other debts.  You may be asked to provide proof in the form of loan contracts or bank or account statements.

4. Household expenses

Lenders need to know how much it costs you to live, so they need to know all about how you spend your income now.  It’s a good idea to prepare a household budget and write down exactly how much you spend on your utility bills, phone and internet, your current rent or mortgage, any child support payments you’re liable for, plus sports club memberships, gym memberships, school fees, or any other regular payments that you’re required to make.

5. A list of your assets

They’ll also need to know what assets you own, including details of any cars, caravans or recreational vehicles, boats, valuable jewellery or other assets which have an agreed value.

Top tips for preparing your home loan documentation

Get your documents in order early on

Make sure you start collecting your documents before your home loan application.  Many people are surprised at how many documents are needed for mortgage pre-approval or full home loan approval, so you should start gathering documents days or weeks in advance of your application to help speed up the process.

Get your credit report and check over it

It’s a good idea to get hold of your credit report and check it carefully before you apply for your home loan. If you find any errors, contact your credit report provider and ask to get them corrected.  Your credit score can influence the outcome of your loan application.

Make sure all your documents are easily readable

In the past, mass-generated payslips were often printed in a very light ink which couldn’t easily be read.  If you still receive these payslips, you may have to photocopy them on a dark setting so the numbers can be seen. These days, with most pay systems now online, this has become less of a problem for loan assessors trying to read blurred or faded documents.

Only the applicant's name should appear on bills

Your utility bills need to be in the name of the mortgage applicant, not showing the names of any unrelated persons.  So, if your ex’s name is still on your bills, now is the time to contact your gas or electricity company and get the account changed into your name only.

Name all documents carefully

If you’re scanning or photographing documents and need to save them, make sure you name them so they’re easy to find in a hurry if you need to.  A good system is to use your surname followed by the type of document and date, such as ‘Smith electricity bill June 2022’.

Don't delete your scans or photos too soon

If you’ve had to photograph many documents to send online, it’s tempting to delete them as soon as you’ve sent your application in to reduce clutter on your desktop.  Don’t delete them too soon, though, as you may be asked to send them again if something goes wrong or they get lost in cyberspace.

Frequently asked home loan documentation questions

Can I still get a home loan if I don't have the documents needed to get a mortgage?

Yes – for example, if you’re a freelance worker or self-employed, you may not be able to provide weekly payslips or two years of tax returns. Luckily some lenders specialise in providing ‘non-standard’ low doc home loans and are sympathetic to freelance, self-employed and casual workers.  These lenders will ask for different proof of income documents when you apply for a low doc loan (such as your BAS and profit and loss statements).

How will lowering my credit card limits help me get a larger loan?

Before submitting your documents to apply for pre-approval or a full home loan, it’s a good idea to reduce your cards’ limits (and pay them off in full, if you’re able to) because they reduce the amount you’ll be able to borrow.  For example, if you have two credit cards each with a $5,000 limit, your borrowing power is reduced by $10,000. Having no credit card debt will also help improve your credit score.

Are online home loan applications safe?

Yes – online lenders use the same encryption technology that the major banks do and they invest heavily in making sure their application programs are well protected, maintained with the very latest virus protection and user-friendly.  You can be sure your personal information is safe if you supply it online.

Do my partner and I have to list exactly who owns which asset when applying for a home loan together?

Your loan application will be assessed jointly, so in some ways, it doesn’t matter which one of you owns which asset.  However, if the asset is registered in only one name, that’s who should be listed as the registered owner of the car, trailer or another asset.

Will I get approved faster if I apply for my home loan at a branch?

No – taking a pile of documents to your bank may even slow down the process because at some point all of those documents have to be scanned to create an electronic version.  Whether you apply online or in person will make no difference to the outcome of your application.

Do I need to re-submit all my documents if I refinance in the future?

If you stay with the same lender, you will probably just be asked to provide your most recent pay information, as they will already know you and have proof of your ID and other key documents.  However, if you’re thinking of refinancing to another lender, you may have to provide all your documentation as part of that process.

Are there different documentation requirements for construction loans?

Yes – if you’re thinking of building your first home rather than buying a developed property, the list of documents you’ll be asked to provide will be quite extensive.  They may include your building contract, council approval, building plans, detailed specifications, proof of insurances and even a quantity surveyor’s report.

Do I have to pay for an official valuation of my car as part of the application process?

No – it is often good enough to provide your car’s make, model and year, mileage, plus any modifications or damage to it, and a rough estimate of its worth, which can be based on that of an online car valuation site.

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