What is Manual underwriting?

Already this month we have done a couple of applications with manual underwriting. I thought it would be a good idea to explain this in a little more detail.

I think the easiest way to explain manual underwriting is to think about what your parents or grandparents might have said when they applied for a mortgage…

Talking through your case with an underwriter

My grandparents told me that when they applied for their mortgage they met their bank manager who agreed the mortgage for them. They used to say “There was none of this computer says no, we took a payslip and that was it, we got our mortgage”.

Manual underwriting is not too dissimilar to that. We talk your situation through with an underwriter, this involves things like any credit problems, your incomes, your deposit and so on. Instead of relying on just your credit report and documents they ask a lot more questions.

How can Manual Underwriting help you to get a Mortgage?

One of the examples we have this week is where the underwriter has asked about how long the couple have been in a relationship and how long they have lived together. This is because one of the applicants has a higher income and a better credit history. The deposit however comes from the other applicant. The underwriter wants to get an understanding of whether the relationship is likely to last long term. This is because one of the applicants is a better risk, but the other applicant brings the deposit. They are taking into account a lot more information to make their decision.


Another example of where manual underwriting lenders can come into play is with affordability. Unlike high street lenders who typically use Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures smaller lenders can look through your bank statements to assess your expenditure more accurately.

ONS figures use averages, if you are below the average then you could find you are unable to get the mortgage you need. By assessing your expenditure manually, this might enable you to get a larger mortgage which is one of the applications we are working on at the moment.

Will it cost me more?

In a word, yes. However I think it is important to add some context to that.

A £200,000 mortgage over 30 years at 90% LTV (ie a 10% deposit).

  • High street lender 2.55% with a £999 fee is around £800 per month.
  • Manual underwriting lender 2.95% with a £999 fee is around £850 per month.
These are based on 2 lenders I have checked today. 

These are obviously assuming the same lending amounts. If we are using a manual underwriting lender for a larger mortgage then it will mean a bigger mortgage (if all goes to plan).


Manual underwriting lenders fill a great space in the mortgage market. For people who do not fit on the high street for a variety of reasons such as adverse, affordability, quirky income or unusual property types they can be a perfect option.

Unlike with most lenders where you do a Decision in Principle (DIP/AIP/MIP) and then make an application, there is typically an addition step at the beginning which is referring it to the underwriter. It can take a little longer but I think that is to be expected.

Cost wise they can be only marginally more than the high street.

If you think you are going to struggle to get a mortgage on the high street, it does not necessarily mean we have to go straight to the adverse lenders. Please get in touch and we can look at your options.