Mortgage process: What does “submission to underwriting” mean?

October 1, 2018 - 2 min read

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Once you complete your mortgage application, you’ll probably receive a status that reads “submission to underwriting.” But what does that mean, and what’s next?

  • Underwriting falls under two levels: input into a decision-making software program, and review by a human professional. Sometimes, only a human can underwrite your application. Lenders call it “manual underwriting”
  • The software issues a preliminary decision: approve, refer (needs more information), decline, or ineligible
  • The human underwriter evaluates your documents and decides if your application meets mortgage program guidelines

Only a human underwriter can sign off on a mortgage application and issue a true loan approval.

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Submission to underwriting

While “submission to underwriting” is a nice step forward, it does not mean your work is done. It means that a loan processor or your loan officer has collected your signed application and disclosures, made copies and assembled them into a file.

You’ll have to prove that your income and assets match the information presented on your application. That means you’ll supply copies of bank and investment statements, and document your income with pay stubs, W-2s, tax returns, business account statements or other paperwork.

These are called conditions — things the underwriter requires before he or she can approve your mortgage.

In addition to getting these copies from you, mortgage processors generally double check them by asking your employer to complete a Verification of Employment (VOE) form, and your bank to fill out and return a Verification of Deposit (VOD) form. The information on those forms should match the documents you provide.


Conditions can take several forms. For instance, the software may issue you an approval listing these conditions:

  • Account statements showing at least $123,000 in liquid assets
  • Most recent pay stubs showing at least $8,200 a month income
  • A property appraisal from an approved provider indicating a property value of at least $476,500

The first two conditions are “prior to underwriting” and your file will not go to a human underwriter until you provide those things to your loan officer or processor.

The last one, the appraisal, is a “prior to documentation” condition. This means that your closing documents won’t go out until the appraiser submits his or her report, and the human underwriter approves it.

There are other types of conditions as well. You may have to show that you have a homeowners insurance policy before the lender releases funds. Or you may have to pay off a collection account or bring in cash for your lender fees. these are “prior to funding” conditions.

Understand that most conditions, however strange they might sound, are not negotiable. If you want the loan, you have to satisfy the guidelines. And understand that the faster you supply the required items, the sooner you’ll get your final approval and close on your purchase or refinance.

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Gina Freeman
Authored By: Gina Freeman
The Mortgage Reports contributor
With more than 10 years in the mortgage industry, and another 10 years writing about it, Gina Freeman brings a wealth of knowledge to The Mortgage Reports as its Associate Editor. Gina works with a team of world-class real estate and finance writers to bring timely and helpful news and advice to the audience. Her specialty is helping consumers understand complex and intimidating topics.