Understanding the home loan approval process

Understanding the finance approval process and knowing what you should do at every stage can help make it less daunting. From conditional approval to unconditional approval, we break down the stages for you – when to apply, what to consider, and the support and tools that help make the process easier.

Before you apply

Step 1: Get set up

  • Look into your credit score
    Lenders will look at your credit score (also known as your credit rating) when deciding whether to lend you money. It’s based on things like how much you’ve borrowed in the past, your previous applications for credit and if you’ve missed payments on things like credit cards, bills or loans. You can find out more – and even check your credit score – on the government’s MoneySmart website, to see if there's any steps you can take to improve it.
  • Decrease debt
    If you've got any outstanding debts such as personal loans or large credit bills, it's a good idea to start looking at how you can decrease those, as they may affect your borrowing power.
  • Start saving a deposit
    To purchase your house, you’ll need a cash deposit. Find out how much you’ll need.

Step 2: Research available products

There are a few things you should take into account when choosing a home loan. See our checklist to find out what to consider.

If you're having trouble figuring out a product to choose, a Home Lending Specialist or broker will be able to help you find a home loan to suit your needs.

When it’s time to apply

Step 1: Conditional approval

Before you start your property search, it’s worth getting conditional approval for a home loan. It’s a letter from your lender that indicates how much they’re likely to let you borrow. It’s based on a few things, like a review of your financial details, goals and requirements. The info will also have been assessed and validated by us.

You might've also heard the term 'pre-approval' – also known as an approval in principle, a pre-approval letter will also give you an indication of what you might be able to borrow. The difference is that the info you've given us isn't assessed and validated.

Keep in mind
A conditional approval is a level up from pre-approval – this letter is what you’d take with you to an auction.

How it works:

A Home Lending Specialist or broker can help you through the process.

Things to have ready:

With conditional approval, you'll have a clear idea of what you could realistically afford and can start looking for your property with peace of mind. It also puts you in a strong position when you make an offer on a house or purchase a property at auction, as it shows the seller and real estate agent that you’re a serious buyer.​

Once you've found your property, you can move to the next step...

Step 2: Applying for the loan

You need to get in touch with a Home Lending Specialist or broker and provide a copy of the signed contract of sale. From there, they’ll organise the rest of your application and let you know if any documents are missing. They’ll also help you select a suitable home loan product that’s right for you.

Unconditional approval (also known as full loan approval) happens after your offer on a property has been accepted. You usually sign a contract ‘subject to finance’ when you make an offer, so after that, you can apply for unconditional approval. Your application will be assessed, and then the bank will carry out a valuation on the property. This can take a week or two, depending on your situation and the settlement period.

Your Home Lending Specialist or broker will keep you up to date, but you can also conveniently track your application and receive email notifications for key milestones with our Home Loan Application Tracker.

Step 3: Signing the docs

Once your home loan has been unconditionally approved, the bank will send your contract documents to you and you’ll need to read, sign and return them. The bank will then verify the contract documents and settlement will be booked.

With a Bankwest home loan, you can sign most of your contract documents online anytime. Find out more about digital signing.

Home loans to suit you

If you’re ready to buy, refinance or invest, we could have the home loan for you.

We’re here to help


Get in touch with a Home Lending Specialist, and they'll respond within one business day. You can talk on the phone, meet at a branch, or have a Mobile Lending Manager come to you.

The information contained in this article is of a general nature and is not intended to be nor should it be considered as professional advice. You should not act on the basis of anything contained in this article without first obtaining specific professional advice. Also to the extent permitted by law, Bankwest, a division of Commonwealth Bank of Australia ABN 48 123 123 124 AFSL / Australian credit licence 234945, its related bodies corporate, employees and contractors accept no liability or responsibility to any persons for any loss which may be incurred or suffered as a result of acting on or refraining from acting as a result of anything contained in this article.