How to get a mortgage in the UK when you live abroad?

It is possible to get a UK buy to let mortgage as an overseas resident. Regardless of whether you are living overseas on a temporary or permanent basis, it is possible to get a mortgage, but it is likely you will need to have a specialist mortgage advisor help. Here’s our advice on how to get a mortgage in the UK when you live abroad.

Why get a buy to let mortgage when living abroad?

It is now becoming very common for British people to work overseas; many expats earn generous salaries, pay much lower income tax, and have high levels of disposable income. As property markets around the world continue to experience rapid growth, many ex-pats are looking to buy their own little slice of the UK to simply get a foot on the property ladder for when they plan to return home or for income in retirement.

What you need to think about with international buy to let UK mortgages

In response to the global financial crisis and the property market crash which followed, far stricter rules have been introduced for those wishing to get mortgages for off-shore property. As a result, there are fewer lenders who are willing to offer loans to expats and there are certainly more hoops to jump through. However, this should not put you off because it is not impossible, you simply need to have your finances in order and need to be well prepared. Here are some things you will need to think about before you apply.

Banks

There is a much smaller number of banks in the UK that offer mortgages to expats. The good news is that as the UK property market recovers and grows, there are more banks who are willing to lend to offshore purchasers. However, it is not typically high-street banks that will lend. It is more likely you will need to go to a smaller lender or building society.

As a result of the greater complexity and perceived risks involved with lending to offshore purchasers, buy to let mortgages tend to be more expensive than standard buy to let mortgages in the UK. In addition, lenders typically want to see a relatively strong credit and employment history.

how to get a mortgage

Deposit

From a financial perspective, buying a property off-shore is considered to have an element of ‘greater risk’ to the lender. Therefore, not only will it mean you have to pay a higher interest rate on the mortgage you will also need a higher deposit.

You should anticipate needing a deposit of around 30% to 35% of the purchase price, so you will need to bear this in mind when you do your sums.

Identity and Anti-Money Laundering Checks

Real estate has always been seen as a high-risk asset when it comes to money laundering and financial fraud. As a result, the HMRC put real estate transactions under the microscope, so expect to be subject to strict identity checks to be carried out. Don’t take this personally, this is simply just part of the process and, in addition, you will probably need to go through the same process with a lawyer, your bank and the real estate broker.

Most likely you will need to provide the following:

  • Two forms of photo ID, these could be a passport and driver’s license
  • Proof of Address – such as a utility bill (which is less than 3 months old)
  • Proof and source of funds – you will need to be able to demonstrate both funds for a deposit and mortgage as well as how they were obtained

Foreign Currency and Exchange Rates

If you are relying on your income, you will need to understand it will be subject to far greater scrutiny. Lenders will want to understand who your employer is, for most expats this will unlikely be an issue as they will generally work for large multi-national companies. However, if you are employed by a small or local company or are self-employed expect to be able to provide a significant amount of information about them.

Exchange rates will not be an issue for buy to let properties, because the rental income will be the principal determinant of affordability. However, if you intend to keep the property vacant and use it periodically, some lenders will allow for significant currency fluctuations on your income.

exchange rate graph

Timing

When buying offshore with a mortgage, the time it will take to obtain a mortgage offer is an important consideration. You will need to allow far more time to obtain a mortgage offer from a bank. In most cases, it will take at least 3 months.

Blacklisted countries

In some situations, the country you live in will impact whether you can obtain a mortgage. Most lenders will have a list of countries that they will not lend to people when they live there. This is typically due to issues with perceived corruption or money laundering in that country.

Important notice:  Proptech Pioneer and its associated companies seek to provide real estate investors with guides, information and tools, but we cannot guarantee this information to be accurate or perfect.  You use the information at your own risk and accept no liability if you rely on this information.   Proptech Pioneer is not a tax advisor, accountant conveyancer, lawyer, financial advisor or mortgage advisor.  You should seek independent advice from independent professionals before making any investment decision.