Can an American expat get a European mortgage?

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At Enness, we’re regularly asked questions like ‘can an American expat get a mortgage in the UK and Europe?’. There are numerous reasons for this, from the current political climate, the strength of the Dollar and relative weakness of the Pound, and also the presently low interest rates on offer in Europe.

Many American business people are very global in their outlook, choosing to live and work all over the world. We have seen a consistent influx of requests for mortgages for American expats. Fortunately, we have consistently managed to arrange these facilities—but an understanding of the potential challenges can be helpful before you apply. If you’re an American expat requiring a UK mortgage, take a look at the list below to find out more.

Mortgages for American expats: the challenges

  • The American tax system and scope of the Inland Revenue Service (IRS) can be challenging for lenders to deal with
  • Many banks prefer for a borrower to have been resident in a country for at least two years before securing a mortgage
  • Their current income is in a foreign currency and will only be paid in the new country’s currency, e.g. Pound Sterling once they’ve moved to the new country – this is difficult for a high street lender to take into account as it doesn’t guarantee what their salary/bonus income will be in the the new country, especially as bonuses can fluctuate and there is no track record
  • In our experience, many American expats want to maintain their liquidity as a result of having funds tied up in stocks. As such, these borrowers tend to want higher loan to value (LTV) mortgages for cash flow purposes, but this can be challenging when looking to borrow above £1million
  • People working in finance are likely to have a bonus-subsidised income, possibly with income tied up within the company, making their income structure complicated

So how can an American expat get a mortgage?

The best mortgage options for American expats will typically be with private banks and specialist lenders. Fortunately, we have a large panel of international lenders and banks whose flexible bespoke attitude allow them to consider these cases. For example, we work with one particular private bank who can take a view on bonus income, taking an average of your bonus over the last two to three years.

You will be at a particular advantage if you are able to move within your company; we regularly arrange mortgages for American expats who are now working in their company’s UK offices, for example. If you are moving to a new company, but are working within the same field and have plenty of experience, the bank may be prepared to take a holistic view of your future salary in light of this.

We have also been approach by clients needing a foreign currency mortgage, including those looking to secure a mortgage in US dollars for a European residential property. This is almost impossible to achieve, but we do have a track record of doing this. However, if you are still going to paid in US dollars upon your move, a better option would be foreign exchange (FX)—we work with a specialist FX broker, Argentex, who can advise you further.

Case study

I recently had an American expat client who was relocating to the UK for a new position within the same company. She needed a loan of £1.4million at an LTV of 80%. There were a couple of reasons for her needing a high LTV; she wanted to keep funds tied up in savings and investments, and a higher LTV helped with her cash flow.

By negotiating with a client at a private bank, I was able to secure her a rate of 2.99% fixed for 5 years at 80% LTV. This is a high street competitive rate as getting 80% LTV on a mortgage above £1million is very rare, and most banks would only lend 70-75% on a property at that LTV—not to mention she had no UK credit footprint. In addition to securing such a great rate and high LTV, we were able to add the 1% lender arrangement fee to the loan as an exception for this client– which at 80% LTV is not always possible with most banks.

We have also provided finance facilities for American citizens in France and Europe more widely. To read more, check out these case studies from the Enness International, showing how we have secured property finance for American nationals in Paris and France.

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