‘Can a British expat get a mortgage?’ is one of our most popular enquiries—and with roughly 5 million Brits living and working out of the UK, it’s little wonder. The short answer is yes—but mortgages for expats are more difficult to arrange, so a good expat mortgage broker can be helpful.
Mortgages for expats: why are they needed?
There are several scenarios in which British expats need mortgages. Some expats own residential property which they do not wish to sell; they therefore need to remortgage onto a buy to let product. Other expats simply want to buy a rental property as a means of maintaining a foothold in the UK property market. Conversely, some expats are planning to return to the UK, and need to either purchase a new home or remortgage a buy to let back into a residential property.
Why do I need an expat mortgage broker?
The weakened pound has increased the buying power of those who are paid in other currencies, so now could be an ideal time for expats who wish to invest in UK property. However, there are a number of potential challenges you may face, and a good expat mortgage broker can help you to overcome these problems.
Firstly, the physical distance of being an expat can make it difficult to arrange finance. Whereas a British resident can walk into a bank, an expat based in Australia will be very limited in their ability to contact lenders. We can deal with lenders on your behalf, minimising the hassle you have to deal with.
The pool of lenders who will work with expats in also quite small, as this is a higher risk proposition from a lender’s perspective. Expat clients therefore have less choice; your options are diminished further if you need a large loan, as some expat lenders will cap mortgages at £500,000. If you need a larger loan, a private bank may be your best option. If so, an expat mortgage broker such as Enness is essential, as we have excellent relationship with these lenders and can liaise with them on your behalf.
Other less obvious problems may also crop up. For example, lenders can sometimes be cautious with expats trying to remortgage onto a residential rate. If your return to the UK is not imminent, lenders may be concerned you will be renting the property out in the meantime, which typically violates the terms of a residential mortgage. A good expat mortgage broker can help to mitigate this, as our relationships with lenders carries weight when presenting your case.
We have assisted with mortgages for expats with a variety of circumstances. Earlier this year, I helped two British expats who had been living in Africa to secure a residential mortgage in the UK.
If you are looking to remortgage a residential property into a buy to let, take a look at this case study from broker James Hewitt. This client was a British expat living in Australia, who wanted to remortgage his home in London to a buy to let. However, he needed a flexible lender, as he was unsure when he would be moving back.
Meanwhile, if you’re an expat who is looking to return to the UK and live in your current buy to let, check out this case study from Anna Thompson. Anna’s clients had been living and working in Brazil, but were planning to move back to the UK, so they needed to remortgage their buy to let into a residential mortgage.
How can we help?
A number of lenders we work with offer an expat buy to let mortgage range; maximum loan size varies from lender to lender, and what you can borrow will be dependent on your circumstances. However, as an example, we work with one lender who can provide loan sizes up to £1million for existing landlords living in the European Economic Area, and £500,000 for first-time landlords, with no minimum income requirements.
However, we also work with lenders who can provide buy to let mortgages for expats over £3million—and of course, private banks don’t have lending caps, as it will depend on the property value and predicted rental income.