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The ultimate guide to getting a mortgage as an expat returning to the UK

Are you an expat looking at buying property in the UK? We’ve put together this handy guide to provide you with everything you need to know about getting an expat mortgage, including the potential costs and the steps to expect when searching for and buying UK property. 

It can be tricky as an expat to get a mortgage in the UK, but with this guide and our expertise, you can feel prepared and ready to start your expat mortgage journey. 

This guide will cover the following topics: 

  1. Can I get a mortgage as an expat? 
  2. How much deposit do you need for an expat mortgage? 
  3. What are the types of expat mortgages available? 
  4. Other things an expat buying property in the UK needs to consider 
  5. FAQ’s 

 1. Can I get a mortgage as an expat? 

The good news is that yes, you could get a mortgage as an expat looking to buy property in the UK, either for yourself or as an investment. 

There may be a few more hurdles to jump over than a typical UK mortgage depending on your circumstances, but a specialist mortgage broker, like Fidelius deVere Mortgages, will be able to provide effective solutions for expats living all over the globe. 

Is it easy for an expat to get a mortgage in the UK? 

Expats looking to buy a property are usually considered good risks by mortgage lenders, so conditions apply. Although, most people don’t realise how easy it is to purchase an investment property in the UK. 

It can also be difficult to apply for UK mortgages as a self-employed expat, however, if you have audited accounts to prove your income it should be straight forward.  

Choosing the right mortgage is essential and is not always as simple as it may first seem. That’s why Fidelius deVere Mortgages are on hand to help you choose the right solution by understanding your position and finding the most appropriate solution for your needs. 

2. How much deposit do you need for an expat mortgage? 

A UK expat or non-UK client buying in the UK may have to have a deposit of up to 25% (or more depending upon personal circumstances).  

There is a chance you can get a mortgage for a residential property with just 10%, however, most UK lenders offer a maximum lending of 80% loan to value.  

We suggest a starting deposit of at least 20%, as this would give you more options and selection. But a 10% deposit may be possible after looking at your situation. 

What other costs should I expect? 

It’s also important to consider the other expenses that you will need to be prepared for when financing a house purchase, including: 

  • Stamp duty land tax – This tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties, whether you are buying outright or with a mortgage. The % you pay depends on the cost of the property. 
  • Valuation fee – This is the fee the lender charges to carry out a valuation survey to assess the value of the property. Some lenders might not charge you for this, depending on the type of mortgage product you select. 
  • Surveyor’s fees – Sometimes it’s vital to get the property checked before you commit to purchasing it. This is where you hire a surveyor to do a property survey, so you understand if there are any problems before you buy. 
  • Legal fees – These are the fees that your solicitor or conveyancer will charge to complete the legal paperwork that will need submitting. Solicitor fees vary depending on who you choose. 
  • Mortgage costs – There may be an arrangement or booking fee charged by the lender. If applicable, these upfront costs can be paid in advance rather than being added to your mortgage. 
  • Insurance – When you’ve received your mortgage offer, you will want to discuss buildings and contents insurance. This is to protect your new home and contents against damage. 
  • Personal Protection – Make sure you consider protecting your mortgage costs against something happening to you with protection planning. If applicable to you, landlords insurance will also be important to have in place. 
  • Property agent fees - This is relevant if you are selling a property, so require an estate agent. They will charge you fees for their services.  

How much can I borrow for an expat mortgage? 

The amount of money you need to borrow is dependent upon the mortgage type you choose. 

Residential mortgages 

This is based on quite a few different factors and mainly comes down to affordability (how much you earn and how much your outgoings cost). They need to know that you can manage to pay your monthly mortgage payments.  

Your mortgage deposit will also be taken into consideration, along with the UK lenders criteria and requirements. 

Mortgage lenders will have different expectations, so no two applications will be the same. That’s where a specialist expat mortgage broker comes in handy. They could save you time and money.  

Buy to Let mortgages 

This will be based upon the rental expectations of the property you are buying. Each lender has different ‘stress tests’, so getting advice from a professional like Fidelius deVere Mortgages is essential to secure the correct lender to suit your investment. 

3. What are the types of expat mortgages available? 

There are two types of mortgages available for expats buying property in the UK. These are residential or buy to let. 

We’ve explained them in a bit more detail for you below. 

Residential mortgages 

You may be looking for a residential mortgage if you’re planning on moving back to the UK and want a property to live in when you do. Alternatively, you may be overseas but want to purchase a house for you and your family. 

Buy to Let mortgage 

A buy to let mortgage is ideal for expats who want to re-mortgage a residential property on a buy to let basis if you’re about to move overseas, you’re situated overseas but want to raise money by re-mortgaging, or you are looking to buy an investment property. Buy to let purchases can be for capital appreciation, rental yield or both.   

4. Other things an expat buying property in the UK needs to consider 

Unlike with other mortgages, expats are unable to effectively compare expat mortgage products themselves using an online tool. This is because it is a niche market. That’s why a specialist expat mortgage broker is advised. 

It is also difficult for high street lenders to carry out credit checks on applicants that don’t live in the UK, so they don’t tend to offer expat mortgages. At Fidelius deVere Mortgages, we know which lenders to approach. 

When dealing with overseas transactions there is also the possibility of a potential language barrier where things could get lost in translation. 

Additionally, be aware that exchange rates could change at any time during your purchase. If the rates change, the value of your property may be affected. 

How else does an expat mortgage differ to a standard mortgage? 

Mortgage rates are usually higher for expats who want to buy UK property using buy to let or residential mortgages. If you still plan on living abroad for most of the year, they will view this as an increased risk. Therefore, mortgage rates are increased for these types of buyers. 

You may also discover that you will have to go through more checks and eligibility requirements for an expat mortgage. Again, this is becuase of the extra hoops that an Expat will have to go through when compared to a UK based purchaser.

FAQs 

  • How long does the expat mortgage application take? 

This completely depends on your circumstances and which lender you go with as each application will be treated uniquely. In most cases, the process could take up to 10-12 weeks to be signed off. 

  • What documents do I need for my expat mortgage application? 

The requirement for the correct documentation is more rigorous for an expat mortgage, so we advise you begin collecting your documents in advance. This will help to not delay things.  

Documents that may be required for your application are: 

  • Proof of identity (colour copy of your passport or identity card) 
  • Proof of address / tenancy agreement 
  • Proof of income (from your employer OR 3 months of payslips) 
  • Financial history (3 months of bank statements) 
  • Proof of mortgage deposit and how it has been built up  

Please note that some lenders may have the right to ask for additional information not listed above. 

  • Can I get an expat mortgage with bad credit?  

It may make things more difficult, but it is still possible. A specialist mortgage broker will be able to advise you on your situation and the options that are available.  

Get in touch with an expat mortgage expert 

Fidelius deVere Mortgages have always specialised in expat mortgages.  

With a combined experience of nearly two decades, our expert mortgage team average over 300 mortgages per year for expatriate clients and create bespoke insurance solutions. 

Being independent allows us to source the best lender options, and we also have professional connections with partner solicitors who are experienced in assisting expats buying property in the UK.  

Fidelius deVere believe in establishing a lifelong commitment to customers with a service that is cost effective, valuable, and able to deliver total peace of mind. From our support teams, right up to management, we pride ourselves on having the correct work ethos and culture needed to provide excellent customer experience.  

Book a consultation with our team today 

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up on your mortgage repayments.  

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