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Expat mortgage: a guide to getting one

Last updated: 13th September 2019

Rumour has it that getting a mortgage when you’re an expat can be a nightmare.

But can it?

Well, it’s slightly harder – but not by much. If you’re familiar with the mortgage process already, you’ll find that it’s not too dissimilar to what you’re used to. There’s just a few extra things to consider with expat mortgages.

So why is it harder getting a mortgage as an expat?

One reason is that if you – the client – were to get into debt, you being overseas would make it harder for the lender to pursue those debts.

Another reason is concern about money laundering and other financial crime. There’s certain countries that are more high risk for money laundering – if you live in one of those countries, that’s going to be more hard work for lenders.

Lender workload is a bit of a theme here – remember, for lenders, expat clients mean dealing with unfamiliar foreign documents, often in a different language. The different time zones don’t help either. So all of this does make it slightly harder for expats trying to get a mortgage.

The ease of getting a mortgage depends which country you’re an expat in too

It’s worth remembering that it isn’t a level playing field for expats – a lot depends on your native and current country. Some countries are typically easier than others, some have more risk factors than others dependent on their market (and sometimes political) landscape – but a good expat mortgage broker can help you with this.

And who you work for is also a factor

If it’s a global company, then that does make it easier. Why? Because they’ll likely have an office in the UK, and available documents in English, which can help things move along quicker.

Certainly, it might be a little harder if you’re self employed. Again, it’s not that different but you’re going to have to jump through a few hoops.

Again like anyone else would, you’ll have to prove who you are. You’re going to have to find a local solicitor to do this for you, someone who has qualifications that are respected.

It might be harder, but again it’s not much different to what anyone else would do. Some will want you to go to the local British consulate.

Do expect it to take longer though! Different time zones don’t really help.

The good news is, while it’s a bit of effort, in most cases you’re not going to have to come to the UK to complete the mortgage. Lenders realise what they’re letting themselves in for and travelling home shouldn’t be needed.

These extra steps might sound like more work, but trust us, things are much better than they used to be – more and more lenders want your business if you’re an expat.

Why?

The rise of property investors investing through a limited company has been a major gamechanger. The number of individuals taking out mortgages is decreasing – which means there’s a competition to attract mortgage applications from groups that previously were less desired. Expats have been a major beneficiary of that.

When you’re shopping around, remember that it’s good to find a mortgage lender who’s used to working with expats – they’ll know the pitfalls, and more generally will be familiar with the process and know what they’re doing.

So there we go – it’s not at all impossible, and it’s not that different to obtaining a normal buy-to-let mortgage if you’re an expat, it’s just a little bit harder.

Want to know more? We’ve got a great video on this very topic, or check out our other free resources right here.

And if you’d like to speak to someone about what your expat mortgage options are, you know we’ve got you covered with Property Hub Mortgages.

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