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Marios Stamos

First time buyer and property abroad

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Hi members,


I am seeking advice regarding first time buyers mortgage.


I am financially in the position to buy my first property. Since I do not currently own a property I assume that I will qualify as a first time buyer for the mortgage.


However, at the same time, my parents are considering transferring me my birthhome that is currently in Greece.


If they decide to do this before I buy a property in the UK, does it mean that I can’t be considered a first time buyer since I already have a property on my name? Or it does not matter since it is in another country?


Can someone let me know and even better point me to a government source to read further about this?


Thank you everyone,



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Hi Marios -

I can't see why you would not qualify as a first time buyer as, technically, this is what you are. It just so happens that you have been gifted a property by your parents but that should not change your status. My recommendation is check with the bank / mortgage advisor upfront. I can't see any downside to checking.

I assume the property in Greece is mortgage free? If that is the case then fine. However, if not, then the financial obligations associated with this asset could restrict the amount of borrowing on your proposed UK purchase.

Good luck


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Not quite official sites but gives some info.




3% stamp duty implications


Who has to pay it?

Anyone who is buying an additional residential property. This could mean a holiday home, buy-to-let or even a main residence you plan to live in (more detail on this later). 

Even if you already own just a share in another property, it will count (so long the share is worth more than £40,000). Properties anywhere in the world are considered too. So, if you own a 30% share of a £300,000 ski chalet in Bulgaria and are buying your first home in the UK, you’ll be stung with the extra tax.

The higher rate Stamp Duty applies to the purchase of property in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and – under a separate announcement in the Scottish Government's 2015 pre-election Budget – in Scotland too.

Read more at http://www.zoopla.co.uk/discover/buying/q-a-new-3-stamp-duty-surcharges/#0jXSWjlmAZkfd8Wt.99


Q. What if the home I am buying will be my main residence?

If the home you are buying directly replaces your main residence, you will not be liable for the 3% surcharge, even if you own an additional home/s at the same time. This example is straight from the Government's consultation document:

"A owns both a main residence and a second home. She sells her main residence and purchases a new one. Although she has two properties at the end of the day of the transaction, she has replaced her main residence so the higher rates will not apply."

But replacing your main residence means the last one will need to be disposed of (ie, SOLD or GIFTED). If you are moving out of rented accommodation (or your parents' home) this will NOT count as disposing of your main residence as your name is not on the property deeds.  

Read more at http://www.zoopla.co.uk/discover/buying/q-a-new-3-stamp-duty-surcharges/#0jXSWjlmAZkfd8Wt.99


This an official site which gives some corroborative information.



So you may need to consider buying your UK home before your parents gift your birth home, unless you intend to sell your birth home prior to (or within 18 months of)  buying your UK home.

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Hi Andrew and Phil,


Thank you very much for your replies.


I did come across the following website whilst I was researching this topic:




In there it states that if I own less than 50% I might be allowed not to pay the higher stamp duty. Is this website a governement website do you know? What do you make out of this piece of information that is listed on this website?


Thank you very much for all your support on my topic,



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Hi Marios,


Government website detail is here:



A small, relevant extract from this is:

1. Overview

You must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property or land over a certain price in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


NB note my bold text.


click on the website next page and this takes you to 



Extracts from this page are:

Higher rates for additional properties

From 1 April 2016, you’ll usually have to pay 3% on top of the normal SDLT rates if buying a new residential property means you’ll own more than one.

Use the SDLT calculator to work out how much tax you’ll pay.


If you’re replacing your main residence

You won’t pay the extra 3% SDLT if the property you’re buying is replacing your main residence and that has already been sold.

If there’s a delay selling your main residence and it hasn’t been sold on the day you complete your new purchase:

  • you’ll have to pay higher rates because you own 2 properties
  • you may be able to get a refund if you sell your previous main home within 36 months

There are special rules if you own property with someone else or already own a property outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland.


NB If at the end of the day of purchase you only own 1 property then the extra 3% SDLT should not apply:

Click on special rules and this takes you to :



and an extract is:

What properties aren’t included

You won’t have to pay a higher rate if the additional property is:

  • a caravan, mobile home or houseboat
  • outside England, Wales and Northern Ireland

There are also certain rules which apply when one of your residential properties has been inherited.


My summary

This is why I suggested:

  • you may wish to consider buying your home in the UK first, which would mean SDLT banded rates (ie not the higher rate) apply
  • then accept the non UK property, which is excluded from the higher rate.


Perversely this HMRC site, by implication, is promoting the outward (from the UK) investment in property. So reducing the assets held by UK citizens in the UK. On the other hand it also promotes the inward receipt of rent into the UK, with consequent income tax uplift.  

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I am very much in a difficult situation with the new stamp duty law changes.


Me and my wife together bought a house in India 4 years back. We still have a outstanding mortgage and pay towards it every month.


Now I am trying to buy my first home in the UK and been informed my solicitor that I will have to pay an extra 3% stamp duty as I have a property overseas in my name.


Is there any way I can avoid the extra tax if i can prove that my first home in the UK will be my main residence?


Please guide me.


Thank you.

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Hi Mathew,


If you read the post above


Hi Marios,



The above explains the websites to which you need to refer.


Unfortunately I believe your advisor is correct.


If you had bought your house in the UK and then bought your house in India then the extra 3% SDLT would not apply.


Moving forward from where you are now, you could sell your house in India. Then when buying the UK house the extra 3% SDLT would not apply. Then you could buy back your house in India. But I suspect that this may be more expensive than simply paying the extra 3% SDLT.


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I have a mortgaged property in India that's worth less than £40000. I read from your above post that I won't have to pay stamp duty.

Now can you please confirm if I'll be eligible for help to buy equity loan?


Thank you.

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I have similar position to the person above.

I have a land abroad (mortgage free) that's worth less than £12000. 

Could you please confirm if I'll be eligible for help to buy ISA bonus?


Thank you.

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@Aneta, Hi, I am not an expert, I have only read through the information that is available online.


The fact that the property is simply land and, presumably verifiable that it is not residential and the fact that it has a value, again verifiable and using current exchange rates, is less than £40,000 then you may be OK. I would ask a solicitor before committing, but my opinion is that you should be able to avoid the 3% stamp duty.


I don't know enough about the right to buy ISA to be able to comment on that.

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My partner and I would like to buy our first house in the UK. My partner has a house in Italy, however it is a house in the countryside, which has quite low value.

Is there a way for the government to check the comercial price of the house to confirm it's low value?

Thank you.

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Following the comments above. I am also on the process of buying a property in the UK on my name, however my husband has a property in The Netherlands. Since the mortgage and the ownership will be on my name only, would this mean that the extra 3% SDLT does not apply? again  since I am the only one buying the property.


Your advise is very much appreciated

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