Exceptional expat activity sees record high applications

Expat first-time buyer activity reached a 2 year high at the end of November last year after soaring more than 40% on the same period in 2018. In October last year alone the expat mortgage industry saw an increase in applications for new mortgages rise by 38%. These figures go to prove that expat’s still see property in the UK as their number one investment, and it is little wonder when you see the growth the market has shown over the last 10 years.

The UK housing market keeps going from strength to strength even with the Brexit setbacks which now seem to be coming to a head. This growth is likely to continue due to the chronic shortage of quality homes for sale. If this continues to be the case in the future property prices will remain high and increase accordingly.

Estate agents around the country are reporting a high demand for low end quality properties with first-time expat buyers being very active. One agent in Sussex said, “We are getting a lot of enquiries from people living abroad (Expats) and they want a property at the low end of the market in good condition”.

The UK property market continues on an upward spiral and offers longer term growth and security. Mortgage lenders are still reducing interest rates to attract new business, so if you are contemplating investing now would seem a good time to buy in the UK.

There is little doubt the attractive mortgage interest rates currently on offer have played a key role in driving these figures. Expat borrowers have taken advantage of the current low rates and used a re-mortgage in particular to their benefit.

Can we assist you?

If you are looking for help with your new or re-mortgage please contact one of our fully qualified independent advisers and they will be happy to guide you.

Expat mortgage rates hold steady.

Expat mortgage rates have been falling consistently for the past two years or so. Both fixed and tacker interest rates are now at the lowest they have been for a good many years.

The question is for how long?

Expats should be taking advantage of these low rates on offer. It is no secret that interest rates will rise again in the future the question is when. Wise expats who currently have a mortgage on a standard rate should review it sooner rather than later as there are some good fixed deals available.

Many mortgage providers are fighting for new business and this has resulted in the lowest ever fixed rate deals being offered.

If your current deal is coming to an end soon it is strongly recommended to consider a longer-term fixed rate deal.

Figures are showing that fixed rate deals have fallen on average over the last 24 months by 0.5% this is the biggest reduction recorded in recent years.

So, what does this mean for the expat borrower?

Well it means right now is a very good time for new expat investors and existing ones.

New investors have an excellent choice of very competitive products to choose from, both fixed and tracker. 

Existing borrowers should without doubt be very prudent and review their existing contracts on a regular basis. By keeping pace with the current market existing borrows can save thousands of pounds on the remaining term of their mortgage.

Need assistance?

Our independent advisers are confident dealing with all types of expat mortgages, they have vast experience in this area. Please do contact us to discuss your requirements and we will be happy to help.

Records being broken as Expat lending market continues to grow

The amount of money being lent by banks to expats reached its highest level in the month of November since 2008, data shows. With the buy-to-let market stumbling to get back in gear after recent stamp duty hikes, first-time expat buyers and re-mortgages are now propping up the market. Last month, gross mortgage lending to expats reached record levels and the trend seems to be continuing.

Brexit and the election have without doubt had an effect on the market but enquiries since the election have increased even more.


Overall mortgage lending to expats continues to hold up very well, but we seem to have a twin-track market. A recent weakness in buy-to-let and has been offset by an increase in first-time buyers and re-mortgage lending. But now it seems the buy-to-let market is making a new surge since October 2019.


A continuing acute shortage of homes being offered for sale is one aspect of a broken housing market that looks unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.

Outlook for 2020

The annual growth in mortgage lending was most likely driven by an increase in the number of expats re-mortgaging to better rates, offsetting the impact of a fall in property transactions.

Affordability constraints, caused by increasing house prices, the cost of stamp duty and rising inflation, are still hindering the market by limiting the number of people who can afford a property. This is likely to continue throughout 2020.

Experts within the expat lending community expect the market to remain strong and active especially if Brexit finally reaches a conclusion.

Help required?

If you are looking for a new or re-mortgage, please do make contact and one of our independent advisers will be pleased to help.

The Tories win and what it means for the expat property market

Property commentators have welcomed the landslide Conservative election victory for bringing the UK closer to ending the Brexit uncertainty that has stifled transactions for so long.

Sterling surged against the dollar and the euro as the outcome of the election became clear and the FTSE 100 began to climb when the market opened.

In the Conservative Party manifesto, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had promised to push ahead with the target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, reforming leasehold and abolishing Section 21 “no-fault” evictions. Johnson also pledged to encourage a new market in long-term fixed rate mortgages, continue supporting Right to Buy and look for new ways to support home buyers when the Help to Buy scheme comes to an end in 2023.

The result will, for the time being, end the uncertainty of a no-deal Brexit and pave the way for the release of some of the pent-up demand that has built in property markets in recent years. The extent to which this translates into transaction activity in the short-term will depend on the size of the pricing expectation gap between buyers and sellers. Supply is likely to rise as political uncertainty recedes and private and public spending stimulate the UK economy. 

It is good to have certainty and a party with a clear mandate

Although there is talk of a potential extra 3% stamp duty for foreign buyers as detailed in the Conservative manifesto, until that time we will see the property market return to some sort of normality with the uncertainty of Brexit having been mitigated.

Help required

If you are an expat looking for mortgage help please do make contact and one of our fully independent advisers will be happy to assist.

Expat lending made easier

The Ipswich Building Society has revised its expat residential mortgage lending criteria to now allow applications from British nationals living overseas whose deposit has been saved in their current country of residence.

Up to now, the entirety of the applicants’ deposit for the purchase had to be held in a UK-based bank account for a minimum of six months.

Foreign currency deposits will be accepted on purchase and re-mortgage products for both residential and buy to let products for properties located throughout England and Wales. Applicants can apply directly or via intermediaries who are either based in the Society’s ‘heartland’ area or members of selected networks and clubs.

The change is aimed at supporting more British nationals who live overseas and follows the product refresh earlier this year which extended the terms for residential applications to include those who are paid in one of ten selected foreign currencies.

The deposit must be held in an account in the name of either of the applicants (or a joint account in their names) and the applicant must provide evidence (in English) of the build-up or source of the deposit i.e. by providing savings/bank statements, evidence of a previous property sale etc.

Applicants for residential mortgages must be paid in one of the following currencies: GBP, Euro, Swiss Franc, Norwegian Krone, US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Singapore Dollar, Hong Kong Dollar, UAE Dirham, Kuwaiti Dinar, Qatari Riyal and applicants must be employed by a recognised international employer (i.e. a large multinational firm).

Buy-to-let applicants can be paid in any currency as the rental income is used to assess affordability. Deposits must be from the applicant’s own resources (no gifted deposits accepted) and the funds must be transferred to a UK-based bank account in the name of either of the applicants (or joint account in both their names) prior to application.

Fixed and discount options are available on a two-year basis plus a five-year fixed rate is available. Residential products are available up to 80% loan to value (LTV) and buy-to-let at 75% LTV. Loans are available from £75,000 to £500,000 with a maximum term of 40 years. There is no maximum age limit and new build homes will be considered.

Residential applicants must have a minimum income of £40,000 GBP or equivalent, and employed, self-employed, pension and investment income will be considered when assessing affordability.

Can we help?

If you are looking for a new or re-mortgage please do make contact and one of our qualified independent advisers will be happy to assist.

Wise expats are looking to the future

Data released today for October revealed expat re-mortgages were up by 8% while refinancing with additional borrowing increased by 5.9%.

The spike in expat re-mortgaging has been attributed the uncertainty of Brexit.

Brexit

It is not surprising that re-mortgaging numbers have slightly increased, pressing home the message that expats simply want or have stability in uncertain market conditions generated by the Election and Brexit.

Many of these borrowers have released further cash in order to carry out home improvements or extensions, enabling them to gain extra space.

Competition

Others thought the rise was also attributable to strong competition between lenders who were keen to attract business. Re-mortgaging is also consistent with borrowers opting for cheap fixed rates in the main.

Lenders are keen to lend and hardly a day goes by without another cutting its rates to attract business.

Strong expat mortgage figures are mainly down to the re-mortgage market, with competition between lenders aiming to attract as much business as possible underpinning performance.

Expat buy-to-let

The data also provided further evidence of the challenges facing the buy-to-let market, with this area of lending being the only sector in which figures fell during October.

UK Finance revealed 3.5% fewer buy-to-let home purchases took place during October compared to the same month in 2018 and re-mortgage rates remained at the same level.

Contact us

If you would like to review your current mortgage please make contact and one of our independent advisers will be happy to help.

Expat mortgages

As an expat whatever reasons you may have for considering purchasing a house or flat in the UK, the good news is that there are lenders who are more than willing to offer expats a mortgage. Many providers don’t even advertise the fact. 

Certain parts of the country are stagnating in terms of increasing but overall the UK market is as vibrant as ever. There is still a lack of housing which makes the buy-to-let market very attractive to expats who want a foothold in the UK and achieve a return on their capital. If you look at the interest rates on offer at the major banks it’s little wonder why expats don’t see savings as a way forward.

Brexit has not deterred expats from buying in the UK, in fact since the vote activity has increase by 13%. After the referendum the industry feared expats would hold back purchasing but that has not been the case. 

The expat mortgage market is very complex, and you should seek professional advice as to what product best meets your needs. We have a select number of companies offering very favourable rates which are tailored to suit most needs, including buy to let.

Items you will need to apply

  • Deposit available
  • Certified proof of address
  • Certified ID (Passport)
  • Bank statements (Normally 6 months)
  • Wage slips (Normally 6 months)
  • Certified accounts if self-employed.

These requirements vary from lender to lender and the above is just to give you a guide to help speed up the process. Contact us for any assistance you may require.

Can we assist you?

If you are looking for a new or re-mortgage do get in contact and one of our qualified independent advisers will be happy to help.

Expats should read this

Re-mortgaging a property is something that many still talk about in hushed tones, associating it with being hard up, struggling to make ends meet.

However, while this is sometimes the case, re-mortgaging is often a smart move for expat borrowers to save on monthly repayments. In fact The Financial Conduct Authority’s Mortgage Market Study found that roughly 29,000 expats are currently overspending on their mortgages and could save £1,000 a year by switching. So why are we still talking about re-mortgaging in embarrassed whispered voices?

Research revealed that re-mortgaging is a widely misunderstood term. In the survey, three in five people admitted to not being sure of what re-mortgaging actually meant.

Almost half of the expats surveyed associated re-mortgaging with negative connotations. While one in five admitted that they’d be embarrassed to admit they’d re-mortgaged their home.

This was linked to almost a quarter of those surveyed believing you would only re-mortgage to borrow extra funds. A further 8% thought re-mortgaging a property meant you were in a ‘desperate’ situation.

To clear things up, re-mortgaging happens when mortgage holders come to the end of a fixed term. If they wish to re-mortgage, they can then chose a product transfer – when you stay with the same lender but transfer to a new fixed-rate deal or you move to a fixed-rate deal with a new lender.

Help with your expat mortgage?

Please do make contact and one of our expert independent advisers will be pleased to assist.

What about the expat mortgage market and Brexit?

The market so far has been largely unmoved by Brexit. Lenders have continued to drop interest rates across the board since last summer which indicates a lack of concern currently. There seems to still be a large appetite for banks to lend. The rates are very competitive and there are still plenty of high loan-to-value mortgages available to consumers.

If anything is to bring this to halt then it would be the Bank of England base rate rising. If the bank were to raise rates from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent, the impact would be greater than just a rise in mortgage repayment, because inevitably confidence will take a hit. Yet so far, there have not been any firm indications that this is the way the Bank of England wants things to go.

If you are an expat with a mortgaged property in the UK now is a great time to lock in a new deal for the next few years and make the most of the low rates on offer.

Expats re-mortgaging for value

Expat re-mortgaging levels have soared to an eight-year high in September as borrowers take advantage of lower monthly repayments the latest figures have revealed.

The value of re-mortgaging fell due to a drop in the average loan size, but with overall mortgage activity down it still accounted for two-fifths of total lending in September

Expat borrowing activity has been fuelled by the lower rates on offer, rates currently are the lowest they have been for the last 7 years.

Expats who have not reviewed their current mortgage deal recently would be well advised to do so as rates are expected to rise in the future.

Help required?

If you would like to review your current mortgage please do make contact and one of our fully experienced independent advisers will be happy to assist.

Expat rates tumble

Recent falls in expat mortgage interest rates plus the effect of a weak housing market in the UK look set to give expat house buyers a significant negotiating edge in the busy buying period when many expats return to the UK.

The availability of lower expat mortgage rates, whilst at the same time, many regions in the UK are reporting softer domestic housing demand and falling prices opens up opportunities for overseas buyers who are not affected by domestic UK economic pressures.

As the threat of an increase to UK Base Rate and with-it expat buy to let mortgage rates recedes, several lenders have begun to cut expat mortgage rates and reduce bank administration fees.  Variable rate loans are available for expat buy-to-let purchases at very competitive rates across the board.

Expat buyers remain concerned about possible mortgage interest rate rises; these may end up being far more modest when UK Base Rate does eventually increase. The period since the financial crisis has been one of abnormally low UK Base Rates, but equally unsustainably high bank margins, as banks have rebuilt their balance sheets. Before the 2008 financial crisis, many mortgage providers would typically aim for a margin of anything from 0.75% to 1.25% over UK Base when setting mortgage interest rates, but today, many lenders are still achieving nearly three times this level of mark up on loans. As and when UK Base rates do rise therefore, lenders will have the ability to trim margins, so the impact on borrowers can be softened.

British buyers overseas can be faced with a daunting task when trying to buy in the UK, as loans now have to meet strict affordability criteria, whilst many lenders will cherry pick the countries where they will lend to expat buyers. Using an established and experienced independent broker who will match buyers to lenders is important and will save time and money in the long term in such a complex and evolving market.

Can we help?

If you are looking for a new or re-mortgage please do make contact and one of our qualified independent advisers will be happy to assist.