If you’re looking into options for buying a property in a country outside the UK, you may be wondering if it’s possible to get a mortgage. Well, an overseas mortgage can make this a reality, providing the finance you need to buy a home abroad.
This guide covers all the essential elements UK buyers need to know about international mortgages. We’ll explain exactly how the process works for getting a mortgage to buy property abroad, what to be aware of, and where to find the right lenders who are best equipped to help.
Keep reading for a complete explanation of these mortgages, or click on a link below to jump straight to a section…
In this article:
- Can you get a mortgage to buy property abroad?
- Why you might need one
- Which countries can you get one in?
- How much can you borrow?
- How to get an overseas mortgage
- How much will an international mortgage broker cost?
- Eligibility criteria and deposits
- Lenders and banks
- Alternative ways to finance property
- What to be aware of
- Speak to a specialist broker
Can you get a mortgage to buy property abroad?
Yes, this is rare, but it is possible. The majority of lenders won’t facilitate an overseas property purchase because it’s too risky for them. But, there are a small number of lenders available who will be open to this. If you approach them in the right way with the correct support, you can definitely secure finance in the UK for a property abroad.
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Why you might need one
There are a variety of reasons you may want a mortgage to buy foreign property and this may dictate the type of home loan you need to set up. Here are a few examples of the most common situations why you may want to borrow money:
- Moving abroad permanently.
- Buying a house if you’re living and working abroad as an expat.
- Owning a timeshare so that you can access a property for certain periods within the year.
Which countries can you get one in?
The specialist overseas mortgage brokers we work with have knowledge and experience of the territories listed below and can help you get approved for finance in them…
How much can you borrow?
If you’re trying to work out how much you could borrow, using an overseas mortgage calculator is a great way to get some estimates to work with.
Standard industry average income multiples of 4-4.5x sometimes apply. But, for buying international property, it’s likely that some lenders will have stricter affordability requirements and use a lower multiple.
It’s also important to remember that some of the more bespoke lenders who offer finance for buying property abroad will have unique ways of calculating mortgage affordability. Use the calculator below to get a better understanding, but if you want accurate and realistic results, your best bet is to discuss your situation with a specialist international mortgage broker.
Mortgage Affordability Calculator
Our affordability calculator can tell you how much you can potentially borrow from a mortgage lender. Simply enter your total household income below and our calculator will do the rest.
You could borrow up to
Most lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 4.5 times your household income, the standard calculation used by the majority of mortgage providers. To borrow more than this, you will need to use a mortgage broker to access specialist lenders.
Some lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 5 times your household income, a salary multiple you might struggle to qualify for without the help of a broker. This income multiple is not widely available to customers who are applying directly with a lender.
A minority of lenders would consider letting you borrow
This is based on 6 times your household income, a salary multiple you will struggle to get without a broker. Six-times salary mortgages are usually only available under very specific circumstances.
Get Started with an expert broker to find out exactly how much you could borrow.
How to get an overseas mortgage
The exact process of securing a mortgage for buying an overseas property can be quite complex depending on your specific requirements and the country or housing market you’re hoping to access.
Your first recommended step is to speak with a mortgage broker who has experience arranging mortgages overseas. If you make an enquiry with us our free broker-matching service will be able to match you with an international mortgage broker who specialises in this area.
Your mortgage broker will then be able to help by offering the following services:
- Country-specific knowledge: your broker will have a deep understanding of different international property markets – including local regulations and tax rules to follow when buying a house in specific territories.
- Downloading and optimising your credit reports: Your broker will be able to help you access your credit history to make sure there are no inaccuracies or outdated information that could hinder your mortgage application.
- Exclusive access to overseas mortgage deals: the ability to access unique overseas mortgage products not advertised to the general public.
- Finding the right mortgage lenders: your broker can identify an appropriate international lender that suits your circumstances and offers the most competitive terms, saving you time and, potentially, some money too.
In addition to the above, it is also worth noting that dealing with an expert broker based in the UK means you will receive regulatory protection from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and the Financial Ombudsman Service.
How much will an international mortgage broker cost?
It depends on the complexity involved with the application but, typically, mortgage brokers will either charge a flat fee of between £500-£1,000 or a percentage of the amount borrowed of between 0.5%-1%, usually payable once the mortgage has been completed.
In certain cases, a broker may ask for part of their fee at different stages during the process with a final payment once the loan is in place. Some brokers may not charge a fee at all and simply take a procuration fee (usually up to 0.5%) directly from the mortgage lender upon completion.
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Eligibility criteria and deposits
The unique nature of this type of financing can come with some nuances that do not apply to regular UK mortgages. Partly because an overseas mortgage can be a higher risk for lenders, and also because dealing in property abroad can come with its own distinctive hurdles to overcome (like the taxation implications).
Below are some of the main eligibility factors and deposit requirements that you should be aware of if you want a UK mortgage for a house abroad.
- Deposit: it may be the case that you need to put down a larger deposit than you normally would to offset some of the lender’s perceived risk. This will naturally reduce the amount you need to borrow, but a skilled broker will be able to introduce you to financing options for overseas property no matter the size and structure of your deposit.
- Loan-to-value: this ties in with your deposit. Some lenders will have loan-to-value (LTV) ratio limits in place, meaning you’ll need a certain amount of capital to use as a deposit. Depending on the location and type of mortgage, these LTV caps are usually about 75%, but they can range from anywhere between 50% to 85% with various lenders.
- Country: of the few lenders open to overseas mortgages, the country where you’re looking to buy property will play an important role. Lenders will want to make sure that either there is political and economic stability, or they have specific ties within that country that gives them a better understanding of the property market.
- Currency: foreign exchange rates can fluctuate and some currencies are more stable than others. With an overseas mortgage, lenders will likely require that you pay them back in pound sterling (if this isn’t the base currency at the international location where you’re looking to buy). So, you may need to plan to convert your mortgage payments.
- Your income: like with any mortgage, your level and source of income will be relevant. Some lenders may only offer international mortgages to high net worth (HNW) individuals, and others won’t be willing to discuss overseas property purchases if you’re self-employed. So it’s crucial you deal with a lender who best suits your circumstances.
- Type of mortgage: the mortgage type can be crucial. For example, whether you want to set up a repayment or interest-only mortgage will rule out certain lenders. Also, whether you’re planning to live in an overseas property or use it as a buy-to-let investment can make a big difference in the eyes of lenders.
- Language: unless the country you’re looking at speaks English as a native language (e.g. USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore) then you may need translation services to get your mortgage over the line. Some UK banks and lenders won’t be willing to offer finance if they cannot interpret the rules or language of the other country.
- Your credit: your financial history in the UK will be important to most lenders. So it’s worth downloading all your credit reports and checking for errors or areas to improve ahead of time. An added benefit of using a broker is that they can help evaluate your credit profile and introduce you to specific bad credit lenders if necessary.
UK lenders and banks offering overseas mortgages
You’ll likely come across plenty of obstacles and limitations when it comes to finding the right lender who can set you up with an international mortgage. To give you an idea about some of the mainstream options available, here are some high street lenders and UK banks that can facilitate some form of overseas property purchase:
- Standard Chartered
Remember, your range of choices will come down to your finances and the country where you’re looking to purchase property. Most lenders and UK banks will only offer specific types of mortgages to a specific type of applicant. If you want to see all your legitimate options, speaking to a specialist overseas mortgage broker is the right way to move forward.
Examples of rates
The table below will give you an indication of the types of interest rates currently available for overseas mortgages.
Looking for more rates and deals?
We can match you with a mortgage broker who can provide you with up-to-date bespoke rates and deals from across the entire market.
Last updated September 2023
The rates quoted above were correct at the time of writing and are subject to change at any time at the lender’s discretion. Speaking to a mortgage broker is the best way to keep track of the rates available at any given time.
Alternative ways to finance a property abroad
If you want to buy overseas property, a UK mortgage isn’t your only option. There are other ways to obtain finance to fund your goal of buying abroad. If you sit down with an experienced broker, they can run you through the details of some of these methods:
- Accessing your pension or SIPP to buy property.
- Investing in overseas property with an investment vehicle like a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT).
- Tax-efficient use of your current savings or investments to buy a foreign property outright.
The exact options that are applicable will depend on your financial circumstances and your property-buying goals. The benefit of speaking with a skilled advisor is that they can take a look at your complete finances and then show you a realistic route to finance an overseas property purchase successfully.
What else to be aware of
Alongside restrictions and rules imposed by lenders, here are some other vital areas you should consider before financially committing to property overseas:
- The tax rules that will apply at home and abroad.
- If there are any mandatory or recommended insurances.
- How it could impact your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes.
- The solicitor and lawyer services you might need to complete a purchase or sale.
- Planning permission restrictions and guidelines.
- Estate agent rules, fees, and regulations.
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Speak to a broker who specialises in overseas mortgages
Getting an overseas mortgage and buying a property abroad can be an extremely difficult and complex task without some expert support, guidance, and advice.
We offer a free, broker-matching service. This means we’ll quickly assess your international mortgage needs and then introduce you to a specialist broker that can help you take the next step with your foreign property purchase plans.
Just call 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry. We’ll arrange a free, no obligation chat between you and your ideal overseas mortgage broker today.
You’d still be responsible for it. So if you moved overseas, you would still have to maintain your mortgage payments until it’s paid off. There can be other solutions to explore and discuss with your broker such as registering with the non-resident landlord scheme and renting your UK property out, but the home loan remains your responsibility.
They are largely similar but the term ‘offshore mortgage’ usually refers to borrowers who are based overseas (either expats or non-UK citizens) and are buying or refinancing in the UK. Their income would typically come from outside of Britain and not subject to its tax rules.
Overseas mortgages, on the other hand, can be broader than than, as this terminology can also refer to UK residents who are seeking to buy a property abroad.
You’ll likely need a specialist broker to buy on one of the British Islands away from the UK mainland as you might find limited lenders and restrictions in these locations.
There are brokers in our network who specialise in arranging mortgages in…
For British overseas territories such as Gibraltar, a specialist overseas mortgage broker is highly recommended as these agreements can be more complex than buying in the British Isles.
Speak to an Overseas mortgage expert
Maximise your chance of approval with a specialist