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By Pete Mugleston | Mortgage Advisor

Pete has been a mortgage advisor for over 10 years, and is regularly cited in both trade and national press.

Updated: 2nd September 2020*

Whether buying in the UK or abroad, many UK expats find it harder to get a mortgage than Brits on the mainland. Harder, yes – but not impossible, especially when you use one of the specialist expat brokers we work with. 

In this article, you’ll learn about specialist expat mortgage brokers who help expatriates to find the financing they need. You’ll learn how these brokers work, where to find them, and what to look for when considering one.

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What’s a UK expat mortgage broker and how can they help me?

A UK mortgage broker for expats is one who specialises in helping UK expats to get the mortgage financing they need, for properties in the UK and abroad.

As you’d probably imagine, mortgage financing is a more complex for expats than for UK residents. As a general rule, expats can expect mortgages to be scarcer and more expensive, and the process to be more complex. 

Fewer lenders are comfortable with these mortgages, and as they’re often seen as more of a risk. Affordability checks can be stricter, which can also bring requirements for larger deposits and more onerous paper trails.

For example, some countries (in which corruption or money laundering is a major concern) are effectively ‘blacklisted’ by many lenders. 

‘Safer’ countries are still treated with caution, with stricter ID checks. Some may want to meet you in person (likely in their UK offices), regardless of where you’re located.

Many of the better known lenders don’t lend internationally – and if they do, there’s no guarantee you’ll get competitive terms and rates. As a result, you may have to widen the net to find a lender who’ll do the job.

As you can see, all of this can add up to increased complexity and costs. This is where a great, whole-of-market expat broker, like the ones we work with, can really help you.

What are the benefits of working with expatriate mortgage brokers?

For starters, expertise! 

The international mortgage space is not the same as the UK mortgage market, and a broker who understands international financing will almost certainly be able to save you time, hassle and money.

More and better financing options 

The best expat mortgage brokers know which lenders are likely to lend on the property in question, providing you with many more options. 

These could include interest-only mortgages, financing for the self-employed, buy to let, unusually constructed properties and unusual mortgage terms. 

They can also accommodate unusual financing structures – such as incomes in multiple currencies, or purchasing through a family trust. 

Cost savings

An expatriate mortgage broker can help you find a lower interest rate, lower set up fees and to avoid many of the extra costs that you could incur from getting on the wrong side of the international ‘red tape’.

More speed and efficiency 

An international broker can help you to complete much more quickly, and with much less ‘back and forth’. This is especially important if you’re moving and time is of the essence – and if you’re busy getting on with the rest of your life.

Expert advice 

If you’re buying abroad, a broker can help you to understand and surmount the challenges caused by ’how they do things here?’ And, if you’re buying in the UK they can help you to address and avoid the many issues that being a ‘non-resident’ buyer can cause.

What about buy to let, holiday homes or buying outside of the UK?

In unusual cases like these, expat brokers can be worth their weight in gold.

Expats have been investing in the UK buy-to-let market for many years. As with UK based buyers, BTL often involves higher deposits and evidence that there’s enough rental demand in the area to cover at least 125% of your mortgage payments.

Holiday homes, either in the UK or abroad, can, in many cases, be less work – provided you pass the affordability tests and aren’t currently located (or buying) in a traditionally problematic country.

That said, buying outside of the UK is possibly the most complex of all of the possible cases (whether that’s for a residential property, holiday home or buy to let). Simply put, there’s enormous variety from country to country and, as mentioned before, some countries tend to scare lenders off completely.

As such, finding a specialist broker with experience in the country that you’re considering buying in, could be one of the best investments you could make.

What’s the best UK mortgage broker for expats?

To an extent, it depends on your circumstances and where you want to buy. Of course, we’re a little biased towards the superb brokers that we work with. 

Can I get an expat mortgage broker in Scotland?

Yes. We work with expat mortgage brokers covering Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They regularly arrange mortgages for UK expats, both abroad and in the UK – and we know how good they are at it. 

Where can I get UK expat mortgage advice?

For advice tailored to you, you could speak to a qualified expat mortgage advisor, such as one of the experts that we work with, and we can give you a few tips to bear in mind when considering getting a mortgage as a UK expat.

Consider the exchange rate (and its fluctuations) 

Considering the size of the typical mortgage loan, even a small change in the exchange rate can push up (or down) your monthly repayments by a significant amount. 

In light of this, some buyers choose to buy funds in advance from a currency broker, or opt for a multi-currency mortgage. 

For more information, take a look at our guide to international mortgages.

Remember that some countries are more complex (and expensive) than others

It may seem obvious, but if you expect things to work similarly to the UK, you may be in for a surprise. 

You’ll likely need to account for local laws, taxes, customs and licensing – and you may also be liable for UK taxes and paperwork on top of this. This can all add up, even if the cost of living is lower than back in the UK. 

An expat mortgage specialist can help you get a better idea of how much everything will cost in advance, and may be able to help you reduce or avoid some of these costs altogether.

Be ready for stricter tests

Many lenders consider international lending to be more risky. As such, they’re likely to impose tougher affordability tests than you might expect in a domestic purchase. 

On top of this, there are also strict money-laundering regulations which could put you through the rigmarole when proving your identity. As an example, some lenders will want to meet with you in person at their offices, regardless of how far away you are from each other. 

Speak to a broker who specialists in expat mortgages for free today

If you have questions about UK expat mortgages and want to speak to an expert for the right advice, call Online Mortgage Advisor today on 0808 189 2301 or make an enquiry.

 We don’t charge a fee and there’s absolutely no obligation or marks on your credit rating.

Updated: 2nd September 2020
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FCA disclaimer

*Based on our research, the content contained in this article is accurate as of most recent time of writing. Lender criteria and policies change regularly so speak to one of the advisors we work with to confirm the most accurate up to date information. The info on the site is not tailored advice to each individual reader, and as such does not constitute financial advice. All advisors working with us are fully qualified to provide mortgage advice and work only for firms who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They will offer any advice specific to you and your needs. Some types of buy to let mortgages are not regulated by the FCA. Think carefully before securing other debts against your home. As a mortgage is secured against your home, it may be repossessed if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage. Equity released from your home will also be secured against it.