Expat Remortgage

Find out how to Remortgage a UK property as an expat and how to secure the best rate

Firstly, are you an Expat currently living aboard?

Author: Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

Updated: December 4, 2023

There could be several reasons why you might be looking to remortgage as an expat. You may have moved abroad but have a UK property with a fixed rate mortgage deal nearing its end. Or you might just want to access some of the equity in your UK property.

In any event, you will need to apply for an expat remortgage if you are currently living abroad but want to remortgage a UK property. In this article, we’ll discuss how mortgages for expats work and what you can do to give your application the best chance of being approved.

Can you refinance a UK property if you live and work abroad?

Yes. This is certainly possible, but you will need to apply for an expat remortgage. This shouldn’t be confused with an overseas mortgage which is used to buy or refinance overseas property. For more details on those, read our guide to overseas mortgages.

Remortgaging a UK property while living abroad is more complex than a standard remortgage. But it’s usually easier than getting a mortgage as an expat for the first time as you will have a good payment record on your existing loan that will act as a reference for lenders.

Expat remortgages are available for both residential and buy to let properties.

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Lending criteria for expat remortgages

Borrowing as an expat is considered a higher risk as there are additional factors for lenders to consider. Each lender has their own criteria, and they tend to be stricter than standard mortgages.

Factors likely to affect eligibility include:

Employment status

Some lenders will insist you are employed by an internationally recognised company as confirming employment with a smaller company overseas can be tricky.

Not all lenders will consider expat remortgages for self-employed. Those that do will usually ask for three years of accounts certified by an accountant with an internationally recognised qualification.

Traceable credit history

Provided they are up to date, your existing mortgage payments will be sufficient for some lenders. Others may want to see additional insights into how you manage your money such as credit held against a UK address.

UK bank accounts

Most lenders prefer you to have a UK bank account. If you don’t still have one, get one as soon as possible and start to make regular deposits into it. This could strengthen your position when you come to apply for an expat remortgage.

The currency you are paid in

Once again, lenders have different views on currencies. Some will only approve a loan if your salary is paid directly into a UK bank account. Others have a list of acceptable foreign currencies.

To calculate affordability for those paid in an accepted foreign currency, lenders will usually convert their salary to sterling and then deduct 20% before entering it into the calculator. This is to stress test your income against exchange rate fluctuations.

Amount of equity

The maximum loan to value (LTV) is usually capped somewhere between 60% – 80% so typically, you will need to have a minimum of 20% equity in your home.

If your equity is less than 20%, you may be able to use other savings or assets to get your application over the threshold.

Acceptable sources of funds for this include:

  • Savings held in a UK or overseas bank account
  • Stocks, shares and other capital assets
  • Equity held in another property (some lenders will only accept other property owned in the UK)
  • Inheritance
  • Gifted deposit (not all lenders will accept this)
  • Sale of property in the UK or abroad

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How to get an expat remortgage

Your first step should be to find a specialist remortgage broker as this will save you a lot of time and boost your chances of getting approved at the best terms available.

Using our free broker-matching service you can speak straight away to the right broker by simply enquiring online. They’ll be able to help with:

Which lenders will consider an application?

High street banks that consider applications include HSBC and Nationwide.

Other possible lenders to approach include:

  • Suffolk Building Society: Maximum LTV of 80% but gifted deposits not accepted
  • Family Building Society: Will accept borrowers from a limited number of countries
  • Dudley Building Society: All countries and currencies considered but enhanced due diligence applied to any considered higher risk.

Are interest rates higher for expats?

Interest rates are typically higher than they would be for a standard UK remortgage. This is because this type of borrowing is considered higher risk and there is only a small selection of lenders to choose from.

However, the best rates for expat remortgages can still be competitive if there is a considerable amount of equity in the property and the LTV is low.

What happens to your mortgage if you move abroad?

Nothing. But when your fixed term deal expires, you will need to remortgage or pay the lenders’ standard variable rate (SVR). Often, expats ask their mortgage company for ‘consent to let’. Tenants help pay the mortgage and meet building insurance obligations to keep the house inhabited.

Get matched with an expat remortgage specialist

Niche areas of lending require specialist guidance to avoid costly errors. For example, if you’re remortgaging as an expat for the first time, it’s essential you understand all your tax and legal obligations.

Our broker matching service will assess your circumstances and match you with an advisor who has experience in successfully securing remortgages for people in your situation.

To get paired up with your ideal broker, call today on 0808 189 2301 or enquire online.

Maximise your chance of approval with a dedicated specialist broker

Get Started Phone Icon 0808 189 2301

FAQs

You can, but it’s not easy. Experience as a landlord is favoured by most lenders so your borrowing options will be limited. However, with a strong application, there is no reason you can’t secure the funds. This is where professional expertise can be the difference between acceptance and rejection.

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About the author

Pete, an expert in all things mortgages, cut his teeth right in the middle of the credit crunch. With plenty of people needing help and few mortgage providers lending, Pete found great success in going the extra mile to find mortgages for people whom many others considered lost causes. The experience he gained, coupled with his love of helping people reach their goals, led him to establish Online Mortgage Advisor, with one clear vision – to help as many customers as possible get the right advice, regardless of need or background.

Pete’s presence in the industry as the ‘go-to’ for specialist finance continues to grow, and he is regularly cited in and writes for both local and national press, as well as trade publications, with a regular column in Mortgage Introducer and being the exclusive mortgage expert for LOVEMoney. Pete also writes for Online Mortgage Advisor of course!

Read more about Pete

Pete Mugleston

Mortgage Advisor, MD

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