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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: 22nd June 2020*

If you’re an expat living overseas and wishing to buy a property in the UK or purchase a home in the country you now work in, the good news is that there may be many options available to you, even if you’ve had your application declined in the past.

We work with many brokers who are specialists in both UK and international markets, so we can match you with an expert who can help you find your best options.

In the meantime, we’ve put together this article to help you brush up on your facts as you search for your new home.

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Can I get an international mortgage as a UK expat?

Getting an international expat mortgage is absolutely possible, though this depends on your circumstances and the country you currently reside in.

If you’re looking for an international mortgage in the UK, it can make sense to begin with a previous mainstream lender based in the UK. However, while some lenders can provide international mortgages for UK expats, the total number might be lower than you expect.

To ensure the process runs smoothly and you get the right product for your circumstances, it makes sense to speak to a mortgage advisor experienced in the international expat mortgage market.

If you make an enquiry we can arrange for a broker we work with who specialises in this area to get in touch.

Is it possible to apply for a UK mortgage while working overseas?

Yes it is. Another situation many expats find themselves in is living and working overseas but wanting to buy a home in the UK. Mortgages for overseas workers is another product that are generally available from UK lenders.

Overseas workers may require a UK mortgage for investment purposes or for family. Other circumstances include that they plan on moving back home in the not too distant future and wish to have their own home ready to move into.

How can I get a UK mortgage if I’m working overseas?

Securing a UK mortgage while working overseas is something that is possible, provided you speak with a mortgage advisor with experience in this area. You will require specific documentation and credit history details.

Online Mortgage Advisor can put you in touch with a specialist broker who has the expert knowledge you need, so get in touch with us today and we’ll connect you with the right advisor.

How will my credit history affect my expat mortgage application?

Having a solid UK credit history can be an essential element of the information required for an international expat mortgage or for a UK mortgage for expats working overseas.

That’s because lenders like to be certain of:

  • The size and sustainability of your income
  • The potential impact on your disposable income of fluctuating exchange rates
  • Identifying and confirming your employer
  • The higher risk of fraud when gaining information from overseas

How will my UK credit history affect my international expat mortgage application?

Where an expat has a long-term and positive credit history in the UK, then the possibility of securing a competitive international expat mortgage is strong. If your UK credit history contains adverse information, or only covers a short period, there are fewer lenders out there willing to lend a UK mortgage to overseas workers.

For expats with little or no recent UK credit history there are even fewer lenders who can help you but they are out there. However, the mortgage advisors we put you in touch with have the right experience to help you get the expat mortgage you require. If it’s possible, then they’ll help you secure the right product.

How do exchange rates work with an expat mortgage?

If you work overseas and get paid in your local currency, exchange rates can affect your expat mortgage. That’s because, from an affordability perspective, even a small change in the value of a currency may make your repayments unaffordable or a deposit too small, overnight. Lenders will usually stress test your income to ensure that any significant change in exchange rates wouldn’t impact your ability to repay the mortgage.

Due to this, international expat mortgages and overseas workers UK mortgages tend to require larger deposits. It’s also one of the reasons that interest rates can be higher on these types of mortgages.

How much deposit do you need for international expat mortgages?

In many cases, lenders who provide  international expat mortgages usually require a deposit of at least 25% of the value of the property. This is to mitigate the risks associated with details including:

  • Lack of a long-term UK credit history.
  • Uncertainty over your overseas employer.
  • Your exact income.
  • The sustainability of your earnings.
  • The potential for fraud when gaining details from overseas.

How is affordability for overseas workers mortgages assessed?

Affordability is assessed by collating a variety of financial details, including:

  • Income
  • Sustainable earnings
  • Outgoings
  • Financial commitments
  • Credit history

Where some of these details can’t be 100% verified, a lender of an international expat mortgage may charge a higher rate of interest.

An expert mortgage advisor with experience in mortgages for overseas expat workers will be able to give you more information on this detail. They can also assist you in securing the best possible mortgage for your needs and circumstances.

Make an enquiry and we’ll match you with an expert shortly.

Which countries can I get a mortgage as an expat?

In this section, we explore some of the most popular countries to live in as expats, and how likely you are to get a mortgage in each.

Spain

Getting expat mortgages for property purchases in Spain is a well-trodden path and there are a number of lenders who can provide possible mortgage products. However, while buying a Spanish property is something that remains popular with UK expats, there is a lot to consider.

Among those details are:

  • Spanish affordability rules can be strict.
  • Spain’s capital gains tax is higher than the UK at the time of writing
  • Transaction costs can be between 10-15% of the property’s value.

Specific mortgages for expats living in Spain are available from international and Spanish lenders. Spanish residents are typically able to gain an 80% loan to value (LTV) mortgage, however, non-residents are often limited to an LTV of 60-70% of the value of the property.

Online Mortgage Advisor can put you in touch with an expert in expat mortgages for Spain, who will help you find the right product for your requirements and situation.

Australia

UK expats can get mortgages in Australia to live in, or as an investment. As with all international expat mortgages, there are specific rules in place for foreign resident purchasers and non-resident investments, too.

It’s possible to secure an Australian expat mortgage, either from an Australian mortgage lender, or a UK-based one. In both cases, however, it’s advisable to secure the services of a specialist mortgage broker to help guide you through the rules and requirements attached to your overseas home purchase.

Expats living in Australia are typically able to borrow between 70-90% of the value of the property. Non-resident overseas buyers tend to be limited to a 75% maximum LTV on their Australian expat mortgage.

There are various ways to secure your Australian expat mortgage but whichever option you choose, you’ll need to gain approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board.

To help ensure you choose the right mortgage product and have all the documents and information you need, get in touch and we’ll connect you with an expert in Australian mortgages for expats.

Dubai

Getting an expat mortgage for a property in Dubai is something that is also a possibility for international buyers in the country.

In some ways, the Dubai mortgage market is similar to that of the UK, in that:

  • It’s possible to get a capital and interest repayment expat mortgage in Dubai, but interest-only mortgages are not usually available to expats.
  • Early repayment charges occur when a fixed-term mortgage is repaid early.
  • Affordability is usually based on the customer’s overall financial profile

Loan-to-value levels for Dubai mortgages for expats vary, dependant on the type of mortgage you require. Where you plan to live in the property with your family, the maximum LTV on offer for expat mortgages in Dubai is 79.5%. For a non-resident, the maximum LTV is 75% but to get that you will need to have a clean profile with no liabilities back home.

For buy-to-let mortgages, the highest possible LTV is around the 80% level. That’s the same whether you’re a resident or non-resident of Dubai. In addition, if you’re interested in an expat mortgage for a commercial property in Dubai, then the maximum LTV will likely be limited to 75%.

However, as with all secured loans, particularly international expat mortgages, you’ll have access to the best options for your specific requirements if you speak with a mortgage advisor with experience of the mortgage market for expats in Dubai.

USA

If you wish to buy a home in the USA then you’ll need a mortgage for expats in the US. This market is pretty large and there are a variety of international mortgage types available to UK expats living and investing there.

Due to the choice of mortgage products for expat home buyers in the US, you’ll need to decide which type is right for you:

  • A UK based mortgage for your US purchase.
  • A mortgage loan from a US bank.

Either option is possible whether you’re planning on buying a home to live in, in the US or an investment property.

LTVs are usually quite low for foreign nationals and you could find yourself needing 30% deposit and upwards.

A wide variety of expat US mortgage options

As with all international expat mortgages, you’ll need to provide specific paperwork to secure your mortgage for your US home.

However, what you need depends on your unique situation:

  • Are you a green card holder
  • A non-permanent resident
  • Buying a holiday home
  • Making a BTL investment

The maximum LTV on your US expat mortgage will likely be capped at around 70%, for all US states. It’s also important to note that while, for the most part, the details, deposit and costs you’ll face will be similar from state-to-state, there will be some differences.

Due to the wide range of expat mortgage options in the US and the variety of purchaser circumstances which are recognised and catered for, in most cases it makes sense to speak with an expert advisor with experience in getting a US mortgage as an expat.

Contact us today and we’ll put you in touch with an advisor with experience in the US expat mortgage market.

Netherlands

Getting an expat mortgage in the Netherlands tends to be a more straight-forward process for residents in the country. While it is possible to get a mortgage as a non-resident, there are fewer options and the requirements – and associated costs – are also larger.

There are two main types of mortgage available to expats buying a home in the Netherlands:

  • A linear mortgage.
  • Annuities mortgage.

A linear mortgage typically comes with fixed monthly repayments throughout the term of the loan. The annuities mortgage tends to see the monthly repayments decrease over the term as interest payments fall in line with the overall debt owed.

More details on mortgages for expats in the Netherlands are available in our guide to Dutch mortgages.

France

Another popular destination for expats looking for a mortgage, France is a country where there are numerous expat mortgage options for UK buyers. However, while it’s something that shouldn’t be too difficult to find, you must be aware of the additional rules in place for non-French nationals.

First of all, the mortgage process in France can feel slow, even in comparison to the UK process where property chains can make buying a home takes a long time. In addition, mortgages for expats in France are assessed on a credit ratio basis, rather than an income multiplier one.

Other details to be aware of when considering which French mortgage is right for your expat status, are:

  • Estate agency commission.
  • Notaries fees.
  • Essential repairs and renovations to the property.

Given the differences between French mortgages for expats and typical UK mortgage products, it’s a good idea to speak with an advisor with experience of securing mortgages for expats in France. Even if you only have an initial chat, you will gain a clearer idea of the French housing and mortgage market, from an expat’s perspective.

Ireland

Despite the Bank of Ireland’s decision in 2018 to withdraw from this sector of the market, it is still possible to get an expat mortgage in the Republic of Ireland. Lenders who are still willing to lend to non-residents or overseas buyers, tend to request deposits of between 20-30% of the value of the property.

You will have a choice of securing your Irish expat mortgage from a lender in the Republic of Ireland or a UK-based one. You may even be able to do a bit of both, The Royal Bank of Scotland Group, which also owns Natwest Bank, owns the Ulster Bank which has a presence in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Differences will include that some Irish lenders may request earnings are in euros. Also of note is that, like many other European based mortgage lenders, they prefer to calculate your mortgage affordability on a credit ratio basis, rather than an income multiple.

Residents of Ireland wishing to secure an international expat mortgage will find they have more options than those living overseas. However, both ways of proceeding are possible, it just depends on your unique circumstances and needs.

As with all international expat mortgages, a sensible first step is to speak with an expert in the area, who will give you all the information you need to help you move forward with your plan.

Scotland

There are plenty of opportunities for expat landlords to purchase a property in Scotland. Many mortgage providers offer mortgages for Scottish properties on the same terms as they offer for England or Wales. Some UK banks even offer bespoke mortgages and financial products for internationally based individuals interested in getting Scottish property.

The mortgage brokers we work with can help source mortgages for expats looking to buy or refinance property in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, or anywhere else you may wish to set root in Scotland.

Get in touch, and we’ll connect you to an expert who can help you find your most attractive Scottish mortgage interest rates and loan terms.

Are there any other countries where I can get an expat mortgage?

The above listed countries aren’t the only places where UK expats can get an international mortgage.

Many other countries are options for those wishing to buy a home overseas:

  • Canada
  • Northern Ireland 
  • Singapore
  • Hong Kong (but the market is tightly controlled)
  • Thailand
  • South Africa
  • European countries including Greece, Poland, Austria, Czech Republic, Portuga, Denmark, and many more
  • Bahamas
  • Gibraltar
  • Sri Lanka (though restrictions likely)
  • UAE including Abu Dhabi (though restrictions likely)
  • Sweden
  • Kenya (though the market is tightly controlled)
  • Jersey
  • Saudi Arabia (though restrictions apply)
  • Qatar (though restrictions likely)

Speak to an expat international mortgage advisor today!

If you have questions about getting an international expat mortgage and would like to speak to an expert to find out more, make an enquiry or give us a call on 0808 189 2301.

You can then relax and let us do all the hard work of finding the broker with the right experience for your specific needs.

Updated: 22nd June 2020
OnlineMortgageAdvisor 2020 ©

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.