What Is an Expat Mortgage?
To explain what an expat mortgage is, we should first explain what it means to be an expat. An expat is someone who’s currently residing in a country where they’re not a national of that country. You’re a UK expat if you’re from the UK but live abroad.
An expat mortgage is a mortgage you’d take out on a property in the UK while you’re a UK expat – i.e. a UK national living abroad. If you're not a UK national but live abroad and want to buy property in the UK, you would still require an expat mortgage. An expat mortgage is different from an overseas mortgage, which is where you take out a mortgage for a property that’s not in the UK but overseas.
How to Get an Expat Mortgage
UK expat mortgages work in a similar way to any other UK mortgage. The key difference is that the lending criteria and deposit requirements tend to be stricter as lenders often view expats as riskier. It’s worth noting that many high street lenders won’t offer expat mortgages at all. This means you’ll normally need a specialist UK expat mortgage provider and have to meet more stringent criteria to assure potential expat mortgage lenders that you can afford the loan.
The information you need and what products are available to you will depend on your specific circumstances. Generally, the best approach is to gather your essential documents for factors like your employment status, income and visas, use an expat mortgage calculator for an estimate of what you might be able to borrow, and then contact an expat mortgage adviser to discuss your options. Specialist expat brokers like John Charcol can look at your situation in full and advise on the most suitable products and your next steps.
Do You Need an Expat Mortgage Broker?
Most high street lenders don’t offer expat mortgages because they can’t easily credit search applicants who aren't in the UK and this takes time, therefore you’ll need an expat mortgage broker like John Charcol for these kinds of specialist mortgages.
As one of the best expat mortgage brokers in the UK, we regularly help UK expats arrange mortgages for properties in Britain. Our team has access to expat mortgage lenders not available on the high street that can take into account complex income structures like family trusts, offshore investments, international wealth and multi-currency income profiles.
If you want an overseas mortgage, you could approach a UK lender with branches in the country in which you want to buy a property, or an overseas broker or lender.
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Types of Expat Mortgages UK
You can get expat mortgages and expat remortgages for residential and buy-to-let properties. They’re available on repayment and interest-only bases, and can feature fixed, tracker, or discounted rates.
Mortgage on a Main Residence in the UK
You may want an expat mortgage on a residential property if:
- You plan on moving back to the UK and want a property here for when you do
- You’re situated overseas but your family lives in the UK and you want to buy a property for them to live in and for you when you return
Residential mortgages are available on repayment and interest-only bases. You may want your mortgage on a repayment basis if you’re purchasing a property that’s going to become your residence at some point, as you’ll likely want the balance cleared by the time you retire.
Buy-to-Let for Expats
You may want an expat mortgage on a buy-to-let property if:
- You’re looking to remortgage a residential property on a buy-to-let basis because you’re about to move overseas
- You’re situated overseas and have consent to let on a UK property, but need to remortgage it on a buy-to-let basis
- You’re situated overseas and are renting out your UK property – possibly under consent to let rules with your original lender – but want to remortgage it on a buy-to-let basis to raise money
Almost every mortgage for buy-to-let is interest-only.
How Can John Charcol Help You?
Excellent Track Record
We’ll find you a great deal, as we have for many thousands of happy clients. We have more than 1800 5* reviews for our award-winning brokerage service.
You Can Relax with Our Experienced Team
We’ll handle the whole process, making your journey to owning UK property easy when you’re living overseas.
Expert Advice Just for You
We can work to your schedule and time zone, no matter where you are. We can help with complex expat mortgage needs, whatever your situation.
Expert Tip - Nick Mendes, John Charcol. June 2023
The expat market is really growing, and we're seeing more and more lenders dip into that sector. Traditionally, high street lenders haven’t always embraced these buyers, and there might be certain limitations depending where you are in the world, but the market is really buoyant. The key thing is to look at what lenders want and factors such as the currency you’re paid in and get advice from a broker who knows what’s out there.
Process for Buying a Home/Remortgaging
1. First Conversation with Adviser
When you phone us, you can either arrange a phone appointment with your adviser or a face-to-face meeting – whatever suits you. Your adviser will ask you some questions then go away and search deals on expat mortgages to find you the best option for your circumstances and future needs. They’ll organise a follow-up during which they’ll present you with the UK expat mortgage deals that they’ve found.
2. Decision in Principle
Once you’re happy with their recommendation, they’ll go about securing your DIP (Decision in Principle) - which is basically a promise from the lender that they’ll loan you money on the condition that the information you’ve provided is correct and subject to a valuation of the property.
3. Offer on Property/Remortgaging
After the lender has agreed your scenario, you’ll be in a position to make an offer on a property or move forward with the remortgaging.
4. Pre-Application and Submission
Following the acceptance of your offer, we’ll send you some information which explains all the documents we need to submit to the lender. You’ll be assigned a client relationship manager who’ll check and submit certified copies of your documents; they’ll liaise with both you and the lender. Your adviser will then submit the fully packaged mortgage application.
5. Lender Underwriting and Valuation
The lender will underwrite your application; this basically means they’ll verify that the information you’ve provided is correct and review all your documents for themselves. They’ll also instruct a valuation for their purposes on the property to make sure there are no significant problems with it.
6. Expat Mortgage Offer
If the lender is happy with everything they’ve found, they’ll send you a mortgage offer. They’ll also send us a copy.
After you’ve accepted your mortgage offer, you’ll go through the legal part of the process, known as conveyancing. This is where the solicitors/conveyancers draw up contracts and organise the actual, legal purchase of the property/remortgaging. If buying, you’ll also need to arrange buildings insurance at this stage, making sure it’s in place from exchange.
8. Exchange and Completion
If you’re buying a property, your conveyancer/solicitor will exchange contracts with the seller’s conveyancer/solicitor; it’s at this point that you would put down your deposit and be legally bound to the property. The purchase will complete when the money is transferred on an agreed-upon date. If you’re remortgaging, then your conveyancer/solicitor will set a date to draw down the funds and pay off any existing lender(s) once the mortgage offer’s released.
Expat Mortgage FAQs
What Is the Best Type of Mortgage for Expats?
The type of mortgage that’s best for you will depend on your situation - whether this is a fixed rate mortgage, tracker rate, interest-only mortgage, repayment mortgage or something else. Expat scenarios can be quite complex, which is why it’s best to speak with a mortgage broker that specialises in expat mortgages. We can guide you through your options and make things simpler.
Can British Expats Still Buy Property in UK?
It's possible to buy property in the UK as a British expat living abroad if you want to purchase a property for when you return or simply to rent out, but what’s available to you will depend on your situation. For example, you might need to look at expat buy-to-let mortgages if you're renting your property, rather than residential expat mortgages for a property that's intended to be your main home. Speaking with an expat mortgage broker is the simplest way to find out what your options are.
Call us on 0330 433 2927 or send us an enquiry to learn more.
Can I Get a Mortgage on a UK Property if I Work Abroad?
You can usually take out a mortgage to buy a property in the UK even if you work abroad. However, the lender will often require that someone is going to be living in the property, such as family or tenants, or that you’ll be moving home at some point in the near future.
Are There Any Specialist Expat Mortgage Providers or Lenders?
There are some specialist expat mortgage lenders who regularly deal with complex expat situations. There are even a couple that are based offshore and only lend to expats - i.e. they don’t lend to people already situated in the UK at all, only citizens overseas.
Can I Get a Mortgage on a Property Overseas?
It’s possible to get a mortgage on an overseas property, but this would be an overseas mortgage, not an expat one. John Charcol can help you find expat mortgages for a property in the UK if you’re currently an expat situated overseas. However, we don’t arrange overseas mortgages for properties that are outside the UK.
To arrange a mortgage for a property that’s overseas, you could approach a UK lender or broker with branches in the country in which you want to buy, or an overseas broker or lender.
Are the Best Expat Mortgage Rates Much Higher than Standard Rates?
Expat mortgage rates tend to be slightly higher than typical mortgage rates due to the increased risk faced by lenders of having borrowers who live abroad.
Can I Use My Bonus to Reduce My Mortgage Each Year in Significant Payments?
Most of the mortgages we arrange allow borrowers to make capital overpayments of at least 10% each year without incurring penalties, which is often enough for most borrowers.
Can I Speak to Someone Who Can Make Decisions Based on My Circumstances Rather than Computer-Set Limitations?
At John Charcol, our consultants will talk you through your circumstances and what you’re looking to achieve with lenders who can deal with expats. These lenders tend to have a manual underwriting process that starts with an actual conversation, rather than filling in a form online for a computer to make a decision.
Can You Help Me Arrange a Mortgage Around My Time Zone?
We’re used to working with people living in different time zones and work around your schedule.
How Long Does an Expat Mortgage Take?
The time it takes to arrange an expat mortgage will depend on your unique situation. Nonetheless, we do everything we can to ensure a fast turnaround that meets your moving commitments.
Can You Arrange a Choice of Lenders for an Expat Buy-to-Let Mortgage?
We have access to a range of lenders offering different products, including expat buy-to-let mortgages, so we can find the best one to suit your unique needs.
My Current Lender Won’t Give Consent to Let – Can You Help?
Most UK lenders will consider granting consent to let for borrowers who have to leave the UK to work abroad. They just don't like granting it for an extended period of time - e.g. more than 2 years.
If your lender won't grant consent to let because you're going to be abroad for an extended period of time, you may want to remortgage onto a buy-to-let deal with a UK lender that accepts expat applications. These mortgages are known as expat buy-to-let mortgages.
Can You Help Me Secure the Property I Want Now?
We understand that you may need to act fast to secure the property you want. Our experts often deal with these kinds of urgent situations and will do everything they can to make things happen as quickly and run as smoothly as possible.
On this page you’ll find our detailed mortgage terminology glossary. There’s a lot of jargon out there but we’re here to make it easy.
Our guide explains everything you need to know about the different types of mortgages, including: interest rates, features, repayment methods and more.
You can now get a buy-to-let mortgage at interest rates to suit almost any circumstances. Our guide takes you through the choices involved in more detail.
Property Finance for Expats
In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you should be aware of and prepare yourself for when looking to arrange an expat mortgage or remortgage in the UK.
Applying for a Mortgage
Applying for a mortgage couldn’t be simpler with our easy and simple guide from application to accepting your offer.