If you’re a foreign citizen looking to invest in a UK property, you might be wondering whether obtaining a mortgage to help you along the process is possible.
Though there are plenty of restrictions and requirements in place regulating this type of process, getting a UK mortgage as a non-UK resident is possible. However, different lenders have varying policies in terms of granting these types of mortgages, so your ability to obtain one isn’t guaranteed.
A non-UK resident can get a UK mortgage; however, the success of the process will depend on factors such as your nationality, whether you can prove a good credit history, the lender you choose, and government policies (which are constantly subject to change).
Therefore, make sure to read on to learn everything you need to know about your chances of obtaining a UK mortgage as a non-UK resident.
Below, I’ll take you through the three main types of mortgages you can seek as a foreign citizen, additional information on requirements and caveats, as well as some tips on how to make the process a bit easier.
In the end, I’ll mention some lenders that offer mortgages for non-UK residents, so make sure to stick around.
Types of Mortgages for Non-UK Residents
In this section, I’ll be covering three of the most common types of mortgages for non-UK residents that lenders operating in the area usually offer.
However, before I do that, I want to note that these can vary depending on which institution you work with, so I still suggest booking a couple of meetings in order to get a more concrete idea of what each lender has to offer.
With that said, the three most common non-UK mortgages you’ll likely be offered are:
- Foreign national mortgages
- Residential currency mortgages
- Off-shore mortgages
Foreign national mortgages, while usually the most convenient option out of the three, they are usually only offered to EU residents, so they’re pretty limited in terms of who can qualify to benefit from them.
If you’re a citizen of one of the countries that do qualify, you’ll have to provide proof of full-time employment, proof that you have worked and lived in the UK for a minimum of six months, and the information of a UK-based bank account.
Residencial currency mortgages, on the other hand, are a bit more flexible, as they apply to people who receive their salaries in a currency that isn’t the British pound. However, the requirements to obtain this type of mortgage are usually stricter (they vary from one institution to another).
Last but not least, you have off-shore mortgages. These have far less strict requirements, as they’re exclusively granted to people who want to buy a UK property as an investment, not as a place of residence. Therefore, if you’re simply looking to profit from the current UK real estate market, these are the way to go.
Generally speaking, deposits for these types of mortgages need to be at least 25%; however, you can find lenders that require even less than that, so make sure to do some searching around before you settle on who you want to take the loan from.
Now that you’re more familiar with the most common types of mortgages offered to non-UK residents, it’s time to dive a bit deeper into the process of buying a UK property as a foreign citizen and what you should keep in mind as you go through it.
What You Need To Know About Getting a UK Mortgage as a Non-UK Resident
Though you’ll find plenty of lenders claiming that the process is quick and easy, in most cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth. So, before you commit to spending a significant of time, effort, and money into getting a mortgage as a non-UK resident, here are a few things you need to know.
You’ll Be Expected To Pay a Higher Deposit
I briefly touched on this above, but as a non-UK citizen, you’ll be expected to pay a higher mortgage than local residents. For example, many lenders only require UK citizens to put down at least 5% of the property’s value in order to obtain a mortgage. However, the average deposit rate for most first-time property owners is around 15%.
On the other hand, foreign citizens are usually expected to pay at least 25% of the property’s value upfront in order to get a mortgage. Sometimes, you might be able to find a lender that only requires a 20% or 15% deposit, but these are rare, and you’ll still be paying more upfront than the average UK citizen. On the other hand, if the property’s value surpasses the £1 million mark, you’ll usually be expected to pay a 35% deposit.
This is because yours will be considered a higher-risk loan, hence the request for a bigger deposit and, as you’ll find out below, higher interest rates as well.
You Have To Have a Good Credit History
You have to be able to prove that your credit history isn’t only traceable but impressive as well. All lenders will require you to provide proof of your identity, yearly income, and any additional assets you may have. All of that can help you move along the process of obtaining a UK mortgage much faster.
If your lender feels you’re trustworthy and financially able to pay back the loan, they’ll be far more likely to get you approved. Some might even offer you a lower interest or deposit rate, so your credit history is one of the most important factors you’ll want to take into account.
The Requirements You Have To Fulfill Will Vary Depending on Your Current Citizenship
As you’ll find out upon meeting your first potential lender, the rules aren’t the same for everyone. Depending on your current country of residence, the requirements you’ll have to fulfill will vary.
For example, though the UK isn’t part of the European Union anymore, citizens from EU countries still receive a leg-up when obtaining a UK mortgage. Though the process isn’t as simple as it once was, most lenders don’t require extensive documentation from these residents (in comparison to non-EU residents).
For example, while a non-EU citizen might be required to provide proof that they have received indefinite leave or a permanent right to reside in the UK in order to obtain a mortgage, the same requirement doesn’t apply to EU citizens.
The importance of your current citizenship in the process goes way beyond the EU vs. non-EU categorization. All lenders will provide you with a concise list of the countries whose citizens can obtain a mortgage from them, and if your country hasn’t made it in any of them, you won’t be able to go through the process at all.
So, before you even start discussing interest rates with the representatives of these institutions, make sure you’re actually able to apply for a mortgage with them in the first place.
You’ll Be Expected To Pay Higher Interest Rates
Following the logic explored in the “You’ll be expected to pay a higher deposit” section, lenders also require you to pay higher interest rates than UK citizens. The exact quote will vary from one institution to another; however, you’ll often be expected to pay an interest rate that’s 1 or 2% higher than that of a UK resident.
Let’s take a more concrete example. According to Money Facts, mortgage interest rates in the UK currently start at around 4.78%. On the other hand, mortgage rates for non-residents go up to 6.5 percent. So, as a foreigner, you’ll be expected to pay roughly 1.72% more in interest rates than UK natives.
Additional Tips and Information
Now that the most important factors to take into account when applying for a UK mortgage as a non-Uk resident have been discussed, it’s time to delve into some additional tips and pointers you need to know in order to make the process a bit easier.
- Stay within budget. If you do decide to purchase a property, keep in mind that your budget will depend on your yearly income. Mortgages awarded to non-UK residents can only be 4-6 times higher than their annual income, and that’s after you put down the deposit and provide proof of income and assets. So keep that in mind before talking with potential loaners.
- Enquire about the maximal loan-to-value percentage your lender can offer. The loan-to-value percentage refers to the amount of money you’ll be borrowing versus the property’s full value. This percentage is usually limited to 70 or 75% for non-residents, while UK citizens can get percentages as high as 95%.
- Build up your credit history beforehand. I already mentioned how essential a good credit history could be throughout this process; however, how can you achieve it? Make sure to get a credit card and pay it off every month religiously. If possible, stay as long as you can in the same address, register on the UK electoral registry, and have utility bills come in your name. However, there’s more to the topic, so check out this article.
- If you’re self-employed, you have to work even more to prove your credibility. While self-employed foreign residents are still able to get UK mortgages, their financial standings are verified under scrutiny. For example, there’s an annual income threshold that determines whether a non-UK resident can obtain a mortgage or not. For self-employed foreigners, that threshold is £10,000 to 20,000 higher.
- If possible, work with an independent mortgage broker. A professional can help make the process much easier, as they’re already aware of laws, regulations, and requirements regarding obtaining a UK mortgage as a non-Uk resident. They’ll do all the work for you, contacting dozens of lenders until they find one whose policies and requirements are on par with your expectations. Read more in our article here.
- Take your time collecting the necessary information. When it comes to obtaining a UK mortgage as a non-UK resident, the more information you can collect and provide, the better. So, make the time to sit down, preferably with a mortgage broker, and go over any paperwork you have that might be able to help the process along. Any type of documentation that can help lenders understand your financial situation better can help.
- Maintain some form of financial association in the UK. Though you may be currently living abroad, maintaining some form of a financial association with the country can help move your mortgage application process along. When lenders are able to easily analyse your financial footprint, you become a much more credible candidate for a loan.
Lenders That Offer Mortgages for Non-UK Residents
If, after reading through the above considerations, you’ve decided to look into getting a UK mortgage, here are some lenders that offer plans for non-UK residents to obtain one:
- HSBC UK
- Wis Mortgages
- Skipton International
- Enness Global
Keep in mind that these are just a few financial institutions that pride themselves in helping foreign citizens obtain a UK mortgage, but make sure to search around for other lenders to make sure you keep your options open.
There are dozens of financial institutions in the UK currently offering mortgages to foreign citizens, so although it might seem tiresome, I highly recommend weighing all the alternatives (again, a mortgage broker can make the process much easier).
In the same vein, never put all your eggs in one basket. Talk to multiple lenders to see which one offers the best rates and policies. The process can be tricky as is, and the right lender can either help you along or make it even more challenging, so don’t take this decision lightly.
Getting a UK mortgage as a non-UK resident is possible; however, there are still several requirements you’ll have to meet in order to obtain one. The lenders mentioned above (and several others) offer mortgages to foreign citizens at reasonable interest rates, albeit these are still higher than they’d be if you were a citizen.
As long as you meet the abovementioned criteria, live in one of the qualifiable countries, and are willing to put down a bigger deposit while taking on a higher interest rate, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to buy a UK property.
- Wis Mortgages: Mortgages for Non-UK Residents
- Skipton International Ltd: UK mortgages for non-residents
- Sam Conveyancing: Mortgage for Non-UK Citizen
- Expert for Expats: UK Mortgages for British ex-pats and non-residents
- Bankrate UK: How Much Deposit Do I Need For A House?
- Money Facts: Best UK Residential Mortgage Rates This Week (2022)
- Experian: How To Improve Your Credit Score, Tips & Advice