The UK buy-to-let market is a popular investment area for expats. Even as much of the world is under lockdown, activity is still going on behind the scenes.
UK property investors living overseas have seen a vast improvement in the expat mortgage market in recent years. While products were once mainly only offered by specialist lenders, these types of mortgages are now more mainstream.
As a result, many mortgage companies who offer these expat mortgage products have had growing numbers of enquiries.
According to Property Hub, this increase in available products is partly thanks George Osborne’s mortgage interest relief changes in 2015. Known as Section 24, the phasing out of certain tax relief available to landlords has led to many choosing to operate through a limited company. For this, a specialist mortgage is needed.
This led to a shrinking demand for straightforward buy-to-let mortgages. Many lenders, therefore, decided to expand their offerings in a bid to compete. This included introducing more expat mortgage products.
Expats ready to snap up UK property
In January of this year, expat mortgage lender Offshoreonline received a record number of enquiries. While activity may be slower now as a result of coronavirus, it seems buyers are still poised for action.
Offshoreonline‘s Guy Stephenson said: “The vast majority of expat buyers of UK buy-to-let property come from parts of the world which have suffered far less from COVID-19, areas such as the Middle East, Singapore and even Hong Kong.
“Buoyed by the success of containing SARS in 2003, Asian governments have deployed tried and tested techniques which have helped them recover quickly. Already we are seeing enquiries coming from Singapore and Hong Kong again.”
According to his comments to Property Wire, he believes those who already have mortgages approved will be keen to push ahead as soon as possible.
Investing in UK property from overseas
The recent fall in sterling means that it’s currently cheaper for international buyers to purchase property in the UK. Expats looking to invest in the UK have to save less for a deposit because they’re getting more sterling for their foreign currency. Plus, as the mortgage repayments will be made in sterling, they work out cheaper too when they revert back to their earning currency.
Expats seeking to buy a rental property will find that as long-distance landlords they can take advantage of specific mortgage products. They can also join HMRC’s non-resident landlord scheme which exempts them from UK income tax. In addition, having a buy-to-let property is a great way of maintaining a UK credit rating. This means securing UK borrowing in the future will be easier.