overseas investors

Latest clarification on how foreign investors will be taxed for UK property

The legislation has now been published setting out the stamp duty surcharge payable by foreign investors in UK property. Are we about to see an influx of enquiries from overseas?

After a consultation period at the start of 2019, the measure to introduce a new stamp duty charge for non-UK residents is now becoming official. The government has announced that it will take effect from 1 April 2021, and have now released an updated policy paper on the topic.

Meanwhile, mortgage provider Skipton International has reported a significant spike in buy-to-let enquiries from expats and foreign buyers over recent weeks. While the firm believes the recent stamp duty holiday news is the main culprit, both tax changes could be linked. Buyers from overseas who want to get in before next April are therefore acting quickly.

In the week following Rishi Sunak’s announcement, Skipton saw a 61% rise in visits to its buy-to-let mortgage calculator. It believes many of these enquiries will translate to successful mortgage applications in the coming months.

What’s the new legislation for foreign investors?

From 1st April next year, all non-UK resident investors in UK residential property will need to pay a 2% stamp duty surcharge. This is on top of the existing rate of tax, which is calculated on the property’s value. The start date coincides with the end of the current stamp duty rates announced this month.

However, foreign investors who have spent 183 days in the UK over a 365-day period for 12 months before or after the transaction may be exempt. The government may also apply “transitional” rules, but more information will become available at a later date.

If the overseas buyer is a first-time buyer in the UK, they will qualify for first-time buyer tax rates. If the property is less than £300,000, the buyer will just have to pay the 2% surcharge.

The idea behind the policy is to bring down house prices, says the government. This will have the knock-on effect of getting people onto and up the housing ladder. Its aim is to bring the emphasis back to homeownership within the UK. The policy paper also states that revenues will be used to combat rough sleeping.

Strong overseas investment in UK

While some may view the stamp duty surcharge as a deterrent to foreign investors, many won’t be put off. With the pound remaining at a historic low, as well as a continuously strongly performing property market through adversity, the UK is still likely to be a top investment hotspot.

However, the new measures are certainly causing a short-term influx in buyers. Whether they are looking to take advantage of post-COVID conditions or stamp duty changes isn’t certain. But the buy-to-let market is certainly seeing strong performance right now.

Jim Coupe, managing director of Skipton International, said: “Now could be a good time for overseas purchasers to consider investing in UK property, with the stamp duty holiday due to last until 31 March 2021, at which time a proposed additional 2% stamp duty land tax charge for foreign residents will come into effect.

“This window of opportunity could offer substantial savings with those buying a property priced at £500,000 generating savings of up to £25,000.”

At BuyAssociation, we have property investment opportunities available for both UK and non-UK buyers. Many of our properties also fall below the new £500,000 tax bracket. Get in touch now, or sign up for free for early access.

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