Advice for expats on buying a home

Home buying help for expats

Finding the right property and raising the finance to buy it can be difficult hurdles to overcome when you’re not in the UK. Our advice will help you with both.

Buying a UK home as an expat may seem a little overwhelming at first glance. All that red tape and bureaucracy can often be off-putting to many prospective purchasers, but it needn’t be the headache that it appears to be.

There’s plenty of good guides throughout the web that provide all of the ins and outs of buying a UK property as an expat, so we decided to concentrate on two key areas where advice is most readily sought: finding a UK property and raising the funds to purchase one when you do.

Expat advice for finding a UK property

Buying a home in the UK when you are situated there can be a nightmare, so how hard will it be if you are overseas? Thankfully, with the growing popularity of online property portals, finding a property to buy in the UK is not the drama that it once was.

Many of these websites offer bespoke search criteria that can prove to be enormously helpful when you’re looking for a specific type of property or one in a particular area. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular property portals that you can make of use of from anywhere in the world:

Rightmove.co.uk

Probably one of the largest and most established of all the property portals is Rightmove. Founded in 2000, Rightmove has gone from strength to strength over its short lifespan. The property giant’s PR team claim that Rightmove currently has around 90% of all UK properties available to view, such is its popularity.

Zoopla.co.uk

Zoopla differs somewhat from Rightmove in that it offers its visitors information such as previously sold prices, current value estimates, area statistics and trends that may be happening around the location being searched. Zoopla has only been around since 2008, but its place in the UK property market is already solid. Anyone looking to buy property in the UK would be well advised to dig into Zoopla whenever they are doing research on a particular area.

Primelocation.com

As one would expect by the name, Prime Location offers homes both in the UK and abroad that are at the higher end of the property market. These luxurious properties are easy to navigate and beautifully photographed, certainly worth a look if you are searching for a more sumptuous and select place to buy.

Raising a mortgage as an expat

Expat mortgages are as important as finding the property itself. Getting the right one can prove to be like negotiating a minefield, and if you don’t have an agreement in principle, then it will be hard to proceed in any sort of timely fashion.

Look for accredited brokers who have been around for a while as mortgage brokers tend to come and go quite frequently. By going with an established broker you are automatically building in a level of comfort into your decision making – important at such a stressful time.

Another, albeit obvious, thing to look out for is their previous knowledge of dealing with expats and providing mortgages for them. While this may seem like a no-brainer, many people fall into the trap of not checking out their broker’s credentials in this regard – don’t be one of them.

Finally, ensure that your broker has a presence in the UK. You may not be here, but it is essential that they are!

Changes in the exchange rate may increase the sterling equivalent of your debt.

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Your home or property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on a mortgage or any other debt secured on it. Changes in the exchange rate may increase the sterling equivalent of your debt. You may have to pay an early repayment charge to your existing lender if you remortgage. Think carefully before securing any other debts against your home.  

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