A guide to Expat Mortgages

The expat buy-to-let market is growing rapidly as reports from several lenders show. Liz Syms, Connect Mortgages CEO, gives us some background into this market and explains what lenders are looking for.

It is estimated by the World Bank that around 5.5 million people born in the UK now live abroad – around 8% of the present UK population. According to DeVere, 23% of these moved primarily for work and career reasons. Many expats therefore, do not intend to stay away forever, and fully intend to return at some point in the future.

Even if people have retired abroad, a significant proportion still want a base in the UK. This means some may buy and rent out a property they intend to live in when they return to the UK, some buy a holiday home they also rent out, or some opt for one or more investment properties.


There are more lenders than you may think, with over thirty lenders prepared to lend to expats for either residential or buy to let purposes.

There are often misconceptions regarding what is required. It is not a requirement of all lenders for example, that someone working overseas is employed by a multi-national company – some lenders will also accept people who are self-employed.

While many applications may be for buy-to-let, many lenders will also accept applications for holiday homes and family residential dwellings for expat clients.

It is also a myth that lenders will only lend to expats living in the EU, many lenders will provide mortgages to people living all over the world, which is crucial as the Institute of Public Policy says the most popular country for British expats to reside is Australia with 1.3 million living there. 

What do lenders need?  

Typically, they want the applicant to have a proven clean credit history. Most lenders also want to lend a minimum of £100,000 as it is not cost effective to work with smaller loan sizes.

Not all lenders will apply the same rental calculations to a buy-to-let for an expat as someone residing here however, rates and criteria for each lender vary greatly although rates can start at just 2%. As each applicant’s circumstances will differ, most lenders will look at each borrower on a case-by-case basis.

If you are an expat looking to buy a property, talk to one of our specialist advisers who can help guide you through the process, source the best mortgage deal for your circumstances and answer any questions you may have.

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