Last reviewed on 14th October 2023 by Martin Alexander (Mortgage Advisor)
If you’re an expat interested in property investment, you’ll be pleased to know that lenders offer buy to let mortgages to expats. In fact, lenders have an entire range of mortgages designed just for expats, which we’ll explore in this guide.
Can an expat get a buy to let mortgage?
Yes, an expat can get a buy to let mortgage in the UK. Lenders have their own range of buy to let mortgages for expats, and the process can be straightforward. However, lenders do have strict criteria for overseas buyers, so you’ll need to select a lender carefully.
Your country of residence can be a significant factor in your approval. For instance, some lenders will only lend to applicants living in Europe, while others will consider you irrespective of location. Your deposit size, income and credit will also play a part in your assessment.
Do I need to be a homeowner?
Most lenders won’t consider expats that are first-time buyers for a buy to let mortgage. Don’t panic if you are, some lenders may still say yes if you meet the rest of their criteria.
Eligibility criteria for expats
As an expat, you’ll need to meet the following criteria to qualify for a buy to let mortgage:
- Country of residence – Most lenders only accept expats living in the European Economic Area (EEA). This includes countries in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. However, some lenders will consider applicants living outside the EEA.
- Deposit amount – Depending on your lender, you’ll need at least a 25% deposit, possibly more. The more you can save for a deposit, the better, as you’ll qualify with more lenders and have a better choice of deals.
- Experience – You’ll have many options if you’re an existing UK homeowner. It can be challenging to get a buy to let mortgage as a first-time buyer, especially as an expat, but it is possible.
- UK footprint – You’ll need a UK bank account to be eligible, and some lenders will require you to have a UK correspondence address. Your UK address will be used to carry out a credit check for your application.
- Income – Each lender varies, ranging from no income requirements to earning at least £75,000. Having a larger income will give you more options. That said, some lenders don’t assess employment for a buy to let mortgage.
Which buy to let lenders accept expats?
Some of the lenders that accept expats for buy to let mortgages include:
- Foundation – Accepts expats with a credit file, bank account and correspondence address in the UK. You also must already own a buy to let property in the UK.
- Lendco – Requires expats to have an annual income of £75,000 for a buy to let mortgage.
- West One – Accepts expats who own a UK buy to let, but won’t accept first-time buyers.
- Keystone – Requires applicants to have a UK credit file and pay tax in the UK.
We’ve only included a handful of lenders to give you an idea of how it works. Lenders constantly change their criteria, so speak to an advisor before applying.
Buy to let expat mortgage rates
Buy to let mortgage rates for expats are typically higher than regular mortgages. This is due to the reduced number of lenders within this market, along with being an investment mortgage. Currently, rates start at 6-7%. Still, they can be higher depending on the rest of your application, such as your country of residence and deposit amount.
As with any investment, buy to let is considered to be a risk, as landlords typically rely on rent to repay the mortgage. With the additional risk of you living abroad, this particular mortgage is very high risk. This is one of the main reasons why some lenders won’t consider buy to let mortgages for expats under any circumstances.
You may be charged higher fees in addition to slightly higher rates. Again, this offsets some of the risks lenders take with buy to lets. That said, you may still qualify for a favourable rate with minimum fees. It simply depends on the strength of your application.
How can I get the best rates?
A large deposit is one way to unlock the best mortgage rates. Many lenders will require a 25% deposit at least, but having a deposit of over 40% can unlock better deals.
To ensure you get the best rate, speak to an advisor who can compare rates across multiple lenders. We’ll also assess the likelihood of your application being approved.
How can I apply if I’m overseas?
Assessing your entire financial profile and country of residence is the first step. This will give you a better understanding of the lenders you can apply with before you submit an application.
Once you have several eligible lenders, you can compare the best deals. This isn’t as simple as finding the lowest interest rate, as you’d need to calculate the overall cost of the mortgage.
Successful property investment relies heavily on the numbers, beginning with the price you pay for the property and your mortgage deal. Your application will be assessed in-depth as an expat, so it’s crucial to get everything right. If you are declined for any reason, it can make getting a mortgage even more difficult. You can make an enquiry to speak with an advisor and start your mortgage.
About the author
Martin is a senior mortgage advisor and has held a CeMAP qualification for over 15 years while also completing an MBA in Global Banking & Finance.