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2022 Outlook for Expats & Foreign Investors Buying UK Property

There have been a lot of new factors that have impacted the UK property market in recent years, from Brexit and tax changes to the ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. For Expats and Foreign Property Investors, the UK still presents some profitable investment opportunities, as long as you are able to find the right types of investment.

From April 2021, overseas buyers have been required to pay a 2% stamp duty surcharge, which affected many property investment strategies. However, there are still many benefits of investing in the UK compared to other parts of the world, such as relatively low house prices, attractive interest rates and a very healthy property capital growth.

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The impact of COVID-19 on UK Property Market

The UK property market has remained strong, largely due to the stamp duty tax holiday that the UK government introduced. House prices have increased significantly, with the average house price having now increased by approximately £34,000 from the beginning of the pandemic. House price increases are expected to slow down in 2022, with the average UK House Price standing at £276,091 as of December 2021 (source: Halifax).

People want more space

Another major factor impacting property investment is the change in demand for housing stock that has more space. After spending so much time indoors during lockdown, many homeowners and renters decided that they wanted to find property that is in rural areas and has more space both indoors and outdoors.

Influence of Homeworking

London, which was always a highly popular place to live, saw record numbers of homeowners leaving to buy property outside of the capital in 2021. With more people working from home and less need to travel into the city for work, the trend for buying property with gardens and home offices emerged and is expected to only continue in 2022.

North of England continues as a Hotspot

Many other cities across the UK saw similar patterns and the North of England saw higher interest in properties, with areas such as Manchester and Liverpool becoming ever more popular for Property Investors & Landlords. The high rental prospects in the North, combined with the excellent capital growth have ensured that the North of England has become a hotspot for Property Investors.

The average rental yield in the Northwest was 7.8% in 2021 and the area saw a 12% regional increase in value, so going into 2022, we expect Property investors will increasingly be looking at buying in this part of the UK.

Student Accommodation in high demand

The large student populations in northern cities are keeping rental demand high and with large numbers of foreign students requiring student accommodation that is of a higher specification, this gives investors the opportunity to charge higher rental yields.

Many expats and foreign Property investors are seeing the great investment potential of buying student accommodation to rent in areas where there are numerous universities and where the average property value has grown significantly in recent years.

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Green efficiency requirements

As well as the additional 2% stamp duty surcharge, foreign Property Investors looking to buy property in the UK will also need to be aware of the new green efficiency requirements. From 2025, rental properties must have an EPC rating of C or above, or they will not be able to accept new tenants. 

This has resulted in many existing landlords spending money in home improvements such as installing new windows and replacing older boilers with new, more energy efficient ones. For foreign investors with existing properties in the UK, improving the EPC rating of properties will impact profits and investors looking to buy new property may have to pay more for properties that have a higher energy efficiency rating.

Around 13 million UK homes have an EPC of D or below, so this will be a significant factor to consider for foreign investors and expats buying in the UK property market.

Expats heading back to the UK

Since Brexit and the red tape involved in obtaining EU Settled Status became a problem, there has been a huge uplift in the number of expats returning to the UK, with people giving up on their lifelong dreams of retiring to live in a warmer part of the EU.

Some expats have been exploring the idea of buying property in the UK to rent out for periods of the year that they are not in the UK and living there themselves. With the new ruling that British citizens cannot stay in the EU for more than 90 days in any 180-day period, this has changed the needs for having somewhere to live in the UK, that can also be rented out if necessary.

Conclusion

In 2022, there will still be very attractive mortgage deals available for foreign Property Investors and expats buying property in the UK. Although house price growth is predicted to be much slower in 2022 compared to 2021, the many other benefits of buying UK property will ensure that foreign investors are still able to get a good return on investments in the UK by identifying the most profitable investments.

Get in Touch

If as either an Expat or Foreign Property Investor you are considering buying a new UK home, or even remortgaging your existing property in 2022, contact us today for free and independent mortgage advice. Call us now on +44 1494 622 555. Alternatively, you can complete this short online form now to request a call back from one of our Team of highly experienced Expat Mortgage Advisors who will gladly assist you with all your Expat and Foreign Property Investor mortgage needs.

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Why UK Expat and Foreign National Investors are Looking North in 2024

With another excellent year ahead for UK expat buy-to-let property investment, the North of the UK stands to perform best in 2024.

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2024 looks to be another great year for UK expat and foreign national investors to buy UK buy-to-let properties.

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With the rental market still exceptionally busy as a result of incredible demand and high mortgage rates stopping first-time buyers getting onto the ladder, buy-to-let property owners stand to make big profits.

To view full article please click the link below.

ein news

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UK house prices rise at fastest rate since January 2023

UK house prices rose 2.5% in the year to January, recording the biggest increase since January last year, as lower mortgage rates and fading inflationary pressures led to increased buyer and seller confidence, Halifax has said.

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January marked the fourth consecutive monthly rise, with a 1.3% uplift on December, the UK’s biggest mortgage lender said, with the average home costing £291,000, £3,900 more than in December.

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Kim Kinnaird, the director at Halifax Mortgages, said: “The recent reduction of mortgage rates from lenders as competition picks up, alongside fading inflationary pressures and a still-resilient labour market has contributed to increased confidence among buyers and sellers.

To view full article please click the link below.

Source: The Guardian

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Exploring the UK Property Market and Recent Mortgage Rate Cuts

The UK property market has long been a hub for both domestic and international investors, characterized by its resilience and dynamic nature. Recently, a significant development has emerged in the form of mortgage rate cuts, particularly notable with HSBC’s decision to offer rates partly under 4% for the first time since the TRUSS mini budget.

This move reflects a broader trend in the UK’s financial landscape and opens new avenues for potential buyers, including foreigners, to consider property acquisition in the UK. The following sections will guide you through the intricacies of buying a house in the UK as a foreigner, considering current market conditions and regulatory frameworks.

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Who Can Buy Property in the UK?
In the UK, there are no legal restrictions on who can buy property, regardless of nationality or residency status. This openness makes the UK a particularly attractive market for international investors and homebuyers. Whether you are a resident or non-resident, foreigner or citizen, you have the equal right to purchase property. However, foreign buyers should be aware of certain financial and legal considerations, including potential additional taxes and the need for thorough legal advice to navigate the UK’s property laws.

Can Foreigners Buy Property in the UK?
Yes, foreigners can buy property in the UK. The process for foreign buyers is straightforward, though it involves specific steps, such as obtaining a National Insurance number and opening a UK bank account.

Foreign buyers must also comply with certain financial requirements and may face additional scrutiny, especially in terms of funding sources.

It’s advisable for non-residents to seek advice from property experts and legal advisors familiar with the UK market.

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Impact of Brexit on Foreign Property Buyers
Brexit has introduced changes that affect foreign property buyers, especially those from the European Union (EU). While the fundamental right to buy property in the UK remains unaffected, EU citizens no longer enjoy the same ease of movement and residence rights.

This change means that EU citizens might need to comply with immigration controls and visa requirements. However, Brexit hasn’t dampened the appeal of the UK property market to foreign investors, and the market continues to see robust interest from overseas buyers.

Source: Talk Business

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Expat property enquiries up following rate holds

Offshoreonline, an online mortgage adviser for expatriates, has observed a significant upswing in expat mortgage enquiries, attributing this to the Bank of England’s decision to hold the UK Base Rate steady in November.

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At the same time, a straw poll of estate agents conducted by the expat online mortgage broker revealed a steep rise in enquiries during the second week of November, indicating a growing interest in the UK expat buy-to-let market and house buying in general.

The current stability in the UK Base Rate has created a favourable environment for potential buyers of UK buy to let properties in 2024, according to Offshoreonline.

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With this positive outlook, expat mortgage holders are presented with a critical decision—whether to opt for a fixed or variable rate mortgage, the firm said.

Source: Best Advice

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Huge Surge in Chinese Interest in UK Property Investment

UK Housing Market Ripe for Overseas Buy-to-Let Investment

With good-value property prices and rental growth exceeding wage growth, UK houses are attracting huge interest from overseas investors.

Read on for more information on how this affects buy-to-let property markets in the UK.

How Many Chinese Investors Want to Buy UK Property?

Chinese investors are getting into overseas property investment in a big way, according to Juwai IQI.

The property portal states that the top four destinations for overseas investment are English-speaking countries: the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Australia.

Juwai IQI indicates a massive increase in overseas property investment enquiries among Chinese investors. In Q3 2023, Juwai IQI saw a 76% increase in interest in buying UK property as a non-resident to Q2. In addition, those figures were 35% higher than Q1.

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How Are Chinese Investors Spending Their Money in the UK?

According to Juwai IQI’s email newsletter, these Chinese investors are from an upper-middle-class background and are interested in buying townhouses and apartments.

It’s easy to see why.

Some of the UK’s major cities are seeing huge rises in rental prices for city centre apartments.

City Residential Estate Agents state that the average rental price for apartments for sale in Liverpool City Centre has increased by 12%. Meanwhile, property price growth has slowed due to low activity in the market, making UK property investment both attainable and lucrative for overseas investors.

Why Do Foreign Investors Want to Invest in the UK Property Market?

So, why would a Chinese investor want to purchase property in the UK?

According to a report by Irwin Mitchell, the country has an international reputation as a ‘favourable and open global destination for investment, offering a robust legal framework and business-friendly environment, despite recent economic and political changes’.

As such, foreign investment is rising throughout the UK. Activity in 2022 was substantially higher than in previous years. An influx of Chinese property investors is highly likely in 2023 and beyond.

Interestingly, overseas investment in the North West property market is up by 20% over pre-pandemic levels, with investors looking to cities like Manchester and Liverpool thanks to their local infrastructure, local skills and regeneration plans.

The North West currently leads the way for capital growth projections. Savills predicts an 11.70% capital growth in the region between now and 2027, meaning property investments stand to see substantial appreciation during that period.

According to the HM Land Registry UK House Price Index, the average property price in the UK costs £291,044. However, the average property price in Liverpool is £180,268. Liverpool – and the North West region – offers better value property investments than many other places in the UK.

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Huge Rise in Chinese Buyers Over the Last Year

Earlier this month, Juwai IQI saw a huge increase in Chinese spending on overseas property, reaching $3.4 billion – $1 billion more than in 2022.

Juwai IQI attributes this growth to “revenge buying” – when buying rates rise rapidly after a period where investors cannot purchase due to restrictions or difficulty.

According to an EY report, the number of households that can afford to invest in property in China is set to rise by 50% in 2025. In addition, Chinese consumers have typically high savings rates, while investors are also moving to diversify their investment portfolios.Why not read the Rwinvest Top UK Cities for Overseas property investment report for futher insights.

With UK property price growth down to 0.2%, gross rental yields continuing to rise, and property prices not expected to go up until 2025, we can expect to see more foreign investors purchasing property on UK shores in the near future.

By Dale Barham

Source: RWinvest

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UK Expat and Foreign National Investors Use Re-Mortgage Products to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Buy-to-Let Property

As we move into the colder months in the UK, energy efficiency starts to become a bigger consideration for tenants. This is not an insignificant consideration, with many tenants still concerned about the rising cost of energy, in addition to high inflation and the rising cost of living more generally.

‘A low energy efficiency rating is enough to dissuade many desirable tenants from renting a property’ says Stuart Marshall of Liquid Expat Mortgages. ‘This means that owning a property with a bad EPC rating can be very costly for UK expat and foreign national investors because of a loss of rental income. Further, the need for good energy efficiency is likely to be reflected in legislation too. While the government recently announced that it was scrapping its requirement for rental properties to have an EPC rating of a C or above by 2025, it’s likely that this plan will be replaced by other, similar legislation if the UK is to reach its target of net zero by 2050.’

Because of the increasing focus on energy efficiency in rental properties, it’s important for UK expat and foreign national investors to make their property as energy efficient as possible. This will make sure that their investment property remains attractive to desirable tenants, while also making sure that the property is compliant with any potential environmental legislation.

5 Ways UK Expat and Foreign National Investors Can Make Their Investment Property More Energy Efficient.

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  1. Switch Lightbulbs. Switching to LED lightbulbs is one of the simplest ways to increase the energy efficiency of a rental property. Not only do they last five times longer than traditional halogen lightbulbs, but they also use significantly less energy to produce the same light, while emitting lower carbon dioxide emissions.
  2. Draught Proof. Another very easy and affordable way to improve energy efficiency is to reduce heat waste through draught proofing in common problem areas like doors, chimneys and skirting boards.
  3. Energy Efficient Appliances. Replacing old appliances with more energy efficient ones is another very easy way for UK expat and foreign national investors to improve the energy efficiency of their rental property. Appliances with an A+++ rating are the best performing. Having higher rated appliances will improve the property’s EPC rating and will also improve the energy efficiency of the property.
  4. Insulation. Improving insulation is one of the most common ways for UK expat and foreign national investors to improve the energy efficiency of their property. There are many ways to do this, from improving insulation in roofs and cavity walls to installing double glazed windows and thermally efficient doors. An easier way to improve insulation is to install thick curtains or have existing curtains lined.
  5. Replace the Boiler. A more costly way to improve the energy efficiency of a property is to replace the boiler with a more efficient one. While this is more expensive than many of the other methods mentioned above, installing an efficient boiler can make a significant difference to the energy efficiency of the property and equate to massive savings for potential tenants.

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Utilise a Re-mortgage Product.
While improving the energy efficiency of an investment property is pretty much essential now, conducting a number of renovations can be costly for UK expat and foreign national investors. This is especially true for portfolio investors who have a number of properties that require green renovations.

‘One of the best ways to fund these renovations is through a re-mortgage’ says Stuart Marshall. ‘This is a course of action that we’ve discussed with many of our clients looking to conduct green renovations. This is because there are plenty of quality re-mortgage products available for UK expat and foreign national investors. These products allow UK expat and foreign national investors to utilise their existing equity in their property to raise capital for green renovations. But using a re-mortgage product can also pay dividends elsewhere as increased equity can make it easier to negotiate a better mortgage deal. So, UK expat and foreign national investors can often benefit from green renovations and also from reduced mortgage rates and lower monthly repayments.’

‘Utilising the services of an expert UK expat or foreign national mortgage broker is the best way to negotiate a better deal and gain access to exclusive broker-only deals. This can really make all the difference in maximising the quality of an investment venture. But we’ve seen re-mortgage products work time and time again in improving the terms of buy-to-let mortgages while also raising capital to conduct green renovations that will pay dividends long into the future.’

By Ulysses

Source: EIN News

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Foreign Property Investment in the North West Up 20%

According to law firm Irwin Mitchell’s latest FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) report, the North West property sector is primed to see significant investment from overseas buyers.

Irwin Mitchell has compiled the summer 2023 report in collaboration with leading economic consultancy Cebr. It offers foreign investment analysis and ‘on the ground’ commentary on the UK’s largest cities and key sectors.

The UK real estate section of the vital sector insights states that the property industry (grouped in with hospitality) had an investment position of £209 billion in 2021. However, this figure took a hit due to COVID-19, Brexit, and the war in Ukraine.

While not immune to these challenges, the appetite for investment in the UK from overseas has proved to be resilient.

According to the report, the property market in London remains desirable to foreign investors, especially when it comes to Grade A office space.

There has been an increase in taxes for property investors, and regulations have tightened, but this hasn’t put off international buyers, who continue to choose the UK over other countries.

In particular, strong growth has been observed in the North West and the West Midlands. There were 88 new investment projects in the North West last year, up 20% compared to before the pandemic, which suggests the region has quickly recovered from the lull in investment over the past few trying years.

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The Key to More Foreign Property Investment is ‘Levelling Up’

According to Adrian Barlow, the firm’s National Head of Real Estate, ‘continued levelling up is key to maintaining investor interest in areas outside the capital’.

With many exciting regeneration projects in the North West, the future of foreign property investment in the region seems promising.

This includes massive plans such as Liverpool Waters and the Atlantic Gateway scheme.

As part of Liverpool Waters, Canadian investor Starlight Investments is taking on a 31-story residential tower. This build-to-let scheme has a development value of £50m and will add to the company’s £20bn North American portfolio, showing that overseas companies are eager to be involved in the North West property market.

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Why Are Overseas Investors Interested in the North West?

There are plenty of attractive factors for overseas buyers regarding North West property. This includes the region’s much more affordable property prices than other areas, such as those in the South of England.

For example, the UK House Price Index shows that the North West region’s average house price is £215,648, while the average house in the South East goes for £394,096.

Another reason the North West appeals to foreign real estate investors today is the prediction for high capital growth in the area. According to property experts Savills, the region’s mainstream capital value is forecast to grow 11.7% over the next few years leading to 2027, while the South East is set to hit just 3% growth in the same timeframe.

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What do high rates mean for HNWIs seeking mortgages?

Interest rates have dominated the headlines in 2023. As inflation remains sticky and well above its 2 per cent target, the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee has voted on 14 consecutive occasions to hike the base rate.

The impact on mortgage customers has garnered a great deal of political and media interest.

Understandably, the fate of high-net-worth individuals seldom enters the conversation, but within the mortgage market we cannot afford to overlook the issues affecting such borrowers.

Indeed, now is an opportune moment for lenders and intermediaries to take stock of the challenges that HNWIs face when looking to secure, and in the current climate repay, a mortgage.

Moreover, we must consider what can be done to ensure wealthier borrowers are offered suitable support in the higher interest rate environment.

The challenges involved in HNW mortgages

It may seem entirely counter-intuitive to think that HNWIs will regularly struggle when it comes to securing a mortgage. Yet this remains the reality; they run a surprisingly high risk of being turned away by conventional lenders.

For context, Butterfield Mortgages conducted research in the past, surveying more than 500 UK adults who all had a net worth in excess of £1mn. We found that 12 per cent had been rejected for mortgages in the preceding decade.

But why are so many HWNIs turned down for a mortgage?

It comes down to the often complex and diverse nature of HNWIs’ wealth – their income, investments and liquidity.

As a rule of thumb, the wealthier an individual is, the more complicated their income structure and finances are likely to be.

For instance, HNWIs tend to have their capital locked up in illiquid assets, spread across multiple jurisdictions. Meanwhile, they may have irregular or no formal source of income, and perhaps have not built up an attractive credit profile by repaying regular debts.

As a result, the process of applying and being approved for a mortgage can be far more complex for these individuals.

The standard ‘tick-box’ methodology applied by many high street lenders can pose unexpected complications, simply because how HNWIs make, spend and invest their money typically differs significantly from most prospective borrowers.

Further, HNWIs may not be UK residents, and they may also differ in the reasons they want or need a mortgage, both of which would create additional obstacles.

Many lenders will not supply finance for a property that will not be an individual’s primary residence, nor to an overseas buyer.

As such, HNWIs seeking finance for a buy-to-let investment or a second home will often struggle to find a mortgage on the high street.

Lenders and brokers require skill and experience

HNWIs being rejected for mortgages remains a prevalent issue.

As noted, they are ill-suited to the methodology that many mainstream, high street lenders apply to assess mortgage applications.

Meanwhile, their desire for a loan to purchase an investment property naturally rules out a swathe of other lenders.

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Clearly, HNWIs need to find specialist lenders and brokers who are well-versed in this type of client.

More specifically, they need lenders and brokers that have the skill, experience and resources to review each borrower and application on a case-by-case basis; to take in the full picture of the person’s financial profile, to understand the type of property they want to buy and why, and to assess their ability to repay a loan.

In essence, a more bespoke approach is required when working with HNWIs.

Lenders and brokers reliant on processing huge volumes of applications will, generally speaking, not have the structures and processes in place to operate in such a flexible manner.

Returning to the matter of rising interest rates – this economic shift over the past 20 months has only heightened the challenges that exist for HNWIs, thereby placing a greater onus on lenders and brokers to assist wealthier borrowers as they seek to navigate the mortgage market.

How higher rates affect HNWIs

For more than 13 years – between March 2009 and May 2022 – the BoE’s base rate resided below 1 per cent. It was never going to remain at such historic lows, which were largely indicative of economic turbulence stemming from the global financial crash, Brexit and the pandemic.

That rates would rise at some point was a given. As many who are longer in the tooth would also note, a base rate of 5 per cent or higher is also normal in the grand scheme of things – this was the general benchmark for much of the 1990s and 2000s, while the 1980s saw a base rate predominantly in double figures.

However, while a higher base rate is by no means atypical, the speed at which it has risen has undoubtedly created challenges for borrowers.

Jumping from an all-time low of 0.1 per cent in December 2021 to 5.25 per cent by August this year is a sharp rise, and coming after a prolonged level of such low rates, has placed a strain on many people who will have purchased properties with little consideration as to how such a shift could impact them.

HNWIs are no exception here. Again, while not featuring in the general discourse around higher rates and the impact on mortgage customers, HNWIs warrant attention and support.

Broadly speaking, HNWIs direct their investments towards high-value properties, such as those in prime central London. They may, for example, require a £5mn mortgage for the purchase of a £7.5mn townhouse in a prime central London postcode.

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Coupled with the size of the mortgages HNWIs take on is the length of their terms. HNWIs investing in a second home or BTL property may take on mortgages that have five or 10-year terms, unlike the 25 or 30-year terms that most UK homebuyers will be able to access.

If not on a fixed-term loan, the hikes to the base rate since the end of 2021 will have taken a notable toll on even very wealthy borrowers. With less time to spread out increased costs on an already large mortgage, some HNWIs will be struggling to make repayments.

Again, the complicated nature of their finances and investments comes into play. HNWIs might be asset-rich (owning all manner of assets) but have limited access to liquid cash.

Seeing their mortgage repayment skyrocket will require them to release equity from other investments or access cash from other sources.

As with the application process, it is important that preconceptions do not cloud the due attention that HWNIs require. Those lenders and brokers who are used to operating in this space will likely be acutely aware of this point.

Improving support for HNWIs

Butterfield Mortgages recently conducted a survey of mortgage customers in the UK. It revealed that just 44 per cent of borrowers feel they have received satisfactory guidance and communication from their mortgage providers since the initiation of the interest rate hiking cycle in December 2021.

This underscores the importance of lenders working with borrowers to recognise potential issues as they arise and, whenever possible, bringing forward solutions.

The necessity for this aid extends to HNWIs regardless of their affluence, and lenders must be unwavering in their dedication to aiding borrowers who need to continue to invest in property with a sense of assurance.

Alpa Bhakta is the chief executive of Butterfield Mortgages

By Alpa Bhakta

Source: FT Adviser

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Overseas-owned London homes forecast to climb over coming year

Overseas buyer appetite for London’s housing market is set to climb this year despite the mortgage crisis, offering a boost to prices as figures revealed the estimated value of foreign-owned homes in the capital stands at £55.2 billion.

There are 103,425 homes in the capital, including houses and flats, that are currently registered with an overseas correspondence address or to an overseas company.

The total value is based on current average prices and calculated by estate agent Benham & Reeves.

The firm said that equates to non-UK buyers accounting for 2.76% of London’s total existing housing stock (valued at just over £2 trillion).

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In the City of Westminster, foreigners own nearly 13% of all homes. In Kensington and Chelsea it is more than 10%.

Benham & Reeves submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Land Registry on properties with the title registered to an overseas correspondence address, and also looked at Government data on properties registered with an overseas company.

The research found the value of overseas-owned property in London is highest in the borough of Westminster at nearly £14.9 billion, and that represents a estimated 12.8% of total dwellings.

The study estimates that foreign homeowners are sitting on £84.2 billion worth of property across England and Wales. The total stock in those countries is valued at £7.9 trillion.

Marc von Grundherr, director of the estate agency chain, said: “Foreign home ownership levels have climbed by 3.2% in the last year alone and the vast majority of this activity is individual buyers, rather than offshore entities.”

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His firm expects a further 4% to 5% increase nationally over the coming year, with London being a big contributor. That comes as activity picks up post-pandemic “whether it be as an investment for their child’s education, for professional reasons, or to relocate completely”.

Von Grundherr said many international parties are less exposed to the impact of lenders passing on the Bank’s interest rate rises since they usually buy with cash. He said there are a number of “primarily cash buyers undeterred by increasing interest rates. Secondly, those who may be looking to borrow in order to buy still see the cost of doing so in the UK as fairly favourable compared to their own domestic markets”.

He added: “There are those who will protest over the increasing presence of foreign buyers within the London market, but it’s fair to say that they are very much delivering a well needed boost to current market sentiment and we certainly haven’t seen prices skyrocket as a result of this demand from foreign shores.”

He added that some buyers could also help provide rental homes at a time when many buy-to-let landlords look to sell up amid rising borrowing costs.

Looking at the new build sector, Amy Meyrick, head of international sales and marketing in real estate consultancy CBRE‘s residential team said: “There is a preference for developers to sell a proportion of units off-plan before construction starts, and international buyers are typically more willing to commit to this. Those who are equity-driven and cash buyers play an important role as they are less affected by the current mortgage rate environment.”

By Joanna Hodgson

Source: Evening Standard

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BTL mortgage drought hits UK expats

A growing number of UK homeowners working overseas are finding themselves grappling with skyrocketing mortgage rates when renting out their properties, the Financial Times reports.

The newspaper says that these individuals are often required by lenders to switch from standard residential loans to ‘consumer buy-to-let mortgages’ – usually at higher interest rates.

In recent months, these rates have experienced a sharp increase, fuelled by the expectation that the Bank of England will push up rates to tackle inflation.

The situation is further complicated by the falling number of products in the expat mortgage sector.

Banks discontinued expat mortgages in early 2020

The FT says that many major banks discontinued expat mortgages in early 2020, as the UK’s exit from the EU imposed fresh regulatory challenges for British banks providing financial services throughout the bloc.

When expat borrowers reach the end of their fixed-rate agreements and seek refinancing, they may encounter interest rates as steep as 8% or 9%, according to lenders and mortgage brokers.

Some banks have even started rejecting expat remortgage applications or requests for larger mortgages.

And while some banks continue offering mortgage transfers – where borrowers receive a new rate offer from the same lender – the rates are significantly higher than before.

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BTL mortgage market for non-UK residents

Lorraine McLean, head of BTL mortgages at Skipton International, which is based in Guernsey, said the bank had seen strong demand from expats who had been offered ‘a ludicrous rate’ when renewing – or nothing at all.

The bank said it had seen a 40% rise in completions in the first quarter of this year, compared with last year.

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UK-based lenders lost the so-called ‘passporting’ rights

The FT article says that when the UK left the single market for financial services, UK-based lenders lost the ‘passporting’ rights that saw them to do business in any EU country with minimal extra authorisation.

One director at a major lender told the newspaper that before Brexit, lenders in the UK lending to EU or UK citizens across the EU had to show they were following lending rules in the UK.

Now they must follow the regulations in the borrower’s country of residence – and lenders don’t have the appetite or capacity to do this.

The lender was offering transfers on expat buy-to-let mortgages, the director said, but no longer offered loans to new expat customers and did not allow expanded mortgage borrowing for current customers.

Source: Property 118