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UK property remains attractive investment for overseas investors

Despite economic uncertainty, overseas investors continue to flock to UK property for investment. In recent years, the property market has performed particularly strongly.

The number of overseas landlords owning property in the UK has reached a five-year high. There are currently 184,000 overseas landlords. This is a 19% rise over the past five years, according to data from estate agent ludlowthompson.

Despite tax changes in the buy-to-let sector, the COVID-19 pandemic and Brexit, UK property has remained an appealing long-term investment for many overseas investors. And this is expected to continue to be the case in the coming years.

A rise in demand from Hong Kong investors
There has been a particular increase in the number of property investors from Hong Kong. This is expected to increase further with the launch of the new visa for BNO passport holders, which opened for application on 31st January.

London has long been the traditional location for Hong Kong investors. There has continued to be strong demand in the capital. And there has also been a rise in Hong Kong investors and buyers looking to the north-west of England, especially Liverpool and Manchester. Cheaper house prices and strong demand are big draws for this region of the UK.

Favourable exchange rates
The value of the pound dropped since the EU referendum. Some overseas investors took the opportunity to add to their property investment portfolio. The Brexit uncertainty, which was followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, has kept the value of the sterling low.

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With recent favourable exchange rates, foreign buyers could get more for their money. This opened up the sector to a wider pool of investors. At the beginning of the year, overseas investors even ranked the UK as the best residential property investment hotspot for 2021.

Stephen Ludlow, chairman at ludlowthompson, says: “Fears that Brexit might dampen the appeal of UK property amongst overseas investors have been unfounded, with the number of overseas landlords reaching a record high.

“Many canny investors took advantage of the temporary drop in Sterling’s value to purchase properties in the UK and benefited from both an increase in property prices and a recovery in sterling.”

Stamp duty changes
Overseas investors have also been benefiting from the stamp duty holiday. The tax holiday has allowed buyers to save up to £15,000 on properties worth up to £500,000. The holiday is in place until 30th June. After that, the nil-rate band will be in place for properties worth up to £250,000 until 30th September.

Second homes and property investment still incur a 3% stamp duty rate. And an additional 2% stamp duty surcharge came into place for overseas buyers and investors on 1st April 2021. While many overseas landlords looked to complete on property investment purchases prior to this date, the additional surcharge is unlikely to be a deterrent as there are numerous factors making UK property investment appealing.

By Kaylene Isherwood

Source: Buy Association

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Overseas Property Investors Still Buying UK Property

Brexit has not put overseas property investors off investing in UK property, London property agent ludlowthompson has reported.

In fact the number of overseas landlords owning UK property has hit a five-year high, said the firm. At 184,000, the number represents a 19 per cent increase over five years.

Many overseas investors made the most of the fall in the value of the pound between the UK’s EU membership referendum and confirmation of a Brexit agreement. ‘Favourable exchange rates meant that foreign buyers were able to get more for their money, opening the market up to a wider pool of investors’, said ludlowthompson.

Despite tax changes, including a 2 per cent stamp duty surcharge, UK property will remain an attractive long-term investment prospect for overseas investors, it believes.

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In recent years there has been an increase in the number of Hong Kong buyers of UK property. This is expected to rise following the launch of the new visa for Hong Kong British National Overseas passport holders, said the firm.

‘Fears that Brexit might dampen the appeal of UK property amongst overseas investors have been unfounded, with the number of overseas landlords reaching a record high’, said ludlowthompson chairman Stephen Ludlow.

‘Investments by overseas landlords into UK buy-to-let properties has ensured that there has been a steady stream of capital into that sector, which has kept the quality of rental stock far higher than would have been the case with these investors’.

Source: Landlord Knowledge

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Why more first-time buy-to-let investors are looking at UK property

New landlords and investors from both the UK and overseas are hoping to enter the UK housing market. What’s behind the rise?

The number of people searching for property in the UK for buy-to-let purposes is booming, according to new research from Legal & General. And the biggest increase in demand has been from first-time investors and landlords over the past few weeks.

The insurance firm says it has seen an 18% increase in people searching for terms such as ‘first-time buyer’, ‘first-time landlord’ and ‘non-owner occupier’. This spike has been most prominent since the start of September.

‘Holiday lets‘ was another popular search term on the company’s site. This is likely to reflect the rise in ‘staycations‘ across the country as people’s international travels are restricted. The trend had already been growing as more people have chosen to holiday within the UK in recent years.

Good time to invest?

The UK housing market as a whole has seen a surge in demand over the past few months. Movers and buyers who had held off in March and April have been taking action since early summer.

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After Rishi Sunak announced a stamp duty holiday for the first £500,000 of a property purchase, buyers were further spurred on. And in the buy-to-let space, despite the 3% surcharge that still applies, interest also increased. Buy-to-let investors can still save thousands of pounds in tax thanks to the stamp duty change, which ends next March.

The data from Legal & General also showed that searches for ‘expat not in UK’ had increased by 50%. Most of these searches were in seek of buy-to-let mortgages, the firm added.

Interest from the expat community in the UK property market is nothing new. With sterling continuing its low performance against the dollar, many overseas investors believe it is a good time to buy property here. It is also seen by many living abroad as a “safe haven” for investment, compared to many other markets.

“Our latest findings from SmartrCriteria suggest a growing number of first-time buyers are searching for mortgages for buy-to-let ventures, including those engaging with the growing trend towards staycations this year.”

Mortgage market changes

Mortgage rates remain incredibly low right now, although they are beginning to inch up. This is further attracting property investors to the market, whose borrowing costs directly affect their bottom line.

Lenders are continuing to approach the current situation with caution, though. While rates are competitive, the number of products available remains lower than at the start of the year. Those looking for higher loan to value options may struggle the most.

But according to Kevin Roberts, most lenders are willing to consider a wide range of borrowers.

“There have been thousands of criteria changes since the lockdown and mortgage advisers are supporting seasoned property investors, first-time landlords and other buyers to find lenders and products that meet their needs,” he comments.

Options for first-time landlords and investors are changing all the time, so getting independent financial advice can be helpful.

One of the latest lenders to offer specialist product to first-time investors is LendInvest. They have launched a new range of products which offer up to 80% LTV for student lets and new landlords.

The maximum loan amount is £500,000 at this level. However, for those with a bigger deposit, loans go up to a maximum of £1.5m on standard properties. There are also options for multi-unit freehold blocks up to £3m, as well as houses in multiple occupation (HMOs).

Source: Buy Association