Amazingly, we’re already two months through 2021. And, with the vaccine rollout promising a return to some kind of normality before the year is finished, we took some time to sit down with Stuart Marshall, CEO of Liquid Expat Mortgages, to answer some questions from expats and foreign nationals about what’s happening in the UK expat mortgage and investment market. Over the course of four Q&As, Liquid Expat Mortgages will be answering the most common types of questions asked by our customers.
Good Availability on Buy-to-Let Expat Mortgages.
Q: Stephanie Q. Jackson from Abu Dhabi says ‘We hear a lot of chatter about investing in UK property on the news and from some of the expat forums that are popular out here. What’s happening with the UK buy-to-let market at the moment? Is it worthwhile looking at as an investor?’
A: ‘The UK’s buy-to-let mortgage market is showing impressive resilience through the early part of 2021. The number of mortgage products on offer to UK expats and foreign nationals is currently at the highest number since March 2020. This availability remains highest for those looking to borrow with 75% LTV. In response to the growing demand for mortgages, we’re also seeing a wider availability of products available for 80% LTV mortgages – good news for expats looking to break into the lucrative buy-to-let market as they will require a substantially smaller deposit.
While the availability of buy-to-let mortgages remains high, rates are rising. This isn’t surprising – we saw rates rise through the back end of 2020 and we expected them to continue as lenders try to deter potential investors to cope with high demand. As the buy-to-let market is still very buoyant, you need to keep an eye out for ever-changing products. In other words, if you see a deal you really like, you need to act fast to lock it in as it might disappear overnight!’
New Build Homes.
Q: David Lee from Hong Kong asks ‘A lot of Hong Kongers see the UK as a safe haven for their money, especially since the UK government introduced a visa system that allows millions of people from Hong Kong to live and work in the UK with a route to British citizenship. I’m hoping to invest in a UK buy-to-let property at some point in 2021 as I want to study and work in the UK. I want to spend money wisely as my parents will be selling one their Hong Kong properties to help with my relocation costs. What should I be on the lookout for as a prospective investor?’
A: ‘Definitely keep an eye out for new build homes. Though the number of new homes being built in the UK plummeted in 2020 (a drop of 23% due to pandemic-related delays), construction is returning strongly so far in 2021. At the end of 2020, productivity on construction recovered to levels similar to the end of 2019 as workers adjusted to the new normal of COVID-safe working practices. This is good news for potential expat investors as new build homes often present attractive investment opportunities, especially off-plan. If there’s an area you’re really keen on investing in, make sure to contact us and we can help you keep abreast of the situation with regards off-plan properties and investment opportunities. Similarly, if you’re a first-time buyer, a specialist mortgage broker like Liquid will be able to assess your individual needs and objectives and will be able to help steer you in the right direction.’
The Lay of the Land.
Q: Andrew McKinnie lives and works in Qatar as a subsea marine survey specialist. Whilst it’s a rewarding job, it also involves spending long periods away from the UK. ‘I’m a UK expat and have been living and working abroad for the last 15 years. Whilst the money’s good, I am starting to think of my retirement and need to make plans now. I’m thinking of investing in a UK buy-to-let property as an investment for my retirement. What’s the general lay-of-the land for the housing market at the moment?’
A: ‘Busy! Activity at the start of 2021 has been even busier than the start of 2020, which was already strong coming off the huge majority won by the conservative government. This majority has allowed them to develop incentives to drive greater housing market growth. Rightmove are reporting that the number of buyers contacting agents between the 2nd and 12th of January 2021 was up 12% from the same point last year and agreed sales were up 9%.’
‘If you’re in no rush to invest, it’s a good time to look around and take stock of the landscape. There are new products arriving on the market all the time and specialist expat mortgage brokers are a good point of reference as they can choose from a wider panel of lenders and are not restricted by being tied to a bank. There should be some clearer indications of whether preferences formed during the pandemic are here to stay when the market calms down after the closure of the stamp duty holiday.’
Liquid Expat Mortgages is a specialist Expat and Overseas Mortgage Broker with over 13 years’ experience in providing UK mortgages.
Disclaimer: Please note that Liquid Expat Mortgages has no direct control over the timescales relating to either the processing of mortgage applications or mortgage offers being issued by lenders. Liquid Expat Mortgages has no control of the legal process and CANNOT accept any responsibility nor liability should your application not be processed prior to current Stamp Duty Land Tax rules expiring on 31st March 2021 or any extension of that date.
Liquid Expat Mortgages
Unit F2, Waterfold Business Park,
Bury BL9 7BR Phone: + 44 (0) 161 871 1216
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