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Buying UK buy to let property after lockdown – expats will have the upper hand, thinks broker

Thinking about buying buy-to-let property after lockdown?

With much of the UK buy to let property market having been put on hold now for over seven weeks, thoughts are finally turning to what might happen when movement restrictions ease and life begins to return to the new normal. Expat buy to let investors in particular are eying some attractive opportunities, thinks Offshoreonline.

The property market could, on the face of it, recover quickly. Some of the main reasons it has ground to a halt are practical– with few viewing or valuations taking place, it has simply been harder to arrange sales or close deals. Despite this, many mortgages have manged to complete, as smaller , flexible lenders switched to desktop valuations and estate agents began testing virtual tours.

Expat mortgage brokers Offshoreonline has seen smaller lenders switch smoothly to home working, and desktop valuations, with only minor interruptions to some aspects of service. Guy Stephenson, a director, comments, “The expat mortgage market is a specialist one, with cases usually underwritten on an individual basis. Volumes are much lower, so the specialist lenders can and do offer a highly personalised service. It has proved to be much easier for these lenders to adapt under lockdown than for the higher volume UK home loan sector.”

Nevertheless, the great unknown which has been stalking UK domestic lenders is the affordability of future mortgage obligations – put bluntly, post lockdown how many in the UK will still be able to afford a mortgage?

With Hong Kong, the Far East and Middle East much further down the line with their own domestic recoveries, expat mortgage advisers Offshoreonline believe expats will have a significant advantage over domestic buyers, as many are already back to work and earning well again.

Some high salaried expat centres have hardly been affected by the pandemic. According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus resource centre, Hong Kong had reported just over 1000 cases and four deaths, whilst the UAE tally stood at just over 16,000 cases and 165 deaths at the end of the first week in May. The UK domestic figures dwarf these, suggesting the impact of the pandemic and lockdown on UK domestic buyers of buy to let properties is likely to be far more significant than for the expat buy to let investor.

“In many of the key expat centres such as Dubai, Hong Kong and even China, life is likely to return more quickly to “normal,” once again highlighting the appeal of these markets to UK property sellers. These markets are wealthy, sophisticated and highly developed and they move to a different rhythm and are less affected by the economic slowdowns that can and do affect Europe and the UK,”  said Stephenson.

Following the last UK Base Rate cut, expat buy to let mortgages are widely available from rates as low as 2.49%.

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