14th November 2018
The value of the pound right now means the UK is more attractive to property buyers based around the world than it has been for a few years. So, if you’re looking to buy property in the UK but you’re not actually British you might be wondering if it’s possible, or how to go about it.
In this post, I’ll explain what foreign buyers need to know about buying in the United Kingdom. I’ll also look at what Brexit might mean for overseas property buyers.
First the good news. While some countries like Switzerland prohibit or restrict foreigners from buying property in their countries there are no such problems in the UK. Purchasing property in the UK is not just permitted it seems to be actually welcomed! In fact, one report by London Property Partners suggests that 85% of all sales of prime central London property in 2012 were to foreigners.
If you’re from another country and looking to buy in the UK here are a few things you might need to know:
* You can buy any kind of property anywhere you like. There are no upper/lower limits on size or value and no restricted zones of any kind.
But remember, the UK is a very varied country – there’s a lot of difference in prices and types of property between London and elsewhere.
* You do not need to have a job, business, any family ties nor even be resident in the UK or have a visa to buy property here.
* You do not need to have kind of licence or approval to buy.
* To apply for a standard UK mortgage you’ll need to have been resident in the UK for at least three years. However, there are a number of specialist mortgage lenders who can offer mortgages to foreign buyers, both residents and non residents, and in a number of major world currencies.
Here are a few practical things you need to bear in mind when purchasing property in the UK:
* Buying property gives you no right of residence in the UK, nor even any right to enter the UK – there’s no such thing as a ‘golden visa’ here. So do check out your immigration status before buying.
* Investigate legal and tax issues first with a knowledgeable adviser. There are ways of buying as a resident or non resident foreigner which can make your property purchase much more tax efficient but specialist advice should be taken.
* In the UK it’s usual to have a surveyor carry out a survey on a property before you buy it. Also to have a lawyer or property conveyancer handle the paperwork for you and register your new purchase in your name. (Note that the law in Scotland varies from other parts of the UK.) You will need proof of your identity and proof of the source of your finances to do this.
* Think about what you are going to do with your property once you’ve bought it. For example, if you’re buying to let and not intending to be resident in the UK yourself you will need professional management to look after your investment for you.
Lastly, what about Brexit and overseas property buyers?
While actual details aren’t clear as yet it’s likely that Brexit won’t make any difference to the practicalities of buying property in the UK. Foreign buyers will still be able to buy and own property just as they do now.