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Can a foreign national get a mortgage on a visa?

A simple and (nearly) definitive guide to whether foreign nationals from outside the EU can get a mortgage.

One of our main areas of business is foreign nationals on visa’s, and it’s interesting to see how many people are asking on forums on other websites whether it’s possible for them to get a mortgage and how much misinformation is spread around.

So let’s dispel some myths first. Getting a mortgage on a visa isn’t difficult in per se. The vast majority of lenders however will not lend at all on these cases.

So it’s very difficult for a member of the general public to try and find the right lenders and at the same time make sure that all other requirements are met too.

That’s why you see so many people on forums trying a lender recommended by someone else but then being told they cannot apply.

The benefit of an advisor like ourselves is knowing which lenders we can ignore altogether (and dealing with these applications frequently enough to know if they have recently changed their rules).

And at the same time knowing enough about all of the other eligibility rules to quickly and easily determine whether you will be able to get a loan.

It’s not something where the lender makes a case by case decision (in general), for most applicants if they meet the guidelines below then they will be accepted subject to credit scoring and all other rules.

We normally offer a fee free service, so there’s very little to gain in trying to DIY an application (whether you’re on a visa or not).

So the point of this post is to give you a simple answer as to whether we have lenders who can consider your application and visa status.

It’s also very difficult to be definite because this post basically compresses the true bulk of the different lenders eligibility rules to try and make things simple.

So if you don’t meet the rules below feel free to ask us about your situation and we will be happy to go into more detail.

So then, can we get you a mortgage?

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for more than 2 years

If you have resided in the UK permanently for 2 years or more, and have a 10% deposit we have lenders available.

This is regardless of the type of visa (except refugees; see below).

It obviously still depends on how well you credit score, and other factors like having suitable income etc.

It’s possible to get a mortgage up to 95% if you have been employed/self-employed continuously for 3 years or more.

In this instance continuously employed could mean working part time whilst studying for example, as long as you have been working for someone without a break of more than a few weeks between any 2 roles.

Or if you have more than 30 months remaining on your visa then again it’s possible to go up to 95% and this is also generally straightforward.

If you have a tier 2 visa then a letter from your employer confirming their intention to renew your work permit is also suitable with less than 30 months remaining.

For joint applications only the applicant who has a sponsored work permit would need the employers letter.

Bear in mind though that the visa is only one element of the application. Meeting the criteria for an applicant on a visa doesn’t mean you meet the rest.

That’s why one of our roles as your advisor is to make sure that you meet all the criteria required before application.

 

Applicants who have lived in the UK for less than 2 years

If you have resided here for less than 6 months, it’s very unlikely that you will have sufficient credit score to get a mortgage (but there can be exceptions, especially if you have UK bank or credit accounts with longer term history).

So in most cases you will need to have been residing here for 12 months, it is technically possible in the first 12 months but will be very case by case dependent.

With less than 2 years UK residency, mortgages are still readily available up to 95% of the purchase price if you have more than 30 months on your visa.

For those on a tier 2 visa with less than 30 months remaining if your employer can confirm that they will look to extend your visa then again 95% is still possible.

Applicants on a tier one visa can apply up to 90% once they have resided in the UK and been employed for more than 6 months regardless of the remaining term on the visa.

If you have 25% or more deposit, then mortgages are available regardless of how long remains on your visa or how long you have actually resided here.

But for anyone with less than 12 month’s residency credit scoring will be a major factor so the shorter the UK residency history the less likely it is possible.

If you don’t have 25% deposit, have been here less than 2 years, and have less than 30 months remaining on your visa, and a visa such as an ancestry or spousal visa then it could be possible to buy a new build property under the help to buy shared equity scheme.

 

Very large deposits

If you have more than 30% deposit available, then describing a conclusive answer would be too complicated as there are far more potential lenders.

So if this applies to you but you don’t meet the criteria above give us a call to discuss it.

 

Self employed

We don’t see a lot of self-employed applicants on visa’s however this does not exclude you from application.

But being self-employed has its own criteria with each lender which is probably far more complicated so really you would need to get in touch with us to discuss this in more detail!

 

Refugees

Refugees are the main exception to the rules above. Most lenders won’t accept applications from refugees until permanent right to reside is granted.

If you have a deposit of 25% or more there may be options available though, once you have 12 month’s residency in the UK.

 

EU Nationals

EU Nationals still currently have full legal right to reside in the UK and so most lenders can accept your application.

However the length of residency is the main factor so if you have been in the UK for less than 3 years you may well still benefit from our assistance.

 

In summary

So then as you can see here, there are plenty of options available to meet most circumstances.

These are all standard products from high street banks. You won’t get a higher rate because of your nationality.

Every case is different which is why we cannot give you a completely definitive answer (it’s also ludicrously complex to detail in a blog post).

So always seek advice from a professional like ourselves.

We also don’t treat foreign nationals as high complexity cases. We won’t charge an advice fee purely because of being on a visa.

Most of our clients receive a fee free service including foreign nationals.

Those who we do charge fees are usually borrowing smaller amounts, or have other more complex issues (like multiple forms of self-employment).

For more information or to discuss your circumstances call 08454594490 or fill in our enquiry form here.

Buying a Property at Auction & Need a Mortgage? – Read our Do’s & Dont’s for Auction Finance

Do:

Your research…

Go to at least one property auction before you intend to purchase, just to see how they work.

Go and view the property you’d like to buy, at least once.

Compare the price and condition of the property to others that are similar that have recently sold or are currently on sale in the street/area. This will help you determine what you think the true market value of the property is and how much you are prepared to bid for it. Websites like Zoopla offer lots of information on previous purchase prices and average prices in the area.

Get a survey/valuation of the property in advance of the sale if this is possible.

Get hold of the Legal Pack and get a solicitor to check it prior to the auction. This pack contains all the information that your solicitor would normally check if you were buying a property in the more conventional way and usually includes key information such as special conditions of sale, title deeds, searches, leases and any legal issues.

Take advice from a mortgage broker or adviser on the suitability of the property for raising a mortgage.

If you can get a mortgage approved on the property prior to the auction or if not get a Mortgage Decision in Principle and an application near ready to submit, before you go into the auction room as you will usually need to complete within 28 days or forfeit your deposit.

Get initial quotes for remedial work if the property needs considerable work. You might be surprised at how much these jobs will cost – better to know up front than after you’ve made your purchase.

Ensure you have sufficient funds available for costs and remedial work if considerable as your mortgage lender will very likely retain part of the mortgage amount until these works are completed.

Have your deposit ready for payment on the day – usually 10% of the hammer price.

Don’t:

Bid on a property at auction that you haven’t seen and looks to be a real bargain in the auction room – there’s probably a reason why no-one else is bidding on it.

Get carried away in the auction room – know your maximum bid before you arrive and don’t get into a bidding war that pushes you beyond this maximum – be prepared to walk away.

Presume you’ll be able to get a mortgage after the event – you may need to shop around or get independent advice. If you can’t pay the balance within 28 days of the auction you will pay hefty interest and possibly forfeit your deposit.

For mortgage advice on short term finance for property auctions visit us here rightmortgageadvice.co.uk

Shorter Mortgage Term vs Making Overpayments – The Smart Way to Reduce Costs

Most of us would like to keep the term (length) of our mortgage as short as possible – no-one wants to think of paying a debt up until our old age. Financially it makes good sense to keep the mortgage term as short as possible – the sooner the mortgage is paid off the less interest payable.

However, there are several things to consider before formally committing to the limit of your budget for the sole purpose of keeping the term as short as possible.

The down side to putting everything you have into paying off your mortgage is that it can be difficult to access these funds once paid in and the exercise is often timely and costly as it may involve
re-mortgaging.

There are other ways to shorten the term allowing more flexibility that you may wish to consider…

Most mortgage products have overpayment facilities that allow you to make regular overpayments that will in effect reduce the term of the mortgage. There can be several benefits to this kind of arrangement.

Providing the chosen mortgage product has a regular overpayment facility then you can make overpayments that will in effect reduce the term of the mortgage and the amount you will pay in interest but if you find yourself short of money you aren’t obliged to make the higher payment.

If the product has the added benefit of a draw-down, you may also be able to draw from these overpaid funds if you find yourself in need of a cash injection. An offset facility could be a good alternative as well with the same kind of benefits.

Making regular overpayments is key to ensuring that the term is reduced. If you are not good at managing your money then perhaps this route is not the best for you.

Rather than committing all of your savings to reduce the term of your mortgage, it is good financial practice to keep a ‘rainy day’ fund that you can draw from if the worst happens, without affecting your mortgage payments and ultimately risking your home.

So in today’s unpredictable climate thinking outside the box can give you exactly the same effect as paying as much off your mortgage as possible without the risk of finding the barrel empty if the unexpected happens.

For more advice on mortgages or to speak to an adviser you can contact us on 0845 4594490.

How the potential collapse of the Euro could affect your mortgage costs

Whilst it remains to be seen how close we really are to a collapse of the Euro one thing is for certain, predicting how the fallout would affect financial markets is not an easy task even for seasoned financial experts.

In pure mortgage terms one set of products appear to be particularly risky in the current climate – any product which tracks a variable rate as opposed to the Bank of England base rate. These include discounted rates, variable rates and Libor linked or Libor rate deals.

All of these products could be subject to large rises in this potential scenario even if the monetary policy committee of the Bank of England decides to keep interest rates low. As we saw when the BOE base rate was reduced heavily in 2008 many lenders did not pass these cuts into their variable rates for some time as doing so would have seriously jeopardised their ability to remain afloat.

Similarly in the scenario of the collapse of the Euro and or the default of a nation such as Greece, Spain or Italy this would undoubtedly cause a similar crisis in the banks leading to a drying up of money markets and an upward pressure on banks variable rates.

Most discount rate mortgages are offered by smaller building societies who in general have a much lower risk exposure and would be better insulated against having to raise their variables rates significantly if this happened and this was mirrored by the rate reductions in 2008. However they are not immune to this risk, rates which are more concerning though are Libor linked deals as these are effectively priced against the going rate of lending between UK banks and as such could rise a lot if we saw more market turmoil.

Even so tracker deals could still be a risk, who knows how the different repercussions of this kind of event could ultimately play out? So when looking at current products comparing the difference between fixed and variable rates in general is well worth doing and I would take a pragmatic approach where the difference is minimal as it seems likely that the last string of bailouts may yet prove to be the tip of the iceberg.

Get your fix quick. The downgrading of UK banks likely to increase fixed mortgage rates

If you have been thinking about fixing your mortgage by remortgaging to a new deal then now really might be the prime time to do it.

Fixed rate mortgages have been dropping steadily for several months with the expectation that interest rates in the UK are now likely to remain low in the long term. However the downgrading of several major banking groups in the UK by the rating agency Moody’s last week is likely to put pressure on the big UK mortgage lenders to increase the cost of these deals.

It could be a flash in the pan though, rates were beginning to rise early this year when the economic outlook was less gloomy but the effects of the Tsunami in Japan and the subsequent concerns over the Eurozone were enough to revert the trend.

What is certain though is that there are fixed rate mortgages available which are several percent lower than the average mortgage interest rate paid by borrowers over the last 25 years so if you are concerned by the possibility of higher rates and don’t have too much to lose by switching to a fixed rate deal there have definitely been far worse times to take a fixed rate.

New Mortgage Calculators Launched by Rightmortgageadvice.co.uk

We have recently launched the first of several new mortgage calculators which aim to bring much more sophisticated systems for borrowers to assess their lending ability online.

The most important of these new calculators is the maximum loan calculator which actually models some of the more complex systems for affordability lenders are using to assess customers borrowing potential.

Lenders are increasingly stepping away from using pure income multiples and the large high street banks and building societies now take into account many factors including credit scoring, number of financial dependents and overall debt to income ratio to decide on an appropriate borrowing figure.

The calculator is as far as we are aware the only one currently available which actually illustrates how different types of lenders calculations vary and takes into account dependents, existing credit commitments and credit scoring.

There are several more new tools in development which will soon be added so keep an eye out for more to come.

Does a fixed rate mortgage make sense in the current market?

This is probably the biggest mortgage related question on everyone’s lips at the moment and it is certainly very difficult to tell what is going to happen with interest rates. I can remember a conversation with a client almost 18 months ago where media coverage suggested interest rates were going to shoot up and they were worried the tracker product I had recommended might end up being very expensive.

In my opinion the question of whether to fix your interest rate comes in two parts. Firstly your attitude to risk should be taken into account and the severity of the risk assessed too. If you have ample income to afford higher interest rates then it comes down to your preference as to whether to gamble on variable type products, but if you simply couldn’t afford for your mortgage payments to go above current figures then not only should you be considering a fixed rate but also trying to reduce your borrowing levels asap.

The second part of the answer comes down to the difference between fixed rates and variable products, if the difference between a suitable variable product and a fixed is relatively low then even if you are a little risk averse it may be worth opting for a fixed rate. However when the difference is greater it becomes harder to say.

Let’s compare for example a 5 year deal currently on offer with one lender of 6.49% with a 25% deposit, compared to their 2 year fixed and 18month tracker product this is 3-4% higher and this means the chances of it being good value for money long term are much lower as it would require average interest rates over the next five years to be over 5% or so which is a big increase from current rates, hence I would only really recommend this scenario to someone who was really on the borderline of what they can afford and needed absolute long term security.

Many lenders are touting products with an option to switch to a fixed deal at a later date without early repayment charges, but for those who would be at serious risk of being unable to afford their mortgage if rates went up this is probably a poor option, as the reality is that fixed deals available at the time are likely to be higher than now as well.

It remains quite likely that while interest rates must increase at some point, that overall market competition will do too and to some extent increases in bank base rate are likely to be met with at least some reduction in lenders margins. Current two year fixed deals come with an average margin of about 3% over the bank base rate which would have been unthinkable three years ago, so at some point slowly but surely these differences must be eroded by competition as the market improves too.

Mortgages and concrete constructions properties

There are literally thousands of different concrete construction types which have been used in the UK and some of these are very difficult if not impossible to arrange a mortgage on.

In general it is properties from the post war era of a pre-fabricated construction type which can be difficult however even establishing which type of construction has been used can be a challenge. Most properties built after 1984 are likely to be ok as the introduction of Building Regulations established a suitable guideline for ensuring properties were not defective.

Some concrete construction types particularly those which contain structural iron or steel elements built between the early 1900’s and 1970’s have been found to suffer from concrete corrosion and either require significant work to prevent failure of the concrete or are indeed not suitable to mortgage at all, these are classed as defective types. In these construction types contaminants in the concrete react with the Iron in the steel rotting the concrete and steel beams from the inside out.

There are some very common concrete construction types such as Taylor Wimpey No Fines which should not be a problem though too so if you are looking at buying a property which is a concrete construction type you should inform your mortgage advisor at the outset and they should be able to check with local surveyors to see what construction method has been used and who if anyone might be able to lend on them.

Understanding mortgage lending to the Self Employed

There is a big difference in terms of how mortgage lenders assess the income of self employed applicants to those who are employed and receiving income on a PAYE basis, this short guide explains how income is assessed and some of the pitfalls.

You will be classed as Self Employed if you are a sole trader, in a partnership or if you own more than a set percentage of an Ltd company (typically 25%). PAYE employees who also own a significant share of a different company may be classed as having income from employment and self employment.

If you are classified as self employed the overwhelming majority of mortgage lenders will require a minimum of two years full accounts before you can be considered for a mortgage, there are certain exceptions for example where an applicant buys a share of an Ltd company with existing trading history. This means for many people that if you are considering entering into any of these types of employment then securing a new mortgage deal prior to making the switch to self employment could be a good idea.

When classed as self employed the lender will base their affordability assessment on your net pre tax profit, not your turnover. This is essentially your money taken in minus all allowable deductions and so will therefore usually be the profit figure from your tax returns.

If you are the owner or major shareholder of an Ltd Company you may well pay yourself PAYE income and dividends which is tax efficient and the two added together would be considered your profit. It is important to remember that leaving profit within the business as capital rather than drawing down these funds as dividend income will limit the maximum borrowing potential available to you. It may be worthwhile taking a “tax hit” in the accounting year prior to arranging a mortgage if the previous year’s drawings are low as many lenders will refuse to look deeper into accounts and base assessment on actual profits rather than just your personal PAYE and dividend takings.

Some lenders will base their lending figures on the last years accounts only however if your accounts figures are decreasing or have gone up and down most will take an average over two to three years.

Proof of income for the self employed will normally be either your SA302 or self assessment tax computation, or a copy of your accounts often for the last two to three years. Some lenders will request accounts certificates in these are not available. The sole traders or those submitting their own tax returns it usually pays to keep your SA302’s handy for coming mortgage applications although you can request reprints from HMRC.

Mortgage Broker Q&A – Mortgages for Flat’s above shops and commercial property

Question : I am looking to buy a flat above a shop or other commercial premises and have been told this can be difficult, what do I need to be aware of?

Answer: Lenders always have to be aware of risks that may affect the value of a property and saleability should the loan go into default. A flat above a shop or commercial premises has several risks which a lender will consider when deciding whether to lend.

These will include the nature of the business which the flat is above; if it is something which would cause little disturbance to the owners of the flat such as a florists or estate agents it is less of a risk. However if it were a fish and chip shop for example where late opening hours and food smells may affect the ability of the lender to re-sell the property then it is likely that it may be difficult to arrange a mortgage.

Consideration will also be given to the area in which the flat is located. A flat over commercial premises in an area like Chelsea or Knightsbridge would still command a significant value and appetite for lending. However the same property in an unfashionable part of a city like Manchester or Liverpool may be much more difficult to arrange a mortgage on.

Another important factor would be the access to the property, if it has a connected access to the commercial premises then insurance would be very difficult to arrange separately and this would also restrict lending.

You should be aware as a potential purchaser of such a property of these same risks as properties which are difficult to mortgage may in turn be difficult to sell. For further information and advice on flats over commercial property call one of our mortgage advisors on 08454594490 for independent mortgage advice.

THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PAY A FEE FOR OUR SERVICES AS WE RECEIVE COMMISSION FROM LENDERS. SOME BUY TO LET AND COMMERCIAL LOANS ARE NOT REGULATED BY THE FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY
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