Are you a foreign national wondering if you can get a mortgage to buy a property in the UK? The good news is most mortgage lenders offer mortgages to foreign nationals, but there are important factors to take into account, and lenders have varying criteria.
Foreign nationality can impact your eligibility for a mortgage in the UK. Lending criteria varies among lenders and is based on factors like residency duration, visa type, deposit amount, and credit history.
In this guide, we will discuss everything you need to consider. Working with a specialist mortgage broker can help the chances of your mortgage application being approved.
At Strive Mortgages, we specialise in helping secure mortgages for foreign nationals in the UK and can help find the best deal available to you. To arrange a meeting with one of our team, please contact us.
Can you get a mortgage if you are not a British citizen?
Yes, it is possible to get a mortgage as a non-UK citizen. Mortgage lenders base their decisions on factors such as:
- country of origin (some lenders offer more lenient criteria to EU citizens)
- visa duration
- deposit amount
- how long you have lived in the UK
Some lenders require applicants to have a minimum 3-year residency in the UK, but others consider applicants from the moment they arrive in the UK.
How does citizenship affect your getting a mortgage in the UK?
You will have more mortgage options if you have the right to permanently live and work in the UK without restrictions. However, there are still plenty of good options for non-citizens.
If you have indefinite leave to remain, most lenders will treat your application in the same way as they do UK citizens.
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What factors do mortgage lenders look at?
When applying for a mortgage as a foreign national, lenders consider various factors before approving foreign mortgage applications, and their criteria differs.
Lenders generally view non-UK nationals as higher risk and, therefore, often have stricter criteria. Seeking the expert advice of a broker is highly recommended to ensure your application has the best chance of success.
Mortgage lenders take into account whether you have indefinite leave to remain, permanent right to reside, settled status or otherwise.
They also consider factors like the length of time remaining on a UK visa, annual income, immigration status, credit rating, employment contract duration and loan-to-value (which is the amount you are borrowing compared to the property price).
As with any other mortgage application, providers need to ensure manageable monthly mortgage repayments. Most lenders will typically offer income multiples of around 4.5 – 5 times your income.
Indefinite leave to remain
In most cases, getting a mortgage with indefinite leave to remain should be straightforward. It shouldn’t require a higher deposit, and you should qualify for the same interest rates as a British national.
If you are applying for a joint mortgage with another applicant who does not have permanent rights to reside, then the residency criteria will still apply to both applicants.
Holding pre-settled status means you have the temporary right to live and work in the UK. As it is not a permanent right, lenders might impose additional restrictions, or some may choose not to lend at all. Fortunately, there are still plenty of lenders that accept applications from this type of visa holder.
There are three main types of visa holders for non-UK citizens:
- Non-UK residents or those without permanent residence rights. This visa status refers to people who are not officially recognised as residents of the UK and so do not have the same rights as someone with a permanent right to reside.
- Non-UK citizens with leave to remain. This category relates to non-UK citizens who have been granted the status of permanent residency or have been given permission to remain within the UK. These people have the opportunity to live and work in the UK for an extended duration based on their granted status.
- Settled status. This category includes individuals who either have become British citizens or have successfully obtained settled status within the UK. This status grants them the privilege of residing and working in the UK without any time restrictions or immigration-related limitations.
As well as the three main categories of visa, another common type is a spouse visa. Spousal visas are designed to allow individuals to join their spouse or partner who holds British citizenship, settled status, or refugee/humanitarian protection status in the UK.
Many lenders will offer a UK mortgage to applicants with a spousal visa. The eligibility criteria is similar to other visa types.
Spouses applying for a joint mortgage with a British citizen may have more options available compared to applying alone. For instance, certain lenders like NatWest may cap lending at 70% loan-to-value for those on a spouse visa. However, if the application is made jointly with a spouse who is a British citizen, that may increase to 95% loan to value.
How to improve your chance of getting a UK mortgage if you’re not a British citizen
There are several ways to improve your chances of getting a mortgage. While these are not always essential, they will certainly bolster your prospects.
Here are a few factors that will help your application:
Deposit: Having a larger deposit increases your chances of mortgage approval because many lenders impose maximum loan-to-value limits for non-UK nationals.
Some mainstream lenders require a minimum 25% deposit for non-UK citizens, although it is possible to secure a mortgage with as little as 5%. Having a larger deposit will open up more options and also give you access to lower interest rates.
Length of time in the UK: The length of time you have lived in the UK impacts the number of mortgage options available to you. Many lenders insist on a minimum period of time in the UK, for example, three years, although some require at least five years.
But there are options for those who have lived in the UK for less time.
Improve your credit score: Lenders want to see that you have a good credit score and will check your credit history as part of the mortgage application.
If you have not been in the UK long, it may be worthwhile waiting until you have built up a credit score. It’s always worth downloading a copy of your credit report if you’re thinking about getting a mortgage.
Income: Mortgage lenders have affordability criteria based on your income and outgoings. Having a permanent job and a good level of income will increase the options available to you.
Some lenders stipulate a minimum level of income for foreign nationals.
Joint application: If you’re applying for a joint mortgage with a British citizen, you may have more options than applying alone, as you may be able to use the other applicant’s income to help with affordability.
Work with a specialist mortgage broker
Working with a mortgage broker that specialises in mortgages for foreign nationals can really boost your chances of getting approved for a mortgage.
At Strive Mortgages, we have built relationships with UK banks and building societies that offer mortgages to non-UK citizens, and we have access to exclusive rates that are not available directly to borrowers.
Have a bigger deposit
While it is possible to secure a mortgage with as little as a 5% deposit, having a higher deposit will certainly give you more options when it comes to securing a mortgage.
It may also allow you to secure a lower interest rate because you will be perceived to be a lower risk to the bank.
Looking for a mortgage as a foreign national? Contact Strive today
If you’re a non-UK national interested in applying for a mortgage, working with an experienced mortgage broker can save you time, money and stress and improve your chances of making a successful application.
Strive Mortgages specialises in arranging mortgages for foreign applicants. We have provided solutions for hundreds of applicants from all nationalities and visa categories. We’re here to help you throughout the entire mortgage application process.
Frequently asked questions about getting a mortgage in the UK
Yes, it’s possible to get a mortgage with limited leave to remain, although a mortgage lender may stipulate a minimum deposit amount and have a maximum LTV (loan to value) cap.
No, it’s possible to get a mortgage on a property in the UK without having PRR, although each lender has specific residency criteria for non-UK nationals.
It is possible to get a buy-to-let mortgage as a non-UK citizen. Most buy-to-let lenders require a minimum 25% deposit and often require a minimum £25,000 earned income.
Most UK lenders consider mortgages to foreign nationals, although the best lender depends on your own circumstances. Halifax and Barclays are known for their flexible residency criteria.