Offshore buy to let mortgage lender mobbed by expat investors

Published:  29 Mar at 6 PM
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Following the Chancellor’s warning over an upcoming crackdown on buy to let rules, an offshore lender’s Jersey and Guernsey branches are reporting a huge increase in expat demands.

Skipton International is now introducing a streamlined buy to let mortgage application process in order to deal with the soaring demand from retired expats. A change in borrowing criteria is expected, allowing more expats wishing to invest in British buy to let properties to qualify for the popular product.

According to a recent announcement by the lender, buy to let borrowing totals at its two offshore outlets are now outperforming conventional borrowing. As a result, its online site now features a buy to let calculator aimed at making it easier for expat investors to decide whether buy-to-let is the right investment choice for them. The calculator uses the location of the property, its value and average rental income to calculate both the deposit needed and the amount able to be borrowed. Quotes are given for a five-year fixed rate and also for longer term periods.

According to Skipton International’s MD, Jim Coupe, expat buy-to-let mortgages are a fairly recent innovation for the company. The demand, he added, has been unprecedented, with most applicants being first-time landlords hoping for not only a good rental return but also capital appreciation in the long term as property prices continue to rise.

Coupe explained that straightforward advice is given to all applicants and includes person-to-person phone conversations with the underwriters themselves. A majority of buy to let expat borrowers are living in the USA, Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland or the Gulf states, he added.

Skipton International is one of a very small minority of lenders still willing to offer expat buy to let deals, along with HSBC, NatWest, the Halifax and Ipswich Building Society. However, Skipton’s present popularity with would-be individual expat landlords isn’t pleasing the CEO of rival Legal and General, who believes that buy-to-let shouldn’t be run as a ‘cottage industry’ by individuals. His preference is for institutional investors with massive portfolios of up to 30,000 homes.
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