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Overseas Investing: London Property Purchase Guide for International Buyers

Buying property as an international investor can be a costly and complicated process, but it can also present opportunities to increase asset values long-term. London is considered one of the world’s primary international financial centres and is consistently ranked as a top city for expats and overseas investing thanks to its large international community and relatively reliable property market. With the city’s positioning as a financial hub in the global economy, there are many ways to obtain property without UK, EU or EEA citizenship. As an overseas property investor, buying a property in cash is the easiest option to obtain a home without a UK passport, and if this isn’t feasible, there are other ways to obtain a mortgage without applying for UK citizenship.

Read on as Rickman Properties details the options available to both UK and EU citizens as well as non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens who want to buy property in London — along with some of their limitations.

Buying property in London with a UK or EU passport

An easy way to buy property in London is if you have a UK or EU passport. Even in a post-Brexit world, EU citizens can purchase land in the UK and vice versa in most EU countries. In order to buy property in London, you will need to have proof that you are either a British citizen, or an EU citizen who has been living in the UK for two years. If you do not meet these requirements, it might cause problems as you try to buy property in London.

It’s important to note that Brexit still allows for EU citizens to purchase property in London. It’s also important to note that it’s relatively easy to obtain a mortgage as a non-citizen post-Brexit. The first step is to determine your eligibility and subsequently find a property. You can do this by using online tools such as rightmove, Zoopla and OnTheMarket. There are also many estate agents such as Rickman Properties that can help find the right place for you whether it be in ever-popular and trendy Kensington, or any other boroughs in the London area. While you may be able to purchase a property in London as a non-citizen, it’s not always easy, and having an estate agent makes all the difference in ensuring the process is as straightforward as possible, whether you’re a UK/EEA/EU citizen or not. It’s important to note that Brexit still allows for EU citizens to purchase property in London and vice versa.

Buying property in London if you’re not from the UK, EEA, or EU

There are some ways to buy property in London if you’re not from the EU, EEA or UK, and the rules are very different for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens. Unless you are paying upfront with cash, in order to buy a property in the UK, you must have lived in the country for at least 2 years prior to purchasing the property and earn a certain minimum of income per year. 

Non-EU Nationals Criteria at a Glance:

In order to get mortgage financing in the UK, you must:

  • Be able to demonstrate at least 2 years’ prior residence in the UK.
  • Have permanent right to remain in the UK or indefinite leave to remain or at least a valid UK work permit.
  • Have a UK bank account.
  • Have a permanent job in the UK.

Permanent residency (PR) or indefinite leave to remain (IR) counts for more than a valid work permit, and some lenders will be comfortable proceeding with the latter. Non citizens are also eligible to apply for a mortgage through the help-to-buy scheme, although applications are currently closed as of the 31st of October 2022. New schemes for first-time buyers include additional options for financing which may be relevant based on individual needs of some buyers. To be eligible for the help-to-buy scheme, you must legally complete your purchase by the 31st of March 2023.

The above-specified criteria are required if an individual is not:

  • Paying in cash
  • A resident of the UK
  • Married to a British citizen
  • Has children who are British citizens.

Have questions about buying property in the London area as an international investor? Contact us at Rickman Properties for a consultation.