International Foreign Property Ownership

property ownership for expats living abroad

There is a distinction between being a Brit working abroad and a Brit living abroad as an ex-UK resident. Owning property is perhaps the most relevant step one can make in marking this difference.

Every country has different rules and regulations when it comes to foreign property ownership, with all countries having specific laws for non-citizens. As an example, Singapore has laws that restrict foreigners purchasing ‘landed property’. Further, location-specific information can be found in the ‘accommodation’ section of the relevant city guide.

Investing in property is a tricky prospect. Some people buy property to have as a home for their family, others purchase property as a way to invest money, yet others have an eye on both reasons. International property ownership can be a very complex investment decision, due to property price fluctuation, exchange rate changes and inheritance tax liabilities.

International and Expat Mortgages

Traditionally, foreign mortgages for British expats are deemed riskier for the lender than mortgages to UK residents. British banks are not necessarily familiar with laws and regulations in other countries so don’t have the expertise in case of bankruptcy or repossession. Also, they may take a view that other countries are less politically or economically stable than the UK. Having said that, many of the UK’s high street banks do now offer international mortgages and there are plenty of specialist mortgage providers for British citizens working abroad. Expect to pay more than you might in Britain and be aware that interest rates may differ from those in the UK.

If you are considering purchasing a buy-to-let property as an investment, be aware that there are specific mortgages available to help you do this. In some cases you could arrange a combined mortgage for your new home abroad and a buy-to-let property at the same time.

However, be aware that in some cases if you retain property in the UK you may face domicility issues in relation to your tax status. Please speak to a trusted Independent Financial Adviser for more information specific to your case.