Prompted by weakened sterling and likely rate rise
Mortgage enquiries from overseas buyers and British expats are up 45 per cent in Quarter 4, compared to the previous quarter, revealed the mortgages division of deVere United Kingdom and the deVere Group.
The observation from deVere Mortgages, which offers advice to British expats and foreign nationals looking to buy property in the UK, comes against a shifting political and economic landscape.
deVere Mortgages has received an unprecedented level of enquiries this last quarter. There has been a remarkable uptick in home loan enquiries in Quarter 4 – and we’ve not yet even finished it.
To analyse these findings, first it should be acknowledged that they are more astonishing given that the government’s change in tax policy regarding Buy to Let in recent years was expected to severely dampened overseas investor interest.
Also Brexit appears not to have dented the UK’s traditional boast of being an attractive country for those residing overseas, largely due to the ongoing fundamental strengths of British residential property investments.
There are, we believe, two key drivers for the increase in Quarter 4.
With sterling down sharply since the Brexit vote, UK property has effectively put a ‘for sale’ sign up for the many overseas investors who want to establish a presence in the UK. These might include investors simply wishing to diversify their property portfolio, or UK expats looking to buy a place to return to when they retire or to house a child while they are at university.
These investors are looking to buy now while a weak sterling works in their favour. As we appear to be increasingly moving to a ‘soft’ Brexit, sterling has already climbed in recent weeks. The more ‘soft’ Brexit the government becomes, the more sterling will rally.
Another reason to buy now is that UK sterling mortgages have probably one way to go now: up. Record low mortgage rates are being pulled as sterling funding costs go up for the banks and other lenders, reflecting the increased risk of inflation in the economy.
The vast majority of overseas buyers are foreign nationals and British expats in the Gulf Region and East Asia.
In order to meet the growing demand from both UK and overseas buyers, deVere Mortgages looks set to double its headcount of independent mortgage consultants by the end of 2017.
Mitch Hopkinson is Head of Advice & HNW, deVere United Kingdom