Buying a UK property when you are based in the country is a straightforward and well understood process. But mortgages are a very different story for expats.
While some see UK property as a good investment, other expats choose to return home.
Either way, arranging a mortgage is a vital step in the process – one that a director of financial advice firm Shalchi & Partners describes as “difficult and admin heavy”.
And Hamzah Shalchi speaks from experience. “I tried to arrange a mortgage on numerous occasions while I was in Dubai but got very bored after six months of to-ing and fro-ing with various irregular requests. There was no real structure to the process.”
Significant savings on offer
“The pandemic has seen huge numbers of expats returning to the UK, needing to buy homes or just needing to re-mortgage an expensive expat mortgage to a more run-of-the-mill residential property that could save hundreds of pounds,” Shalchi said.
So, nine months ago, he and fellow Shalchi & Partners’ director Elliott Parkhouse teamed up with Simon Parfitt, of Hong Kong-based advice firm Pyrmont Wealth, to set up Cedar Crest.
Their express aim is to help financial advice clients and expats, based anywhere in the world, get a mortgage or secure a better rate. With Parfitt based in Hong Kong, the service may be of particular interest to British National Overseas (BNO) residents in the special administrative region (SAR) who have been offered the opportunity to move to the UK amid the growing politcal unrest.
Shalchi said that expats can pay as much as 4.5%, whereas “the best residentials are as little as 0.99%”.
He gave the example of Andy who recently returned to the UK with his family. “His adviser contacted Cedar Crest and within a week their mortgage rate was cut in half, saving him a small fortune.”
And it’s not the case that providers are reluctant to offer mortgages to expats, he said. “Lenders see a well-paid expat as a good client.”
The challenge is getting the best rate, from the right provider, with the least amount of hassle – which is where Cedar Crest steps in, Shalchi says.
Expats would pay £1,250 ($1,716, €1,459) for the service, with half paid up front.
Shalchi added: “It may seem like a daunting process, but expats can make significant savings by making one simple switch. The services offered through Cedar Crest are separate to our Shalchi & Partners business, so any adviser or client can approach us for mortgage support.
“Mortgage payments can make up a large proportion of monthly outgoings, so securing the best rate possible is a key component of good financial planning.”