The UK has one of the biggest mortgage markets in the UK, with 11.1 million mortgages worth around £1.3 trillion. Home-ownership is more popular in the UK than in many countries across Europe. Although it has declined among younger age groups in recent years, buying a home in the UK and getting a mortgage remains something that many young families plan for. There are different types of mortgages in the UK available through banks and building societies. Most run for around 25 years, although they can be longer or shorter.
There has been uncertainty regarding the UK housing market since the European Union referendum in 2016. Brexit undoubtedly has implications for the UK housing market; it’s difficult to say anything with much certainty at this early stage. House prices in the UK did take a knock in the year following the referendum in everywhere except Scotland. The average house price across the UK has remained fairly high and is currently around £228,000.
If you are moving to the UK and wondering whether to buy or rent a home, there are pros and cons for each. Your decision depends on your own personal preferences and circumstances. Renting offers greater flexibility but less stability. Renting costs can be high, especially in the bigger cities, but is often a more viable move in the early period before you have decided where you want to settle. Read this guide to renting versus buying in the UK, which explains some of the key considerations.
There are no legal restrictions on any adults getting a mortgage in the UK. Foreigners can take out mortgages in the UK whether resident or non-resident, although exact terms will vary depending on individual lenders. Each bank or building society will have their own set of requirements, but in general the main factors that are taken into consideration are:
Age: As mortgages are essentially home loans that are paid off over a long period, it’s more difficult for older age groups to take out a mortgage in the UK. Most banks and building societies won’t flat-out refuse older applicants, but they will probably ask for a bigger initial deposit and limit the amount of time given to repay the mortgage.
Income and job security: Lenders will need to be confident that mortgage payments will be met and will calculate the risks when offering mortgages. This can put self-employed workers and freelancers in the UK at a disadvantage. You’ll need to show proof of earnings and the amount you can borrow depends on the amount the mortgage lender feels you can pay back.
Credit score: As with loans and other forms of credit in the UK, your credit history will be checked to determine whether you are eligible for a mortgage. If you have bad credit or a low credit score, lenders may be reluctant to grant you a mortgage. The best thing to do in these situations is to spend a few months trying to boost your score (e.g., paying off any outstanding debts, making sure you’re listed on the electoral register).