For any first-time overseas investor buying a UK property, it can be confusing and overwhelming as the buying process will greatly differ from their home country. It can actually be a barrier for many entering the market so it is something I spend a lot of time educating my clients on at the onset of their search and throughout the process. Everyone was once a beginner, including myself. First off is narrowing down your location.
You might have travelled or lived in London previously so have an idea, or perhaps you are starting your research from scratch. My top tip is to look for areas of regeneration, usually outside Zones 1 and 2 that have cheaper entry prices and more opportunity for capital appreciation. This is when you can enlist the help of a broker to help narrow down your search and provide expert recommendations – we can even give you pre-access to new phases or projects before the rest of the market. Next is securing a Mortgage in Principal or Agreement in Principal from a lender.
I recommend that all buyers do this at the start of their search, even if you are planning on buying cash, to help you understand your borrowing potential and repayment schedule. There are many UK high street and private banks that will lend to overseas investors. The AIP usually lasts for around 90 days and is not legally binding.
Once you choose your property you will firstly need to pay a Reservation Fee (usually between £2000-5000 and provide your passport copy, utility bill and credit card details. Next step is to instruct a lawyer who will handle the contracts and payments between you and the seller.
You will pay the deposit (standard is 10 percent) and then exchange within 28 days – this means exchange of contracts, at which stage both parties are contractually obliged to proceed to completion. In between exchange and completion, your appointed solicitor will perform the necessary conveyancing and inform when they receive the notice to complete from the developer’s solicitors.
Finally, you will reach the Completion stage when the outstanding balance is paid – either using your own cash or a bank’s mortgage. This is also the point when you will need to pay the Stamp Duty in order to receive the title documents and keys.