Ask Habito: How To Get a Mortgage as a Foreign National

First-time Buyer

Since Habito first launched in early 2016, we’ve made it our mission to break down barriers in the mortgage process. We want to secure a home loan to be simple and straightforward for as many people as possible.

And now we want to help even more potential homeowners by busting the myth that non-UK citizens can’t get a mortgage. Just imagine: you’re living and working here and have spotted your dream flat for sale. You’re desperate to get a mortgage, but you’re not a British national. Impossible, right? Wrong. The fact is that getting a home loan approved when you or your partner are non-UK citizens is often more about credit history than the country of birth.

Don’t worry if you feel confused, you’re not alone. Out of a population of 65 million in the UK, some nine million were born abroad. Which means there are a lot of foreign-born house-hunters out there just like you. But there are plenty of homeowners too – foreign buyers own nearly 10% of Britain’s housing stock.

So read on to find out how to join them. We’ll unpack everything you need to know – from visas to credit scores. And we’ll show you how to maximise your chances of getting a mortgage through a broker such as Habito.

I’m an EU national. Can I get a mortgage?

Several things affect how easy it is to get a mortgage in the UK as a foreign national. But for now, if you’re an EU citizen, nationality shouldn’t be one of them. The truth is lenders cannot discriminate between EU citizens solely on the basis of their country of birth. So whether you were born in Bristol or Berlin shouldn’t make a difference to you obtaining a mortgage offer.  As long as you’ve been an EU resident for at least three years, and have a bank account and permanent job in the UK.

Far more crucial is your credit history – and this could be a stumbling block if you’ve only recently moved here. Having a good credit rating is essential when it comes to getting the best deal – or any deal at all. So you need to build up your credit score as soon as you arrive. This means everything from registering to vote to make sure you pay your mobile phone bill on time. For more tips, read our blog on how to improve your credit score here.

Brexit has created a lot of uncertainty and confusion over the status of EU citizens in the UK, and the rules regarding eligibility may well change in the near future. For the latest information, you can visit the government’s dedicated web page here.

I was born outside the EU. Can I still get a mortgage?

Unsurprisingly, things become more complicated if you’re a non-EU citizen and you want a mortgage. But don’t despair – it’s not impossible. The main problem you’ll face if you’re not an EU national is that you won’t have any traceable credit history in the UK. This could cause major complications when applying for a mortgage.

So you’ll need to build up a positive credit footprint to increase your chances of getting your hands on a home loan. Read our blog for tips on how to do this.

Different lenders will have different requirements when faced with a non-standard mortgage request like this, so the best approach is to use an online broker such as Habito. We have access to a vast range of mortgages across the whole marketplace. We scan more than 70 lenders, covering over 20,000 products – so our experts will be able to advise you every step of the way and find a loan to suit your situation. To get you started, here’s a quick round-up of what you can expect from lenders.

As a non-EU citizen, you’ll have to produce evidence that you:

Have lived in the UK for at least two years.

Have a permanent job in the UK.

Have permanent residency in the UK.

Have a UK bank account.

Have a sizeable deposit (as much as 25%).

If you don’t have permanent residency (PB) or indefinite leave to remain (ILR) in the UK, you may still be able to apply for a mortgage as a non-EU national as long as you have one of the following visas:

Tier 1 or Tier 2 Visa.

Residence Card.

Family of a Settled Person Visa.

UK Ancestry Visa.

The above visas apply to sole or joint applications, where one or both applicants are from outside the UK/EU. You can apply for a visa up to three months before the day you’re due to start work in the UK and you should get a decision within three weeks.

Will I have to see a mortgage adviser face-to-face?

In short, no. When you sign up to Habito, our Digital Mortgage Adviser (available 24/7 from any device) will give you a quick overview of what your mortgage may look like. After that, our dedicated (human) mortgage experts are always on the end of the phone or live chat. They will answer your questions and keep you updated with the progress of your application from start to finish. Habito does mortgages online, free and in record time.

Can I still use the government’s Help to Buy scheme?

If you’re an EU citizen living and working in the UK or have indefinite leave to remain (ILR), then you’re eligible to apply to the government’s Help to Buy (HTB) scheme. The best place to start with Help to Buy is the official website, where you can find out about the various options available. When you sign up to Habito, just follow the instructions on the dashboard and let one of our advisers know that you’re looking to use the HTB scheme.

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