Buying a house is a daunting thing. Not only is it difficult and anxiety-inducing, it is also very expensive. So imagine doing all of that in an unknown country! I went through the process a while back and am happy to share my experience and give a few tips.
When I moved to England, my husband and I decided to buy a house together; something to call our own. He already owned his house, so the down payment was covered by selling his house. Thankfully I didn’t have to go through the mess of transferring a big amount of money from my American account to a British account, which would’ve incurred a ridiculous amount of fees. However, the downpayment is an important piece of the mortgage recipe as, along with what you want to pay monthly, it will play a big part on the amount that the banks will offer you. Make sure you do your research and ensure that the house you desire aligns with the down payment you have and the money you make.
The second piece of the pie is income. You need to ensure you’ve had a steady income for a full six months before applying for a mortgage. With a spouse visa you are allowed to work in the UK, but unfortunately, you are considered a flight risk to banks as the visa isn’t permanent. In my experience, unless you have cash to buy the property outright or a co-signer to join you in the mortgage, you won’t be able to acquire a house on a spouse visa. In my case, my husband and I applied for the mortgage together. He had over 8 years of steady income from his latest job position. We started the six months countdown my first day of work in England.
Sadly, your credit score from the country you originate does not get transferred to the UK. In the UK you will have a clean slate to begin (again…). Building credit over here is not an easy thing. I applied to several credit cards online and was promptly denied. Due to this, I decided to go straight to the bank and explain my situation. Thankfully, when I arrived in England my husband added me to all his bank accounts, so I didn’t have to go through the motions of creating my own accounts. Before getting married we had agreed to share our finances anyway, so it worked well. As my name was already on several accounts, my bank (Barclays) offered me a Barclaycard credit card with a high interest rate, low credit limit, and a monthly payment that consisted of paying all of it off each month. Even though it obviously wasn’t my first choice, they were at least trying to help me build credit. I decided to buy all our groceries with the card monthly, so steadily my credit built during the six-month wait. By the time we were able to apply for a mortgage, I had an acceptable level of credit for banks to trust me.
Is a Mortgage Advisor Needed?
YES! Many times, yes. Even though you have to pay a fee, it is worth it. Mortgage advisors are excellent at finding the right mortgage for you while taking into account your situation. They take care of all the paperwork and take the guesswork out of the whole deal. We were able to find a local advisor, for which we paid £300 for a lifetime agreement. Meaning, whenever we want to remortgage, due to the fixed interest rate elapsing, he will take care of us again without us having to put another penny in (or should I say pence!). Our advisor took into account the fact that I was on the first spouse visa, my income, the fact that I had already worked six months, my credit, and the same information (no visa though) from my (English) husband. In addition, he also looked at what our monthly expenditure was, the amount of down payment we had available, and asked aboutpersonal injury insurance, and life insurance, which banks also take into account. It makes the bank feel safer that something will cover the mortgage if you’re hurt and cannot work, or if you, well, die. With all this info, the advisor found us the perfect mortgage.
As the tone of this got a bit serious in the end (with dying and all), I will leave you with a picture of my dog, Caligula, relaxing while wearing human socks.