Buying property in the UK as a foreigner

Gert Svaiko

Thinking of moving to the UK and buying a home, or investing in the UK property market from abroad? Read on, as we’ve put together an essential guide for foreigners buying property in the UK.

We’ll cover everything you need to know about the property buying process, including finding a house or flat and getting a mortgage. This includes any restrictions on buying property in the UK after Brexit, some helpful info on UK property prices, and a run-through of fees and taxes you need to know about.

We’ll also show you a convenient, secure and low-cost way to cover any payments you need to send to the UK from overseas.

Open a Wise account and you can send money worldwide, in 40+ currencies, in just a few clicks, for low fees and mid-market exchange rates. This is ideal for managing your money across borders, and when living in the UK too.


Table of contents

What’s the property market like in the UK?

The UK property market has experienced surging property prices in recent years, partly driven by high demand and limited supply.

However, there are now signs that UK house prices are starting to fall month by month, affected by rises in the cost of living in the UK. Figures from the Land Registry show that the average UK property price fell by 2.1% in 2023 - to £285,000.¹

Overall though, it remains a highly competitive market for buyers, although the situation is starting to improve.

Can foreigners buy property in the UK?

There aren’t any legal restrictions on foreigners buying property in the UK.² This means almost anyone can buy a property there, regardless of nationality.

You don’t need a visa to invest in UK property either, although of course you will need one if you’re buying a home with the intention of living in it.

It’s worth bearing in mind that foreign buyers may be subject to more rigorous identity checks, so you’ll need to make sure you have all the required documentation ready. This may include ID and proof of address.

Buying property in the UK after Brexit

Now that the UK has left the European Union, how does this affect foreigners interested in buying UK property?

The good news is that very little has changed in this regard since Brexit. Both EU and non-EU buyers can still purchase property in the UK in much the same way as UK citizens.³

Can I buy property in the UK and get residency?

There is currently no option to get permanent residency status in the UK by buying or investing in property. If you want to live in the UK, you’ll need to find and apply for the appropriate visa and residence permit.

For example, if you’re planning on moving to the UK from India to work in an eligible skilled job, you’ll need to apply for the Skilled Worker visa. Only once you’ve been in the UK for 5 years on this visa will you be eligible to apply for citizenship and permanent residency.⁴

📚 Read more: How to open a bank account in the United Kingdom (UK)?

What are the property prices in the UK?

Now, let’s take a look at how much property costs in the UK. As of January 2023, the average house price was £290,000.⁵ But of course, property prices can vary considerably between regions, and depending on the property type.

According to the UK’s House Price Index for January 2023, the average cost of a detached property was £458,066 while the average flat sold for £227,951.⁵

Here are the average UK house prices in different regions:

UK regionAverage property price⁵
South East£398,368
South West£329,691
West Midlands£256,694
East Midlands£251,177
North West£214,431
North East£163,371
Yorkshire and the Humber£207,635
East of England£358,114
Northern Ireland£175,234

And, if you’re arranging your property purchase from abroad, you’ll need a safe, reliable and preferably low-cost way to send over fees, deposits and other payments.

The Wise account could be a great solution, with transparent, low fees, and multiple layers of security, so you can safely transfer large amounts both in the UK and overseas.

Learn more about sending large amounts with Wise 💰

Where is the cheapest place to buy property in the UK?

The North East of England is the cheapest place to buy property, with the average house price around £163,371.⁵ Other affordable regions include Yorkshire, the North West of England, and Wales.

As you might expect, London and the South are by far the most expensive places to buy property in the UK.


How can I find a property in the UK?

Ready to start your property hunt? There are a few routes to try, from tapping into the expertise of local estate agents to scouring online property listings websites.

Property agencies and agents

If you’re still abroad and looking for a UK property to buy, you could use an estate agent to help you find the perfect home or investment. If you know where you want to focus your search, you can contact local estate agents and they’ll help you find a property. However, bear in mind that some estate agents may charge a fee for some services.

Property websites in the UK

One of the easiest ways to find a property in the UK is online. There are a number of dedicated property websites you can use, such as:

On most of these websites, you’ll be able to enter your exact search criteria. For example, what type of property, how many bedrooms, whether or not you want off-road parking or a garden. There may also be the option to send a message to the owner or estate agent to arrange a viewing or find out more information.

What are some of the pitfalls of buying property in the UK?

There will always be pitfalls to watch out for when buying property anywhere, especially if you’re buying from abroad. You’ll need to steer clear of scams and fraud, by thoroughly checking the credentials of sellers and agents - particularly before handing over any money.

You should also make sure to thoroughly assess the property before purchasing. You may want to save money by not commissioning a home survey. However, this could lead to the discovery of hidden repair or maintenance issues later on, and these can be expensive to fix.

Some buyers also face problems getting a mortgage, due to buying property of non-traditional construction or another issue such as subsidence.

Lastly, there’s the risk of encountering obstacles during the purchasing process itself. There’s a chance you may get ‘gazumped’ by another buyer after you’ve had an offer accepted, or the sale collapsing because of problems further up the ‘chain’.

The ‘chain’ refers to related property purchases which all affect each other. For example, the property your seller is buying, and the property their seller is buying and so on. This isn’t an issue of course if the property you’re buying is empty.

How do I choose the right property in the UK?

To avoid some of the pitfalls above and ensure you’re getting good value for money, it’s crucial to choose your new property very carefully. You’ll need to:

  • Carry out at least one in-person viewing of the property
  • Arrange for a detailed survey to be carried out to assess the condition of the property
  • View the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to see the expected energy costs for the property
  • Find out whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and understand the legal obligations for each
  • Check that the property is legally allowed to be sold

Condition of the property

The best way to check the condition of the property is to commission a home survey. This should be carried out by a trained professional, such as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). It involves a detailed inspection of the property, with a summary of any defects, minor maintenance and major works required.

There are a few different kinds of home survey, each offering a greater degree of detail (and with a higher cost):⁶

  • Level 1 RICS Home Survey - a basic survey with minimum detail for conventional properties in reasonable condition.
  • Level 2 RICS Home Survey - previously known as a Homebuyer Report, this is a mid-level survey and the most popular choice for people buying a conventional home in reasonable condition.
  • Level 3 RICS Home Survey - an in-depth structural survey for properties over 50 years old or of unusual design.


How to buy a house in the UK as a foreigner - a step-by-step process

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in buying a property in the UK as a foreigner, starting at the very beginning:

  1. Set your budget and decide where you want to live, along with what type of property you’re looking for
  2. Get your finances in order before you start house hunting. You’ll need to get together a deposit, and apply to get a mortgage in principle. This is a document from a mortgage provider which shows how much they are prepared to lend you.
  3. Start looking for properties, online or using an estate agent.
  4. Go on viewings, to inspect the property in person
  5. Make an offer to the estate agent or owner. You may have to negotiate, offering a higher amount if other buyers are interested.
  6. Apply for your mortgage once your offer is accepted
  7. Appoint a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing work
  8. Arrange a home survey if you want one carried out
  9. Your solicitor will carry out legal work until contracts can be exchanged. At this point, you’ll also pay a deposit (usually 10%). Once contracts are exchanged, you will be legally committed to buy the property.
  10. Make final arrangements and negotiations (for example, for fixtures and fittings) and prepare for completion.
  11. Pay the final balance to the solicitor and they will confirm completion. Your solicitor will also register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.
  12. Pick up the keys and move into your new home!

Can I get a mortgage from a UK bank as a foreigner?

You can get a mortgage from a UK bank as a foreign citizen, but there are a few things to bear in mind.

If you don’t live in the UK (or haven’t lived in the UK for at least two years), you might face some restrictions. For example, you may have fewer mortgage products to choose from, have to pay a larger deposit or face higher interest rates.

So, it’s a good idea to start your mortgage research early, speaking to banks and lenders to find out your options. You can also use a specialist mortgage broker to help you find and apply for a mortgage, although this is likely to come with an additional fee.

Taxes and fees for buying and owning property in the UK

There are a number of fees and taxes you need to know about as a foreigner buying property in the UK. Many of these are applicable to all UK property purchases, while some are only for non-citizens purchasing property in the country.

Let’s take a look, so you can factor these extra costs into your total budget:

Fee/tax typeCost⁷What’s it for?
Conveyancing fees£1,100 to £1,800Legal fees, including local searches
Home survey fee£250 to £600A survey and report assessing the condition of the property
Mortgage feesBooking fee - £99 to £250

Arrangement fee - up to £2,000

Valuation fee - £150 or more

Fees charged by the lender for providing the mortgage

Another important cost to know about is Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This is payable on all properties in England or Northern Ireland costing over £250,000. If you’re a first-time buyer, you’ll only pay Stamp Duty on properties costing over £425,000.⁷

Stamp Duty has several rate bands, and is calculated based on the part of the property purchase price that falls within each band. You can use this Stamp Duty calculator to work out how much you’ll pay.

As a foreign buyer, you may also have to pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) surcharge. This adds 2% onto the usual rates.⁸

After reading this guide, you should be in a better informed position to buy your dream home or investment property in the UK.

We’ve run through the property buying process in the UK, including where to start searching for property, and the fees, taxes and other costs involved.

It could be worth opening a UK bank account to make your property purchase easier.

But don’t forget that there’s also the Wise account for making secure, low-cost payments between countries. You can send and hold money in over 40 currencies, and spend in 150+ countries around the world using the Wise card.

This could be very useful for covering your solicitor fees, deposit and any other initial payments, before you arrive in the UK or get your financial arrangements sorted.

Register with Wise today 🚀

Sources used:

  1. Which - What's happening to house prices?
  2. Global Citizen Solutions - Buying Property in the UK: A Detailed Guide for Foreigners
  3. Currency Transfer - Buying property In Europe after Brexit: 2022 update
  4. - Check if you need a UK visa
  5. - UK House Price Index for January 2023
  6. HomeOwners Alliance - House survey types and costs
  7. Money Helper - The cost of buying a house and moving
  8. - Stamp Duty Land Tax for non-UK residents

Sources last checked on date: 09-Feb-2024

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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