Clear Guide

Buying overseas with a mortgage

A guide to Foreign Exchange

Do you want to buy a property abroad? You’re not alone. Around 35,000 Brits buy a second home overseas each year, whether it’s as a holiday home, rental investment or somewhere to retire or relocate to – or indeed a combination of all three.

The reality is, though, that many more people would love to take the plunge but don’t know where to start. After all, it can be intimidating transferring large sums of money into another currency and committing to a foreign mortgage, often in an unfamiliar language.

But with the right advice and expert guidance, getting a foreign mortgage is not as complicated or scary as you might think and currency exchange doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Here we’ll explain the different options for transferring your currency and using it effectively to buy the property you want.

And if you have any questions, or want to talk to an experienced and dedicated currency specialist, we’re only ever a phone call or email away on 0207 151 4832 and

Does why you buy make a difference?

In a word, yes. It’s important to decide exactly what you want the property for and then make the best buying decision based on that information. Do you want a mortgage or are you a cash buyer? Do you know what your budget will get you or what extras you could get by stretching it a bit? It’s a big investment, so doing your due diligence and researching the markets properly is a crucial first step.

Buying a holiday home or investment

If you’re buying somewhere as a holiday home or investment (or most likely a mix of the two), you’ll have different expectations and requirements than if you were buying a retirement home. Adding a mortgage to your down payment can give your budget the flexibility to include properties you may have thought out of reach, but which can give you a far better yield on your investment.

For example, adding a £50,000 mortgage to your buying price could put you closer to that key attraction – the beach, golf course or city centre – and mean you can charge higher rental prices to a wider range of renters. This can also help cover the inevitable ongoing costs an overseas property brings with it, from general upkeep to employing a local property manager to look after it in your absence.

Buying a retirement or relocation home

If you’re retiring overseas permanently, it’s much more likely you won’t want a mortgage and so will be paying in cash. Depending on your personal circumstances, that may or may not mean you can buy your dream home – but if not, you still have options. Start with finding out if you can get a mortgage and if you can, work out the cost-to-reward implications to see if it’s worth it and if your pension or potential rental income, for example, would be enough to cover the repayments and make it worthwhile.

Know the risks…

Exchange rate changes

Currency fluctuations can be the one of the biggest factors to think about when buying abroad. Even a small change in the exchange rate can have a big impact on the value of the property you’re buying and make it, or your foreign currency mortgage payments, quickly unaffordable.

Hidden costs

As with everything in life, there are costs that may not be immediately obvious so it’s important to research thoroughly – have you considered everyone and everything, from the lawyer to the broker? And of course, you should check the tax you may be liable for – both in the UK and the country you’re buying in.

People and paperwork

Taking independent advice from the right people at the right stages will help you avoid nasty surprises later in the process, such as making sure your paperwork is all in order and having the necessary licences and permits for any business elements, and the right planning consents if you’re building a new property.

Balance your debt against your risk

Leveraging the mortgage on your UK home to buy overseas is a risky proposition. If, worst case scenario, something does go wrong with your new property abroad and it leaves you in debt, that debt could put your home at risk. We’d never recommend it but if it’s your only option, be sure to speak to an international mortgage specialist first.

…And how to mitigate them

Foreign exchange can be confusing and intimidating, but is absolutely integral to making sure you maximise your overseas investment – whether you’re buying to make money or live the good life. Clear Currency has spent years working with people to make the best decisions, from once in a lifetime retirement buys to setting up overseas investment portfolios.

Our currency specialists can help maximise your mortgage currency exchanges to reduce your risk and save you money so you have more to spend on the things that count.

The five steps to buying currency for a mortgage

Most of the time when you’re buying holiday currency you’ll just do a quick exchange at the bank or post office, but when the amount you’re exchanging increases significantly you need to take a more practical approach and plan for currency risk.

Fluctuations in exchange rates may make little difference when you’re buying a few hundred euros for holiday spending but when it’s a few hundred thousand euros, small changes can have a big impact – sometimes big enough to scupper the entire purchase.

  1. Sign up to Clear Currency

    Complete a quick online signup form telling us what your plans are and we’ll open an account for you and assign you a dedicated specialist from our expert team.
  2. Set your rate

    A member of the Clear team will walk you through the process, answer your questions and offer you the best rates for the currency you’re buying. You can do this over the phone or via your online Clear Currency account.
  3. Transfer your funds

    Once you’re happy with the exchange rate and quote, you transfer your funds to your Clear Currency account for us to convert into the currency you want.
  4. Access your new currency

    We send the converted currency to the overseas account you nominate, which usually arrives the same day – and then send you an email confirming everything.
  5. Complete your purchase

    With the money in your overseas account you can go ahead with buying your property abroad safe in the knowledge you’ve made the most of your funds.
Very helpful, efficient and took the time to explain the process to me very clearly. The transfer was stress free and completed within a few days, I will certainly be recommending your services to friends and colleagues.

get in touch

Currency exchange doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive. Our experienced and dedicated team is here to help you keep more of the money you transfer.

+44 (0) 207 151 4832

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