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Comment: Take a look beyond these shores

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Lenders need to see the UK expatriate community as a potential opening and not a group to be ‘punished’

Escaping forecasts around how Brexit might impact on the UK mortgage market is rather difficult at the moment.

For what it’s worth, it appears that lender representatives have been rather positive about activity levels, although in the days immediately after the referendum result there was an inevitable lull as vendors, purchasers and remortgagers weighed up their options.

Now, with a fair degree of political stability behind us, there appears to be something of a normalisation in market activity albeit one tempered still with an understanding that change may still be afoot.

I was recently asked in what areas of the market I would like to see more choice for borrowers, and, perhaps because my thoughts have been on ‘Europe’ and the ‘wider world’ I immediately thought of those UK expatriates, or variations thereof, who, for whatever reason, are either outside the country or have family living abroad.

It’s been quite obvious that over the last six to nine months, and certainly since the introduction of the Mortgage Credit Directive and its approach to foreign currency mortgages, that the expat market has been underserved. Indeed, if we really want to go further back then this has not exactly been a market overly brimming with product and competition, particularly in Europe post-credit crunch and Euro crises.

That said, it was particularly pleasing to see the National Counties Building Society bucking the trend somewhat and launching its owner-occupier mortgage for UK expatriates. It’s available for those UK nationals working overseas and, in a very welcome move for mortgage advisers in this country, any borrower who is paid in foreign currency.

As mentioned, this part of the market remains underserved, however, it will be product launches such as the one from National Counties that get the sector moving again.

This has been a time to think about the UK’s place in the world, and to remember how many of us may currently, or in the future, work outside these shores, or are paid in a foreign currency.

It’s my belief that this borrower demographic should not be ‘punished’ because of this and I hope more lenders acknowledge the need and sense of the lending opportunity that still clearly exists in this part of the market.

Bob Hunt is chief executive of Paradigm Mortgage Services

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