Picture the scene, it’s a year from now, and you’ve just woken up to the sun streaming through the shades, you look out of one window and you can see nothing but rolling green fields, punctuated by the occasional sheep or proud, old tree. You look out of the other window and you are greeted by an old church, a few small shops, and a few friendly villagers. You’re very happy with your purchase of a small cottage in the country, and thoughts of being in the Manhattan rat race are long behind you. Life is good.
Sounds great right? But where is this wonderful sounding place? Rural England is the answer. Those looking to buy real estate abroad should consider more than just London when thinking about buying in the United Kingdom. Outside of the capital, there are hundreds, if not thousands of towns, small villages, and hamlets across the country, and many are within an easily commutable distance to the capital or another of the UK’s major cities. The question is, how do you go about getting on ‘the property ladder’ in the UK?
Aren’t Houses in the UK Really Expensive?
The first thing to realize is that real estate prices aren’t considerably higher than in the US. Yes, London is home to some astronomical-sounding real estate prices, but an average-sized home would have a comparable price in both the US and the UK. The only difference is that ‘average-sized’ is much smaller in the UK due to there being less available land to build on.
Do Realtors Exist in the UK?
Short answer, no. Long answer, still no, unless you’re a billionaire. Generally speaking, most people buying in the UK do all of the hard work themselves. Rather than hiring a realtor to search for houses that fit their buyers’ requirements, UK buyers search through listings online using websites such as Rightmove, or by physically looking around for ‘for sale’ signs in neighborhoods that they like. You can go to an estate agent who sells real estate on behalf of the owners and see what they have on offer, but most people don’t hire somebody to do the searching and offer-making.
How About Mortgages? They Have Those, Right?
Yes, mortgages do indeed exist in the UK. Much like how you would get pre-qualified by a mortgage lender in the US, you need to get a ‘mortgage in principle’ from your chosen lender. Many buyers often go to a mortgage broker such as Trussle who search for the best mortgage deals based on the buyer’s financial circumstances. You can then be offered a mortgage in principle for a particular amount, which is essentially an agreement to offer you the chosen rate as long as your circumstances don’t change.
Whilst there are a number of smaller differences to consider, as long as you’re comfortable doing all the work of searching for a home by yourself, you’ll find that the US and UK real estate markets aren’t so different from each other. You also certainly won’t be the first American to buy in the UK, so there are plenty of professional estate agents experienced in selling to the US market ready to answer your questions.
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