The challenges for UK expats in Qatar just got worse. A further two U.K. Mortgage lenders have also announced that they are removing Qatar from their lists of acceptable countries for mortgage applications. Importantly, this is with immediate effect. The lenders, one an offshore Bank, one a regional building society, cite the climate of politico- economic uncertainty.
The challenges for UK expats in Qatar just got worse. A further two U.K. Mortgage lenders have also announced that they are removing Qatar from their lists of acceptable countries for mortgage applications. Importantly, this is with immediate effect. The lenders, one an offshore Bank, one a regional building society, cite the climate of politico- economic uncertainty. They have made the decision at a strategic level to stop lending to applicants residing in the oil-rich Gulf state. The move has further reduced the already finite pool of very limited mortgage lenders prepared to work with expatriates in Qatar, but there remain options.
UK Expats in Qatar are not alone in these difficulties. Expat professionals, drawn to the Gulf by large, untaxed salaries, largely working in oil and gas, construction, law and business, are realising the few lending options they have, compared to their counterparts in European and commonwealth countries. We are seeing a number of lenders offering expat mortgages, refusing to accept applications from any of the Gulf States.
One of the reasons for this, are potential fears over currency fluctuations.
Since the Mortgage Credit Directive was implemented in 2016, it is now a regulatory requirement that all European lenders factor in the possibility of currency fluctuations on affordability when underwriting applications for residential mortgages.
Although the requirement was put into place in order to protect international customers from financial distress in the event of currency movements eroding their income in real terms, this can cause expatriates to face serious challenges. As a result, lenders are abandoning borrowers paid in non-sterling currencies.
Taking into account the costs in due diligence, compliance, and legal work required for a lender to add a country to its panel, the significance of the decision on Qatar cannot be overstated.
Qatar, a unitary constitutional monarchy, has the highest Income per capita in the world. Disputes with its only neighbour, Saudi Arabia, have been brought to worldwide attention and speculation. Hostilities have escalated over Qatar's relationship with nearby Iran, Turkey having military operations in the country and claims that Qatar funds extremism. Furthermore, the embattled state hosts a US airbase, strategically key in its air strikes on Syria.
Attempts to deescalate the situation last month culminated in Saudi Arabia submitting a list of conditions for Qatar to meet- including shutting down Al Jazeera, a news agency and broadcaster.
Despite the political situation and challenging lending climate, we remain able to secure mortgage finance for borrowers living and working in Qatar. We continue to assist those looking to purchase and re-mortgage U.K. Property on a residential and buy to let basis.
As expatriate mortgage specialists, we continue to have a large number of clients living in the Middle East, employed and self-employed, working in a range of sectors, and we continue to serve their financial needs on an exclusive and semi-exclusive basis, with our lending partners.