Expert in Expat Property Finance

29 July 2020

The UK property market offers attractive investment opportunities for ex-pats and international investors, due in-part to a favourable exchange rate and strong economic growth.  Peritus Corporate Finance have recently joined forced with international mortgage expert Lee Adams, who brings over twenty-five years’ experience to the Peritus team.

To mark the occasion, Peritus sat down with Lee and grilled him on everything from trends in the international mortgage market, to his thoughts on a post-pandemic world, including the true value of critical illness cover and why a positive attitude goes a long way.


Let’s jump straight into things. How is COVID-19 impacting the international mortgage market right now?

There’s a lot of uncertainty of course, but I find many international investors understand the long-term strategies involved in property investment. When you stretch the timeline beyond a matter of months, events like what we’re experiencing become less significant. Also, because many foreign currencies are pegged to the dollar, when the pound falls there’s a demand increase that follows. Then, there’s the recent stamp duty changes.


Tell me about these changes and how they’re impacting demand. 

The government have cut stamp duty on homes under £500k to zero until March next year. That’s a potential saving of up to £15k. They’ve created a ticking clock that I’m already seeing stimulate demand, and I think the urgency to buy before the deadline next March will continue.


And how do you see things playing out moving forward? What trends do you think will change after the pandemic? 

Financial advice is traditionally a face-to-face business. That’s already changed, and I think that will continue. Maintaining a presence online is therefore even more important now, and I’m very active on LinkedIn. There’ll also be a greater expectation to be available on all channels such as telephone, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc. The world changes but the market adapts.


And what brought you to the international mortgage market in the first place?

I was asked to develop the international mortgage wing by my former employer, and it was by doing this I found my niche. International mortgages often present complex situations, and it’s in finding the best solution to these situations where I thrive. Seven years ago, I hit the ground running and I’ve never looked back.


Tell me more about these situations. What are the typical elements, and what makes them complex?

I generally work with expats or international investors earning over £100k who are looking for a UK home, or to expand their portfolio out. Typical property values are anywhere from £250,000 up to well over £1m, usually in London but increasingly Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester. The complexity comes due to the client’s unique circumstances, including their non-resident status, which often translates into a lack of options in the market.


And this is where you come in?

Yes. I provide expert advice covering the market on a truly independent basis, the deals I advise on include everything from the usual mortgage, remortgage and buy-to-let, through to development finance and bridging and secured loans. In addition, I provide clients with advice around building and contents insurance, conveyancing options and foreign exchange, as well as life and critical illness insurance and income protection. I’m constantly looking for my clients to make informed decisions which are right for them


Do you have any great success stories you can share where you’ve helped clients make the decision that was right for them?

So, I had a client who was doing very well and had a great career, and they decided to adopt a child. They ended up borrowing a very large sum of money but didn’t have critical illness cover in place. I knew this was a huge vulnerability, so I was a little insistent, I wanted to make sure they were fully aware of this, without going overboard of course. Then the unthinkable happened and they received a cancer diagnosis. Luckily though, they had taken my advice, and received a substantial pay-out which provided them with the vital breathing space to continue their life in their own way and at their own pace rather than having to compromise on decisions due to financial pressures. These products exist for a very real reason. The best part is, the client recovered from the cancer and is still very active with their new family as we speak.


That’s a great story. Do you find your relationship with international clients is any different than those domestically?

Each one is different of course, but I find international clients tend to be more service-orientated and less price sensitive, which leads to a closer relationship in general. They understand the value of the service I provide, whereas domestic clients often just want the lowest price.


And what’s the best part of the job for you? 

It has to be receiving recommendations. When someone calls me up from the other side of the world, from somewhere like Hong Kong, because they’ve been told I can help them out. That’s great. Of all the people in the world they could call, they call me. That’s pretty special.


It sounds like you’ve got a pretty solid network.

My network is huge, it provides me with contacts most days. And I’m a people person, which is great for what I do, of course.


So, why Peritus? 

When I spoke with Matthew at Peritus, I could tell he was the right kind of person to work with. No undue pressure, a very friendly guy. I think the culture of where you work is important, and a great culture can lead to great things for everyone involved.


That’s a great attitude to have.

Attitude is everything. Positivity goes a long way in any business, and it costs nothing, you know. Still, it can be in short supply. I’d say that was one of my biggest assets, having a positive attitude that relishes the task ahead, however difficult it may be.


Sounds like you enjoy hard work. What does your downtime look like?

A perfect Sunday afternoon for me is relaxing with the family after a tasty Sunday lunch and maybe a walk in a local park while catching up with friends. To finish, a good film and a glass of wine before the busy week ahead. When I find the time, I like to squeeze in some golf too. I love the game and play whenever I have the time to spare.


Sounds idyllic. Any parting words for any non-residents reading this who might be considering an international UK mortgage?

There’s a lot of inexperienced advisers out there. I often hear about clients being let down and then deciding to try and just go online and see what they can find. This is disappointing to hear as it sullies the industry, and it often leaves clients paying more than they needed to as the choice isn’t always as comprehensive online. So, if you’re considering your options, make sure to get yourself a good advisor, and be cautious of the inexperienced. Make sure you research their recommendations and speak to them a number of times before making a decision. Always make sure they answer all of your questions, so you feel comfortable using them.


Contact Lee Adams 07793 767 494