Getting an Overseas Property Loan in Hong Kong: A Complete Guide

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If you’re a Hong Kong citizen or a permanent resident foreigner, you can sometimes apply for a so called overseas mortgage.

The mortgages are designed to let you finance a property outside of Hong Kong, often you have the first contact with a bank in Hong Kong and you later transfer to a branch in the country where you intend to buy. They sometimes even help you to fill out the application, before the transfer is made.

Which banks offer overseas property loans in Hong Kong?

It’s not easy to find summarized about the banks that offer overseas mortgages (at least in comparison to Singapore), how much you can borrow and what conditions that apply. Therefore, I decided to do some research on my own and to write this article.

I’ve personally been in contact with a number of banks and with branches in Hong Kong (and the UK) to understand what overseas mortgages they offer. Let’s have a look.

1. BOC (Bank of China)

Bank of China, sometimes referred to as BOC, is one of the top four commercial banks in China. It opened its first Hong Kong branch in 1917 and has become one of the major players.

According to Bank of China, they offer international mortgages to Hong Kong citizens and foreigners who wish to buy properties in countries like UK and Australia. However, you can’t get any information from their Hong Kong branches, as you need to get in touch with the overseas branches directly.

2. Citibank

Citibank was founded in New York in 1812 and one of the most renowned banks in the world. A large majority of the branches are located in the United States and Mexico, but you’ll also find offices in Asia, including Hong Kong.

I contacted Citibank Hong Kong and they don’t offer overseas mortgages in Hong Kong, you need to get in touch with an overseas branch directly, where you plan to buy. You can also get help from your Relationship Manager in Hong Kong, but in that case, you also need to be an existing customer of the bank.

In order to qualify for the Overseas property mortgage program, you need to have at least HKD 1 million in liquid assets over a time period of 6 months.

I couldn’t get in touch with Citibank UK directly, as I’m currently not an existing customer.

3. BEA (Bank of East Asia)

BEA was founded in 1918 and the third biggest bank in Hong Kong. It’s the biggest independent local bank and operates in other countries, for example United States, where its main purpose is to help Hong Kong expatriates.

BEA was one of a few banks that I could actually get some information of value from. I’m surprised how big the overseas mortgage market seems to be in Singapore for example compared to Hong Kong. Let’s have a look what BEA had to offer:

Countries and cities served

United Kingdom: Birmingham, London and Manchester.

Property types

Only residential property for investment purposes, hence you can’t occupy the property yourself.

Financing

-Birmingham: min. GBP 60,000, max. 70%
-London: min. GBP 120,000, max. 70%
-Manchester: min. GBP 60,000, max. 70%

Keep in mind that you can’t finance your loan in HKD, it must be in GBP.

Interest rate

A fixed rate of 3.25% + Bank of England’s Base rate (0.5%) = 3.75%. Keep in mind that interest rates change frequently so be sure to get up to date information.

Loan tenure

According to BEA’s website, the loan tenure is up to 20 years, but when calling them, I got the information that it’s max. 10 years. This is fairly low compared to domestic purchases and overseas mortgages in Singapore, where the tenures are normally 10-25 years, or sometimes 35 years.

4. Standard Chartered (SC)

Standard Chartered established in 1969 and headquartered in London, UK. It’s one of the biggest banks in the world with almost 90,000 employees located in 70 countries.

I contacted Standard Chartered Hong Kong, unfortunately they don’t offer any overseas mortgages at the moment. They only provide local bank loans for purchases in Hong Kong.

5. DBS (The Development Bank of Singapore)

DBS was founded in Singapore in 1968 and is the biggest bank in Southeast Asia, in terms of assets. They also have a number of branches in Hong Kong.

According to DBS, they do not offer overseas property loans at DBS Hong Kong unfortunately, even if this service is available at their Singapore branch.

6. Lloyds Bank

Lloyds bank was founded in 1765 and is headquartered in London, UK. It’s a large bank with offices in more than 45 countries.

I contacted Lloyds Bank, they informed that they have stopped offering overseas mortgages since 2012 unfortunately.

7. ICBC (Industrial and Commercial Bank of China)

ICBC is a Chinese bank that was founded in Beijing in 1984. The bank has managed to grow massively over the years and is, at the moment I’m writing this article, the biggest bank in the world in terms of total assets.

I contacted with ICBC’s Hong Kong branch, unfortunately, they don’t offer any overseas property loans to either Hong Kong citizens or foreigners living in Hong Kong.

8. Barclays

Barclays founded in 1690 in London, United Kingdom, and one of the biggest banks in the world. It currently has around 120,000 employees in 40 countries.

Barclays offers overseas mortgages and do provide some valuable information on their website. Even if the service is not solely dedicated to Hong Kong customers, I’ve included details about their package below.

Financing

Min. value not mentioned, max. LTV up to 75% (down payment 25%).

As explained in my separate article about getting overseas mortgages in Singapore, LTV stands for Loan To Value and is widely used to determine how high loans property buyers can take on. The LTV simply means how much you can borrow and expressed in percentage. It’s calculated by simply dividing the value of the mortgage with the appraised value of the property.

Interest rates

If you decide to go for a 5 year fixed rate (owner occupied property), you need to pay a rate of 3.25% – which is equal to BEA’s mortgage that I described about earlier.

The variable rate is slightly lower and 3.09% (2.59% + Bank of England’s Base rate of 0.5%).

If you decide to buy-to-let and want a 5 year fixed rate, rates will start at 4.2%.

You also have an option to go for a lower LTV (bigger down payment required) and pay a lower interest rate. For more information, I recommend you to check the following link.

9. OCBC Wing Hang

I contacted an overseas OCBC branch – namely in the UK – as I couldn’t get much information from their Hong Kong branch. The reason why I chose the UK branch is that it’s one of a few countries where locals and foreigners can buy property with overseas mortgage. This is the same as it goes in Singapore.

According to the UK office, you can only get an overseas mortgage for a purchase in the UK with a minimum value of GBP +10 million, which is a significantly big amount for a private individual buyer. Hence, I didn’t ask for more information.

Age of the applicant

Can differ but you generally need to be less than 65 years old, when the loan tenure expires. Keep in mind that stricter requirements apply for overseas mortgages compared to if you buy locally.

How is the process when applying for an overseas mortgage?

Below I’ve included the application process in short words, for you to get a general knowledge.

1. Find out where you want to buy and how much you want to borrow

One of the first question you’ll get is how much you plan to borrow, this doesn’t need to be a fixed number. Do some research in advance to understand the price levels where you intend to buy, so that you can provide a rough number to the bank staff.

2. Contact a local branch in Hong Kong

It’s always best to get in touch with a local branch first to see what they have to say. Normally, they will direct you to a Relationship Manager (if you’re a client of the bank) or to the overseas country’s branch, as they will be your main contact.

3. Get an In-Principal-Approval

The bank will be able to give you an In-Princical-Approval based on your background information. This will guarantee the minimum amount you can borrow.

4. Pay the initial deposit

When you’ve secured your finances, it’s time to find a property and pay the initial deposit, to “book” the property. Booking the property means that you’ll keep the property until you’ve managed to sign the Sales and Purchase Agreement with the seller.

5. Prepare and provide the documents needed

You need to provide a number of documents to be eligible applying for a mortgage. According to Standard Chartered’s website, you need to provide the following documents when applying for any of their loans:

a. A copy of your passport or Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card.

b. A copy of the Provisional or Formal Agreement for Sale and Purchase.

c. A completed Mortgage Application form (signed)

d. Proof of residential address (utility bills or similar are generally required)

e. Proof of personal income

6. Finalise the Sales and Purchase Agreement and finalize the deal

This step will involve a conveyancing lawyer, that will help you to communicate with the seller’s side, the bank and related authorities. Be sure to get up to date information, as regulations can change over time.

Conclusion

I previously wrote a complete guide on how you can obtain an overseas mortgage if you’re a Singapore citizen or a permanent resident foreigner in Singapore. According to my research and analysis, you have more banks offering these services there in comparison to Hong Kong.

Still, you’ll be able to find a few banks in Hong Kong, ready to help you, but more work is required and you generally need to work solely with the overseas branch.

Interest rates are higher for overseas mortgages compared to local dittos, you can manage to reduce the rates if you decide to go for a lower LTV (Loan To Value) ratio, which simply express how much you’re able to borrow in terms of percentage (Property value – LTV = Down payment required).

If you want to know more about getting an overseas mortgage in Hong Kong, I recommend you to read the whole article. You can also read my separate guide that explains how you can buy property in Hong Kong as a foreigner.

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