Relocating / Emigrating
When you’re relocating in the UK, or even moving overseas, there are many important issues to consider about the sale of your house or flat, including how to sell even when living abroad.
There are many reasons why people sell their homes; sometimes it’s because they need to release cash, other times they might be downsizing to a smaller property or upsizing to a larger house or flat because they are now married or are starting a family or simply want a home with more space.
Yet another reason why a homeowner might want to sell their property is because they need to relocate. This can either be relocating to somewhere else within the UK, or even emigrating to another country. And just as there are many explanations for why someone might want to move to a new house, there are as many reasons for why people need to relocate or emigrate.
Perhaps you have been given a great job opportunity but it requires moving many miles away to another location in the UK, or perhaps you are ready to retire by living in another country. When you move you will naturally want to sell your existing home, and this guide tells you all you need to know about selling your home when emigrating or relocating.
- Why relocating or emigrating can cause issues with selling your home
- Top tips for ensuring a smooth sale when relocating or emigrating
- Specific issues with selling your home from overseas
- Specific issues with selling your home when relocating within the UK
- Options for selling your house or flat when you’ve relocated or emigrated
- Questions you might have about selling your home after emigrating or relocating
Why relocating or emigrating can cause issues with selling your home
Sometimes when people move far away from their current home, they will sell their existing house or flat before they leave. However, that’s not always possible and you might find yourself in a situation where you have to try selling your home after relocating.
This can cause some additional complications because when you’re living far away it would require a lot of time and money to travel back to your old house to oversee the sale. That’s why it’s important to know how to handle such a sale without having to travel a single step.
And there are other issues that you need to know about, including the potential that you might be liable for paying taxes on the profit from your home sale even if you now live abroad.
Top tips for ensuring a smooth sale when relocating or emigrating
A major decision you will have to make, and which can make the difference between a slow or speedy sale, is finding the right conveyancer who will be able to handle most of the sale on your behalf.
It’s not typical, nor often possible, for homeowners who have moved to return to the property to ensure a smooth sale. That’s why you need to find a trustworthy and reliable conveyancer. This is a solicitor or other legal professional who can take care of drafting the various mandatory legal documents that are required as part of the process of selling your house.
Use the internet to search for conveyancing firms who are located near your old home. Don’t be in a hurry to choose the first one you find. Instead, browse through ratings websites and search results to try and learn more about the reputation of each conveyancer. Doing this can help you to separate the reputable conveyancers from those that you can’t trust.
Finding the right conveyancer is vital to a smooth sale because they’ll be responsible for getting all the necessary legal paperwork to you for your signature. That’s why you want to hire a conveyancer who is very comfortable dealing with you by phone and email, because it is entirely possible that you will never even meet this professional face-to-face.
They will probably use a courier service to post all of the crucial documents out to your new location for your signature, and then you will have to return them to the conveyancer. The best firms are able to do all of this work with minimal hassle for you.
Specific issues with selling your home from overseas
If you have already moved abroad and now want to sell the house or flat that you lived in when in the UK, it’s entirely possible to do so but there are a few important issues to consider for the sale.
One of the biggest issues with trying to sell your home from overseas is the fact that it will probably be prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to do it in person. That’s why you need to secure the services of an honest conveyancer who can represent you in handling the sale.
Also, some people who emigrate believe that once they have moved to another country they won’t be liable for paying any taxes if they then sell their former home back in the UK.
That’s not accurate and it’s crucial that you understand you might be liable for paying Capital Gains Tax if you sell your old flat or house after moving overseas. This tax is charged on the profit that you make from selling assets, in this instance selling your former home. Therefore you’ll pay the tax, if applicable, on whatever profit you make from the sale – not the final sale price of your home, but broadly speaking the difference between what you bought it for and what you sold it for.
The UK government’s website has a helpful explanation of this tax, which notes that you could be subject to paying it even if you are no longer deemed a resident of the UK for the purposes of taxation. And not paying mandatory taxes can lead to penalties, so it’s important that you know whether or not you are liable.
The government will assess several factors to determine your liability for Capital Gains Tax as a UK resident even if you live overseas, including: if you used part of your past home in the UK solely for business purposes, if during any of the years that you owned the house or flat you spent at least 90 days in the property, among other criteria.
Whether you have to pay Capital Gains Tax or not, you need to file a return with the UK government declaring this information within 30 days of the completion of your home sale. If you fail to submit a return, regardless of a need to pay taxes or not, you could face a fine.
Specific issues with selling your home when relocating within the UK
If you have relocated within the UK, the distance from your last home will also be a factor that you need to consider when you try to sell it. If you’ve moved very far away then you’ll have to spend a lot of time and money if you want to handle the sale in-person and on location.
Still, it’s not impossible if you are willing to make the financial and time commitment. And you have slightly more flexibility than those people who move overseas and then try to sell their home, because it’s much harder and more expensive for them to return to the UK.
Much like those homeowners who move overseas, if you’re staying in the country after relocating you’ll still have to assess whether you own any Capital Gains Tax after selling your property. Follow the government’s guidelines to see whether you’ll be liable for this, and remember the 30-day deadline for filing a declaration regardless of if you owe taxes or not.
Options for selling your house or flat when you’ve relocated or emigrated
If you have moved to another location far away in the UK, or if you have emigrated, and want to sell your home, you typically have three main options for finding a buyer.
Selling your house or flat through an estate agent
This is perhaps the option that most people are familiar with when they think of selling their property. When you enlist the services of an estate agent they will first give you a valuation that tells you the price at which they think they can find a buyer for your home. The estate agent will then take pictures of your house or flat and create a listing for display in their office, in local newspapers, and online as they try to seek prospective buyers. And they will also take care of hosting viewings at which interested buyers tour your property.
One of the leading benefits of using an estate agent to sell your home after you’ve moved away is that they can handle the many steps involved with listing, marketing, and trying to find a buyer for your house. This can be a huge benefit if your goal with selling from afar is to involve yourself as little as possible and let someone else handle it.
But there are several drawbacks from selling through an estate agent when you no longer live in the area. The first is that estate agents sometimes engage in sneaky tricks, such as giving you a higher valuation than they actually think your property is worth. They do this to try and get your business, only to later try finding a buyer at a lower value and then encouraging you to accept that price. It can be very hard to stop this from happening when you live many miles away, because it’s more difficult to directly oversee the house sale.
Selling through an estate agent also has no deadline, so if you’re trying to sell in a hurry it is not a great choice. Houses and flats sold this way can sometimes sit on the property market for weeks, months, or years for many reasons. When you goal is to quickly sell your house after relocating, you might be frustrated with the pace of selling this way.
And yet another drawback from selling through an estate agent is the fact that you will have to pay them fees for taking care of all the hard work involved in selling your home.
Selling your house or flat through an auctioneer
You could also contact an auctioneer from overseas or somewhere else in the UK to ask them about selling your house or flat. Much like an estate agent will handle most of the hard work involved with a sale, the auctioneer will take on the responsibility for listing and promoting your home and overseeing the auction on sale day. That can be a huge relief when you’ve moved and want a straightforward option for selling.
Selling through an auctioneer has a very clear benefit over using an estate agent, because the auction day gives you a specific date for when your house or flat will sell. So long as your house achieves the reserve price, that is considered a binding contract to buy once the auction is complete. This means that you can have relative certainty that your property will sell on the date of the auction.
But this route for selling does have some cons, not least the fact that some auctioneers will encourage you to set a reserve price that is lower than the price you actually wish to achieve for your home. If bidding surpasses the reserve price, this will be the price at which you are committed to sell your property for.
Further, you’ll also have to pay the auctioneer fees for their work in helping to sell your property. The exact amount that you’ll have to pay them will depend in part on the final sale value of your home. So when planning how much profit you can make from selling your house, you need to deduct the auctioneers’ fees. It is sometimes possible to include a provision in the special conditions that the winning bidder will be responsible for paying those fees, so be sure to ask the auctioneer about that.
Selling your house or flat to a fast property buying company
For many homeowners who have emigrated or relocated to another location in the UK, the simplest approach is to sell their home to a fast property buying company. These businesses specialise in making speedy and competitive cash payments to buy houses and flats of all different shapes and sizes, and typically never charge any fees. They are usually able to close on a sale within weeks, which is a very fast timeline.
That means you can secure a swift sale whilst retaining all of the profit from selling your home if you decide to find a fast property buyer for your former residence. This can be a huge benefit when your top priority is finding a good buyer as quickly as possible.
Another perk is the fact that reputable swift property buyers will never charge you any fees for selling your house or flat to them. Unfortunately, as with many industries, there are some dishonest fast buyers operating and they might charge you fees or give you a purchase offer that’s far below what your home is worth. The reputable companies are often members of a trade body such as The Property Ombudsman, (TPO) which is an independent entity that sets policies for the quick house buying industry in order to protect homeowners. If a company is a registered member of TPO you can typically trust them, because being a member means they have to abide by TPO’s various regulations.
Questions you might have about selling your home after emigrating or relocating
✅ Am I allowed to sell my house or flat once I've relocated or emigrated?
Yes. There are no rules or regulations that say you must sell your existing home before you can move across the country or abroad and into your new house. The only issue to consider is the choice of how you sell your home from afar, with the options generally being between selling through an estate agent, having an auctioneer handle the sale, or selling to a quick house buyer. Just remember that the process will be more complicated than selling whilst still living in your house, for example because important documents will have to be emailed, faxed or posted to you.
✅ What's the quickest way to sell my home after I have relocated or moved overseas?
Generally, selling via an estate agent will be the slowest way to sell your house whether you are still living in it or are in another location. That’s because there’s no deadline for selling, and houses can go unsold for a very long time, whether that’s weeks, months, or even in certain cases a year or more. Selling your property at auction will give you a certain date for when your home will sell, as a successful bid on auction day is a binding contract of sale. But the swiftest option is to sell to a fast property buying company with experience in quick sales.
✅ Should I think about renting my existing house or flat once I've moved to a new location?
It’s certainly an option, and if you can relocate and buy a new home without having to rely on the profit from selling your existing house then you might want to consider it. By retaining your property and renting it out you could get a monthly income from the rent payments. But being a landlord who lives very far away can be frustrating for both you and the tenants, particularly if problems arise that require you to visit the property.
✅ If I decide to sell my previous home after moving, will I have to pay taxes on it?
Your liability for paying taxes on the sale of your previous house or flat will depend on the amount at which it sells, not on where you are located. Depending on the value of the sale you could be liable for paying Capital Gains Tax, regardless of whether you no longer live in the UK. Even if you have moved overseas you could still have to pay this tax when selling your UK home. The guide above offers more-specific details about when you could be liable for this tax.
✅ After I have relocated, do I need to return to my old location to sell my house there?
Not at all. The good news is that you once you’ve relocated, whether in the UK or to another country, there is absolutely no need for you to come back just to sell your home. You don’t need to be there in person at any stage of the sale. Just make sure that you have a very good legal representative at your old location who can oversee the sale of your home, including making sure that they get all of the necessary legal paperwork to you quickly for your signature. Having that professional working for you means you won’t have to return to sell your home.
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