Posted by Josh Jeffery on May 15th, 2018.
If you’re shutting up shop and coming back to the UK after living abroad, the prospect of selling your overseas property can seem daunting.
And the truth is that, yes, it can be a challenge. However, worry not – we’ve listed a few tips below to get the ball rolling and make sure your sale is as speedy and pain-free as possible. What’s more we’ve also thrown in a couple of pointers for boosting your bank balance along the way, meaning you’ll have more Pounds in your pocket to help you settle back into UK life.
Regardless of the state the property was in when you bought it originally it’ll be a lot more appealing to potential buyers if you give it a good clean-up and finish any outstanding building or DIY work.
Cluttered rooms filled with your personal possessions will put people off, so make sure you either leave it empty or just have the basics in place. Options here include placing your possessions in storage or having them shipped back home.
Similarly, make sure any half-finished jobs are completed. If you don’t have time to do this then consider getting a local handyman to finish them off. Not all potential buyers will be put off by unfinished projects, but they will likely negotiate on the price if they’re interested in buying and the place is not finished properly.
When it’s been de-cluttered and improved, give it a lick of paint and a deep clean. Not only will this make the property more attractive in photos, it may even improve its value and help you realise its full market potential.
Once you have your property presented in the best light, the importance of having great-looking images cannot be overstated. You might have the most amazing property in the most amazing location, but if the pictures look jaded and dull then you’ll struggle to get anyone to come round and view it.
Consider getting a professional photographer to take those all-important images, or do it yourself if you have the know-how and some decent camera equipment.
To achieve the best chance of selling your property quickly it pays to take advantage of both local and overseas markets and to use the internet to reach the widest possible pool of potential buyers. In order to get that quick sale consider using a combination – or all three – of the following.
What’s more, you’ll need to have a trusted friend or acquaintance in place to show interested parties around your property, if you aren’t able to do it yourself.
Some sites permit you to pay a fee so that your property ranks near the top of searches. This can be a good idea as your own listing may be quickly overwhelmed by other properties vying for popularity.
These services can be a bit pricey, with some sites charging up to £250 to give your property that extra boost, but they can really help improve the chances of finding a buyer quickly.
3. Use a UK-based estate agent too. Some British estate agents, both high street and online, will agree to advertise the property for you. Of course, they will charge a commission if it sells, but they may end up being the missing link in achieving the end result. After all, some people who are thinking of moving abroad are more comfortable dealing with a UK-based agent, and it could be through them that you get the result you’ve been waiting for.
If you decide to use an online estate agent, make sure you do some research and exercise caution. Third party review sites like TrustPilot will give you a good idea of how reliable an online agent is by allowing you to look through their reviews.
In the same vein, advertising the property to potential expats in the UK using social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram can extend your reach considerably – and it won’t cost you a penny.
Aside from having a good estate agent (or doing it yourself), it’s essential that you engage a reputable solicitor or lawyer who is totally independent of any estate agents. If you have had to leave the country while you await the sale of your property then all legal matters can be left with your solicitor, who will be well-versed in handling such matters.
He or she will deal with all the paperwork regarding the sale as well as act as a recipient for utility bills and official correspondence from banks and tax authorities. Remember, however, that you will have to give them power of attorney to act on your behalf in your absence. This is a straightforward process, but will usually need to be notarised.
Having a good local solicitor you can rely on, and who is familiar with all the laws regarding property conveyancing, will take a huge weight off your mind.
It can be a great relief when you’ve sold your overseas property, but there are still a number of things you need to tie up. The most immediate issue is repatriating your money from the sale.
Most people will simply use a high street bank when transferring money from one country to another. But there are great savings to be made by using a currency exchange specialist instead.
The exchange rate offered by leading currency transfer providers is likely to be much more competitive than what a bank would offer, and could leave you thousands better off.
A reputable currency broker will handle the whole process for you, and will even advise the best times to transfer your money in order to achieve a better exchange rate. As with estate agents, just research foreign exchange providers online, making sure they are well-reviewed by customers and authorised by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority).
Depending on your country of residency, and whether you sold your overseas property for more than you bought it, you may need to pay capital gains tax. Some countries, such as Spain, will withhold a proportion of the sale money until they have determined your tax position.
Capital gains tax is what it says on the tin – it is a tax on the gain or profit you made from your sale of capital. Normally only the profit you make is taxed, rather than the overall amount of money you get in the sale.
In the event that you are charged this tax both in the UK and in the country your property was located in you may be able to claim ‘double tax relief’. This will get you money back on one of those taxes, but as the rules differ from nation to nation this is a situation where you should seek advice from your lawyer.
Well done, you’ve sold your overseas home and now have a tidy sum from the sale resting in your bank account! The sale generated lots of interest due to the way you presented the property and the amazing pictures the (surprisingly reasonable) photographer took. But maybe it was also due to having it listed with two different estate agents in two different countries, and also on three different speciality property websites.
Your solicitor handled all the paperwork effortlessly, even dealing with a small tax headache at the end, and the friendly lady at the currency transfer provider you used ensured you got plenty more bang for your buck when you moved the money back to the UK. In fact, with some of the money you saved you treated yourself to a city break in Paris.
When all was said and done, it wasn’t such a big deal after all, was it?
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