Relocating when you own a house
Relocating when you own a house can present a range of logistical challenges. In addition to the many other organisational tasks required for a relocation, deciding what to do with your property when you relocate can be both a stressful and lengthy process.
In this guide
What should I do with my house when I relocate?
There are several options available to you if you’re relocating when you own a house. Whether you choose to rent out or sell your existing property will likely depend on your financial situation and your long-term plans.
Renting out your house when relocating
Renting your house when relocating can be a great option if you’re not sure about your long-term plans and may wish to move back at some point. It gives you the security of keeping hold of a large financial asset, whilst also allowing you the freedom to relocate at fairly short notice, without having to wait for a property sale to complete.
Of course, there is a reasonable amount of admin associated with renting out a property, and that shouldn’t be underestimated. If you choose to rent out your property to enable you to relocate, you will need to consider how you will manage the property and its maintenance if you are not nearby, especially if you’re considering renting your house when relocating abroad. You can ask a local letting agent to manage the rental for you but should expect to pay 12-20% of the monthly rent in fees. You will also need to factor in a budget to maintain the property on top of the monthly management fee and consider that buy-to-let mortgages usually have higher interest rates than owner-occupier mortgages, and therefore your monthly payments will increase. You will also need to complete an annual tax return and be required to pay tax on any rental income.
Selling your house when relocating
If you know you’re unlikely to return to your current location, or don’t want the hassle of renting out your property when you relocate, selling your current property quickly is likely to be your best option.
Selling your house when relocating is also likely to free up money that will be useful for your relocation and will give you the freedom to choose whether to buy a new property or rent a home in your new location.
Steps to take when selling a house to relocate
If you decide to sell your house when you relocate, it’s important that you’re clear with your estate agent that you’re relocating and therefore need the sale to complete by a certain date. This will mean your agent only considers offers from buyers who are in a position to meet that deadline, eg. any offers from those in lengthy property chains will not be pursued. The property market is notoriously unpredictable, however, and it’s not uncommon for obstacles or delays to come up along the way. Before you list your property with an estate agent, it’s important to think through what you will do if your sale is delayed or falls through before completion.
Should you sell your current house before or after you relocate?
Whether it’s better to sell your current house before or after you relocate will depend on your personal circumstances. There are advantages to both.
Selling your house before you relocate will free up your finances and leave you with no ‘unresolved business’, but it can be tricky to manage the timing of a sale. Sell your property too quickly and you may have to go into rented property before you relocate, sell too late and the sale may not complete before your move. The UK property market is notoriously unpredictable and even once a sale has been agreed it can often take several months for the sale to complete. Additionally, around one in three agreed property sales will fall through before completion, so an agreed sale is not definite until contracts have been exchanged, which is often just a week before completion. This makes it very difficult to make any plans around your property sale.
Choosing to sell your property after you move will ensure you can remain living in the property until you’re ready to relocate, but selling a property from afar can get complicated, especially if you’re moving abroad. It will also mean you have extra stress and responsibilities when you’re in your new home, on top of the ‘life admin’ that ordinarily comes with moving to a new area.
If you want to be able to live in your current property right up until your move, but don’t want the hassle and uncertainty of trying to sell your property on the open market once you’re in your new home, you could consider selling your current house to a cash home buying company. Cash home buying companies can offer a guaranteed house sale on the date of your choice, which means you can remain in your property as long as you want, safe in the knowledge that you have a guaranteed sale which will complete the date your property becomes vacant. A genuine cash home buyer will pay less for your property than you would get selling via an estate agent on the open market, so it won’t be the right option for everyone, but it does offer a level of ease, convenience and certainty that is unmatched by any other method of sale.
Should I rent or buy when I relocate?
If you’re unsure how long you intend to stay in your new location, or are unfamiliar with the area, it may be wiser to rent, at least initially. If you know the move is going to be long-term, you may prefer to consider purchasing a new home straight away, so you don’t have the hassle of having to move more than once. Whether you rent or buy will also depend largely on your financial situation.
How to rent a house when relocating
If you’re completely new to the area you’re moving to, it’s important that you spend some time in the local area to get an idea of the more and less desirable places to live. If you can, visit the area in person and book in to meet with local letting agents who can talk you through the different areas and what you’re looking for in a property. Making contact with the local letting agents is a great way to get ‘on their books’ so they let you know early on about any rental properties coming onto the market. Meeting them in person will always make more of an impression than contacting them via email or telephone, so a visit is always recommended if at all possible.
The rental market is highly competitive at the moment, so you may need to be flexible regarding the date you’re willing to begin your tenancy. It’s important that you’re ready to move quickly when a desirable property becomes available, so you should have a deposit readily available in order to secure your new home.
If you’re relocating for work and already have your new position lined up, you shouldn’t have a problem securing a rental property. If, however, you are relocating for personal reasons and plan to find a new job once you’ve moved, you may need to provide additional financial information regarding your ability to pay the rent on your new home before you secure a new position.
Buying a house when relocating
If you’re keen to buy a new house when you relocate, and are in a financial position to do so, it’s important to get an idea about where in the area you might want to live. This may be largely dictated by proximity to your work and, if you have a family, good schools.
The same principle applies whether you’re wanting to buy or rent – get in contact with local estate agents and talk them through what you’re looking for in a property, ideal location and budget. This will hopefully mean you’re alerted to new properties becoming available before they officially hit the market and give you an advantage in a competitive market.
If you’re planning to coordinate the purchase of your new home with the sale of your old home, it’s important to explain the circumstances of the move to the estate agent and the timeframe you’re working to. This will help to avoid you being shown properties where there is a lengthy onward chain and focus on properties with highly motivated sellers.
Relocating for work
If you’re relocating for work, there may be relocation packages or other support available to you. Some companies will provide a relocation allowance to help with the cost of removals, whilst others may offer the services of a relocation company who can support with all aspects of moving. This may be more likely if you are relocating abroad for work.
Questions to ask employer before relocating for work
If you’re relocating for work, these are some questions you may want to ask your employer:
- How long is the relocation likely to last? Is this a permanent move or a temporary secondment?
- Is there any financial assistance or other support in place to help with the relocation?
- How quickly will you need to relocate? What is your expected relocation date?
Tips for relocating for work
If your employer has asked you to move for your job, you might find these relocating for work tips helpful.
- It’s important to visit the area you’re relocating to as soon as possible. This will help you get to know the area and help you consider where you might want to look for your next home, whether that’s a rental property or a property to buy.
- Visiting some local pubs is a great way to get a feel for the area and gain some highly valuable inside knowledge on the area. It’s also a great place to find out about any clubs or groups locally that you might want to get involved in.
- Think early about your budget for the move and how you will fund it. Will you be able to afford the upfront expenses associated with relocating? How will owning a house in your current location impact this? Will you need to free up the cash from your current property before you’re able to afford a deposit on a new home? Will you be able to afford to rent or buy a new property whilst you wait for your current home to sell?
- If you have a family with school-age children, think about school places as early as possible. Visit the local schools and speak to the headteacher about the likelihood of a space being available for your child/ren.
Find out more about:
- How much is my house worth?
- How long does a mortgage offer last when buying a new home?
- What is a mortgage prisoner and how do you become free?
- Capital gains tax on property – where you stand in 2023
- What is a down valuation?
- How much do conveyancing fees cost?
- How to sell my property portfolio
- How to add value to your house in 2023
- Private house sales – All you need to know
- Guide to property raffles