Selling a UK property from abroad
Selling a UK property from abroad can be challenging. Anyone who has ever sold a property will know that it can be a slow, cumbersome, and often unpredictable process. The logistical challenges of trying to sell a property when living overseas may require even greater patience.
In this guide
- Can I sell my UK house from abroad?
- Choosing an estate agent when selling a UK property from abroad
- Choosing a solicitor when selling a UK property from abroad
- What the best way to sell my UK property from abroad?
- Do I have to come back to the UK to sell my house if I live overseas?
- What tax do I have to pay when selling a UK property from abroad?
- Will I need to pay any tax in the country I live now?
- Are there any circumstances that would I don’t have to pay capital gains tax on my property?
Can I sell my UK house from abroad?
Yes, the good news is that selling a UK property from abroad is perfectly achievable.
If you select the right estate agent and conveyancing solicitor, you should be able to conduct the entire property sale process without having to return to the UK.
Choosing an estate agent when selling a UK property from abroad
When selling a UK property from abroad, it may be tempting to use a cheaper, online estate agent. If you won’t be meeting with the estate agent in person, why does it matter where they work from?
The truth is that high street estate agents usually have smaller teams and you’re likely to have one point of contact who will take responsibility for the sale of your property. Your one agent will conduct any viewings, handle any questions about the property and provide you with regular feedback. Online estate agents, by contrast, often cover a wider geographical area and have had a reputation for operating a more corporate ‘call centre’ environment. This may mean it’s difficult to speak to the same person each time you need to make contact.
It’s important that you choose an estate agent you feel you can trust. Not being in the country means you need to feel confident that your estate agent is looking after your best interests and maximising any opportunity for a sale. They will also play a large role in managing the sale through to completion once an offer has been accepted.
If you don’t already have an estate agent in mind, it’s a good idea to read online customer reviews and ask for recommendations from any family or friends in the area.
Choosing a solicitor when selling a UK property from abroad
Choosing the right solicitor will also have a big impact on the speed and success of your house sale.
If you are selling a UK property from abroad, you’ll want to ensure that your solicitor is easily contactable, even if you’re in different time zones. Some solicitors have thoroughly embraced the convenience and flexibility that technological advances offer, others are still very traditional with their processes. If you’re selling a UK home whilst living abroad, it will be important that your solicitor understands your personal situation and is happy to offer flexibility. It should be possible for your solicitor to manage the entire property sale process online, using email for all formal communication, which will mean you won’t need to meet with your solicitor in person at all.
What’s the best way to sell my property from abroad?
If you’re an expat selling UK property, you have a few different options:
Property buying companies
If you’re looking for a quick house sale, a sale to a genuine cash home buying company is by far the quickest and easiest option. The sale can be completed in just 7 days, if required, and the whole process will be managed by the company, making it completely stress-free for you. A house sale to a cash home buying company is also guaranteed, so there’s no danger of it falling through – something that sadly happens to around a third of property sales on the open market.
Property auctions offer the benefit of a definite time period, so you know your property won’t sit on the market for months on end. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that only around 70% of properties sell at auction, so you’d need to think about what you’d do with the property if the auction wasn’t successful.
Open market sale via estate agent
If you’ve sold a property before, the chances are you sold it on the open market using an estate agent. Open market sales are the most common method of property sale, but they are also the method that takes the longest, is the most unpredictable and requires most input from the property owner.
Do I have to come back to the UK to sell my house if I live overseas?
No, advances in technology and modernised working practices mean that it should be possible to conduct most property sales without needing to return to the UK.
What tax do you need to pay when selling a UK property from abroad?
In the UK, you are required to pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit you make from selling a property that is not your main residence. If you’re no longer living in the UK but are selling a property here, you will be required to pay Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax (NRCGT). How the property has been used whilst you’ve been living abroad will have an impact on whether you need to pay tax on any profit made, and if so, how much.
It’s important that you complete a Capital Gains Tax return, even if you don’t believe any Capital Gains Tax is owed. The form must be completed and returned within 30 days of the completion of the house sale. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to offer advice on whether any tax is due and how the tax return should be completed, but you can also use the government’s Non-Resident Capital Gains Tax calculator.
Will I need to pay any tax in the country I now live in?
The rules on any domestic tax payable will vary between countries, so it’s important to check your liability in the country where you currently live.
Are there any circumstances that would mean I don’t have to pay Capital Gains Tax on my property?
Capital Gains Tax is only payable if the property you are selling is not your main residence. If you are currently living abroad, it is likely that your UK property is not your main residence and therefore it can be assumed that there will be Capital Gains Tax to pay. If you’ve been traveling back and forth, it may not be so clear cut. If the following statements are true, you may find that you are exempt from paying Capital Gains Tax:
- You or your partner have lived in the property for a minimum of 90 days per year.
- The property has not been used exclusively as a business eg. the property has not been rented out in your absence.
- The property is not larger than 5,000 square metres.
We would always recommend that you seek independent financial advice for further guidance on any Capital Gains Tax that may be payable.
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
Do I have to be in the UK to sell my house?
No, a competent property buying company or estate agent/solicitor partnership should be able to complete the sale of the property without the need for you to be in the country.
Do I have to pay Capital Gains Tax in the UK if I live abroad?
If the property that’s being sold is not your main residence (which it is unlikely to be if you’re living abroad), you will need to pay Capital Gains Tax on any profit made when the property is sold. This is true, even if you live abroad. You may also be required to pay additional tax in the country where you now reside, so it’s important that you do your research and get independent financial advice on your tax liabilities.
What’s the best way to sell my house quickly if I live abroad?
Selling to a cash home buying company will be the quickest way to sell your UK property.
Will it cost more to sell my house if I live overseas?
No, it should cost the same amount as selling a property whilst living in the UK. The only difference will come if you’re required to pay domestic tax on top of the Capital Gains Tax payable in the UK.