Selling at Auction in the UK When You Live Overseas
A guide to selling property in the UK when living abroad
This article is designed to help property owners who live a long distance from their UK property (e.g. expats) and want to know the best way to sell. It covers the main routes to selling and pays special attention to the pro’s and con’s of selling a property at auction.
Last updated by Mark Grantham on 6th March 2020
Advice for property owners & landlords
“…it’s the transparency of an auction sale that makes it an ideal choice for UK property owners living some distance away from the property “
Local versus expat property owners
Owning and managing a property whilst you’re living overseas can be difficult. Whilst there’s nothing to stop an overseas property investor from successfully operating a portfolio of properties in the UK, it does come at a financial cost. For example the many Chinese and Russian investors pay generously to local agents for the privilege of their bricks and mortar investment in the UK to be fully managed. For property owners who have one or two properties it’s quite different.
When you’re living hundreds of miles away from the property, unless you have a reliable contact “on the ground” in the UK, you can be disconnected from what is actually happening. We’ve seen cases where letting agents have been letting 3 bedroom houses to 5 separate parties by converting the reception rooms into bedrooms, and the income they receive is 3 times the amount they’re reporting back to the landlord. This is commonly known as rent-to-rent, where the letting agent agrees to pay the landlord a guaranteed income. If you don’t mind the fact that the letting agent is using your property as a mini-hostel then that will not necessarily a problem, until it comes to selling the property. When the letting agent is making a healthy profit from renting your property it can all of a sudden become quite difficult to arrange a sale!
This is quite an extreme case, but worth bearing in mind when considering your sale options. In other words, how do you ensure a transparent property sale, with no hidden agendas?
Protecting your property from title fraud
In the event of receiving an email stating that there has been a change to the title you should contact the Land Registry and your solicitor as soon as possible.
Ordinarily Land Registry would send a letter to the property address notifying the owner of a change to the title, but if you don’t live there then you won’t receive the letter. If you’ve moved away from the property permanently you should also advise the Land Registry of your new correspondence (postal) address.
More about the Land Registry’s fraud alert service.