Selling at Auction in the UK When You Live Overseas

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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

There are many reasons why UK property owners move away for the long-term (or permanently) before they decide to sell their property. Whether you live a two hour drive away or a twenty hour flight away from the property, concerns about maintaining a vacant property or managing tenants when you’re not within physical reach of the property can certainly keep you up at night.

“…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 “

If you live overseas from the property you’re interested in selling, you’ll find this article to be useful in helping you make an informed decision on the pro’s and con’s of selling with an estate agent, direct to an investor or selling at auction.

Local versus expat property owners

We’ve written this article because of the surprisingly high number of enquiries we receive from UK property owners living overseas who are researching the best routes to selling their property in the UK. In the majority of cases the owner has rented their UK property using a local letting agent and the time has come to sell the property.

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

If you’re living away from the property, it can be a good idea to sign up to the Land Registry’s fraud alert service. The service alerts you by email to any new changes to the title, for example if someone is applying for a loan to be secured against the property or even attempting to sell the property without your consent, then the alert service will send you an email notifying you of the change.

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.

Selling a tenanted property in the UK, when you live overseas

Selling a tenanted property in the UK, when you live overseas

How to sell a vacant property, when you live abroad?

How to sell a vacant property, when you live abroad?
Find out more about auction reserve prices and why they’re so important!

Options for selling a property in the UK

Options for selling a property in the UK

Selling a property at auction in the UK

Selling a property at auction in the UK
Need more help? Call us on 0800 862 0206 or send us an enquiry online.

Next steps…

Why not request a free pre-auction appraisal for your property? It only takes a few seconds. Or feel free to call us on 0800 862 0206 if you have any questions.
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