Selling a Holiday Home or Property Overseas

publication date: Sep 29, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books

With the recent credit crunch and issues with sterling falling against other currencies, many overseas owners are thinking of selling rather than buying a property abroad. However, there is little advice and help out there to know how to do this successfully.

The Five Key Issues when Selling a Property Abroad
Selling a home abroad is very different to selling a property in the UK. We often complain about the ‘slow’ process here, but in fact versus other countries we are:-

1. Quite quick at selling property
2. Our estate agents charge less than MOST others in the rest of the world

Issue One: It may take two years or more to sell your property!
If you are in rural France, people don’t move very often and most property is passed down from one to another generation. As a result, it can take years rather than months or even weeks to sell a home, so before you decide to sell, make sure you understand how long it will take so you can plan ahead.

Issue Two: The legals
It’s important to be sure that all the legal paperwork is in place for you to sell the home and that you understand how property is transferred from you to another party successfully. You need to know who to involve and be around for any paperwork that needs to be signed.

Issue Three: Who should you sell through and who should you sell too?
With the internet offering to ‘sell your property for free’ it’s easy to be drawn into these services in the belief they will do the job for you. This might work if your property is likely to be bought by another Brit, but unlikely to work if you could sell to the local market.

Typically a local agent, and/or an agent that is established locally but also has an international arm such as Savills or Hamptons allows you take advantage of both markets and will help you value the property correctly too.

You may have to pay up to 10% to an agent to sell a property, but if they do it you still bank 90% of the money, which may be a lot better than banking £0 because you advertise somewhere that costs nothing too.

Issue Four: Currency Exchange Issues
With current market uncertainty, currency fluctuations are rife. The £1 against the $1 for example has fluctuated from £1 to $1.96 in January 2007 and in September 2009, was £1 to $1.68 but at one time went even lower!

Of course a falling pound against a foreign currency might be good for you if you selling the property and own it in a foreign currency.

So it is essential before you decide to sell, visit sites such as and talk to a currency exchange specialist to make sure you receive the best advice and if you need to fix an exchange rate you can.  HOWEVER, do not go to your bank for this service, they will charge a lot more than a specialist will!

Issue Five: Tax
When you come to sell the property it’s likely that you will owe tax in the country that you sell the property in (in their currency) and then you may well have to pay tax in the UK too. It’s important to consult a specialist property tax advisor to make sure that you pay what you owe and have professional advice on how to mitigate your tax bill.

If you need any help to sell your home overseas, do get in touch and we’ll do what we can to help you! Contact us via email or tel 0845 838 1763.

Need help with a property problem? Have a question? Why not call Designs on Property on 07585 897128 or Contact Us via email.
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