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Selling an investment property: quirks and considerations

Feb 19, 2024 | Uncategorised

Have you decided to take the plunge and sell your investment property? If so, there are several avenues you could go down. You could sell to fund a new property. You could slim down your portfolio. Or you could say goodbye to your buy-to-let days forever.

Whatever your motives, selling an investment property isn’t like a traditional sale. It brings with it some quirks, challenges and considerations that you should weigh up before putting your property on the market.

In this article, we take you by the hand and lead you through the labyrinth. We hope it equips you with the facts you need to make a sale that works for you.

What is an investment sale?

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re on the same page about our definitions.

From one point of view, any property you own is an investment – but when we talk about an investment property or an investment sale, we mean a property that:

  • Has rent-paying tenants
  • Is subject to one or more leases
  • Is bought with the end goal of selling at a profit

Where do your tenants fit in?

Your tenant or tenants could be in a position to buy the property. If they’re not, you’re at a fork in the road: do you sell the property as vacant or tenanted?

Whichever direction of travel you take, it’s always advisable to communicate clearly and effectively with your tenants out of respect.

Who can you sell to?

You’ve got a choice. You can sell your property to a homeowner. This is likely to sell at a slightly lower price than if it had been a permanent home – largely because the decor tends to show more wear and tear and include more features that a new buyer might want to remove.

Alternatively, you can sell to another landlord.

What does it mean to sell with vacant possession?

When you come to sell your investment property, you can do so with “vacant possession” or with sitting tenants.

Vacant possession means evicting your tenants. The purpose of this is to give you time to refurbish the property and get a bigger sale price.

As well as this financial incentive, it also widens your net of potential purchasers, capturing investors as well as potential owner-occupiers.

However, selling with vacant possession contributes to the shortage of properties in the private rental sector – one good reason to sell with sitting tenants to another landlord.

As well as this broader concern about the state of the housing market, there’s also a self-interested reason not to sell with vacant possession. By evicting your tenants, you’re cutting off an income stream.

What does it mean to sell with sitting tenants?

The alternative to selling with vacant possession is to sell with sitting tenants – transferring your rent-payers to a new landlord.

This is attractive to other landlords because they can be sure of a guaranteed income – especially if your tenants have a clean record of paying rent. And it can be an attractive option to you, the seller, because you don’t choke off an income stream during the sales process.

The main downside is that selling with sitting tenants involves more paperwork.

Do you need to do up the house before selling?

Properties can be sold in any condition. However, selling a property without doing it up first will affect its sale price.

If you’re selling with vacant possession, it can be a good idea to maximise the property’s profitability by doing some or all of the following:

  • Carry out repairs.
  • Arrange a deep clean.
  • Tidy the property.
  • Redecorate.
  • Check pipes and taps.
  • Check door and window handles.
  • Sort out the garden.
  • Think about kerb appeal.

All these jobs will make your investment property more appealing to a potential buyer, so it can be worth the time and effort.

Next, there’s the question of paperwork.

Paperwork: what do you need to do?

When you sell an investment property, you need to provide the following:

  • Sales pack
  • ID
  • Title deeds
  • TA forms
  • Energy performance certificate (EPC)
  • Gas and electricity safety certificates
  • Any documentation pertaining to extensions and alterations

If you sell with sitting tenants, you need to provide paperwork relating to them, including:

  • Tenancy agreement
  • Evidence of right to rent
  • Inventory
  • Condition report
  • Details of any repairs
  • Deposit protection paperwork

It’s worth sorting these things out sooner rather than later to make the sale as smooth as possible.

Do you need to consider Capital Gains Tax?

Landlords are liable for Capital Gains Tax (CGT) when selling an investment property because it doesn’t qualify as their main home.

CGT doesn’t apply to the total value of the sale – just the profit made after certain allowances have been deducted. And it only kicks in when your profits exceed the tax-free CGT allowance of £12,300 a year.

At the time of writing, CGT is 18% if your taxable income and gains fall within the basic income tax band. It goes up to 28% on any higher tax rate.

Getting a conveyancer

Like any other property sale, investment properties need to be conveyanced. You can either get a conveyancing solicitor or a qualified (but not legally trained) conveyancer to do the job for you.

Your conveyancer will manage the transfer of the property from you to your buyer. This involves things like property searches, paperwork and the handling of money.

Mistakes in the conveyancing process can cost you in the long run, so it’s worth shopping around for a reputable partner.

Conclusion

Selling an investment property doesn’t have to be difficult – but it does involve some quirks and considerations that might not be immediately obvious.

If you do find yourself struggling with the fine print, why not get help from a conveyancing solicitor? It could make all the difference.

Are you looking for a conveyancing solicitor in Pontefract, Harrogate or Leeds? Get in touch with Milners today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

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