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renting vs. selling property Row of Properties in London
David Cullinan 2020-1-15

Moving abroad? Decide between renting vs. selling property you own in the U.K.

This article was created in partnership with Western Union.

When moving abroad, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of renting vs. selling property that you own. Both options provide advantages, but depending on your situation, you may find one option more beneficial than the other.

As a first step, you should understand the legal and tax implications of both renting and selling. For example, if you have a mortgage, check if you can legally rent your U.K. property — you will need to pay tax on any income you receive from doing so.

Pros and cons of renting vs. selling property in the U.K.

 

Renting

  • Pro: You could earn more income in the long run.
  • Pro: Maintaining a local property makes travelling easier if you return to the U.K. on a regular basis.
  • Con: If the U.K. market declines, your rental income will be negatively affected.
  • Con: As a landlord, you are responsible for anything that goes wrong with the property, so you will likely need to hire a local to tend to any issues. This person can be a friend or family member, or a letting agent who will manage the property for a fee.

Selling

  • Pro: Once the sale is complete, you no longer have any further considerations. This would be the most hassle-free option for somebody looking to make a “clean break” from the U.K.
  • Pro: You will receive a lump sum of capital from the sale, which you can use to buy property abroad.
  • Con: The housing market’s health is an important consideration to take into account. You stand to lose a lot in resale value if the U.K. property market declines.
  • Con: If you wish to return to the U.K. one day, maintaining a local property may be a preferable choice.

Factors to consider when making the decision

 

Choosing a money transfer service

Whatever choice you make regarding your property, you will likely need to move money abroad at some point. Banks often charge excessive fees on overseas transfers, so it’s a good idea to look into using a third-party international money transfer service. Western Union is one of the longest-running and trusted money transfer services available. Use the Western Union® app to make fast, reliable transfers to and from anywhere in the world.

Current housing market

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the London housing market appears to be improving, according to a report from the Financial Times. The drop in the British pound’s value may be a factor in the increased interest in U.K. property from overseas buyers. Also, competition between private banks has resulted in lower interest rates on mortgages, creating excellent opportunities for buyers.

However, Brexit and the U.K.’s future remains unknown, so exactly which way the housing market goes from here is anyone’s guess.

Logistics of managing the property

When renting a property from abroad, many people rely on a friend or family member to manage the logistics. However, managing an overseas property is no easy task, and such an arrangement could cause undue stress on the relationship.

If you do go this route, you should still research the costs involved with using a professional letting agent. In the event that the arrangement with a family member collapses, you will need to know if renting is still profitable for you.

Another concern is paying capital gains tax to HM Revenue and Customs. You will need to pay a 20% tax on any income over £11,500 from renting your U.K. property, explains GOV.UK. To do so, you must employ an accountant, or register for Self Assessment and complete an annual tax return.

Your financial situation

The most important factor to consider when thinking about renting vs. selling property in the U.K. is your personal financial situation. If you don’t have other investments or a good retirement package, you might consider keeping your U.K. property. If you fall on hard times after retirement, this property might be a welcome backup source of income.

It can be tough deciding whether to rent or sell your property, but with a little bit of research, expert help and careful consideration of your personal circumstances, you’ll make a smart financial decision.

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