Selling a Property While Living Abroad
From time to time, we are contacted by vendors who want to sell a property in Ireland while living overseas. The first question is whether it is indeed possible to sell a property while not in the country and we are happy to confirm that it very much is indeed possible. Below are the steps to keep in mind when selling a property while abroad.
Picking the Right Estate Agent
You want an estate agent to whom you can deliver keys and be confident that they will do the rest i.e. be your boots on the ground to handle the entire sale from start to finish. This involves the agent visiting the property to carry out the initial valuation as well as hosting viewings. If the property is a rental property, you may not have been there in a while and would like an update from the agent as to the condition of the property and recommendations as to any remedial work that should be taken care of in advance of listing for sale.
The agent will also need to ensure that third parties such as BER assessors , valuers, & pre-purchase surveyors can access the property as required. It’s important to let your estate agent know that you won’t be present in person at any point and will be relying on the agent heavily to manage the entire process. If you are in a different time-zone, communication can be tricky so ask your agent how they intend to report on viewings and offers to you. Auctioneera’s online vendor dashboard puts all of the key performance indicators pertaining to your property’s sale at your fingertips 247.
In order to list your property for sale, it will need an up to date BER Certificate. To check if your property has an up to date BER, check out this website: https://ndber.seai.ie/pass/ber/search.aspx If you do require a BER Assessor, you can browse pricing and reviews as well as engage your chosen assessor from anywhere in the world at our BER Assessor Marketplace.
As you are no longer living in the country, presumably the furniture is of no real use to you and as such it is likely preferable for the furniture to be included as part of the sale i.e. your agent will make it clear to the interested parties that the furniture is part of the sale. If the furniture is in a decent state of repair, this may help the sale and add some value. Alas, if the furniture is old and in bad condition, buyers may subtract the cost of disposing of the furniture from their offers. This may well be acceptable in order to avoid the logistics of arranging the disposal of the contents of the property remotely.
Some solicitors still insist that you attend their office in person to sign contracts. Obviously, this won’t work if you’re abroad so make sure that you get a progressive solicitor who will let you sign by video call (skype, whatsapp, zoom etc). Your solicitor posts the contracts to you and you sign them remotely while your solicitor talks you through each page on a video call.
How Long Does the Process Take?
A typical time to get to sale agreed is 4-6 weeks; some properties move more quickly and others can sit on the market for a long time, typically if they are overpriced or if in rural areas with less demand. But a reasonably priced property in an urban area can realistically be predicted to be sale agreed for full market value in approximately 4-6 weeks. Alas, getting to sale-agreed is often the easy part. The conveyancing (legal) part of the process can drag on seemingly without end depending on the urgency and organisation of the legal representatives on both sides. It is absolutely vital to engage a professional, organised, energetic solicitor the moment you decide to sell. This will give them the time to get the deeds from the bank (if the property is mortgaged), draft contracts and have all the necessary documentation to hand the moment the property goes sale agreed. This is actually very rare with many solicitors only requesting the deeds when the property goes sale-agreed. If that happens, you are looking at an absolutely tortuous conveyance that could take several months and the chances of the sale falling through increase dramatically. Alas, even if you have a professional, earnest solicitor, there are no guarantees that the purchaser’s side will reciprocate and unfortunately this is outside of your control. If you are lucky and deal with a diligent solicitor on the other side of the transaction, you can expect the conveyance to take another 4-6 weeks. If not, then it could drag on for months on end. While it may take less, you should expect the conveyance to take in the region of 10 weeks as the likelihood of getting two “on-the-ball” solicitors on both sides is remote. We recommend checking out the Auctioneera Conveyance Marketplace to find an Auctioneera Approved Solicitor to ensure your side doesn’t delay matters.
As you have moved out of the property, it likely no longer qualifies as your principal residence and alas this means that capital gains tax will likely apply on the gain realised. However, if you lived abroad as a condition of your employment and return to the property before selling, then the property can still be considered as your principal residence even during the overseas stint. Even if the overseas period doesn’t qualify for tax relief, CGT will only be levied on the pro-rata gain accrued during the period that the property was not your principal residence i.e. not on the entire gain. There is a useful article here on this topic. We have also produced a handy capital gains tax calculator to get an idea as to your likely liability, if any. However, unless you are pretty financially sharp and willing to do your research, it would be wise to engage an Irish accountant to calculate your liability and file the necessary return for you. Contact three accountants, explain what you need done and request a quotation for the same; make sure to agree the price in advance. This is an important task to get right but should not take an accountant more than a few hours so the bill should be in the hundreds not thousands of Euro to calculate the liability and file the return. Ask estimated hours and hourly rate.
Foreign Exchange Fees
If you’ve moved to a non Euro country, you will likely want to convert the net proceeds of sale from Euro to the currency of the country in which you now live. Be sure to shop around for the absolute best deal on foreign exchange rates as online fx providers can save you a fortune when dealing in large sums.
So if you have decided to sell but are living abroad, don’t let that put you off. Thanks to modern technology, the sale can be managed effectively and smoothly with you kept abreast of every development in the process right up until funds hit your account, wherever that may be!