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How to sell an inherited retirement property

Published: 22 June 2017

At Retirementmove, we aim to help to make the process of selling an inherited retirement property a little less stressful at a difficult time.

Whereas you have several ownership options when inheriting a standard property, a retirement property will almost certainly need to be sold – unless of course you are of the appropriate age and wish to live there yourself.

There are two main reasons why it’s important to start the sale process of your inherited retirement property as soon as possible:

  • If the estate is valued at over the tax-free threshold, you will need to pay the inheritance tax within 6 months. (Thresholds including property are: £425,000 for children or grandchildren and £325,000 for other beneficiaries)
  • You will be responsible for paying the weekly service charge on the property for as long as you own it and this can mount up quickly.

Managing the task of organising possessions

The very first thing to do is to go to the property and start the difficult process of organising the home contents.  Depending on the details of the will, there may be possessions that now belong to others that need to be packed up, and you will want to decide which items to keep for yourself and which to give away, sell or dispose of.

It’s wise to try and do the most important parts of this process yourself. Not only is it a lovely way to say goodbye but it can be hard to hand over such a personal task to a stranger.  However, once you have sorted and identified the most important items it can be helpful to appoint a third party service to complete the rest of the work.

Ideally, you want to keep key pieces of furniture and some decorative items in order to dress the property for sale. Furnished rooms look much more appealing than bare rooms.

Start a relationship with the property manager

Property managers – often called house managers or lodge managers – are the gatekeepers of retirement properties and so it makes sense to get to know them better. Their help and support can be invaluable and they often also have great relationships with estate agents.  The property manager will also be involved when vetting any new buyers.

Spending some time at the development and getting to know other staff and residents can also be helpful for providing your appointed estate agent with selling points and stories they can impart to potential buyers. 

Arrange a valuation

Even if you haven’t been through probate yet, you can still begin the process of putting the property on the market. The first step is to have it valued and to get a realistic market appraisal.

Bear in mind that if your loved one purchased their retirement property new, achieving an equivalent or higher price for resale may not be realistic.  Some retirement properties do hold their value, but sale prices can depend on a variety of factors other than trends in the wider property market. 

Approaching an estate agent that specialises in retirement properties is invaluable at this stage, as you will be more likely to get an accurate valuation that will help the property sell more quickly.

Talk through the sales process with a retirement property professional

Most retirement housebuilders don’t handle the resale of their properties, therefore it’s important to talk through the sale process with an agent that understands that side of the relationship, including any fees that may be payable to the housebuilder.

You may also wish to learn how the process works once an offer has been made on your property and work begins to progress the sale. Most estate agents understand potential issues with probate and progressing the sale, so get them to tell you upfront how they will support you during this period.

For example, Retirementmove will go the extra mile regularly ringing round all involved parties to ensure everyone has the information they need and to follow-up on any missing paperwork. If necessary, we can explain the probate process and what is required.  For leasehold properties, a management pack is required which has all the relevant certificates for buildings insurance and safety. Our established relationships with the retirement property management companies can speed up this part of the sale.

Achieving a quick sale

Getting the valuation right is the first step towards a quicker sale. Other things to consider include how your designated agent will market your property. A local agent is great for local advertising, however a national agent is often better for retirement properties as they can cast the buyer net more widely. With retirement property a higher percentage of buyers will be changing location to move closer to relatives, or are simply wishing to retire somewhere new such as the seaside or countryside.

It’s important to reach the right people when marketing your property. Rightmove is a given, but there are also property portals specifically for older people which should be used, as well as targeted marketing campaigns.

A specialist agent also understands that the decision-making process for making a big move such as downsizing from a family home to a retirement apartment can be long and emotionally challenging. It’s therefore important to emphasise all the aspects of the property to a buyer, including the lifestyle and social benefits, not simply the bricks and mortar. We also recommend families being involved in the process wherever possible and ideally come along to viewings.

We’re here when you’re ready to sell

When you are ready to put your retirement property on the market call us for a friendly, no-pressure chat. Our number is 0800 080 3152 or you can email:

Find out more about selling your property here


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