Selling Buy To Let property: Why landlords are doing it
If you’re looking at how selling a buy to let property can be profitable in 2024, then it’s important you understand the current market conditions, weigh up the pros and cons and consider your portfolio strategy…
There has been a shift in sentiment towards the buy to let property market, which has been proven by compelling data from a survey conducted by Fibri, a well known property finance broker. In June 2023, this survey revealed a significant trend: over 44% of landlords were considering selling their buy to let properties if the base rate rose to 4.5%.
This statistic reflects a growing concern among landlords about the increasing costs associated with property investment, particularly in the context of rising interest rates.
As of January 2024, with the base rate having escalated to 5.25%, surpassing the threshold that concerned landlords in the survey, we are at the cusp of selling buy to let shift in the market. With this, we have seen the trend of buy to let landlords selling up.
In this article, we will cover if the buy to let market is still worth it in 2024, what regulations are driving the shift in the market, and what the best ways to sell buy to let property are.
Is it worth selling Buy To Let property?
Determining whether it's worth selling your Buy To Let property in the UK hinges on a variety of factors, including current market conditions, your personal financial situation, and long-term investment goals. If the property has significantly appreciated in value, selling could yield substantial capital gains, providing liquidity for other investments or expenses.
However, this comes with potential drawbacks, such as the loss of steady rental income and the need to pay Capital Gains Tax on profits. Additionally, selling involves various costs, including estate agent fees, conveyancing fees, and potentially early mortgage repayment charges.
The decision to sell Buy To Let property not only hinges on market conditions but also significantly on your readiness to handle the ongoing responsibilities that come with property ownership. This includes dealing with tenants, maintaining the property, and staying compliant with ever-evolving housing regulations. On the other hand, you might be inclined towards liquidating this asset for a more fluid and diverse investment portfolio that offers different kinds of returns and risks.
Given the complexities involved in such a decision, especially in the current fluctuating market conditions, it's highly advisable to consult with a financial advisor. An expert can provide invaluable insights into how selling your property aligns with your broader financial goals and investment strategy.
Many landlords tend to lean towards selling their BTL properties when market prices are at their peak, aiming to maximise returns. This usually fits the narrative if the landlord has invested in the buy to let property in the intention of selling the property once it has appreciated in value.
Selling a Buy To Let Property Advantages
There are many advantages to selling buy to let properties in the UK, including capital appreciation, increasing liquidity, market conditions, reduced responsibilities, and some tax benefits:
Capital Gains: If your property has appreciated in value, selling it could result in significant capital gains.
Liquidity: Converting your property into cash can provide liquidity for other investments or personal expenses.
Market Conditions: If the market is at a peak, selling could maximise your return.
Reduced Responsibilities: Owning a BTL property comes with responsibilities like maintenance, finding tenants, and dealing with rental issues. Selling frees you from these.
Tax Benefits: Depending on your circumstances, selling might offer certain tax advantages, especially if you can utilise Capital Gains Tax allowances or reliefs.
Diversification: Selling might enable you to diversify your investment portfolio, reducing risk.
Selling a Buy To Let Property Disadvantages
On the other hand, there are also quite a few disadvantages to selling buy to let properties in the UK, and you will need to consider these and weigh them up against your strategy:
Loss of Rental Income: Selling your property means losing a steady stream of rental income.
Capital Gains Tax (CGT): If the property has increased in value, you might have to pay CGT, which can be significant.
Market Fluctuations: If the property market is down, you might not get the best price for your property.
Loss of a Tangible Asset: Real estate is often seen as a stable, tangible investment compared to more volatile markets.
Reinvestment Risk: The money from the sale will need to be reinvested, and finding a similarly profitable investment can be challenging.
Costs of Selling: There are various costs associated with selling (discussed below) that can reduce your net profit.
Selling a Buy To Let property costs
As with all things in our capitalist economy, there is always a cost when selling a buy to let property. These costs cover everything from Buy To Let estate agent fees, conveyancing fees and more:
Estate Agent Fees: Typically a percentage of the sale price; varies but generally around 1-3%.
Conveyancing Fees: Legal costs for transferring property ownership; can range from several hundred to a few thousand pounds.
Capital Gains Tax: This depends on the gain and your tax status. You have an annual tax-free allowance, but gains above this are taxed.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC): Required for selling a property; costs vary but generally under £100.
Preparation Costs: If the property needs renovation or repairs before selling, this can be a significant cost.
Mortgage Penalties: If you have a mortgage on the property, there may be early repayment charges.
Removal Costs: If the property is furnished, there may be costs associated with removing furniture.
Did you know that if you sold your buy to let property with us, then we will cover your conveyancing fees, and also not hit you with any additional costs? In fact, by using our service, you won’t incur any costs as our service is completely free of charge & we handle all aspects of the sale.
Is Buy To Let a good idea in 2024?
In 2024, whether But To Let is a good idea to actually invest in, will largely depend on your strategy, your market understanding and your willingness to adapt to changing conditions. The UK housing market, despite some fluctuations and a recent slowdown in price growth, remains fundamentally resilient, defined by high demand and limited supply.
The market has shown stability after initial volatility during the pandemic, with the underlying demand for housing still outweighing supply. This suggests that while there might not be rapid price growth, the market is not expected to crash imminently, maintaining a level of safety for buy to let investments.
The Bank of England’s increased base rate means higher mortgage costs, which could squeeze short term profits for landlords. However, the market also presents opportunities to secure competitively priced fixed-rate mortgage deals which can be beneficial in the long run as inflation is expected to drop.
The introduction of a 3% stamp duty surcharge on additional properties, along with other regulatory changes presents challenges by also opportunities. For example, the delay in mandatory upgrades for rental properties’ energy efficiency standards gives landlords more time to strategise improvements.
The Renters Reform Bill and other legislative changes could influence the rental market. Being strategic in setting rent amounts and maximising rental income while keeping properties competitive is vital for buy to let success.
Focusing on high demand areas, seeking value added opportunities and effective cost management are essential. Regularly reviewing property performance and being adaptable to market changes will help in maintaining healthy returns.
On the flip side to this, if you are looking to invest and selling a buy to let property for profit, you will still see capital appreciation. This is especially true in the North East and Yorkshire regions, where the potential for capital appreciation is the highest.
What has changed in the rental market?
The buy to let rental market has undergone significant changes recently, meaning more established landlords are feeling the brunt of the changes, particularly in terms of tax relief and mortgage financing.
Before 2017, landlords could offset their mortgage interest against their rental income, reducing their taxable income and thus their tax bill. For example, with a rental income of £10,000 and a mortgage interest payment of £9,000, only £1,000 would be taxable.
However, from 2020, the ability to deduct mortgage interest from rental income for tax purposes was phased out. From April 2020, landlords receive a tax credit for 20% of their mortgage interest payment only.
This change significantly affects higher and additional rate taxpayers who previously enjoyed 40% and 45% tax relief, respectively. Now, they must pay tax on the full rental income at their marginal rate, albeit with a 20% tax credit on mortgage interest.
For landlords, their full rental income must now be declared, which could push some landlords into a higher tax bracket, especially since personal tax allowances are frozen or reduced. This means rental income could be taxed at 40% or 45% for higher and additional rate taxpayers, respectively.
The era of low-interest mortgages, which fueled the growth of many property portfolios has ended. Interest rates have risen, with the lowest rate for a two year fix starting over 4%, and for a five-year fix over 3.8% as of January 2024. This makes remortgaging more expensive and difficult, as lenders have become stricter and increased their stress testing.
From 2025, new rental properties will need a minimum energy performance rating of C, and existing tenancies have until 2028 to comply. Failure to meet these standards could result in penalties up to £30,000.
How have Buy To Let profits changed 2024?
The changes in Buy To Let profitability, particularly due to the phasing out of mortgage interest relief, can be seen via how the tax situation for a landlord has changed before and after 2017.
In this example, the landlord is paying £639 per month in mortgage interest and earns £1,268 per month in rent, the following table illustrates the tax implications:
|Annual Rental Income
|Annual Mortgage Interest
|Taxable Annual Income
|Tax Credit of Mortgage Interest
|Tax Bill (Lower Rate Taxpayer)
|£1,509.60 (20% of £7,548)
|£1,509.60 (20% of £15,216 minus tax credit)
|Tax Bill (Higher Rate Taxpayer)
|£3,019.20 (40% of £7,548)
|£4,552.80 (40% of £15,216 minus tax credit)
If the landlord is a lower rate taxpayer, then their tax bill remains the same at £1,509.60 both before and after the changes, as the 20% tax credit effectively offsets the increase in taxable income.
But if the landlord is a higher rate taxpayer they face an increased tax bill, from £3,019.20 to £4,552.80. Under the current taxation, the landlord pays tax on the full rental income at their marginal rate. With only a 20% tax credit on the mortgage interest, resulting in a higher net tax liability compared to before 2017.
Why are landlords leaving the Buy To Let market?
The buy to let market, once a staple of investment strategies in the rental sector, is witnessing a significant transformation. In recent years, there’s been a growing trend of buy to let landlords selling up and exiting from the market.
This shift is not merely a reflection of market volatility but a response to a series of interwoven factors that have altered the landscape of property investment.
The BTL market is influenced by broader economic and housing market conditions. Fluctuations in property values, changing rental yields and the general economic climate play a role in shaping investment attractiveness. As the market evolves, some landlords find the returns on investment are no longer profitable alongside the efforts and risks involved, especially when considering the potential for capital appreciation.
At the forefront of these factors is the substantial change in tax legislation, most notably the revision of mortgage interest income tax relief. This change has profoundly affected the financial calculus for property investments.
How many buy to let landlords selling up in 2024?
In a survey conducted by Alan Boswell Landlord insurance, it was proven that many buy to let landlords are selling up in 2023. According to the survey, 52% of landlords in the UK plan to maintain their current portfolio size, indicating that there may be some level of stability in the market.
However, a substantial 26% of landlords have indicated a shift in their strategy, reporting that they intend to sell buy to let property more than they purchase. This trend suggests a movement towards portfolio downsizing or reallocation of investment assets.
On the flip side, only 22% of landlords are seeking to expand their buy to let holdings, highlighting a more cautious approach to property investment.
The survey also sheds light on the challenges faced by buy to let landlords. Maintenance requests emerged as the top issue, with 28% of landlords citing it as a significant concern. Maintenance requests show the ongoing responsibilities and costs associated with property upkeep in the rental market.
Tenant conflicts were the next challenge, reported by 20% of landlords, reflecting the sometimes complicated nature of landlord-tenant relationships.
TIme management was another concern, with 17% of landlords finding it difficult to balance the demand of property management with other commitments. Equally, 17% of landlords struggled with finding tenants, indicating challenges in maintaining retention and generating consistent rental income. Lastly, 10% of landlords reported difficulties in finding suitable properties, suggesting challenges in expansion or portfolio diversification.
How has mortgage interest income tax relief affected the BTL market?
Before 2017 landlords could deduct finance costs, like mortgage interest from their rental income when calculating their taxable profit. This deduction effectively reduced the taxable income, leading to lower tax bills, especially beneficial for higher rate taxpayers.
From 2017 to 2020, HMRC started phasing out the finance costs deduction over a four-year period. This gradual phase-out was designed to transition landlords to the new tax system.
From April 2020 the new system of tax credits fully came into effect. Under this system, landlords can no longer deduct any of their mortgage interest from their rental income. Instead they receive a 20% tax relief on mortgage interest payments.
The shift has affected landlords who are higher or additional rate taxpayers. Previously, they benefited more from the finance cost deduction as they were paying tax at a higher rate. WIth the new system, their ability to reduce taxable income is limited, leading to a higher overall tax liability.
For many landlords, especially those with significant mortgage interest payments, the inability to deduct these costs from rental income means a higher taxable income, resulting in reduction in net profit from their rental properties.
To offset the increased tax burden, some landlords might have considered increasing rent prices. However, this strategy is constrained by market conditions and tenants’ ability to pay.
The change in tax treatment has led some landlords to reassess their investment strategies. This includes considering the viability of holding onto certain properties, potentially selling properties that are less profitable under the new tax regime, or restructuring their portfolios.
Some landlords have explored the option of holding properties within a limited company instead of personal ownership, as the tax treatment for corporations remained more favourable in some aspects.
The new tax regime has possibly made property investment less attractive for certain investors, particularly those in higher tax brackets, as the financial returns have diminished.
There might have been a cooling effect on the BTL market as new investors assess the profitability in light of these tax changes, and existing landlords become more cautious about expanding their portfolios.
Why are landlords exiting the BTL market due to changes in mortgage interest tax relief?
With the introduction of the tax credit system in 2020 replacing the ability to deduct finance costs like mortgage interest from rental income, landlords, especially those in higher tax brackets, have seen an increased tax burden. This change reduces the profitability of buy to let properties for many landlords.
The inability to deduct mortgage interest directly from rental income means landlords have higher taxable income and consequently higher tax bills. This reduction in net profits has made BTL investments less appealing, particularly for those with substantial mortgage payments.
In an attempt to offset increased costs, some landlords may have increased rents. However, this strategy is limited by market conditions and tenants’ affordability, potentially leading to longer vacancy periods and reduced overall returns.
The new tax regime has prompted landlords to reevaluate their investment portfolios. For some, the diminished returns have led to the decision to sell off properties, especially those that are less profitable under the new tax rules.
The changes have also encouraged some landlords to move their property holdings to corporate structures, where tax treatment can be more favourable. However, this transition is not feasible or desirable for all landlords due to the associated costs.
Is now a good time to sell Buy To Let property?
If you are wondering whether you should sell buy to let property, we don’t blame you! The market has changed significantly, and there may be better property investments available.
As a basic, higher or additional rate taxpayer, it is becoming increasingly important to reassess your buy-to-let investment strategy, particularly as your rental income propels you into higher tax brackets.
This scenario is growing more probable for many, considering that personal tax allowances have been frozen until 2028, potentially impacting your tax liability.
Recent changes in legislation, along with various operational challenges in the BTL market, have begun to influence landlords’ decisions significantly. Factors such as void periods, where properties remain unoccupied, are becoming more critical considerations. Moreover, the landscape of borrowing has altered; higher borrowing costs are now a reality, impacting the overall profitability of BTL investments.
Landlords, particularly those in the higher tax brackets, are now faced with a complex array of financial and strategic decisions. The prospect of increased remortgaging costs, coupled with other escalating operational expenses, is promoting a reevaluation of the viability and desirability of maintaining buy to let properties.
If you are wanting to offload your property portfolio, below are some questions we get asked frequently about selling tenanted properties, which may be of use.
Should I sell my Buy To Let vacant or with tenants in situ?
Selling a property vacant often appeals to a broader range of buyers, including those who want to occupy the property themselves or choose their own tenants. It can also be easier to present and renovate the property when it’s empty. However, you will lose rental income during the selling period.
Selling a property with tenants in situ on the other hand can be attractive to investors looking for an immediate income stream and can avoid the loss of rental income during the sale process. However, it may limit your market to only investors and some buyers might be deterred by the existing tenant arrangements.
Understanding tenants rights is vital if you plan to sell buy to let property that is currently tenants in situ.
When should you service notice to your tenants?
You should serve notice in accordance with the terms of the tenancy agreement and relevant UK housing laws. Usually, under an Assured Shorthold Tenancy you need to provide at least two months’ notice (Section 21 notice), ensuring it aligns with the tenancy period.
Should you short term let while selling?
Short term letting during the selling process can maintain some income, but comes with challenges. Frequent tenant turnover might complicate viewings and potentially delay the selling process. There are also additional legal and management considerations with short-term lets.
Short term letting while selling a buy to let property is a balance between maintaining income and ensuring the property is accessible and presentable for sale.
Do you pay stamp duty when you sell Buy-To-Let property?
In the UK, Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable on purchasing a property, not on selling. Therefore, as a seller, you don’t have to pay stamp duty when selling a buy to let property. However, if you are purchasing an onward property, then you will need to pay Stamp Duty.
Selling Buy To Let property in 2024
As the tax year progresses, many landlords are contemplating selling a buy to let property. If you’re selling a tenanted property or looking to sell a vacant one, it’s important to understand the things that could impact your sale.
In this section we will cover all the varying factors which could affect your buy to let sale in 2024.
Challenges of selling a tenanted buy-to-let property
Selling a tenanted buy to let property in 2024 comes with its own set of challenges, like communication with management agencies, tenant cooperation, market appeal, property accessibility and lease agreements.
If you are wanting to sell buy to let property, but it has been let out to a tenant and you are not managing the property personally and rely on property management agencies, you will need to make sure your communication skills are water tight. This can be done by keeping all parties involved fully informed and actively cooperative throughout the selling process.
The management agency or lettings agent, should be prepared to facilitate viewings, liaise with tenants and handle any inquiries from buyers.
Selling a property with sitting tenants necessitates considering their rights and obtaining their cooperation for viewings. You will need to give the tenants legal notice that you need access to the property and respect their privacy and schedule.
When selling a buy to let property with tenants in situ, you may want to target investors seeking a turnkey solution, although this may limit your market. To increase your chances of a successful sale, you may want to highlight how reliable the rental income is, your tenant history and the potential yields of the property.
Potential buyers will be interested in the existing lease agreements and any rent review clauses, and these should be clearly explained to any prospective buyers.
How do you sell a vacant property quickly?
If you’re looking to sell a vacant property quickly, perhaps to release equity or exit a buy-to-let mortgage, timing and presentation are key. A vacant property can be more attractive to a broader range of buyers, including those seeking a home for personal use. Ensuring the property is well-presented and priced correctly can speed up the sell buy to let property process.
Alternatively, you could sell your vacant property to a cash buyer - like us! We can buy your house for cash in as little as seven days, although most sellers tend to go on a slightly longer timeline. We are able to help you sell buy to let faster because we have our own cash reserves, which means we can buy in as little as seven days.
When do you have to pay Capital Gains Tax on Buy To Let?
When selling a buy to let property, capital gains tax is usually due if you make a profit or gain that exceeds the annual exempt amount. You are required to report and pay any capital gains tax owed within 60 days of completing the sale.
This timeline is important because if you don’t follow it, you will face potential penalties or interest charges. The rate of Capital Gains Tax you’ll pay depends on your income and the size of your gain and can vary significantly, but we have plenty of resources to help.
What is your Capital Gains Tax liability when you sell your rental property?
In terms of capital gains tax liability when you sell your rental property, the profits will be subject to capital gains tax. It’s important to factor in your capital gains allowance when calculating potential tax liability.
Any improvements to the property that enhance its value can be deducted from the gain, potentially reducing your tax bill. Keeping abreast of changes in the capital gains tax rates and allowances each tax year is important to accurately assess your financial obligations.
What are the reasons landlords are selling their Buy To Let properties in 2024?
In 2024, landlords are facing a confluence of factors prompting them to sell buy to let property. The key reasons for landlords selling up, are:
Charges in mortgage interest tax relief: The phasing out of the ability to deduct mortgage interest from rental income has increased the tax burden for landlords, particularly affecting higher rate taxpayers.
Rising interest rates: Increases in interest rates have led to higher borrowing costs, squeezing the profitability of buy to let investments.
Legal changes in tenant eviction: Anticipated changes in tenant eviction laws, especially the abolishment of the Section 21 eviction notice, will make it potentially more challenging to evict tenants.
Shifts in personal tax allowances: Changes and freezes in personal tax allowances have altered the tax landscape, impacting landlords’ net incomes.
What impact does selling Buy To Let properties have on the overall rental market?
The trends of landlords selling off their buy to let properties could significantly impact the rental market by:
Reduction in rental property supply: A large-scaled exit of landlords from the market could decrease the availability of rental properties.
Potential rent increases: A reduced supply of rental properties, especially in high-demand areas, could lead to an increase in rental prices, affecting affordability for tenants.
Shifts in rental property quality: As some landlords exit the market, the remaining rental properties’ quality and management might change, depending on the new owners’ approach to property investment and maintenance.
What alternatives are there for landlords considering exiting the Buy To Let market?
Landlords contemplating an exit from the buy to let market have several alternatives to consider:
Diversifying into different property investments: This could include moving into full commercial property, holiday lettings, or exploring emerging property sectors like green or sustainable properties.
Exploring other investment vehicles: Landlords might consider reallocating their capital into stocks, bonds, mutual funds or even emerging investment areas like cryptocurrencies or tech startups.
Restructuring property portfolio: Instead of a complete exit, landlords might opt to restructure their portfolios, perhaps by selling off less profitable properties and focusing on those with better returns or less management intensity.
Entering property development: Some landlords might transition into property development, focusing on renovating and flipping properties rather than managing rental properties.
What is the best way to sell Buy To Let property?
Selling a buy to let property in a way that is both efficient and profitable requires careful planning and a well-thought out strategy, taking into account several factors. The process begins with a key decision: whether to sell the property with tenants in situ or to offer it vacant. This choice can significantly influence the pool of potential buyers and the property’s appeal in the market.
Once you’ve made this decision, the next step involves obtaining property valuations. It’s advisable to seek appraisals from multiple estate agents, particularly those with expertise in the buy to let market, to ensure you establish a realistic and competitive selling price.
Depending on your situation, you might require valuations for individual properties or an assessment of your entire portfolio if you’re considering a bulk sale. In terms of selling methods, there are generally three effective avenues for selling a buy to let property:
1. To a cash buyer
Selling to cash buyers, such as investment firms or individual investors, offers a swift and straightforward transaction. While this method provides a guaranteed sale at an agreed price point, the offer might be below the market value compared to other methods.
When selling a buy to let property to a cash buyer, you are selling to motivated buyers who know the industry like the back of their hand. Cash house buyers like ourselves, have worked in the property industry for years and know how to deal with tenants, how to sell properties for renovation and can buy in any location across the country.
2. Through an estate agent
This is a common and often preferred route. Estate agents provide valuable services such as managing viewings, handling negotiations and offering insights into current market trends. They also assist in marketing the property to reach a wide range of potential buyers.
3. Via auction
This method is particularly suitable for those seeking a rapid sale. Auctions can expedite the selling process, but it’s important to note that the final sale price can be unpredictable. This route might be more appealing if you are looking for a quick closure rather than maximising the sale price.
Is it easy to sell a Buy To Let property?
The ease of selling a buy to let property can vary, with some landlords finding the process straightforward, and others encountering some challenges. In order to level the playing field, you may want to consider following these points:
The state of the property market is a significant factor. In a seller's market, where demand outstrips supply, selling can be easier. Conversely, in a buyer's market, it might be more challenging to find a buyer or achieve the desired sale price.
Property Location and Condition:
Properties in desirable locations or those in excellent condition are typically easier to sell. A well-maintained property in a sought-after area will attract more interest and potentially sell faster.
Setting the right price is crucial. Overpricing can lead to a longer time on the market, while underpricing might result in a quicker sale but reduced profits.
Selling a property with tenants in situ can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. It might appeal to investors looking for immediate rental income, but it could also limit potential buyers to only those interested in BTL, excluding buyers looking for a home to live in.
Economic and Regulatory Environment:
Changes in interest rates, mortgage availability, and BTL-specific regulations can impact the ease of selling. For example, higher interest rates might reduce the pool of potential buyers.
Marketing and Sales Approach:
Effective marketing, including professional photography and comprehensive property listings, can facilitate a quicker sale. Choosing the right sales method (through an estate agent, auction, or online platform) also plays a role.
Thinking of putting your Buy To Let portfolio for sale? We can help!
If you are interested in selling your buy to let portfolio, then where better than selling to us? We are one of the UK’s leading and most rated cash buyers, with thousands of excellent reviews. Our service was born over 12 years ago, and over the years we have fine tuned into the company we are today.
We work with property investors and landlords day in and day out, have experience in buy to let markets, and some of us have properties ourselves! Our service is honest and transparent from start to finish and we value your time.
As a thank you for using our services we will cover all the fees associated with selling a property, including your solicitor fees. Unlike some of our “sell your house for free” competitors, we will handle all aspects of the sale for you, so you will never have to lift a finger.
It doesn’t matter if you have one property, two, or an entire buy to let portfolio for sale, we will buy it all!
The final icing on the cake? We have our own cash reserves, which means we aren’t waiting on mortgage approval. Because of this we can facilitate fast property sales as we specialise in buying properties in as little as seven days. Although most vendors decide to sell their house on a slightly longer timeline.