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How to sell a retirement flat quickly

19/06/2024
(Last Updated: 01/07/2024)
4
10 min read
Key Takeaways
  • Although retirement flats have their benefits, they can be tricky to sell quickly. Due to a limited market, potential leasehold issues, and perception of value, you might find it hard to sell a retirement flat swiftly.
  • Top Tip: Engage with the retirement community. Sometimes word-of-mouth can be the difference between selling or struggling, so letting the management team and other residents know of the listing can be useful.
  • Be wary of exit fees, also sometimes known as transfer fees or event fees, which are payable directly to the management company of the retirement community.

Selling a retirement flat can feel challenging, especially if you want to close the deal quickly. You can speed up the process with the right approach and get a good deal. Preparation, strategy, and understanding of the unique aspects of selling retirement flats are key, allowing you to navigate the process more effectively and achieve a swift sale.


What are retirement flats?

Retirement flats are usually found in specialised housing developments designed for older adults, typically over the age of 55. They aim to provide a comfortable and accessible living experience to retirees and often come with features that cater to the needs of older people, such as:

  • Emergency call systems.
  • On-site wardens or managers.
  • Accessibility features like ramps and lifts.
  • Communal areas for socialisation (libraries, gardens, outdoor spaces).
  • Social activities.
  • Leisure facilities (restaurants, cafes, health clubs).

Want to sell a retirement property quickly?

We can help. Our friendly and professional panel of solicitors will ensure a swift process for you.



These properties offer a balance of independence and support, making them attractive options for retirees looking to downsize or move their life into a community-orientated environment.

A retired couple enjoying a meal in their perfect retirement property sold with the help of SAM Conveyancing. Sell a pre-owned retirement living apartment.

Why are retirement flats not selling?

Despite their benefits, retirement flats can sometimes be tricky to sell. Here are a few reasons why:

Limited Market

Narrow audience: Retirement flats target a specific age group, typically 55 and older. This naturally reduces the pool of potential buyers for retirement development homes as compared to general properties.

Specific needs: Buyers of retirement flats often have specific needs and preferences for location, such as proximity to family, healthcare facilities, and social amenities. If a flat doesn’t meet these criteria, it may not attract interest from the target market.

Leasehold Issues

Short lease: Many retirement flats are leasehold properties, and if the lease is nearing its end, it can be a deterrent. Buyers might be wary of the costs and complications involved in extending the lease.

High ground rents: Some properties come with high ground rents or escalating ground rents, which can be off-putting to potential buyers.

Our conveyancing solicitors can begin the lease extension process for you, so the buyer can complete after purchase.


High Service Charges

Retirement homes often come with higher service charges to cover the costs of the amenities and services provided. There are also additional costs for extra care and a greater level of support. These charges can be a deterrent for potential buyers.

Perception of Value

Depreciation concerns: There’s a perception that retirement homes don’t appreciate as much as regular residential properties. This can make potential future buyers hesitant to invest.

Market saturation: In areas with many retirement homes and flats for sale, the market can become saturated, ultimately making it harder for any single property to stand out.

An estate agent handing keys over to a buyer. Let SAM Conveyancing handle the sale of your own apartment in a retirement living community. One bedroom or two bedroom, we can help.

How to sell a retirement flat quickly

Preparing to sell

First impressions matter: Ensure the flat is clean, well-maintained, spacious and free of personal clutter. A fresh coat of paint and minor repairs can make the property more appealing. Neutral colours tend to attract more interest as people can envision their style in the space, and exterior maintenance can go a long way.

Highlight the benefits: Emphasise the unique perks of living in a retirement community, such as social activities, on-site support, and safety features. Create a list of luxuries and community benefits to share with potential future buyers.

Professional staging: Consider hiring a professional stager who can arrange the furniture and décor to make the property look its best. Staging can help potential purchasers visualise living in the space and can make the flat stand out in listings.

Selling through an estate agent

Choose the right estate agents: Select an estate agent who has experience selling retirement village properties. They will understand the unique aspects of these flats and have a network of potential clients.

Effective marketing: Ensure the estate agents highlight the value and amenities that come with the flat in their marketing materials - is it a one-bedroom, two-bedroom flat? What floor is it on? High-quality photos, virtual tours, and detailed descriptions can make a significant difference.

Open houses and viewings: Schedule open houses and flexible viewing times to accommodate potential buyer needs. The more opportunities people have to view, the quicker it will sell.

Selling to a property-buying company

Fast and hassle-free: Property buying companies offer a quick sale, often completing the purchase within weeks. This can be a great option if you need to sell urgently.

Understand the offer: Be aware that selling to a property-buying company may result in a lower price compared to the market value. However, the speed and convenience might outweigh this downside.

Research and choose wisely: Not all property-buying companies are equal. Do your research, read reviews, and choose a reputable company to ensure a fair deal.

The resale value

Competitive pricing: Research the prices of similar properties in the area and price your flat competitively. Overpricing can lead to your property sitting on the market longer, while a competitive price can attract more interest and lead to a quicker sale.

Negotiation strategy: Be prepared to negotiate. Having a clear idea of your lowest acceptable price can help you make quick decisions when offers come in.

A wooden model house next to a stack of coins with a contract being signed in the background. SAM Conveyancing provides a full range of sold services from purchase to ownership.

Additional tips

Marketing to the right audience: Ensure your marketing efforts are targeting the right demographic. Use platforms and publications that cater to older adults or their families and friends who might be looking on their behalf.

Flexibility with offers: Be open to different types of offers, including those that might come with conditions. Sometimes, flexibility can lead to a faster sale.

Leverage online listings: Use multiple online property listing sites to reach a broader audience. The more exposure your flat gets, the higher the chances of a quick deal.

Engage the community: Sometimes, word-of-mouth within the town or retirement community can lead to a sale. Let the residents and management know that the flat is listed - they might know someone who is looking to move in.

What are the costs involved in selling a retirement flat?

Selling a retirement flat comes with its own set of costs. Here are a few to consider:

Service charges when the flat is empty

Even if the flat is unoccupied, you'll still need to pay the service charges - these are on average around £525 per month. These can add up, and some retirement villages might charge over £1,000 depending on the services offered and its location, so it's important to factor them into your budget while the property is on the market.

Extending the leasehold

If the lease on your retirement flat is short, extending it can make your flat more attractive to buyers. However, this process can be expensive and time-consuming, so weigh the plus points against the expense. Extending the lease typically involves legal fees, valuation fees, and possibly negotiation costs if the freeholder is difficult to deal with.

Our conveyancing fees for a formal lease extension start at £720, and our local RICS surveyors can conduct a valuation to determine your premium for £600.


Exit fees

Some retirement properties come with exit fees, also known as transfer fees or event fees, which are charges payable to the management company when you sell the flat. These fees can vary, so check the terms of your lease to understand what you might owe, but exit fees of 1% or 2% of the overall sale price are common.

Some companies will charge a higher percentage of the overall purchase fee which can significantly reduce your net proceeds from the sale.

Conveyancing and estate agent fees

As with any property deal, you'll need to pay conveyancing fees for transferring the ownership of the flat, and commissions if you sell through an estate agent. Make sure to shop around for competitive rates and factor these costs into your budget.

A calculator next to a pen on a notebook. SAM Conveyancing knows that easy access, location, low rent, and life is key to any buyer looking for retirement properties. Let us help with the sell and stop paying ground rent today.

Marketing costs

Sometimes, it’s worth investing some money in extra marketing, such as premium listings on property websites, professional photography, or even video tours to make your flat stand out.

Capital gains tax

If the retirement flat is not your primary residence, you may be liable for capital gains tax on any profit made from the transaction. It’s important to understand these implications and plan accordingly.

Want to sell a retirement property quickly?

We can help. Our friendly and professional panel of solicitors will ensure a swift process for you.



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Jack Meadowcroft, Content Writer for SAM Conveyancing
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Jack is our resident Content Writer with a wealth of experience in Marketing, Content, and Film. If you need anything written or proof-read at a rapid speed and high quality, he's your guy

Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.


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