Flipping Houses- What's it all about
For the huge numbers of people with second homes across the UK, the importance of minimising their capital gains tax is imperative. Many people have purchased second homes to let out the tenants as a traditional holiday rental. Many second homeowners have purchased properties in the countryside to get away from the urban hustle and bustle stress of city life.
All these people, need to take professional advice regarding the rules surrounding capital gains tax on second homes. The rules are becoming quite topical due to the fiasco over MPs expenses regarding blatant and immoral exploitation of taxpayers money, using their MP's second home allowance. Their actions have put the political spotlight of the concept of 'flipping' between their main residence and second home.
In the UK, everybody is entitled to elect their main residence and benefit from principal private residence relief. This means that they do not pay capital gains tax on their own home that they live in as their main residence. For second home owners, the ability to reallocate their main residence provides an opportunity to minimise capital gains tax bills. This is because there is no PPR relief in respect of a holiday home or second home. So by flipping or reallocating their elected main residence, tax bills can be minimised. Despite the fact that individuals can spend more time in the property that is not elected as their main residence i.e. their family home, the principal of election is still valid in the eyes of the Inland Revenue.
Following a purchase, a second home owner must choose to elect the second home as their main residence within 24 months of the purchase. The onus will also be on the seller to prove that they were living in that second home in order to qualify for selection as their main residence, after that period. This may involve transferring bank, postal and electoral details of the period to prove that you are resident of the second home. There are other factors to consider regarding capital gains tax including taper relief, individual allowances and whether the property was rented out. In addition, an unmarried couple may each own a home that qualifies as the principal residence but a married couple may only nominate one property and must select jointly.
With an increase in the number of empty properties across the UK, due to the recession and credit crunch, people are struggling to sell their homes. More and more people are choosing to let out the home that they currently live in (but have struggled to sell), in order to finance the move elsewhere. This is creating huge increase in the number of accidental landlords UK and an increase in the number of people owning second homes. Ironically, the original buy to let boom started by people investing in second properties as a means of generating an income or supplementing their pension. Now those same landlords are struggling to sell the properties due to a lack of credit facilities for buyers.
Regardless of whether you own a second home as a holiday let or are just using a second home as a family getaway, finding adequate second home insurance can sometimes be a bit of a struggle. Insurers will want to know how frequently you access the property, and the type of property it is. They will try and assess the likelihood of a break-in due to being left empty, or the possibility of a burst or leaking pipe causing internal damage. For the purposes of an insurance proposal form, you must answer these questions honestly to provide the broker or insurer with a practical overview of the risks involved with your real second home that you spend less time in, (even though you may have declined this home is your main residence tax purposes).
Most people's eyes glaze over when it comes to investigating the complicated area of capital gains tax laws and rules. Its always imperative to seek the advice of qualified independent financial adviser, to help you decide whether or not allocating your main residence as a second home is a sensible thing to do. It could save you thousands!!!