HOME TRUTHS

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Selling a garden

We want to sell part of our back garden to our neighbours who have bought a horse for their daughter. This would still leave us with a relatively large garden. Do we have to contact our mortgage lender, and will a solicitor need to be involved?

L Wren, Bridgenorth

You will need to contact your lender, as it will have to give consent to the sale of the land to your neighbours. It will also need to be happy that selling part of your garden will not greatly affect the value of your property. You will also need to contact a solicitor to draw up a document that legally transfers ownership of the land to your neighbours. As well as the legal fees, you may also have to pay your mortgage lender for the work it does.

Collateral thinking

I want to use the equity in my property for investment purposes, but have been told by relatives that mortgage lenders don't consider requests like this. Are they right, or is it possible to do this through a further advance on our property?

Henry Ryan, Wigan

It may be possible, but lending guidelines for extra borrowing on top of your mortgage differ from lender to lender. The main thing your mortgage lender will look at is the amount of equity in your property. Your lender will be able to tell you whether it will agree to your request and the process you will need to follow.

Many lenders are now able to carry out the entire process over the phone, which can make it easier and speedier for you.

Lofty ideas

I want to buy a loft space to convert it into a flat. Will I be able to get a mortgage for the entire project?

David Sheldon, Bristol

It is possible to borrow funds for loft conversions, but the schemes vary depending on which mortgage company you use. Some lenders offer a stage payment scheme whereby you receive a proportion of the funds when each stage of the conversion is completed. Others give you a lump sum when the work has been finished. The work is usually financed by a bridging loan pending completion. It would be useful in such a case to seek independent financial advice.

Estate agent fees

We're about to start the process of selling our first home. How much should we expect to pay the selling estate agent?

R Fallow & J Nicholls, Banbury

Estate agents fees vary in accordance with the value of the property. Some charge a flat fee, while others charge a percentage of the sale price. I suggest that you contact three or four before making a decision. However, I would also suggest that cost should not be the only factor when choosing an estate agent. The service you receive and the estate agent's capability in marketing your property are also important.

q George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

q Send your queries on practical property issues to: Home Truths, `Independent on Sunday', 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL; fax 0171-293 2043; e- mail sundayproperty@independent.co.uk.

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