HOME TRUTHS

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The Independent Online
Moving on up

I would like to sell my home and move to something larger. What are the typical costs involved in moving home?

Monica Goddard

Bristol

The costs vary depending on the value and size of your current property, the one you intend to move to, and where in the country you live. According to a recent annual cost of moving survey, the typical cost of shifting from a pounds 60,000 home to an pounds 80,000 home would be about pounds 3,500 in total.

Normally both an estate agent and solicitor will be involved in the selling of your property. A solicitor is likely to charge an average of pounds 343 for his services which include drawing up the contract, approving the sale documents and corresponding with your buyer's solicitor, while the estate agent will charge about pounds 1,172.

Buying a new home will typically require the services of a solicitor and a surveyor, and the charges involved will depend on the size of the property. The search on your new home will cost pounds 91 and solicitor's fees for a property worth pounds 80,OOO will be in the region of pounds 390. Stamp duty will be pounds 800, the Land Registry will charge pounds 130, the surveyor's Home Purchase Report will cost pounds 340, and a removal company will charge an average of pounds 317 to move the contents of a three-bedroom house 20 miles.

It is worth bearing in mind that these are average figures and costs can vary considerably between different firms. It would be wise to shop around and get written quotations. You can then decide upon the most appropriate firm for your needs.

Tax from afar

I may shortly take an overseas posting, and have been told by one local letting agent that the new Finance Act means I won't have to pay tax on any rental income. Is this true?

J Howick

Surrey

No. Any rental income is taxable and if you were UK-based, this would be declared on your tax return. As landlords who are based overseas do not have a tax return, the Inland Revenue requires that the letting agent pay tax on the landlord's behalf.

The Finance Act 1995 makes it the agent's responsibility to withhold tax at the standard rate from rental income they collect for overseas landlords and pay it to the Inland Revenue quarterly. This would be based on your net rental income, regardless of any tax allowances you may have.

You can apply to the Inland Revenue for an exemption certificate, which means that you will be responsible for dealing directly with the Inland Revenue and paying the tax agreed. The benefit to you would be that you could delay the payment of tax due, and you can include any tax allowances that you may have in the final calculation.

If your property is held in more than one name, both parties need to apply and if approval is granted the approval is specific to the agent and the property, This means that if you decided to change agents, for example, you would need to re-apply for an exemption certificate.

Before you commit yourself to any course of action you would be wise to seek the advice of a tax consultant.

Agreement ignored

I recently put in an offer for a house that was accepted. The agent who is dealing with this sale has subsequently contacted me to say that the vendor has now accepted a higher offer that was also made through him. The estate agent obviously continued to market the property after my offer had been accepted. Can I recover the costs I have incurred?

J Flint

Orpington, Kent

Unfortunately this is quite a problem, especially in areas where there is a shortage of properties on the market.

These days you are more likely to have to make an offer which is fairly close to the asking price and the vendor can change his mind about the sale right up to the exchange of contracts, regardless of whether you have incurred costs such as for the valuation, and solicitor's fees.

The estate agent is duty bound to act for the vendor and to achieve the best price possible. If the vendor requests that the agent leaves the property on the market until the exchange of contracts takes place, then the agent has to act on his behalf and follow his instructions.

A number of people have advocated the integration of the Scottish system, which binds both parties to the sale once the offer has been accepted. The law as it currently stands does not allow you to claim against the estate agent or vendor for compensation for any financial losses that you may have incurred.

Answers were supplied by a panel of experts at Woolwich Property Services and Ekins, the group's surveying services subsidiary. The panel is headed by Alan Oliver, managing director of Woolwich Property Services, and will answer published queries on buying and selling, valuations, surveys, and market factors such as price trends.

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