Property: For real dream stuff, spend a fortune up north

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IF YOUR upper price limit is pounds 295,000, here are four very different examples of what your money can buy. In London, you could afford a large two-bedroom riverside apartment in Gun House, Docklands, with a parking space. In Walsham le Willows, Suffolk, you could buy a three-bedroom, three-reception room, thatched farmhouse with a cottage and 34 acres of land.

Take your money north to Cumbria and you are in the market for a Grade II 17th-century farmhouse with five bedrooms, stables and 2.2 acres of land in Kirby Lonsdale.

But for real dream stuff, go to the Isle of Skye, where pounds 295,000 will buy you Kilmarie House, a white lodge in a spectacular setting overlooking the sea, with 100 acres of land and two boathouses. The house itself has 10 bedrooms, four bathrooms and an indoor swimming pool. All four properties are for sale through Savills.

ONE of the few remaining vicarages to be sold off by the Church of England comes to auction in the Cotswolds this month. The diocese of Oxford is selling Swinbrook Vicarage, a Georgian stone house with seven bedrooms, four reception rooms and gardens of just over an acre.

The house is in need of total refurbishment, but that is likely to make it all the more attractive to the hordes of potential buyers. Carter Jonas in Oxford (0865 311715) is quoting a guide price in excess of pounds 400,000. The auction takes place on Tuesday 25 October at 6.30pm at the Cotswold Gateway Hotel in Burford.

MR J LEAN of Hanwell in Middlesex has written following my report last month about an estate agent in Belfast who was prosecuted under the Property Misdescriptions Act. The agent was fined for passing on information (given in good faith by the vendor) about the replumbing of a house which later proved slightly inaccurate.

Mr Lean, who is selling his own house, asks how detailed the information he supplies has to be to comply with the law. Can he say his house is fully replumbed in copper piping, or must he find out if there are any tiny lengths of lead left somewhere in the system? Does he need to state the number of stopcocks?

Mr Lean feels it is the responsibility of the buyer's surveyor, not the estate agent, to investigate such details. 'It is all very well to have a law regulating the blatant misdescription of property, which has been all too rife over so many years,' he writes, 'but to fine an agent for misinformation when that information could only have been obtained by a surveyor commissioned to take a property apart is taking the letter of the law too far.' What do you think?

IN BELFAST, a price war has broken out among estate agents. Following the success of one agent who has been charging pounds 199 all-in for house sales, a second firm has introduced a pounds 99 flat fee, which includes the cost of two newspaper advertisements.

This works out at about 0.2 per cent commission on the average house, and in most areas the advertisements alone would cost more than pounds 99.