Property: Home truths

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Gazump and gazunder

I have seen quite a few articles in the press recently about "gazumping" and "gazundering". Could you explain what these terms mean?

Tom Byers

Edmonton

Gazumping is when a person selling their property accepts an offer from one potential buyer, but at a later date accepts a new, higher offer from another buyer before contracts have been exchanged on the original offer. Gazumping can cause great upset - not only may the people whose original offer was accepted have set their heart on the house, but they may also have paid for a valuation and legal costs.

When someone selling their property accepts an offer, and then the buyer reduces their offer just before contracts are exchanged, this is known as gazundering. However, as property prices continue to rise, gazundering is becoming less of an issue, while gazumping becomes more widespread.

Who needs to know?

I will be moving house shortly, and wonder whether there is a simple checklist of people who I should notify of my change of address?

Jessica Welsh

Cumbria

There are a large number of people and companies who need to be informed when moving house. It is easy to forget some of them. As a minimum I would recommend that you tell the following people of your new address when moving house:

Family and friends; the gas, water, electricity and telephone supply companies; any companies with which you have rental agreements (TV, video, satellite etc.); television licence office; Post Office; Inland Revenue; Council Tax office; DVLA (driving licence issuers); employer; your bank/building society; all your various insurance companies - car, house contents, life insurance, medical insurance and any others; pension provider; credit card and store card companies; doctor; dentist; optician; schools; magazine subscriptions and mail order companies.

Two assurances

Could you explain what decreasing term and level term assurance mean?

Decreasing term assurance is life assurance that pays out an amount if you die during the period of the policy contract. The amount of cover reduces each year, which makes it ideal to cover repayment mortgages where the amount you owe falls each year.

With level term assurance, the amount of cover remains constant throughout the term of the contract. This is suitable for interest-only mortgages because the amount you owe remains the same to the end of the mortgage.

Buy-to-rent details

I am interested in becoming a private landlord. Could you tell me where I can get more information about buying a house to rent it out?

The Association of Residential Letting Agents (ARLA) launched its buy- to-let scheme in September 1996, and is supported by six mortgage lenders. I suggest you contact ARLA's head office for details of your nearest ARLA agent and for the names of the mortgage lenders who offer mortgages for rental properties. ARLA can be contacted on 01923-896555 between 9am and 5.30pm on weekdays.

George Wise is managing director of NatWest UK Mortgage Services.

q Send your queries on practical property issues to the following address: Home Truths, Travel & Money, 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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