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When you buy a house or flat that’s going to be your main home, you will pay stamp duty on everything above £125,000. If it’s a buy-to-let or second home, you pay stamp duty on any property costing more than £40,000.

 

What is Stamp Duty?

In England, Northern Ireland and Wales you’re liable to pay Stamp Duty when you buy a residential property, or a piece of land, that costs more than £125,000 (£40,000 for second homes).

 

This tax applies to both freehold and leasehold properties – whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage.

 

In Scotland, when you buy a property or land you will pay a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax instead of Stamp Duty.

 

How much is Stamp Duty?

When you buy a property you’re planning to live in, you won’t pay any Stamp Duty on the first £125,000. You’ll then pay 2% on the portion up to £250,000 and 5% on the portion up to £925,000. Between that point and £1.5m, it’s 10% – then 12% on anything over £1.5m.

 

There are several rate bands for Stamp Duty.

 

For example, if you buy a house for £275,000, the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) you owe is calculated as follows:

 

0% on the first £125,000 = £0

2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500

5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250

Total SDLT = £3,750

 

Stamp duty for residential leasehold properties are charged differently.

 

Stamp Duty on second homes:

Buyers of additional residential properties, such as second homes and buy-to-let properties, will have to pay an extra 3% in Stamp Duty on top of current rates for each band.

 

This increased rate applies to properties bought for £40,000 or more.

It doesn’t apply to caravans, mobile homes or houseboats.

 

If you buy a new main residence but there is a delay in selling your previous main property, you’ll have to pay the higher Stamp Duty rates as you’ll now own two properties.

 

When is Stamp Duty not payable?

You’ll automatically avoid Stamp Duty if you buy a property below £125,000.

But for many homebuyers this isn’t possible.

 

There are other circumstances in which Stamp Duty is either not payable or can be reduced:

 

Slightly over rate band. If the price is only just within a higher band, ask the seller or estate agent if they would accept a slightly lower price.

Transfer of property in separation or divorce. If you’re divorcing or separating from your spouse or partner, there’s no Stamp Duty to pay if you transfer a proportion of your home value to them.

 

Transfer of deeds. If you transfer the deeds of your home to someone else either as a gift or in your will they won’t have to pay Stamp Duty on the market value of the property.

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When it comes to selling your home, estate agents and the language that they use can be confusing. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of all the estate agent terms and property jargon that will help you understand what your estate agent means.

 

 

AST – Assured Shorthold Tenancy. It gives the landlord the right to claim their property back after a specific period of time

 

Break Clause/Release Clause – These terms are often used in fixed term tenancies

 

Chain – A number of property sales where exchange of contracts must take place at the same time, because they’re linked together.

 

Completion Date – The completion of the legal transaction, with the money and documents all distributed, and keys are released.

 

Deeds – The legal documents that assign ownership of property.

 

Deposit – The lump sum that the seller pays towards the cost of the property.

 

Disbursements – Expenses paid by the solicitor on behalf of the purchaser

 

Equity – The difference between the value of a property and the amount of mortgage owed.

 

Exchange of Contracts – This is the point at which the sale becomes legally binding and neither party can withdraw without financial penalties.

 

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) – An EPC measures the energy efficiency of a property using a scale of A-G. It is a legal requirement to have a valid EPC for their property.

 

Freehold – Ownership of the property and the land that the property is situated on.

 

Gazumping – This is where the seller accepts one offer only to reject it later for a higher offer.

 

Gazundering – This is where a buyer reduces their offer just before the exchange of contracts.

 

Ground Rent – Ground rent is an annual sum paid by the leaseholder to the freeholder of a property.

 

Guarantor – This is a person who will agree to guarantee that they will repay a loan or debt if you cannot pay it.

 

HMO – House in Multiple Occupation. They are treated differently to the average property, with more rules and regulations.

 

IFA – Independent Financial Advisor

 

IMRO – Investments Managers Regulatory Organisation

 

Instruction – This is when a seller tells an estate agent to market a property.

 

Inventory – An inventory is a list of all the contents of a property, as well as the condition of a property and the structural fixtures, generally used for AST rental properties.

 

Leasehold – To be given ownership of a property but not the land that it is built on, normally requiring the payment of ground rent to the landlord.

 

Searches – Checks of local council records for planning applications and restrictions.

Stamp Duty – a government tax paid by the buyer on completion of the sale.

 

Subject to Contract – A term associated with an agreement to purchase a property before the exchange of contracts.

 

Survey – An inspection of a property made by a qualified surveyor. This can be a valuation report, a homebuyer report and full structural survey.

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Photo source: Elle Decorations UK http://bit.ly/2iPriZq

Raising the value of the house can be done in many ways. You can start re-shaping it, creating more useful space, refurbishing, changing the design, and maybe even adding some technological improvements (smarthomes).

A clean-cut way to add value inside the home is choosing valuable antiques. Special decorating objects that blend in the design, old elements from an old house that can be reused and kept for their high value, furniture from antique shops…

It will give you some headaches when it comes to the general design of the house, but with a very critical eye and some rightfully chosen antiques, your house is going to be… precious!

Lifestyle: Antiques shopping in the UK

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According to a recent report, the UK has seen growth in the number of mortgages for non-standard borrowers, such as for buy-to-let landlords and lifetime mortgages. Since 2009, there has been a 19% increase each year to the value of the mortgage lending companies annual lending. These companies have seen their lending amounts increase to £17 billion per year in 2016, a significant increase on the £5 billion that was recorded in 2009.

The specialist lenders are said to be in a very strong position despite the previous ever changing nature of the market, and that they are capturing the ongoing growth in the number of the UK’s non-standard borrowers that mainstream lenders may not look to work with.

Read the full introspective article that explains the growth in mortgages the UK is seeing lately on Property Division.

UK’s Specialist Lenders See Non-Standard Mortgages Growth

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Photo source: http://bit.ly/2zsBj8V

Moving home is often cited as one of the most stressful experiences in life. However, you can make the process a little less stressful by following advice and avoiding common mistakes.

  1. Picking the Wrong Agent

Not all estate agents are the same. Check out their fees and whether there are hidden costs and what their success rate is. Many people simply settle on the first company they come across and end up regretting it. As with any venture, it pays to shop around and ask the right questions before you enter into any arrangement.

  1. Overpricing

Another mistake that sellers make is over estimating the price they’ll get for their property. This is more common nowadays where many bypass traditional estate agents and simply pick a selling price out of thin air. Do your research and see what similar properties in your area are going for and set a reasonable price.

  1. Using poor quality photos

These days, the majority of homes sold in the UK are placed in online listings. Don’t accept poor quality images. If you’ve chosen a good estate agent, they will make sure your property is looking its very best through high quality photographs. These are the first thing a buyer will see and you only get one chance to make a good first impression. Therefore, it is essential that your agent is using photographs that will really appeal to potential buyers.

  1. Not fixing things that are broken

There are plenty of houses for sale – and you want to make sure buyers won’t discount yours. They will, though, if things are broken when they come for a viewing. You may well be planning on fixing whatever’s broken before you move, but your buyer doesn’t know that. Get it fixed before you put your property on the market

  1. The Exterior

You’ve probably spent a long time making sure the inside of your house is not only clean and tidy, but also well decorated, perfectly laid out and just generally ideal for showing off to that buyer who’s coming around. But don’t forget, as much as the inside of the house will dazzle them, the exterior gives it that kerb appeal, and can help them form an opinion before they’ve even come inside. The garden sells your home, even subconsciously, so as much as you want to get the inside of your home perfect, forgetting the garden is a big no-no. It’s all too easy to miss things like tired old fences, lawns that are slightly too long or items strewn about the garden, but these are all things that give your home a negative kerb appeal, and it’s absolutely essential that they’re addressed before the home comes to market.

 

 

  1. Keeping personal touches around the home

When potential buyer’s come to view the house, they need to be able to picture themselves living there. If you have personal touches lying around such as photos and your own personal colour scheme, it makes it more difficult for buyers to imagine it as their own. Therefore, you need to ensure you are offering a neutral ‘blank canvas’. This means painting the walls a neutral colour and taking down any personal touches that distinguish it as your home.

Lastly, don’t hide anything from your agent. Make sure you are upfront about any issues there are with your home. This will save you lots of time and money as they will come out eventually, potentially ruining your sale too.

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Some well-placed greenery can not only brighten a space but also purify the air – and they’re also helpful in creating a more relaxing, restful ambiance in any room. We know that spending time in nature is linked to reduced stress levels and tension relief. What’s more, in a 2008 study, Dutch researchers found that hospital patients with indoor plants in their rooms reported lower stress levels than patients without them.

  1. Aloe Vera Plant

The gel of the Aloe plant has several healing properties. Not only does it soothe skin burns and cuts, it can also help monitor the air quality in your home. The plant can help clear the air of pollutants found in chemical cleaning products, and when the amount of harmful chemicals in the air becomes excessive, the plants’ leaves will display brown spots. Aloe Vera Plant grows best with lots of sun.

  1. English Ivy Plant (Hedera Helix)

NASA Scientists listed the English Ivy as the number one best air-filtering houseplant, as it is the most effective plant when it comes to absorbing Formaldehyde. It’s also incredibly easy to grow and adaptable. Try it as a hanging or floor plant, grow in moderate temperature and medium sunlight.

  1. Peace Lily Plant

The beautiful Peace Lily plant is a wonderful low-maintenance flower to keep in the home. Peace Lilies do well in shade and cooler temperatures, and they can reduce the levels of a number of toxins in the air.

  1. Chrysanthemum

The bright flowering plant battles a whole host of chemical including Xylene, Formaldehyde, toluene and Benzene. Keep it in the Lounge (In bright sunlight) so it’s anti-polluting superpowers can be best put to use.

  1. Snake Plant (Sansevieria)

Snake Plants don’t need much light or water to survive, so they’re an easy choice for any corner of your home. The plant absorbs Carbon Dioxide and releases Oxygen during the night, so place one in your bedroom and you’ll breathe better while you sleep. It has also been proven to be extremely effective in treating headaches, eye irritation, and respiratory problems.

  1. Golden Pothos

The Golden Pothos makes the NASA list as well for its ability to clear Formaldehyde from the air. Try adding it to your Kitchen or Lounge as a hanging plant, as the leaves will grow down in cascading vines. They grow easily in cool temperatures with low levels of sunlight. Please be aware that it is considered poisonous and therefore should be kept away from small children and pets.

7.Calathea (Peacock Plants)

Peacock Plants are grown for their foliage alone and it’s easy to see why. The purple, green, pink and red leaves put on quite a show. For the best display, keep the plant moist (Not drenched) and avoid bright light.

  1. Jasmine

As part of the Olive family it normally grows outside, but can live inside just as well. This plant should be more specially placed in the bedroom as it promotes sleep quality by emitting scents that have shown to make for better sleep, as well as increase your levels of alertness.

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Photo source: Wikimedia Commons – Aberdeen Neighbourhood http://bit.ly/2hLjBns

Are you wanting to move but finding it hard to decide what area you are looking to move to? One thing you need to remember is could you live in a quiet town out in the sticks or in the busy centre of a city.

 

It not an easy decision to make. It may be your dream to live out in the country side, in the fresh air and enjoying the slow pace of life but you may end up finding it too slow or too much of a distance for getting from A to B with the long country roads. But then again, your dream may come true exactly as wished and it turns out to be the best decision you ever made.

 

There are a number of things to take into consideration when moving to a different part of a town. It can take time to get to know the area well enough to know whether you would like to live there, and many issues will not apparent from just visiting.

 

At first you will need to choose an area that you can afford to live in, the sort of property you want to live in. City Centres tend to be more expensive than the countryside, the South tends to be more expensive than the North and London is obviously much more expensive than pretty much anywhere else.

 

You will also need to decide what type of property you want, whether it is a new build, house, flat or a bungalow. Also, what is the minimum number of bedrooms you would consider, do you want your own front door, or are you happy with a conversion flat.

 

There is also employment to think about. If you are moving from the city to the countryside, consider that you may want to adapt your work-life balance or spend more time with your kids, all of which might require employment opportunities closer to home. Ensure you leave room for career flexibility. Don’t move to a one-industry town if you are about to leave the industry. Ambitious people may require access to larger centres of employment and job markets.

 

Spend days wandering the area you are interested in. You will probably spend years there – it is worth investing time to make sure you are happy where you end up.

 

Visit the parks, the pubs and shops, see if you can you feel yourself living there. Even if you rent at the beginning, it is better to rent somewhere in a village and find you can’t stand village life, than buying and selling in distress a couple of years later.

 

Once you have chosen a rough area, drill down – life can vary dramatically street-by-street, or village by village. Chat with the estate agents – they usually have good insider information about the local variations.

 

If you do choose to move to the city, one side of a suburb can be very different from another. Council Tax can be dramatically from one side of the street to the other. Transport link, what may take five minutes from one street to a bus stop my take twenty minutes from another.

 

Then you will need to make sure you are moving somewhere child-friendly. Good schools are vital. Visit the Ofsted’s website to find out information about the schools in the wanted area. Also, the local councils will generally tell you the precise catchments area of their schools in recent years.

 

Living where lots of other families already live is a good bet, and will ensure lots of facilities for families.

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