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Understanding Stamp Duty

You hardly need reminding that it’s tough to to be a first time buyer. But one problem – and it just happens to be Britain’s oldest tax – has become easier.house

This is of course Stamp duty, originating in the 17th century and imposed to cover the cost of registering a change in ownership at a government office called the Land Registry.

This process requires a stamped certificate from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – the tax man to you and me – but HMRC will provide this only when the duty is paid.

So how is it easier?

Well, stamp duty used to be charged on a ‘slab’ basis. So buying a home for £250,000 meant you paid the old charge of one per cent duty on the full price, making it £2,500.

But if you bought, say, a £260,000 home you would have been in the old three per cent category applied across the whole price – so the duty would become a whopping £7,800.

This slab system was considered unfair and a disincentive for buyers. Therefore stamp duty in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is today levied like income tax.

Up to £125,000 it’s zero, and over £125,000 to £250,000 it’s two per cent. Then from over £250,000 to £925,000 it is five per cent.

On that £260,000 home you therefore today pay no duty up to £125,000, then two per cent above £125,000 to £250,000, and then five per cent above £250,000 to £260,000.

It adds up to just £3,000 and in this example saves you £4,800.

There are a few exceptions to stamp duty – but don’t raise your hopes.

There’s no duty at all on zero-carbon homes (but these are rare) while some Right To Buy properties, where tenants purchase their council home, have reduced duty. In Scotland, stamp duty doesn’t exist but there is Land and Building Transaction Tax which is roughly similar and means that north of the border, our £260,000 home would cost £2,600 in LBTT.

Across the rest of Britain buyers of almost all homes sold for above £125,000 have no choice but to pay stamp duty within 30 days of moving in.

In reality, it happens quicker because it’s handled by your conveyancer – that’s the expert you will have instructed to handle legal elements of the purchase.

Sometimes a mortgage lender may offer to add the stamp duty to the loan for the house. It sounds tempting but try to resist: saving for stamp duty may be tough but it will cost less than adding it to a mortgage on which you repay not just the loan itself but interest as well.

One final thing – it’s always buyers who pay stamp duty. That’s not really unfair because as you move up the ladder and sell up, so someone will pay duty to buy from you.

 As the saying goes ‘What goes around, comes around.’

Image Credit: Geograph

graham norwood

Author Bio

This article was provided exclusively to First Home News by Graham Norwood, a successful journalist who specialises in writing about residential property. Read Graham’s blog at Property News Hound or follow him on Twitter.

 

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Five top tips on how to update your living room

 

After years of enduring magnolia and off-white walls in your rented properties, you may find yourself overwhelmed with choice whilst deciding how to update your new living room.  It may seem like a daunting task, but we have compiled some simple yet effective tips that can help:

Discover new lighting
table lamp ikea

Different types of lighting can have a huge impact on the mood of the room.  Light that is too harsh and bright could make the room feel clinical and cold, whereas softer lighting will create a warm and inviting atmosphere perfect for cosy nights in.  A well lit room can be achieved easily by using lower watt bulbs, installing a dimmer, or strategically placing lamps to benefit the levels of light your room receives throughout the day.

You can find a wide range of affordable yet stylish lamps perfect for any modern living room in high street retailers such as Next, or John Lewis.

Paint in wonderful white

Choosing whitwhite walls e paint to redecorate with may not seem like a drastic change to your living room, but this classic look will never go out of style.   To  avoid a sterile feel to the room, make sure you use different textures in your room to give it a more homely feel, such as cushions or t  throws.

You could also choose a colour pallet to accent your room with, making future changes to the room more practical to deal with over the years.

 Writing on the wall

Personalising your living space has never been easier with a range of decorative wall quotes, words and letters to choose from.  Add words and  images to your wall using artistic vinyl graphics, or frame an inspirational or humorous quote to hang as a centre piece.  Online retailers such as Not  on the High Street or Etsy have some fabulous designs which can instantly transform your surroundings.

Change the dynamics

Change the dynamics of your room by moving around your furniture to create more space and making the most of the changing light conditions throughout the year.  You can also do this by changing the position of your radiator or removing a door to create more options whilst deciding where to place your furniture.

Go green plant

Add a splash of colour to your living room whilst also improving your mind and health, by introducing house plants and flowers.  This will create a fresh and natural feel to your room, instantly changing the atmosphere and bringing life to your home.

 

 

 

 

Image Credits: FlickrIkea

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The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world
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The perfect location? Stunning homes around the world

While choosing a location for a new home can be tricky, it’s usually the case that we look for similar traits in a location – plenty of local amenities, a good  community, a low crime rate; however what we might not expect is a settlement nestled in some of the most idyllic and distant areas of the world. From volcanic craters to an Italian fjord, here are some of the craziest towns and settements on the planet.

 

Aogashima, Philippine Sea

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Incredibly, this settlement in the middle of the Phililippine Sea is located in the middle of a volcanic crater. It might be enough to put you or me on edge, knowing that your home is situated on top of something that, in it’s prime was an explosive natural entity, however the volcano has been dormant since the 1700’s.

Monemvasia, Greece

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Hidden away from view on the reverse of a huge rock face in Laconia, Greece is the idyllic oceanside settlement of Monemvasia.

Following an earthquake in the Greek region almost 2000 years ago, the island was seperated from the Greek mainland, resulting in the only access point to the residence being via a small access walkway. Hidden from the sight of those on the coastline of Greece, residants of the island are able to enjoy breathtaking views of the Palaia Monemvasia bay.

Phugtal Monastery, India

Screen Shot 2015-04-27 at 13.20.15Hidden away in the mouth of a cave might not be a location you think is ideal for a settlement, however the small village perched on this cliff face in India has housed residents since the 1800’s.

Phugtal Monastery, which is, for the most part contructed using mud and timber can be found in t in the south-eastern Zanskar region in the Ladakh district of India.

Undredal, Norway 

Undredal_from_Sognefjord

 

We might have the beautiful views of the Lake District, but this water side dwelling in Norway gives a totally new meaning to the phrase ‘home by the water’.

Furore, Italy 

7502630774_e3bf7548c9_bRounding off our list is the quaint village of Furore, tucked away in a fjord located in south-western Italy – a settlement which is practically hidden from travellers. With cliff side walks, small yet vibrantly coloured homes and a beach and perfectly blue water located right on the doorstep, this looks like the perfect retreat.

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Five ways the budget affects the first time buyer
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Five ways the budget affects the first time buyer

The last budget has now passed before the 2015 general election and this is the time to gain support for what is promised to be an exciting few weeks in the world of politics. But what does this budget mean for the first time buyer? Below are five reasons why the budget is looking after those looking to get on the property ladder.

  1. Save £200 and the government will put in £50

Under new legislation from Wednesday’s budget, those who are looking to buy their first property now have the added advantage of a £50 government contribution for every £200 saved. The savings will have to be put into an ISA account, with persons aged 16 and over able to join.

  1. Up to £3000 to earn

George Osborne announced that the aspiring first time buyer can be in receipt of up to £3000 providing that they save £12,000. This is a massive help to those that really struggle to save for a deposit. The scheme essentially saves you a quarter of the time that it would of otherwise taken to save for a deposit.

  1. It’s tax free

The ISA account that you will be paying into is also tax free! The savings must of course go towards a deposit, but with the added advantage of not paying tax then you’re able to get to the chance to own your own home even quicker.

  1. The scheme can run alongside help-to-buy

Those of you who have signed up for the help-to-buy or the mortgage guarantee scheme need not fear as this proposal can run alongside the initiative. You will need £1000 to start the scheme and can be used for homes costing up to £450,000 in London and £250,000 outside of the capital.

  1. Anyone can join

The good news is that anyone who does not own a property can join the scheme and open an account. This essentially means that couples wanting to buy their first home can claim up to £6,000 when buying together. Therefore if two people are buying as a couple, they could own their own property twice as quickly as you otherwise could have without the scheme.

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New homes: The houseboat of the future

New homes: The houseboat of the future

We all know now notoriously difficult it can prove to take that first step on the property ladder. But sometimes, amongst all the house shopping, it can be nice to have a bit of a dream, and imagine the situation if we were able to ‘splash out’ – literally in this case, on something luxurious.

WaterNest-100-by-ecoflolife-41-537x302

It might not sound like the dream to many, but this unique, state of the art, UK manufactured home gives you the scenery of a waterside property, without having to give up any of your favourite the solar-powered Water Nest 100, which has recently featured in the news isn’t your ordinary house boat.

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The solar-powered Water Nest can be placed on any lake or river and is completely powered by solar energy.

Developed in our very own nation by EcoFloLife in London, it has been designed by Italian architect Giancarlo Zema and is nothing like the houseboats we’ve come to expect before. Big enough in size to accommodate a small family, it boasts two bedrooms and a number of extremely plush other multi-purpose rooms, the likes of which you’d expect to see in a standard house. Rather than being a boat with added room for accommodation, this truly is a house that floats on water.

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With the largest model boasting 1,076 square feet of floor space plus additional balconies, for homeowners to relax on and take in the views from the waterside balconies. We’re sold.

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Top five apps to ease your house move
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Top five apps to ease your house move

When you’re moving home, it’s often the case that you’ll take any help and assistance you can get. Whether you’re doing it all for the very first time, or are becoming a seasoned pro of the house moving game, these smartphone apps are the perfect assistance in what is undoubtedly going to be one of the busiest periods of your life.

 

Rightmove

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If you’re at the very beginning of your house search, then it’s well worth downloading the Rightmove app. As the UK’s most popular property listing website, Rightmove boasts more than 49,000 commercial properties and homes for sale and to rent across the entire UK.

With quick and easy phone access, you can now easily search for your dream place, whilst tightly filtering your results to keep the homes you search within your price range and ideal location. What’s more, you can customise your search to only show results within a certain size bracket, neighbourhood, public transport route, postcode and more.

 

Crime Map: England and Wales

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It’s one of the defining factors when it comes to searching for a property, so it’s well worth having this knowledge of the area in the palm of your hand. If you place high importance on the safety of an area, something which is especially important if you’re moving with a young family, then it’s worth checking out the crime statistics of an area prior to beginning your house search.

Using the UK Police database to show statistics for a wide range of neighbourhoods, the England anad Wales Crime Map keeps you informed on everything within an area, from small crimes of theft to more violent crime. It’s a quick and easy app to check, and definitely one that will help you get the destination of your new home right.

 

Mapumental

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Whilst not strictly speaking an app for your phone, or even for your tablet, Mapumental is a website that has mobile functionality, and adds huge value to anyone who is considering a home move. Ease of travel is one aspect that can have a huge impact on your everyday life – nobody enjoys hours sat in rush hour traffic every morning and evening, so utilising tools like this, allow you to calculate the traffic on your commuter route, as well as examine the length of time a journey would take on public transport.

The Mapumental site allows you to ou search for properties based on how long it takes to travel from your prospective new home, to a point of interest – be it work, the nearest cinema or your favourite restaurants. However, instead of searching by distance, you search based on the time it will take for you to reach your destination of choice.

 

Around Me

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Whilst a quick move to the other side of town will likely not provide too much upheaval in your everyday life, moving to an entirely new city, region or even country can leave you starting from scratch, especially when it comes to getting to know your new neighbourhood. Whether you’re looking for the nearest independent café to grab your morning coffee at before the commute to work, or searching for your new favourite restaurant, Around Me provides a handy guide to your new local area.

 

UKMortgages

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Months before you’re faced with your hectic moving schedule, you’ll have another stressful period to navigate – the financial aspect of your move. Money and mortgages can easily confuse people, and if you haven’t been through the process before, it can be a wholly stressful time. To get the ball rolling when it comes to sourcing your mortgage provider, it’s well worth taking a look at the UKMortgages app. With regularly updated financial information, and the convenience of having updates sent straight to the palm of your hand, utilising this sartphone app will let you get a feel of what is available for you in the market, when it comes to your financial future.

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Top tips to finding your perfect home
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Top tips to finding your perfect home

Buying your first home is a hectic, but exciting time in your life. On one hand, there is nothing like finally taking that prized ownership of your own personal space. On the other hand, it is stressful because in many respects, as buying a home can leave you in a financially tight situation, and provide you with a lot of work. While it isn’t uncommon for homebuyers to make  negotiation errors during the process of buying a home, these mistakes are easily avoidable. If you’re on the hunt for your dream first home, here are out top mistakes that you should avoid.

 

Get it checked

One of the biggest and most serious mistakes that homebuyers can make during the buying process is to opt out of getting a professional to provide a thorough property inspection. When purchasing a home, you’re likely to allocate funds towards remodelling rooms and new furniture. However, without a pre-purchase home inspection, you could find yourself unaware of any number of  structural issues  or deficiencies in the home. You can avoid this issue by hiring a professional to conduct a pre-purchasing home inspection.

 

Pricing

Another common mistake that homebuyers make, especially when purchasing without an estate agent, is that they will easily overpay for a home. While not doing a pre-purchasing home inspection leads to overpaying, so does not reviewing the pricing of homes in the area. Therefore, to make sure you aren’t being overcharged, do some research and review the prices of homes in the area. It will give you an idea of range you should be paying in and give you negotiating power when talking with the seller.

 

Don’t get carried away

Don’t fall into the trap of growing too fond of a property before having a full research and view of properties. Try to stay relatively neutral throughout viewings,  whilst you want to make it clear you have an interest in the home, showing over exuberant enthusiasm for a property during a viewing or the negotiation process can spell trouble. Usually, the seller will notice your feelings and gain the upper hand, which will result in you paying more.

 

Why is it for sale?

One trap that many homebuyers fall into is to not question why the seller has put their home in the market. While in some cases, the seller wants to move elsewhere, it can also be the case that there are other issues. Therefore, in order to protect your investment and add to your negotiating power it is a smart move to ask why the seller has their home on the market.

 

Keep Your Options Open

Sometimes, home sellers notice when a homebuyer is desperate to buy a house. This scenario immediately increases the seller’s power, and reduces your negotiating chances. Also, you do not want to put all your hopes into one home. Thus, when searching through homes, it is best to keep your options open. Look through a number or properties and make a list of your favourites. This will help you keep calm when facing negotiations with a homebuyer and increase the chance that you’ll get the property that you want for a fair price.

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Homes of the rich and famous: Where does Bond live?
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Homes of the rich and famous: Where does Bond live?

He’s the world’s most renowned secret agent, who dresses to kill, travels the globe with beautiful women and always saves the day, so it’s surely only fitting that James Bond lives in a stunning home?

The famed fictional member of her majesties secret service is always depicted in stunning locations, however for a glimpse into the lives of those lucky enough to take on the prized role, we’ve taken a look at their real life homes. Prepare yourself to get jealous…

 

Roger Moore

Roger Moore home

Listed on the market back in 2013 for a cool £4.5 million, this 11 acre Buckinghamshire house was the home to Roger Moore for the duration as his first three stints as 007. The incredible sprawling location offers five bedrooms, a drawing room, study, library, lobby, boot room, conservatory, games room, gym, a wine cellar and swimming pool. If that wasn’t already enough, the plot even has a separate annex and guesthouse to retire to.
Image: Savills

 

Sean Connery

connery

Home to one of the most popular Bond actors, this Irish mansion was home to Sean Connery throughout the 1970’s. Located in Bray, County Wicklow the Victorian six-bedroomed property is set in three-and-a-half acres of grounds which offer flower gardens, mature trees and a tennis court.

 

Pierce Brosnan

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If it’s the luxuary Hollywood lifestyle that you’d imagine for a Bond star, then Pierce Brosnan’s home ticks all the boxes. His 13,000 square-foot residence in the glamorous Californian hotspot that is Malibu is ideally on the beautiful west coast beachfront. A true hub for A-list film stars, Malibu boasts incredible weather, surf and quality of life – so it’s no surprise this Bond traded in his service revolver for this incredible new home. With neighbours including Steven Spielberg, Goldie Hawn, Mel Gibson, Cher, Dustin Hoffman and Danny DeVito, and an average home price on the street of over $10 million, this impressive abode is exactly what you’d expect from one of the world’s most deadly agents.
Image: Splash

 

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig

As recently as 2014, rumours circulated that current Bond, Daniel Craig and hollywood star wife Rachel Weisz were interested in this £5 million valued Grade II listed converted mill. As a pair, the couple are amongst the biggest names in film, so we’re under no illusions that their action packed lifestyles will undoubtedly result in them owning homes around the world, however nestled away in Warwickshire this 18th century getaway boasts boasts eight bedrooms, a cinema and a lake, and sounds like the perfect retreat for a couple looking to escape the frantic Hollywood lifestyle.
Image: Heritage Property

 

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7 signs your home is ready for Christmas
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7 signs your home is ready for Christmas

The cold weather is here, and with just a week to go until the big day hits, many of our homes will be well and truly decked out ready for Christmas. Whether it’s the assortment of decorations cluttering your home, or the assortment of sweet treats already kicking around in your kitchen, there are certain things in a home that truly signal that the festive period is here…

 

You might have just vacuumed your carpet…

tinsel

 

However within ten minutes, your clean floor is already covered yet again by artificial tree leaves and gold foil that have begun to shed all over your carpet.

Image credit: christmasstockimages.com

 

 

 

 

Bringing out the decorations means re-planning your furniture…
and whilst it might give your room a refreshed and reinvigorated feel, it also means you’ll have to adapt your normal walking route in the living room, which is tough. Expect stubbed toes and a number of bumps with the tree as you’ll no doubt forget about the new layout of your room and walk around on autopilot.

 

Expect to enjoy your festive favourites on TV…


8252330825_d1deaf0617_bHowever whilst you might enjoy watching Home Alone a couple of times to get you in the Christmas spirit, there are only so many times you can enjoy watching Arnie search for Turbo Man..and we won’t even get into classics like 1964’s Santa Claus conquers the Martians!

 

As much as you want to stick to healthy eating habits…

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That cupboard full of mince pies and the fridge full of cheeses are just way too tempting.

Image credit: en.wikipedia.org

 

 

 

 

All your wardrobes are off limits for storing your clothes…
due to the assortment of gifts hidden away from curious unknowing eyes – namely, your kids.

 

Your mantelpiece and windowsills have also lost all function…
as it is currently covered in Christmas cards from your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues, the random guy you occasionally say hi to at the supermarket and Dave the butcher.

 

 

And upon returning home from work each day, the abundance of external lights on your street makes it look like a runway at Heathrow.

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Then even when you enter your home, the living room lights up like the Las Vegas strip..just think of the electricity bill.

 

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