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Top property firms urged to "catch up"
Legal IT - UK
British Land chief tells commercial property sector to follow residential conveyancers' embrace of IT.
A high-ranking executive at British Land Company (BLC) - one of the UK's largest and most powerful landowners, has urged commercial property lawyers to catch up with the residential conveyancing market in embracing technology.

Speaking at a City briefing for real estate partners, Stephen Spooner, property director of BLC's business group, urged 40 lawyers from major real estate practices to become smarter at embracing new technologies to help drive up business performance, or face the consequences.

Adobe gets behind PISCES standard
Legal IT - UK
PISCES, the data exchange standard for the real estate and conveyancing industry, received a boost last month when software giant Adobe joined up. The PISCES standard has gained wide acceptance among specialist IT vendors and service providers but Adobe is the first global mass-market software company to endorse it.

Gary Fry, a spokesman for Adobe, said the move would enable the real estate industry "to build forms that allow control of how electronic documents are used and distributed".

Delays throw water on stamp duty bonfire
The Herald - UK
Lawyers are facing yet more problems with the stamp duty land tax filing regime. The launch of the Inland Revenue's online filing system has been postponed, the Law Society of Scotland was told last week, just two days before it was due to go live on April 6.

This fresh set-back follows complaints from solicitors and their clients over delays and errors in the current paper-based system, threatening completion of house-buying and other property transactions.
The Herald

Property tax "mostly good news"
Finance24.com - South Africa
The long-awaited implementation of the Municipal Property Tax Act will come into effect on July 2 this year.

The announcement on Monday came as good news for most homeowners, but was not as favourably received by the agricultural sector. Provincial and Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi made the announcement on Monday and assured people that property tax would not rise dramatically.

But, his optimism was not shared by the agricultural sector. Lourie Bosman, president of AgriSA, said the act could destroy the agricultural sector if municipalities were allowed to abuse it and overtax farmers. He said, also, it was ''absurd'' to impose property tax on agricultural land. But, the act stipulates that this land also should be taxed.

R100-bn govt. spending to support property market
Moneyweb - South Africa
Projections for infrastructure development in South Africa under public and private sector control should put any fears for the future of the property market to rest, argues Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of ERA Real Estate South Africa.

According to Kotzé, official figures from government state that developments such as power stations, dams, roads and other transport infrastructure will involve spending of some R107-bn over the next five years.

"Private sector development and foreign direct investment (FDI) is less easy to define but the latest statistics indicate that in these instances as well, there will be increased investment," he says.

Property valuers "too conservative"
NetAssets - South Africa
Professional valuers are being "too conservative" in valuing commercial properties in "current market conditions", says RMB Properties CEO Warren Schultze.

Schultze, who was speaking at a presentation of the Sapoa/Investment Property Databank (IPD) SA Index in Sandton last Thursday, said he was concerned as there were discrepancies between the property valuations done by the valuations community and the value at which fixed properties were actually being bought and sold.

In other words, the valuations were lower than the prices properties fetched on the market.

Tricky transfers
Business Day - South Africa
Nicolina Meerholz investigates the recent amendments to transfer duties, as well as the various transaction costs involved in buying property.

In his recent budget speech, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced certain amendments to transfer duties. According to the Beau Vallon Properties' website (http://www.beauvallon.co.za ), as from the beginning of last month, no duty will be charged on properties to the value of R190001.

Only 5% duty will be charged on the value above R190000, up to R330000. An amount of R7000, as well as a duty of 8% will be charged on the value of properties costing more than R330000. A flat rate of 10% transfer duty will be charged for companies, closed corporations and trusts.
Business Day

Big Bay plots to be offered in new "competitive process"
Cape Times - South Africa
The City of Cape Town says it is opening a new and competitive process for selling the 17 plots of prime land in Big Bay that were assigned to buyers in a sale tainted with irregularities.

Cape Town Mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo scrapped the deal, in which the plots were sold out of hand to a selected group of 17 companies connected with high-ups in the ANC, including Sharif Pandor, husband of Education Minister Naledi Pandor.

The land had not been put out to tender and was sold at prices way below its market value.

Some of the companies attempted to resell the land at hugely inflated prices, but the Democratic Alliance exposed the scheme and, after a damning auditor's report, Mfeketo cancelled it.
Cape Times

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