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Real house prices decline
Real house prices declined for the first time in nearly four-and-a-half years on a month-on-month basis in July, ABSA said on Tuesday. According to the bank, house prices fell by 0.1 percent in real terms in July this year - the first actual decline since April 2002.

In nominal terms, house prices grew 13.6 percent year-on-year in August, compared to 14 percent in July, the bank's latest House Price Index shows.

Interest rate hikes due
This brought the average price of a house in the middle segment of the market to about R816 000 in August. The average nominal year-on-year growth in house prices came to 15.1 percent in the first eight months of 2006.

Trusts, estate planning, and CGT
Moneyweb.co.za - South Africa
Most countries have some form of inheritance tax or estate duty, which is levied on the value of a person's net assets when they die. In South Africa, estate duty is levied at the rate of 20% on the dutiable amount of the estate, which is determined in accordance with the Estate Duty Act.

Two weeks ago Moneyweb Business published a column entitled "Tax shock for corporate homeowners", which dealt with the capital gains tax (CGT) consequences of selling a home housed in a private company or close corporation. That column triggered numerous e-mails and telephone calls, mostly enquiring what the situation would be when a property is disposed of as a trust.

Valuation industry plays catch-up with boom
BusinessDay - South Africa
The property valuation industry has not kept pace with the tremendous growth in prices and rentals in the commercial property market.

Professional property valuators often rely on statistical information that is six months old and this can create problems for banks, the listed property sector and other players who use them.

Barry Kagansan, MD of valuation group Valuation Alliance, says banks in particular have the potential to lose out on lucrative property deals because of outdated valuation information.

Often the valuations done are too conservative - because of the time lag - and banks may decline to finance a property deal because they think that the property'svalue is too low.

Mortgage sector 'driven by technology'
RealEstateTV - UK
It has been claimed that the mortgage industry, like many other sectors, is finding it increasingly important to embrace the latest technological developments.

According to Sally Laker, managing director of Mortgage Intelligence, the importance of technology in today's society has never been greater. Writing for IFA Online, Ms Laker suggests that the pace of modern life has given people higher expectations of the speed of services which they receive in all walks of life.

This appears to have had an important bearing on the mortgage market because the sector is one which is well established with processes to match. However, many are looking for change and the industry is using technology to meet the challenge.

One way in which the sector is changing is the Land Registry's continued attempts to develop its e-conveyancing scheme. This system is designed to significantly speed up the transfer process by transforming it into an almost completely paperless operation.

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