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ID urges mortgage tax relief
Fin24.co.za - South Africa
Urgent attention should be paid to lessening the tax burden on the middle income group in South Africa, Independent Democrats (ID) finance spokesman Avril Harding said on Wednesday in reaction to Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's medium term budget policy statement.

Noting recent interest rate hikes, Harding said the middle income group had been "particularly hard hit" through mortgage repayments.

"It is time to consider tax relief in relation to home ownership," said the ID member of parliament.

Harding said that the high current account deficit was an indication of government's failed industrial policy "and it confirms that we have relied too heavily on foreign direct investment".

Real house prices face first fall since 1999 - ABSA
Business Report - South Africa
Pretoria - House prices were expected to decline by 1.9 percent excluding the effect of inflation next year, the first annual reduction in real house prices since 1999, ABSA said yesterday.

ABSA has radically revised its interest rate forecast and is now forecasting three 0.5 percentage point hikes at each of the Reserve Bank's monetary policy committee meetings in December, February and April.

In April this year ABSA said that interest rates would be unchanged for the rest of this year and start rising in April. After the surprise 0.5 percentage point increase in June, it revised its forecast to three 0.5 percentage point hikes in August, October and December and flat rates next year.
Jacques du Toit, a senior economist at ABSA group economic research, said the decline was expected because of higher interest rates for a longer period. This was due to expectations that inflation would peak at a higher level than previously forecast, thanks to a weaker rand, volatile oil prices and rising food prices.
Business Report

Estate agents deny fixing prices
Netassets.co.za - South Africa
Two well-known estate agency groups - Seeff Properties and Jawitz Properties - said on Friday there was no collusion by the estate agency industry to prevent smaller agencies advertising lower commission rates.

The issue of alleged collusion to fix commission rates was raised again last week when a Port Elizabeth estate agency wanted to bring an application for interim relief against East Cape Property Guide and Saturday Property Guide.

Charter Properties is alleging that East Cape Property Guide and Saturday Property Guide are in contravention of the Competition Act.

Charter Properties claims that the two publications are refusing to allow references to rates of commission payable in advertisements and that this leads to price-fixing in contravention of the act.

The Competition Commission is still investigating.

The savings and hassles of repossessed properties
Moneyweb.co.za - South Africa
What you should know about buying banks' repos.
Most people look for bargains when buying property. One of the cheapest avenues is the repossessed market but be warned.

The biggest advantage is that you don't have to pay transfer duties since the bank, as the seller, has to pay VAT on the sale of the property. By not paying transfer duties, you can save thousands of rands but you still have to pay attorney's fees for registering the property in your name as well as bond fees.

Usually, real estate properties below R500 000 do not attract transfer duties. For anything above that amount you'll have to pay a transfer fee, which could cost in the region of 5-8% of your property value.

Currently, the four big banks hold around 1 000 properties in possession (PIPs).

Home buyers' guide to get Capital pilot
Scotsman.com - UK
A questionnaire aimed at helping potential home buyers get better information about the properties they look at is about to be tested in the Capital.

The property sale questionnaire (PSQ) aims to ensure that buyers are provided with better information on matters such as council tax banding, parking, and services, such as telephone, cable and broadband, that are connected to the property.

It will also provide surveyors with more pre-survey information and help solicitors avoid undue delays in conveyancing by quickly providing them with most of the information they need.

The questionnaire has been developed jointly by The Law Society of Scotland, the Scottish Consumer Council, the National Association of Estate Agents and Communities Scotland.
The seller of the property completes the PSQ with advice from their solicitor or estate agent, filling in the property's council tax band, information on any structural alterations and other issues that may assist the conveyancing process.

Expropriation notices issued for Limpopo land
Mail&Guardian - South Africa
Expropriation notices have been issued on four pieces of land in Limpopo, the Commission on Restitution of Land Rights announced on Tuesday.

"The notice for expropriation is our last resort following lengthy negotiations with the land owners, which todate have yielded no results," said chief land claims commissioner Thozi Gwanya.

The expropriation notices concern four portions of the farm Turffontein 499 KR, in the Waterberg district.

The land claimants are from the Letlhakaneng Community in Bela Bela (formerly Warmbaths).

The exact manner of payment of compensation, including expropriation costs, would be determined at the point of expropriation, said commission spokesperson Pulane Molefe.

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