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Swap mine for yours?

When a property market is quiet, people are encouraged to think outside the box and find new ways to move up the property ladder.

One option is a permanent house-swap, with websites such as www.u-exchange.com enabling people to make contact with potential swap partners.

It all sounds sweet, but there is a rub. Revenue rules say stamp duty is payable regardless of whether or not there is a cash transaction -- and on both houses.

Carlow-based estate agent Harry Sothern is an advocate of house-swapping and calls on the Government to implement changes to the rules on stamp duty to allow for greater mobility.

He says: "Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, many agents organised house-swapping between interested parties.

"At that time, the Revenue only charged stamp duty on the price difference between the houses swapped and it was payable only by the party trading up.

"It was an excellent arrangement. For instance, it allowed young families, who wanted to move to a larger house in town or in the country, to trade with an older couple looking for a more manageable property.

"At that time, bridging finance was unobtainable and the selling market was very sluggish, so house-swapping was an excellent tool to allow people to move.

"Aside from stamp-duty savings, people often agreed to use the same solicitor and of course only one estate agent was involved, thus making this a very attractive and cost-effective means of moving house.

"However, as the practice became more popular, the Government/Revenue be-came unhappy with the loss of income to the Exchequer and declared that no more swaps would be allowed.

"Parties would have to sell their respective houses to each other, thereby attracting stamp duty in each case."

So for the moment, we are unfortunately stuck with stamp duty as it is, but that doesn't mean we can't embrace house-swapping.

Imagine your house is worth €695,000 and you fancy a change of scene. Houses pitched at similar prices should be easier to swap so we have taken five examples from around Ireland and imagined what it might be like if their owners were willing to consider swapping. Not all of the owners of these five properties will be in a position to consider a swap. For instance the Goatstown houses is sadly an executor sale. Nevertheless the exercise provides some indication for buyers of what might be available for €695,000 in different areas of the country.

In Co Galway, the architect-designed Round House is a four-bedroom property located at Errislannan, four miles from Clifden.

Designed to complement its Connemara setting, the property is set into the surrounding land and just a short walk from the beach.

The 165sqm (1,773sq ft) home features an open-plan kitchen/dining area with a raised-dome ceiling, exposed beams and high windows.

It also includes a living room, gallery, conservatory, four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a garage/utility. (Matt O'Sullivan Auctioneers, 095 21066).

Hackamore Lodge is a unique American log house overlooking Cork Harbour from its vantage point at Glenmore, Cobh. The 140sqm (1,500sq ft) home is set on six acres of land and was imported from Maine in the US. Made from Eastern White Pine, the single-storey property features an open-beam ceiling. It includes three bedrooms, three bathrooms as well as a large, open-plan kitchen/living area with utility.

The house is surrounded by terraced areas and the grounds also accommodate four loose boxes, a tack room, workshop and paddocks.

A second outbuilding is currently used as a study/ office (Engel & Voelkers Auctioneers 021 4773200).

In Tipperary, try Brookvale House, an imposing 420sqm (4,500sq ft) timber-framed residence set on five acres near Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

Newly built home is set among post and railed paddocks, on a sloping site at Glenmore Lower, Latteragh, with uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside.

The ground-floor accommodation includes an entrance hall, sitting room, TV room, games room, kitchen, dining room, conservatory, utility room and toilet.

The first of the five bedrooms is also located on the ground floor, with an ensuite toilet, while the remaining four bedrooms are located on the first floor. Two of these are also en suite (Sherry FitzGerald Talbot on 067 31496).

If Dublin is where your heart lies, there are options on either side of the Liffey.

Number 112 Collinswood is a four bedroom detached home in Beaumont, Dublin 9 with planning permission for a second property.

Number 112 occupies a large site off Collins Avenue and close to the Swords Road. The property has already been extended and modernised by its current owners.

Planning permission has been granted for the construction of a three-bedroom semi-detached home on the side of the existing house.

The accommodation includes an entrance hall, sitting room, dining room, kitchen/breakfast room, conservatory, guest wc and study on the ground floor. Upstairs there are four bedrooms (master en suite) and a bathroom.

Contact Gunne Residential on 01 8335844.

The southside offers 1 Friarsland Avenue, a four-bedroom family home located in a quiet cul de sac off Larchfield Road in Goatstown, Dublin 14.

The detached property extends to 135sqm (1,453sq ft) and sits on a corner site, with mature gardens to the front and rear.

It is located a 15-minute walk from the Luas at Dundrum and close to Milltown and Ranelagh.

The accommodation consists of an entrance hall, living room, dining room, breakfast room, kitchen, study and guest WC on the ground floor.

Upstairs, there are four bedrooms and a family bathroom, with access to a roof terrace from the fourth bedroom (Savills on 01 663 4300).

Irish Independent