Property 24/10 - 123

Sect. title property: Know the rules
Sectional title has become one of the most popular forms of property ownership in South Africa. But do buyers really understand the rules governing and protecting them once they move in?

Increasingly buyers are choosing to invest in sectional title schemes because of factors such as the level of security and the community lifestyle, as well as the affordability compared to full title homes, and the reduced costs of maintenance.  

Martin Bester, Managing Director of Intersect Sectional Title Services, says it is important for buyers who are looking to invest in these schemes to know their rights and obligations when it comes to sectional title.

People often confuse ownership of property governed by a homeowners’ association with that falling under a body corporate, which is governed by the Sectional Titles Act, he says. 

According to Bester, who sits on the board of the Residential and Sectional Title Committee of SAPOA and is an alternate member of the Sectional Title Regulations Board, further to the provisions of the Sectional Titles Act, a sectional title scheme is governed by the Regulations to the Act and the Management and Conduct Rules of the development as registered in the Deeds Office. 

Home view obstructions and the law
Interference with people’s home views should not be too readily condoned except where a great many people may benefit at the expense of one or two. 

This is according to Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group.

This follows his recent critical comment on a High Court case in which a homeowners’ sea view were obscured by a follow-up project by the same developer who had sold him the unit.

Clarke has drawn attention to yet another, more recent, case in which a sea view has again been affected, this time by a home owner building a full 9.5 metres above the local height restrictions.

The complainant asked that the illegal structure should be demolished. 

The court ruled that it was not obliged to decide in the complainant’s favour although it did have the right to do so – but it did then, in fact, rule that the offending structure should be demolished.

Value-adding home improvement tips
Thinking of putting in a pool or building a new room on your property? The ooba experts advise that as with any other financial outlay, a renovation needs planning and forethought to add value. 

If you're thinking about renovating, decide what you need to do, then use research and common sense to work out the best way to go about it. This way, you can make sure that you get your home extension to deliver the greatest possible return on investment. 

Certain renovations add value immediately, while others can detract from the value of your house, says Linda Rall, KZN Sales Manager at ooba. 

If you're considering making an alteration or modernising a space, speak to a couple of estate agents in your area to get a sense of the value that doing such work could add, and how best to get your renovation to deliver a significant return in future, says Rall.

Buying and selling property in Africa
With real estate investments on the increase in Africa, it is crucial to understand the legalities of each country, according to experts on Africa.

This is a word of caution from Penny Chenery, director at law firm Eversheds.

Chenery explains that before you hop on that plane to anyway in Africa with the intention of doing business, it is important that you ensure you have a professional team who know the laws of the particular African country into which you intend expanding.

This team should speak the local language as this is essential in communication.

From a property development perspective your team should consist of specialist property / real estate attorneys, town planners, land surveyors, architects, property brokers and engineers (civil and electrical).

Asked what the main challenges facing businesses going into new markets in Africa are, she says they include the following:

Property better than money market
Property is now a better investment than the money market and most other equities, says Bill Rawson, chairman of the Rawson Property Group.

Rawson says the Reserve Bank’s decision to reduce its repo rate by a further 0.5 percent will speed up the movement of capital from the money market and cause investors to look harder for better returns elsewhere.

This being the case, the logic of investing in property needs once more to be emphasised, he says.

He says the simplest and easiest way to do this is to invest in a Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed property fund. 

In 2011 these funds outperformed bonds, cash and other equities and are again doing so in 2012, despite the difficulties experienced by tenants.

How to negotiate the price of property
The purchase of a home is often the biggest financial commitment that a person makes – yet it is surprising how many buyers go into such transactions with minimal preparation and without the information that will enable them to negotiate a satisfactory price. 

This is according to Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, who says, as a start, the potential buyers should find out all they can about the property they are intending to buy, i.e. a great deal more than the information usually supplied on the sales brochure.  

In addition, they must then familiarise themselves with the prices of homes in the same area that are comparable in size, quality and features. 

“It may well happen that, being new to the market, the potential buyer will have to rely on a reputable estate agent to give him this information. 

"All agents should be able to produce a comprehensive comparative market analysis – if they cannot, it indicates that they are not true professionals. If possible, more than one agent’s market analysis should be called for.” 

Get the customer service you deserve
Someone once said that customer service is not a department, it’s everyone’s job. Unfortunately good customer service tends to be hard to find. 

According to a recent survey conducted by American Express, more than 60% of US respondents stated that customer service was important but only one third believed they actually get it.

When Leapfrog Property Group launched five years ago, the group designed an independent measurement system called “Hot or Not” – as in you’ve either made the cut or you haven’t.

Bruce Swain, MD of Leapfrog says, “Professionalism, ethics and integrity are the most overused words in our industry.”

He says that they developed this program in order to ensure that their clients truly do get professional, ethical service regardless of which franchise office or agent they deal with.

The program consists of various tenets such as customer feedback, ghost calls, office compliance and a physical office review amongst others.

Customer feedback is forwarded to the office principals monthly, in order for them to share with their agents and take action where necessary.

New real estate education centre in SA
Henley Business School SA is set to launch the Centre for Advanced Studies in Real Estate in Africa (CASREA).

The centre aims to provide the highest standards of postgraduate and executive education for the real estate, built environment and planning industries.

Dean of Henley Business School SA, Jon Foster-Pedley, says effective leadership is imperative in an industry that contributes more than 10% of global GDP.

“Real estate comprises around 50% of the world's assets by value and 10% of the value of all pension and savings funds and, therefore, requires thoughtful and well-prepared individuals,” says Foster-Pedley.

He says the centre’s chief purpose is the development of skills, knowledge and practices for commercially effective, environmentally aware and socially responsible development and management of real estate in Africa.

Henley Business School SA is the African arm of Henley Business School UK, a global operation and division of the University of Reading UK.

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