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Property 24/10 - 131

25 October 2012

How to become an estate agent
There have been many enquiries from members of the public who have asked how to become estate agents, says Dianne Brock, general manager of the Institute of Estate Agents, Western Cape. “Although it is not an easy job to do, it can be incredibly rewarding,” says Brock. 

The first thing to do, she says, would be to find an internship with a compliant real estate company. This company must hold a valid, current Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) from the Estate Agency Affairs Board, which is their licence to trade. 

Estate agents’ internships run for one year with no break in the term and if the intern is absent for more than 30 days they will be required to work another 45 days on top of the period they missed. The interns are mentored by qualified agents with a minimum of three years’ experience who have acquired their NQF4 or NQF5 qualifications.    
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Occupational Safety Act & construction
The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) (Act 95 of 1993) affects all construction work and does not strictly apply to property developers, according to Heidi Franck, Group chief operating officer of One Property Holdings. She explains that OHSA outlines a series of construction regulations to protect the safety of workers and says while many believe the Act applies strictly to property developers, OHSA actually applies to all construction work.

Regulations 1&2 of the Construction Regulations (OHSA) define construction as “The construction, erection, maintenance, alteration, renovation, repair, demolition, or dismantling of or addition to a building or any other similar structure”

Why is compliance so important? “The Act is set up so that it is the employer, and not the contractor, who is responsible for compliance,” says Franck.

Franck says the penalty for non-compliance is a maximum fine of R100 000 and/or imprisonment.

Ultimately this means that it is up to the employer to ensure that the contractor is compliant with Act, as he/she will be liable for the penalty, due to non-compliance.
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No quick fix for EAAB - agents
Following the two-day Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) Industry Summit recently held in Midrand, Johannesburg, Seeff chairman Samuel Seeff has lauded the move by the Minister of Human Settlements, Tokyo Sexwale and the EAAB Administrator, Advocate Taswell Papier to engage with the industry.

“This is a leap forward and we welcome the steps taken by the ministry to open the floor and debate the significant issues that face the industry in a move towards finding workable and sustainable solutions.”

Seeff says they welcome both the willingness to include the industry and the manner of engagement, but fear that there are no quick fixes in sight.

While the discussions over the two days were fruitful, they were broad and a few solutions came out of the sessions. The issues are clearly complex, he says.

The summit only touched the tip of the iceberg. What is needed now, is to unpack the issues.
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Buyer's guide to home inspections
A new home is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make, says Eric Bell of Inspect-A-Home. While most people think this will be an exciting journey, a 'fresh start', too many are disappointed and suffer financially when they find out that their dream home is a money-drainer rather than the investment they imagined it to be. 

Bell believes that it is important for buyers to understand the condition of their property before they buy it. While some defects such as cracked roof tiles and damp walls might be more obvious, hidden defects such as rotten roof beams or a leaking geyser are more difficult to spot. 

These defects might mean that a house is unsafe and repairs could run into the hundreds of thousands, leaving buyers with massive, unexpected bills. A current case before the Estate Agent Affairs Board (EAAB) has one buyer living in a hotel while over R400 000 worth of damage is being repaired in his newly purchased home. 
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Will the new NHBRC board deliver?
The South African Property Owners Association (Sapoa) has applauded Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale’s announcement of the new board for the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).

Sapoa chief executive officer, Neil Gopal, says the commercial property sector welcomes Minister Sexwale’s decisiveness in dealing with the almost collapsed governance structure of the dysfunctional NHBRC and its waning, if not lost, integrity.

“The sector has been left at the mercy of this ineffective and inefficient body for too long.”

Gopal says the Minister’s announcing of the new NHBRC board clearly demonstrated his lack of confidence in the previous board, since more than 90 percent of its members were not re-appointed.

The appointment of Itumeleng William Kotsoane, who previously served as the director general under the previous Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, is met with caution by some in the property industry, as some of the housing projects being heavily criticised by Sexwale’s administration were constructed while the NHBRC was under the dual watch of Kotsoane and Sisulu.
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Get permission for repairs in ST
With the growing demand for sectional title property throughout South Africa, there is an increasing trend to upgrade units – and when this is done efficiently and in good taste, such upgrades can add significantly to the value of the units and the scheme as a whole. 

This being the case, it comes as no surprise, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, to find that buy-to-let investors are moving in on sectional title property, often with the clear intention of adding to their unit’s value so as to raise the rent. 

Clarke has, however, warned that owners of sectional title units are obliged by law to get the permission of the scheme’s trustees first: they are not allowed to do any alteration work without this permission. 

If an owner engages a contractor with the permission of his body corporate, adds Clarke, it is essential to insist that every member of the workforce is registered in such a way that they can be identified during the course of the day and at the entrance and exit points. A full list of the employees on the site should be lodged with the trustees. 
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New rating tool launch by GBCSA
The launch of the next green building rating tool by the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), the Green Star SA - Public & Education Building Rating Tool (version 1), is set to take place at the GBCSA Convention and Exhibition, at the CTICC from 23 – 25 October 2012.

The launch of the much-anticipated rating tool follows the successful development of Green Star SA tools for Office buildings, Retail Centres and Multi-Unit Residential buildings, as well as the latest pilot Energy & Water Benchmarking Tool.

Greening public spaces
Funded by the Construction Industry Development Board (cidb), an agency of the National Department of Public works (DPW), the latest tool enables the GBCSA to rate public spaces, such as community centres, libraries, museums, places of worship, indoor sports centres, entertainment, exhibition and convention centre, as well as public transport terminal buildings. The rating tool extends to Education buildings such as schools and tertiary education facilities.
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Improvements add value to buildings
While the location of a commercial property is always of key importance, the appearance of the building plays a significant role in attracting and retaining tenants due to the perceived desirability of the venue, says Rudolf Nieman, managing director of JHI Project Management – a member of the Excellerate Property Services group. Nieman explains that a common occurrence is that a perfectly commercially viable building may develop vacancies because of problems created by a defunct facade or a facade that does not possess what is seen as a ‘timeless design’.

For example, buildings in an office park with a particular theme may become dated over time as architectural trends change.

He says factors relating to facades which may impact negatively on the desirability of a commercial property include:

  1. Old fashioned appearance
  2. The building does not keep abreast with ‘green requirements’
  3. The exterior of the building does not complement or keep pace with modern interiors, which are constantly upgraded/modernised via the ‘tenant installation’ allowance, as tenants move in and out of buildings.
  4. Cracks, leaks and safety issues related to the facade of the building.

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