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Property 24/10 - 197

20 March 2014

Green homes increasingly in demand
Energy and water self-sufficiency are set to become key factors in the marketability of residential property in South Africa.

This is according to Harcourts Real Estate group CEO, Richard Gray, who says homes that offer a degree of independence from local authority services - that is, are at least to some extent ‘off the grid’ - will soon be among the most sought-after properties.

He says most likely to be in demand are new homes in security complexes and estates that have their own emergency power plants and water sources, which have been built in accordance with the new energy efficiency guidelines, and even ordinary suburban homes that have been retrofitted with ‘green’ equipment will command something of a premium.

He says it’s clear from recent events that the supply of essential services to South African households is becoming increasingly erratic and uncertain, and not just in informal settlements and rural towns. It’s not uncommon now for whole sections of major cities to be left without electricity or water supply for days on end.
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Luxury home sales and price growth
Estate agents report that luxury homes are now seeing price appreciation and high demand from buyers with money.

According to Tony Clarke, Rawson Property Group managing director, their group saw 37.72 percent year-on-year (y/y) in the total revenue of homes sold and priced above R2 million.

He notes that in particular, an increase was seen in locations such as Constantia and Franschhoek in Cape Town, Bryanston and Morningside in Johannesburg, Waterkloof in Pretoria and Kloof and Umhlanga in KwaZulu-Natal.

He points to the fourth quarter of 2013 Absa report that shows that luxury homes (priced from R3.8 million to R17.8 million) saw an average y/y increase of 6.6 percent from 6.7 percent in the third quarter.
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Technology in the real estate industry
South African businesses, and in particular the real estate industry, will have to start taking a real interest in technology to be successful in an increasingly competitive environment.

Social media has taken over peoples’ lives and cell phones have become an extension of who we are. Business must utilise this to know more about their clients, which will enable them to sell more.

Stefan Swanepoel, a world renowned expert on trends in the property market, recently painted a picture on the growth of social media, and its influence on business, at a series of seminars presented in South Africa by the international real estate group Keller Williams, which recently established a presence in South Africa.

He says on Christmas Day last year worldwide:

- 17 400 000 Apps were downloaded;
- 900 000 000 FaceBook users were active;
- 2 500 000 000 texts were sent;
- 350 000 000 000 emails were sent.
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What upgrades would you do with R246m?
Imagine spending R246 million on home renovations... what could you do with that amount of money?

The initial project, which involved security upgrades to the Nkandla property, was only supposed to cost R27 million. That is still a lot of money when you consider what you could do with a budget like that, or how many homes could be built to house families in need.

The damning evidence in Public Protector Thuli Madonsela's Nkandla report on the upgrades to President Jacob Zuma's private residence using taxpayers' money begs the ethical question of how our first citizen could have ''tacitly accepted" renovations on such a grand scale.

The President after all is a public servant. He is placed in power by the people who vote for him and he should stand accountable for his actions and lead by example. This excess, which President Zuma and his family "improperly benefited from", according to the report, "constitutes opulence on a grand scale" said Ms Madonsela.
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PGP launches a lifestyle magazine
Naturally, every individual’s dream home differs, both in composition, size and of course, location. Perhaps you would buy a farm, a castle, or even an island, but one thing we can probably agree on is that our aspirations for that ideal home are inextricably linked to the kind of lifestyle we seek.

The Pam Golding Property group has homed in on these aspirations by offering a world of possibility with the launch of a distinctive new lifestyle publication, entitled ‘Imagine’.

This is a high quality, luxury title which allows readers to indulge their senses and dreams with insights into the desirable lifestyles of affluent homeowners across a range of prime global destinations, from urban and trendy to idyllic, tropical island. Where do the rich and famous really live, what luxury locations do they frequent?
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Ins & outs of compliance certificates
When selling a property, most homeowners focus on preparing for show days - adding a lick of paint, tidying up the garden and so forth. What many neglect to prepare until the property has been sold and is ready for transfer, are the required Certificates of Compliance (COCs).

Before the transfer of any home can be registered, it is the duty of the seller to provide the relevant transfer attorney with a number of COCs - the most common being an Electrical Certificate of Compliance as well as a Plumbing Certificate of Compliance. The remaining certificates are dependent on whether the property has a gas installation, electric fence or, is located in a coastal area and thus requires a Certificate of Clearance for Woodborer beetles.

Bruce Swain, MD of Leapfrog Property Group, says while obtaining these COCs do add an extra cost for the seller, they are required by law in an attempt to safeguard both the buyer and the seller, in that they serve as assurance that the wiring, plumbing etc of a property is up to standard - ensuring the seller that they're not buying a problem, while also protecting the seller from later claims against him by the buyer.
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Estate living and full title ownership
Many home buyers might shy away from buying in an estate because of the perceived restrictions in living in a walled environment controlled by a Homeowners’ Association or Body Corporate, and the possible higher price tags of homes in estates.

This is according to Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential South Africa, who says there are two homes that have just come on the market through their Newlands and Claremont agents that have the benefits of living in an estate, but are both full title properties with either low or no levies.

The disadvantage of many estates is that they often come with high security costs and amenities to maintain, whereas if the estate has been planned to be secure enough, with access control at the gate and a strong sense of community with neighbours aware of what is going on in their complex, these costs can be kept to a minimum.
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Finance solutions for property buyers
Over the last few years, many South Africans have seen their dreams of owning their own home dashed due to the difficulty in obtaining a home loan and the cost thereof.

This is according to Meyer de Waal from Oosthuizen & Co Meyer de Waal Attorneys, who says however, South Africans should not abandon their dreams of owning a home, but should rather look for solutions to the challenges they are facing.

A major challenge is that banks are declining almost half of all home loan applications, and those who are self-employed have little chance of obtaining finance. The availability of finance for buying a home is likely to become even more constrained if the government's proposed credit amnesty comes into effect, which will make the banks even more stringent in their credit criteria as they will be unable to assess consumers' full credit histories.
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