1.5 million housing opportunities unlocked
The 100 days target of creating 1.5 million housing opportunities is set to build houses for the poor and open the housing market for those who cannot access home loans. Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said this, last week, when she briefed members of the Portfolio Committee on Human Settlements about plans to achieve the 100 days target she announced during her Budget Vote Speech.
“What we are presenting to you today is the framework in which we will build the foundation towards achieving our objectives on not only building houses for the poor but opening the housing market for those who are unable to access home loans and also do not qualify for free government houses,” said the Minister. She also announced that her department had signed a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) to create a credible waiting and beneficiary list database.
SA building regulations inadequate
South Africa needs a wake-up call with regards to the policing of its building standards for residential housing according to John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck, who was speaking in the wake of the collapse of a double storey house in Alberton, which killed seven people.
He says South Africa’s building regulations are among the finest in the world, but enforcement of these regulations is abysmal. Compounding the problem is the dearth of proper on-site supervision and the concomitant collapse of the apprentice training system. Graham says coming in the wake of the recent Tongaat Mall collapse, this latest building failure clearly demonstrates how dangerous shoddy building practice really is. He says concrete slabs and roof structures are heavy and yet they are often erected by untrained labour without adequate design and supervision.
Insurance and improvements in ST
The schedule of replacement values is one important aspect that trustees might not pay enough attention to. This issue was raised on a fully subscribed workshop held recently by IHFM for trustees covering insurance matters in sectional title schemes, says Michael Bauer, general manager of the property management company IHFM. He says part of the prescribed agenda for the AGM is a detailed inventory list of all the insured sections in accordance with the sectional plan, broken down by the PQ (participation quota) factor. The units would be listed and the undivided shares of the common property, i.e. garages, carports, storerooms, etc, in this schedule.
Because different property types have different values, a property valuer is sometimes called in to work out the correct replacement values for the components that make up the scheme. A complete home for instance, would have a higher value than a garage or storeroom per square metre, so the insured amounts should be worked out as such. The trustees might choose to have this done every three to four years, as there is a cost involved, which the body corporate will have to cover, says Bauer.
Creating a home maintenance fund
When it comes to owning a home, it’s not just about making monthly home loan repayments.
This is according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says home maintenance is an intricate part of homeownership. “There are several benefits to owning a property, such as the potential of having an asset that increases in value over the long term. There are also the personal benefits of making all the decisions when it comes to what the home looks like. However, with the advantages comes the responsibility of maintaining the property to ensure that it reaches its full investment potential.
“Affording a property is not just about being able to meet the bond requirements, but also about being able to set aside some money for when the unexpected happens,” he says.
Goslett says while most major issues or damages caused by fire, flooding and natural disasters should be covered by home insurance, the general upkeep and maintenance of the property is not.
Protecting your property investment
Property is said to be one of the more predominant long-term investments to get into, due to the high return on equity you are guaranteed to receive.
One of the benefits of investing in property is that you don’t need cash up front or saved up in your bank account, as long as you're able to take out a bond, buying property for investment purposes can be an easy process. Some see property investments as a good retirement solution while others see it as a good ROI opportunity. Either way, the best way for buy-to-let investors to do this is to place tenants in their property to help pay off the bond.
Unfortunately, letting out property is not risk-free as numerous things can go wrong, especially if you happen to rent your property to difficult tenants. There are many scary stories of tenants staying on the property rent-free for months, where the landlord is unable to evict them. There are also stories of properties that have been damaged, resulting in thousands of rands worth of damage, more than the original deposit put down.
Tenants beware rental scams
The last thing that tenants want when looking to find a rental property is to fall victim to fraud according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who warns that rental scam incidences are becoming more common.
He says, unfortunately, there is a criminal element that is taking advantage of prospective tenants who are involved in the rental-hunting process. He says tenants are often emotionally driven when it comes to looking for their ideal rental home, which could make them vulnerable to the advances of possible fraudulent activity.
Enthusiastic about the prospect of finding a new home, eager tenants might be more trusting and susceptible to rental scams, says Goslett. “There is also the factor of time. Tenants who have a limited time frame in which to find a home due to relocation for work or possible personal issues, could be more desperate to find a place to stay and not be as cautious in their approach.”
11 things new homeowners need to know
For those who believe in absolute home comfort, here is a list of 11 things you must know before moving into a new home.
- New homeowners should familiarise themselves with the neighbourhood – that is, other properties that are close by that may pose a risk, including vacant stands and tall buildings that may have a view into their property. This will allow you to take precautionary measures or at least plan for any eventuality.
- Property owners should know their house perimeter or in simple terms, the fence surrounding their home. They should determine whether the fence has any weak points and attend to them immediately. Homeowners should also look at the trees surrounding the property, and whether they can be used to gain acess into the home. Also check any pedestrian gates that may not be functional as security deterrents.