Property 24/10 - 232

Market unhindered by rate hikes
This year’s interest rate increases have so far done very little to slow housing demand, and have had no negative effect at all on home prices, according to the latest statistics from BetterBond Home Loans, national mortgage origination group.

Betterbond CEO, Shaun Rademeyer, says these show that the average home purchase price increased 6.33 percent in the 12 months to end-October to R915 678, while the average purchase price for first-time buyers rose 4.76 percent to R645 007.

According to Rademeyer, the banks’ lending has kept pace with this growth. For a start, the percentage of purchase price required as a deposit has declined over the past 12 months by 3.53 percent on average - and by 2.41 percent in the case of first-time buyers - which makes it easier for buyers to save up the cash they need to complete home purchases.

Turnaround for SA property market
Coming off five years of low growth, on the back of tight economic conditions, this year has seen the property market emerge from one of its toughest down cycles.

This is according to Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff, who says this turnaround is something to cheer about. He says the market is on solid ground, with a good balance between demand and supply, tilting somewhat up on the demand side in favour of sellers, on the back of almost countrywide stock shortages. Heading towards 2015, sellers can expect the buoyancy to continue, with buyers aplenty and good prices, despite the subdued economic outlook.

According to Seeff, while somewhat contrary to expectations, it is not wholly unexpected. It underscores the historic resilience of the market, and it was always just a matter of time before buyers would be back, as they have seen since early last year, and especially into this year.

Basic traits still crucial for agents
The growing sophistication of the ‘knowledge pack’ that an estate agent today has to have is in every way a big step forward for the residential property marketing sector. However, no amount of knowledge and skills can take the place of fundamental good manners and service traits, ‘the boy scout virtues’: punctuality, regular communication and total openness.

This is according to Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, who says surveys taken from time to time in their group show a high degree of satisfaction - in general their clients have no serious complaints.

However, when they do pick up dissatisfaction, particularly these days, it is not due to a lack of information or backup data, but to a lack of punctuality, too little on-going communication and a tendency to gloss over or ignore awkward details.

Beware of fraud in the rental market
The public is urged to be aware of a rental scheme in Centurion and Pretoria, relating to fraudulent activity that started about a month ago.

Steve van Wyk, the owner and Principal of Seeff Centurion, says the fraudsters’ strategy involves trawling property websites, copying the information of properties for rent or for sale, and then placing these properties on various websites as available to rent, while posing as estate agents.

“The ‘estate agent’ then informs the potential tenant that there are a number of other people who are also interested in the property, but that the property will only be rented out to the first person who pays the deposit - or, in some cases, both the deposit and the first month’s rent”.

Van Wyk says that a number of tenants then innocently pay the deposit and rent into the bank account of the fraudster, expecting to obtain access to the property on the 1st of the month, only to find that the cell phone number no longer exists and that the property is already occupied.

Agents must endorse home inspections
Home inspection is taking off in South Africa, but estate agents are still lagging behind international trends in recommending that buyers make a home inspection a condition of their offer, if the property is being sold voetstoots.

John Graham, CEO of HouseCheck, says only about 20 per cent of HouseCheck business comes from estate agent referrals, and 60 percent comes from cautious and aware buyers doing their own internet searches, while the remaining 20 percent comes from word of mouth.

So the question is: why are most South African estate agents lagging so far behind worldwide trends, which are tending more and more towards protecting home buying consumers?

Sooner you list home, sooner you sell
It seems hard to believe but in two months’ time we will be celebrating the start of a brand new year - and if you want to move to a new house early in 2015, you should list your existing property for sale as soon as possible.

This is according to Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group, who says the latest FNB research shows that the average time it takes to sell a property at the moment is 81 days, so if you list this week you should be able to sell your home before the end of January.

“But we are finding that listing times can be much shorter than this in sought-after areas, so if you act fast and your home is priced correctly, you might well be able to sell by the end of December.”

He says however, you will need to choose the right estate agent – that is, one who is properly trained to help you decide on the right asking price with the help of accurate and up-to-date market research and information about recent sales in your area, and then to ensure that your home gets maximum exposure to the highest number of potential buyers with the help of the latest marketing technology.

Homeowner's insurance need-to-know
Whether you recently bought your first home or are in the process of buying one, you are on the right track. A home is a good lifelong investment. Property is one of the few investments that yields a return while your investment grows in value.

According to Seeff Properties Chairman, Samuel Seeff, it is the right time to invest in property.

But, it simply does not end there. There’s an essential element which forms part and parcel of homeownership: homeowner's or building insurance. Homeowners no longer need to be solely concerned about theft and housebreakings. Mother Nature has proven to be a growing concern too.

We are continuously being hit by various acts of nature, such as earthquakes, storms, floods, hail, lightning and landslips. Homeowners need to be prepared for any severe climate change, which could affect their precious investment.

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