Growing food in greener cities
By 2025, more than half the developing world's population - an estimated 3.5 billion people - will be urban, said the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) on Tuesday.
For policy makers and urban planners in poor countries, greener cities could be the key to ensuring safe, nutritious food, sustainable livelihoods and healthier communities.
The concept of "green cities" is usually associated with urban planning in the more developed world. But it has a special application, and significantly different social and economic dimensions, in low-income developing countries.
As cities grow, valuable agricultural land is lost to housing, industry and infrastructure, and production of fresh food is pushed further into rural areas.
The cost of transport, packing and refrigeration, the poor state of rural roads, and heavy losses in transit add to the scarcity and cost of fruit and vegetables in urban markets.
Affordable houses for EC families
Cash-strapped families in the Eastern Cape are expected to benefit from a partnership between government and the private sector that aims to provide affordable housing units.
On Monday, Human Settlements MEC Nombulelo Mabandla signed a partnership agreement with Absa Development Company (DevCo) to facilitate cooperation between her department and Absa in developing housing units.
These units, which can either be leased or bought, are aimed at families in the Eastern Cape who have a combined monthly income of not more than R15,498 as well as those who have no income.
As part of the agreement, Absa will identify projects and develop proposals for the department's approval.
Govt property could help housing problem
I think the South African government is not only extremely greedy, I think it's also remarkably selfish, ill informed and grossly incompetent. Of course my comments might apply not only to the ANC government but to the previous Nationalist Party government as well.
Last week I reported that the newly-appointed chief operating officer of the Department of Public Works, Ashraf Adam was extremely critical of private sector landlords who were charging the government millions of Rands in rentals but were failing to maintain those buildings properly.
Just a day or two later, the Minister of Public Works, Geoff Doidge announced that the government had recently discovered 33 000 buildings that it owned but didn't actually know that these buildings belonged to them.
Airports let property markets take off
The development of airport infrastructure around SA is fuelling nearby commercial and residential property markets and while there are many who decry the effects of noise pollution, the impetus seems unstoppable.
So says Gerhard Kotzé, CEO of the ERA South Africa property group, who adds that airports and their expansion still generate mixed reactions, but there's little doubt that the economies of surrounding areas benefit.
"South Africa, under the impetus of the Soccer World Cup and other influences, has extensively upgraded its airport infrastructure recently in terms of both international and regional feeder services.
Property market gets creative finance
After two years of challenging economic conditions, stakeholders in the South African property market are increasingly recognising the important role that innovative finance solutions have to play in driving future market growth and stimulating purchasing activity.
According to Antony Solomon, of Lombard Insurance Group, this is the primary reason why many estate agents are now actively seeking creative and intelligent finance options that they can offer their prospective buyers in order to simplify the property acquisition process and prompt a greater number of purchase decisions.
Solomon, who manages the Lombard Group's Deposit Advantage product, says the last few months have seen a distinct increase in interest by estate agents and auctioneers in the innovative deposit guarantee solution.
White kitchens dazzle
A whiter shade of pale
Imagine a brilliant white kitchen, dazzling and fresh, awaiting your culinary skills. Gone are the days when heavy materials and dark colours dominated kitchen design - today's kitchen trends are moving towards light and airy colours, particularly white, and it's not just a passing phase. Homeowners are increasingly seeking out sophisticated and stylish design statements in their kitchens and appliance design seems to be at the forefront of this quest for the ultimate in seamless kitchen design co-ordination.
The all-white revolution
White kitchens can be über contemporary, retro, country or traditional, but above all they're clean and chic. In fact, they say that white is the new black. White is very in vogue at the moment - from Apple computers, to iPods, the new white Blackberry and white Mini Coopers - all very trendy, and all very white. The colour white prevents any chance of an eye stutter, especially in a small space - an all-white kitchen design allows your sight to move naturally from one thing to the next, from similar colour to similar colour, from shape to shape.
Subject to' clause needs cut-off date
Many homebuyers these days first need to sell their own properties before they can proceed with the purchase transaction, and most sale agreements make provision for this with a "subject to" clause.
But what happens when something goes wrong and the buyer's own sale falls through? "This can and does happen due to the withdrawal of the second buyer's mortgage finance, perhaps, or due to insolvency and sometimes even due to ill-health or death, and the first seller in the chain needs to be protected in such circumstances," says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.
The "subject to" clause usually stipulates a date by which the buyer must sell his own property, and also usually provides for simultaneous transfer, since the buyer needs the proceeds of his own sale to fund the purchase of his new home.
Indoor-outdoor homes in vogue in Cape
Capetonians' appreciation of summer and sunshine has created a strong demand for those homes which facilitate indoor-outdoor lifestyles.
"As in Australia, the homes that are today most popular are those that are configured for patio alfresco living, blending the outdoors with the indoors," says Mike Greeff, CEO of Greeff Properties.
Greeff said it is increasingly difficult to sell a home that faces south, even if it has gazebos and verandahs on the northern side. At the same time, he said, the growing use of skylights has brought light and warmth into many an old awkwardly positioned home.
"On the Atlantic Seaboard, by contrast, there are homes which have to be protected from the sun - in the afternoon their west or north-west facing full length glazing can create hothouse interiors. So we find that deep stoeps and pergolas with retractable blinds are now increasingly evident here - and most renovations introduce these elements."