Property 24/10 - 32

Cape housing market falls further
While some estate agents insist that the property market in the Western Cape remains active, FNB's Western Cape Residential Property Review confirms that there has been a slowdown in the third quarter of this year. The review, released yesterday, also confirms that confidence among estate agents is flagging, dropping to 5,43 and down from the mini-peak of 6,75 in the first quarter.

FNB's Clinton Martle says this decline is a result of slower economic growth and the fact that the South African Reserve Bank has cut interest rates by just one percent in the past 13 months. "The market has suffered from a lack of interest rate stimulus," he says.

As part of the review, the estate agent survey showed that there was a significant level of financial pressure on buyers and sellers and this is reflected in the fact that 91% of all property buying in the greater Cape Town metropolitan region is for a primary residence.

CPA under spotlight at congress
The Consumer Protection Act, the Protection of Personal Information Bill and the rights and obligations of retailers in South Africa will be in the spotlight when the 14th Annual African Congress of Shopping Centres gets underway in Cape Town today.

The conference, hosted by the South African Council of Shopping Centres (SACSC), will examine the implications of consumer protection legislation such as the right to privacy, choice, disclosure of information, fair and responsible marketing, reasonable terms and conditions and accountability from suppliers.

Estate agents and property developers, will be subject to the provisions of the Protection of Personal Information Bill and the Consumer Protection Act, which will only come into force in March next year.

Power problems loom again
Property owners throughout South Africa should carefully consider their options amid warnings from Eskom that load-shedding is likely to return for five years between 2011 and 2016 when its two new power stations start generating electricity.

Kannan Lakmeeharan, managing director of Eskom's operations and planning division says the country will consume 228 TWh (TerraWatt hours) this year, up from the 218 TWh last year. Demand for power is likely to grow by 2% a year so the implications for the State-owned utility are serious.

Lakmeerharan says that the difference between demand and supply would peak at about nine TerraWatts or the same amount of power generated by one unit at the Koeberg nuclear power station in a year.

Extended families all on one property
The decline in property sales countrywide has led to more families living on shared properties with, for instance, the parents living in the main house and their grown offspring living in a cottage on the same property.

"This is quite a common trend in KwaZulu-Natal where properties are being sectionalised so that they can be developed into more homes or units or can be split off into separate tracts of land," says Tony Hickman, managing director of Seeff Westville.

He says that one such property was The Grisdales in Ferndale Avenue.

Beware of fixing a landlord's property
If a tenant undertakes to do any repairs, maintenance or refurbishment on a property then he or she must first get the owner's permission and agree on who will pay for the work done because a tenant has no ownership or compensation rights to those improvements.

Lanice Steward, managing director of Anne Porter Knight Frank says that even if a tenant feels that the improvement is essential, it still cannot be undertaken without the express permission of the landlord.

Fancy buying a Franschhoek wine farm?
Anyone with a spare R35-million hanging around would probably do well to quickly invest it in a magnificent and historic Huguenot homestead set on 11,3 hectares of wine and fruit farm in the heart of the Franschhoek Valley.

Maybe the new owner will be a lottery prize winner when the PowerBall or Lotto draws are made over the weekend?

The historic Auberge Clermontproperty includes a luxurious main homestead as well as an upmarket guest house, plus established grape, olive and plum crops. It is situated on Robertsvlei Road in the eastern end of the Franschhoek Valley, close to the famous Huguenot Memorial.

A buyer's market in Blaauwberg
Anyone wanting to buy a property should consider doing so now because the difference between the asking price and the selling price is now 22%, the largest differential in 30 years claims Tony Clarke, managing director of Rawson Properties.

He warns that properties are currently taking between four and five months to sell whereas about a year ago it was taking between six and eight weeks. "To make matters worse, the market has been skewed by the large number of repossessed homes and distressed properties that are currently on sale," says Clarke.

According to Clarke, many people who have had their houses repossessed by the banks actually had bonds of between 90% and 108% but the banks are now willing to settle for 10% below the bond value (not the house value) and he says as a result the actual decrease in house prices could be as much as 30% and maybe even more.

Property fraud alive and rampant
I am starting to wonder if any of us ordinary South Africans have any real idea of how widespread fraud is in the property industry? I was quietly reflecting on this as I drove down the highway between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

Let's start with what we know: There are crooked lawyers involved in a scheme to defraud the Johannesburg Property Company and they are allegedly working with people inside the Deeds Office to ensure that the properties are quickly transferred to new owners. Those we know about: what about the ones that have yet been discovered?

There is Brusson Finance (liquidated now it seems) involved in ripping-off people's houses through an elaborate scheme of buying and selling. Again this elaborate scheme is the one that has been investigated. What about the many others that haven't?

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