Property 24/10 - 36

Don't build home now, rather buy
While building contractors around South Africa have dropped their prices to break-even levels to secure work, the reality remains that it is more expensive to build than to buy a second-hand property. And figures compiled by both Absa and FNB illustrate this point.

Anton du Plessis, chief executive of Vineyard Estates says that high material and labour costs make it difficult for new properties to compete with the prices of homes that were built several years ago and are now being offered for sale in today's market.

He says that he sold a home recently for R8,7 million that would cost at least R12,5 million to build today excluding the design costs or holding costs.

Property owners owed millions
Property developers and building owners are apparently owed millions of rands by the Johannesburg City Council because they have been incorrectly billed for rates, taxes, electricity and water.

Renney Plit, chairman of the Property Owners' and Managers' Association says that building owners in the inner city area have converted office blocks to residential accommodation, but the council has not made any allowances for this when charging them for electricity or calculating their rates bills.

He says he is owed R12-million by the council because he has overpaid for services in the past two years. He points out that the electricity charges for offices are 70% higher than those for residential buildings.

Living in squalor - by choice?
Like many South Africans, I do get concerned about the indigent people who are unable to find work, are forced to live in slums, exist on hand-outs from passers-by and have to scratch through dustbins for a morsel of food.

The problem for me is that there are very few truly indigent people in this land.

Instead, what we have is a host of chancers who find begging considerably more lucrative than working; who live in hijacked buildings but toss their own litter into the stairwells; who strip the cast iron pipes from the walls destroying the sewage system in the process.

Such destruction goes on in every one of the hijacked buildings in South Africa and all you need to do is venture inside one to see just how bad it really is. Residents in the building systematically strip it: from the banisters on staircases to the fire hydrants in the walls.

Tips for an eco-friendly bathroom
A royal flush
Old toilets can use as much as nine and a half litres of water per flush, making them the biggest water guzzlers in your home. In fact, it is estimated that they use up to 30% of any home's total water consumption. Consider replacing your old toilet with a new one with a modern, dual-flush cistern. "The dual-flush cistern from Bathroom Bizarre for example, uses a meagre four litres of water for a single flush when liquid waste needs to be dispatched. For the double flush, the cistern disposes solid waste using only six litres of water," explains Kraneveldt.

She says that if you can't afford to replace the entire toilet, homeowners can install a floating water-saving device or a plastic bottle in their cisterns: "Placing a plastic bottle or 'hippo bag' into your cistern will reduce the amount of water per flush at little to no cost. The container, or bag, should ideally be placed under the ball. If using a plastic bottle container to reduce the water flow, you will need to make a drainage hole on either side of the container, mid-way up, so that the water stored in the container (that takes up space) does not become stagnant. The bottle will need to be weighted down to stop it floating."

Beware of pre-qualification from banks
People who have applied for mortgage finance from a bank may receive a notification telling them that they have pre-qualified for a bond worth a particular amount but this should not be taken as a guarantee that the bank will grant a bond once the offer-to-purchase has been signed and accepted.

"Many buyers take this pre-qualification as a pledge from the bank that it will grant the bond and this is simply not the case," warns Rob Lawrence, national manager of Rawson Finance.

"What happens is that when the bond application is submitted the banks do a much more thorough investigation into the client's financial position and, in many cases, they then change their minds and decide not to grant the loan," he says.

If a buyer is bidding on a property without a clause that makes the sale subject to a bond being granted then they could be in serious trouble and could be sued by the seller for damages.

Insure home for replacement value
Home insurance should be calculated on what it would cost to rebuild a property, not on its market value, said an insurance company on Tuesday.

"A home insurance policy should not be calculated on what you paid to purchase your home but rather on what it would cost to rebuild the property," said Christelle Fourie, managing director of MUA Insurance Acceptances, in a statement.

Referring to recent research by Absa showing that building a home is often more expensive than buying an existing property, she said home owners could under-insure their properties if they only considered its market value.

The research found it was 29.5 percent cheaper to buy an existing home than to have a new house built in the third quarter of 2010.

If the rebuild cost of a property was not assessed properly, a home owner could suffer a huge shortfall if they filed an insurance claim.

Another tycoon's mansion sold
While Lolly Jackson's house in Kloof Road has been sold and his other property at Hartbeespoort Dam is about to go on auction, another business tycoon has also got rid of his mansion after confirmation that Roger Kebble had sold his Bantry Bay home for R39-million last week.

It was apparently bought by an unnamed young man of 33 who wanted it as a holiday getaway.
The triple-storey home in Bantry Bay has four bedrooms, wrap-around balconies, an excellent wine cellar, a gym, bar, library and heated swimming pool.

Luxury fittings imported from Italy adorn the bathrooms. The home has automated temperature controls and lighting, piped music and an indoor lift - presumably because Roger Kebble had trouble with his knees and his heart in recent years.

Property transfers can get complicated
Although there may from time to time be long delays in property sale and transfer deals, the whole process is commendably sound and tamper-proof, says Ulrik Strandvik of Grant Gunston Attorneys.

"The general public are often not aware of how important it is that, once the sale and transfer or inheritance of the property has been legally approved, the owner cannot, unless sequestrated, be deprived of it," he says.

Strandvik says this basic principle is recognised in SA. "It is a tenet of SA law that is fundamental to our whole legal system and we can be grateful for it."

Over the years, says Strandvik, the legal fraternity has fought hard to protect, preserve and improve the transfer and registration process - "even though at stages in our history the State has ridden roughshod over certain owners' rights."

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