Property 24/10 - 50

Property auction laws change industry
Johannesburg - Auction Alliance CEO Rael Levitt says people should find it easier to get involved in real estate auctions as a result of new auction laws that will come into effect at the end of the month through the Consumer Protection Act.

The new laws applicable to property auctions will come into effect through the Consumer Protection Act on 1 April and are set to change the industry.

"Under the new auctions laws, South African auctioneers will have to implement over 200 rules and regulations, which will change the industry forever," says Levitt.

"This is the first time in history that auction procedures are being legislated." He adds that the "murkiness" of reserve prices, vendor bidding, registrations and auction results will be cleared up.

"A controlled set of rules will create an environment of openness and transparency and the new laws will lift the veil on an industry that for generations has operated under the radar screen."

Ten tips for new property buyers
Buying a home is often the single biggest investment most people make. The largest proportion of home buyers seek a mortgage bond. As a result it is essential for buyers to ensure they are fully prepared for making a bond application.

Before you look for a home it is important to know exactly how much money you can borrow and, most importantly, what monthly repayments you can afford.

The better prepared, the better the chance of getting the application approved. Rhys Dyer, Chief Operating Officer at ooba, South Africa's leading bond originator, answers ten questions for new homebuyers to consider:

Joburg residents get billing discounts
Pretoria - Johannesburg residents with long-standing queries on their billing accounts are to receive substantial discounts, if they meet certain requirements.

Delivering the State of the City Address on Wednesday, Mayor Amos Masondo said authorities had listened to and heard issues raised by residents and were now in a position to offer "favourable settlement arrangements."

The City's Mayoral Committee decided on 3 March that residents with billing queries between 90 days and 12 months will receive a 25 percent discount, while those for 12 months and older will receive a 50 percent discount.

Masondo said these discounts will only apply in the case of residents who have lodged queries with the City's Revenue department. "This query must be resolved before a write-off can occur and the discounts become effective, as there is no intention to create any credit balances," he said.

Cut electricity CT residents warned
Cape Town residents have been warned to radically reduce electricity consumption or face rolling blackouts later this year. The warning was issued by the City of Cape Town when it launched a new campaign aimed at promoting energy conservation.

Last year Eskom started warning South Africans around the country that unless electricity consumption was reduced the country would be plunged into a string of rolling blackouts in winter 2011 and winter 2012.

It wants all residents in the city to cut consumption by at least 10% in order to keep the electricity supply in the city stable.

It says that middle- to high-income groups use more electricity than any other groups in Cape Town and these electricity-guzzlers are being asked to cut consumption by between 25% and 40%.

Tenant rental payment activity stable
Tenant rental payment behaviour remained "stable" throughout 2010, with the breakdown of data in the fourth quarter of last year indicating a slight deterioration as the paid-on-time category declined by 2% to 66% and the paid-late category increased by the same margin to 15%.

The Eastern Cape and Western Cape led the pack in the number of tenants in good standing, scoring 87% and 84% respectively against the national average of 81%.

According to TPN, a registered credit bureau, there was no change in tenant behaviour in the partially-paid (9%) and did-not-pay (10%) categories.

TPN MD Michelle Dickens said there were a number of reasons contributing to the stabilisation of data, key among them being a low prime interest rate, limited available credit and relatively flat or low rental increases over the past two years.

Anatomy of a property bubble
Property bubbles seem like strange things: if everyone wants to buy and build better property, why should this cause the prices and investments to crash? Using a simple demand and supply framework, we can explain one way that this can happen.

All prices in a free market are set by the interaction of demand and supply. Demand and supply curves are on the axes of price and quantity. The demand curve is a downward-sloping curve that shows how much is demanded at every level of price. The supply curve is an upward-sloping curve that shows how much is supplied at every level of price. Only when these two curve cross - at a price where the amount demanded is equal to the amount supplied - is the market in equilibrium and the price set.

'Phenomenal growth' in solar market
New data out on Monday by growth partnership company Frost & Sullivan (F&S) finds phenomenal growth in SA's solar water heater market, which has expanded to include more than 400 suppliers from less than 20 in 1997.

SA's solar water heater market has expanded to include more than 400 suppliers from less than 20 in 1997.

F&S said that, in line with global trends, SA's domestic water-heating market was moving away from traditional water-heating methods, such as conventional geysers, towards more energy-efficient measures, namely solar water heaters.

The group attributed the development to domestic water-heating accounting for about 40% of a household's electricity bill. Of SA's national electricity consumption, 18% was allocated for the heating of water, for residential, commercial, and industrial use, it said.

Role of cities in housing development
Pretoria - Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has assigned new powers to several cities and district municipalities for the building of human settlements.

During his meeting with Human Settlements MECs in Pretoria on Friday, the minister handed over accreditation certificates to the cities and district municipalities.

The cities were awarded level 2 accreditation status, which gives municipalities the responsibility to approve and manage housing construction programmes and ensure technical quality assurance. In the past, the authority for this rested primarily with provincial governments.

The City of Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Metro, Cape Town, as well as the Frances Baard and Pixley ka Seme district municipalities in the Northern Cape were awarded the status. Discussions are also underway with the eThekwini Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal.

EAAB widens investigation net
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) is investigating the activities of Pam Golding Properties, Seeff Properties, Wakefields Properties, and Wendy Machanik Properties for the possible improper use of trust funds.

Andrew Golding, chief executive of Pam Golding Properties has confirmed that a complaint against PGP's Pretoria North franchise had been lodged with the EAAB.

Sunset Trading CC, trading as Pam Golding Properties, was the focus for this investigation but Golding pointed out that the complaint was not related to the misappropriation of trust funds and that the franchise and its agents had the necessary Fidelity Fund Certificates in place.

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