Property 24/10 - 61

Pay levies before legal action
Property owners who fall into arrears with their sectional title levies should attempt to remedy the situation before legal action is initiated according to Simone Sulcas, legal adviser at Propell.

She says the company is involved in 16 000 sectional title units around the country and of these about 2 000 are being subjected to legal action as they have fallen behind on their levies and have ignored reminders to pay the outstanding amounts.

She says that while the number of units in arrears may appear high, the company is often appointed only after the schemes are in financial difficulties and we are requested to fix the problems they face.

She says that it is futile for property owners in a sectional title scheme to attempt to fight the legal processes.

CSTM ordered to stop operating
Constania Sectional Title Management (CSTM) must stop operating as an estate agent after a High Court order was granted against it by Acting Judge Gerald Farber.

The agency's Fidelity Fund Certificate was withdrawn and in terms of the Estate Agency Affairs Act a valid certificate is required.

The order was granted after the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) sought an urgent interdict against CSTM, which administers about 450 body corporates in the Roodepoort area.
Inspectors appointed by the EAAB had apparently found "serious irregularities" in the CSTM's management of its trust monies.

The order was not opposed by CSTM or by its former director and owner, Quentin Brown.

Reclaiming used building materials
With the ever increasing cost of construction materials, the wise DIY builder should whenever appropriate, try and purchase them second-hand. In fact, a surprising variety of materials can be obtained without ever entering a builder's merchant, hardware or DIY shop. These range from basic constructional essentials, like bricks, timber and roof tiles, to indoor materials, such as flooring, doors, staircase timbers, fireplaces and decorative accessories.

Some reclaimed materials are much cheaper than their new counterparts; however, others will be a little pricier. Aside from the knowledge that by using reclaimed materials, you are recycling them and in the process doing your bit for the environment, probably the main attraction of using reclaimed items helps to preserve the appearance and character when doing renovations on older homes.

Restoring pressed ceilings
There is no denying the beauty and old world charm offered by pressed ceilings. Popularised as an architectural feature in Victorian homes during the late 19thand early 20thcenturies, pressed ceilings remain a much admired and sought after element in many modern homes today.

A bit of history
Antique pressed ceilings were mass produced from thin rolled tin-plate - sheets of tin were stamped one at a time using rope drop hammers and cast iron moulds. They were traditionally painted white to create the illusion of hand-carved or moulded plaster. Built to last, many older homes still bear witness to the durability of these ceilings, especially in the absence of moisture damage, which lead to corrosion. However, over the years, many ceilings did eventually bear the brunt of wear and tear over the years, which has lead to a burgeoning restoration industry.

Can you stomach being a landlord?
With so many people unable to afford to buy their own homes, there remains a big market for rentals in South Africa. For those who are in the position to buy to rent, leasing property can be good income and a sensible way of paying off a second or third mortgage.

For anyone in the position to buy to rent, leasing property can be good income and a sensible way of paying off a second mortgage, but there are some risks to avoid.

However, Ya'el Geffen, Executive Director of Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty warns that rental income should never be considered a passive income.

"If you're just entering the game, don't rush in blindly. There is some work involved in being a landlord. For instance, you as a landlord have the obligation to provide a safe, properly-maintained home for your tenants. This includes ensuring that plumbing, wiring and other household maintenance is up to scratch. So, be prepared for the odd dinnertime phone call requesting a fast response to problems such as burst geysers, break-ins and plumbing issues.

"You will also have the responsibility of advertising the property, interviewing tenants and hosting tours of the property.

Bond approval rates up sharply
The price of an average home in South Africa dropped from R881 044 to R823 483. A decline of 6,5%, in April according to figures released by major bond originator, Ooba. The average price of affordable home dropped by a modest 0,2% to R625 252 year-on-year (y/y).

Saul Geffen, chief executive of the company says that the drop in prices indicates that house prices in South Africa are continuing to decline on the back of some stronger growth that was experienced during the second half of last year.

He says that Ooba expects the negative growth trend to be reversed in the second half of this year when some moderate positive price growth will occur. He says that the average deposit size - as a percentage of the purchase price - also dropped sharply to 13,1% or R108 164. This was a decline of 39,6% year-on-year.

Are banks 'killing' property market?
Has it ever struck you just how many people are property experts when you mention that you are thinking of buying or selling a property?

These well-meaning advisers - with opinions that are certainly influenced more by hearsay than knowledge - will say that now is not the time to be involved in the property sector and, as a rule of thumb, they think they're right.

People with a little more knowledge, like estate agents, will say it's an excellent time to buy but, if you want to sell, make sure that you've priced your house correctly, particularly if it falls into the upper price brackets.

Do estate agents give you a true value? Never. They give you a 'gut-instinct' based value that is determined by what you want and what they think they can get. If the house is slow to move, then the price is too high. It's a pathetic basis for determining a true value.

Bankers (responsible for lending the money) often won't say a word - except among friends. And the sad fact of the matter is that bankers are the ones who dictate the state of the property market. If they lend money, sales boom. If they don't sales dwindle.



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