Property 24/10 - 68

Buying property with a friend
Current property prices and affordability mean that getting onto the property ladder is an increasingly difficult task for first time buyers and consequently more people are choosing to buy a house with a friend or family member. 

In light of this, more and more lenders are offering joint mortgages or home loan packages especially designed for co-owners. If you’re buying a property with a friend or family member you should always make sure you have the appropriate agreements set up in advance. 

This is the advice of Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says there are many advantages to buying a property with friends or family, if the transaction is handled correctly. 

“The first point of departure would be an open and frank discussion about what you all want to get out of the venture, how you plan to fund the investment, if or how long you plan to live together and what happens if one of you wants to sell their share of the property in the future,” says Goslett. 

EAAB to employ 20 trained inspectors
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) plans to hire at least 20 legally and financially trained inspectors who will be tasked with vigorously scrutinising the operations of estate agents throughout the country as part of a drive to stamp out corrupt agents.

Thami Bolani, chairman of the EAAB, was addressing a conference of estate agents in Durban this week. He told delegates that the organisation had investigated six agencies since the beginning of this year and had taken legal action against three agents found guilty of corruption.

He says the agents lost their licences and are now facing criminal charges.

Referring to the type of corrupt behaviour that is taking place, Bolani says that agents are operating without licences and consistently “dip into” trust funds.

He says the hiring of specialised inspectors will now form part of the board’s focus on enforcement of the laws surrounding property sales. According to Bolani, the EAAB has established that at least 4 000 estate agents in South Africa are operating without the requisite Fidelity Fund Certificates.

Durban boosts inner city development
The Urban Development Zone around the Point Waterfront and city centre has been increased from 668 hectares to 771 ha after the eThekwini council appealed to the National Treasury to extend the tax incentive scheme for the region.

The area now covers the Point Waterfront Development renewal precinct as well as parts of Greyville, Warwick Triangle and Upper Congella. The tax incentive is aimed at supporting and promoting urban regeneration projects in cities throughout South Africa.

In terms of the scheme, landlords of inner-city buildings that are upgraded – as well as those that are new property developments – within the urban development zone qualify for substantial tax write-offs.

The extension of Durban’s Urban Development Zone was published in the Government Gazette in May and it has been welcomed by the city as it is expected to lead to much greater levels of investment in Durban’s inner-city region.

Sectional title and leaking balconies
If a balcony leaks there is usually trouble and in sectional title schemes it can be tricky to determine who is responsible for repairing and paying for damages.
Balconies are a huge asset in any sectional title scheme, says Michael Bauer, general manager, IHFM – but they have an inconvenient tendency to leak rainwater onto balconies or units below, and this can all too often result in damages to several units. 

What is more, he says, the damages are often not just to the structure of the building – but to electrics, furniture, carpets, clothing and electronic equipment, all of which may be damaged after being soaked.

Before any action is taken in these cases, says Bauer, it is essential to determine who the owner of the balcony is.  “In SA today the balcony can, and often does, form part of the member’s section, but it can also be part of the common property or an exclusive use area – and the only way to determine ownership is to study the sectional title plans.”

Google Earth maps municipal faults
Houghton residents are using Google Earth to help them track and resolve various municipal problems including potholes, missing manhole covers and water leaks, which could save the council thousands of rands as they would be able to send a single team to the suburb to repair all the problems at the same time.

Residents in the suburb found that there were a total of 106 problems relating to leaking fire hydrants and water meters, missing covers, broken sections of pavements and illegal dumping. The faults existed in an area just one square kilometre in extent.

The problems were identified on Google Earth and the exact location was given to the council along with a photograph of the problem. Houghton resident and member of the Residents’ Association, Margi Marchant, says that she took her son with her on a tour of the streets to photograph the problems and then placed these pictures into a Google Earth map.

State doesn’t maintain its properties
State-owned properties, including hospitals are in a serious state of disrepair because the government authorities do not maintain them properly, according to the MEC for Infrastructure Development Bheki Nkosi.

He complained about the poor condition of schools, hospitals and libraries but indicated that measures were underway to repair some of the buildings and to recover those properties that had been occupied illegally by people who are related to public servants working for the state in Gauteng.

He admitted that the hospitals – and other state buildings – had largely been neglected since the ANC came to power in 1994. To make matters worse, he said that those institutions introduced since 1994 had also not been maintained properly.

He called on the government and the provincial authorities in South Africa to establish a maintenance plan and to do so in conjunction with the Infrastructure Development Department. He said that South Africa needed to ascertain the extent of damage to state-owned properties and then set about fixing them.

How to value your home
If you are thinking of selling your home, then one of your biggest concerns will undoubtedly be to find out how much your property is actually worth.

It may be wise to get an online property valuation, which will give you an estimated value for your property as well as recent sold prices for similar homes in your suburb, street or complex.

So how then do you go about determining your asking price?

Personal sentiment combined with historically higher property prices, says Jan Myburgh General Manager of Harcourts Real Estate SA, have left many sellers with unrealistic expectations regarding the true value of their home.

According to the second quarter FNB Estate Agent Survey the average time that a property remains on the market is 15 weeks and 1 day, which is still long compared to the buoyant market days of 2005/6 where it was below 2 months. 

The survey also indicates that 87% of sellers end up dropping their asking price in order to make the sale and the percentage has been gradually trending upwards since early-2010.


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