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House market cools off - and some say it may get chilly
NetAssets - South Africa
The massive growth in property prices is now tapering off, leaving the property market at risk; with the possibility of overtrading, property specialists warned yesterday.

"Year-on-year growth in house prices in the fourth quarter was down on the previous quarter - and this is for the first time since the second quarter of 2002," said Glen Mollink, a group executive at consulting and financial services company eQuals.

House prices have risen by 147% since the first quarter in 2000.

SA brokers paid through the nose
NetAssets - South Africa
Unlike their international counterparts, brokers in SA are laughing all the way to the bank. A recent survey of broking fees by international property network NAI finds that commissions in SA outstrip those in many other countries.

A typical sales commission for a building in SA is between 2% and 6% of the purchase price. In most of the other countries surveyed, it is 1%-3%.

Bryanston a squatter camp?
Moneyweb - South Africa
While the blistering local property market has brought delight to many in the market, their joy may turn to agony owing to the spectre of electricity, road and water capacity constraints that threaten to erode property values, particularly in Bryanston, north of Joburg.

The building binge of recent years - spurred by a lively property market - has resulted in demand for services outstripping supply, leading to "service deficits" in some surburbs of Joburg. These service deficits manifest themselves in water pressures, road congestion and electricity supply shortages.

White land grab policy has failed, Mugabe confesses
The Telegraph - UK
Robert Mugabe confessed yesterday that millions of acres of prime land seized from Zimbabwe's white farmers are now lying empty and idle. After years spent trumpeting the "success" of the land grab, Mr Mugabe, 81, admitted that most of the farms transferred to black owners have never been used.

All but a handful of Zimbabwe's 4,000 white farmers lost their homes and livelihoods when armed gangs of Mugabe supporters began invading their property in 2000.
The Telegraph

DA opposes "secret" land sale
The Mercury - South Africa
The DA has opposed a decision taken by the ANC-dominated eThekwini Municipality to sell a prime council property to an undisclosed empowerment consortium. They argue that the deal was shrouded in secrecy and was against the government's policy of transparency.

But the ANC defended its actions yesterday, saying the sale of the New Germany property by private treaty was meant to empower previously disadvantaged people.

In a full council meeting held in Clermont yesterday, the ANC used its numbers to approve the recommendation to sell the 2 790m² property to Paul Mkhize, who claimed to be a trustee acting on behalf of an empowerment company that has yet to be formed.
The Mercury

Up the garden path
Financial Mail - South Africa
Leafy Irene, outside Pretoria, is the setting for a fast-unfolding battle between conservationists and developers. It was sparked last week by the auction of what was advertised as 32 ha of "blue-chip developable" land.

Conservationists argue that the land will never support development and that the seller was misleading potential buyers with its advertising. It's a reminder for buyers of land to check their facts before purchasing.

Located in Doornkloof, Irene, the land is part of a deceased estate in the Smuts family, descendants of the former SA prime minister Jan Smuts. It was sold for R7m by Auction Alliance to an unnamed buyer, probably a developer.
Financial Mail

Securitising a challenge to traditional bank loans
Business Day - South Africa
The launch of SA's first commercial mortgage-backed securities exchange programme on the Bond Exchange of SA by Absa, iFour Properties and Pangbourne will change the way in which large listed property companies obtain financing.

The fact that listed property funds will operate in a new financing landscape was further emphasised recently when The Banker, a Financial Times publication, voted the PROPS programme one of its deals of the year for last year.
Business Day

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