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House price growth 'at lowest'
Fin24.co.za - South Africa
Banking group Absa says that house-price growth is at its lowest in 4½ years. According to the latest Absa House Price Index, nominal year-on-year growth of 13.6% was recorded in June 2006 compared with a growth rate of 14.3% in May.

This was the lowest year-on-year growth since January 2002 when it was also 13.6% and brought the average price of a house in the middle segment of the market in June to about R798 000. The average nominal year-on-year growth in house prices came to 15.3% in the first six months of 2006.

Ten tips for the first-time buyer
Iafrica.com - South Africa
The slowdown in house price growth is a warning to the first time buyer: you can now make no mistakes when buying your new home, Mortgage SA has said.

According to Managing Director of Mortgage SA, Saul Geffen, "With house price growth expected to be 11.1 percent in 2006 and possibly single figures in 2007, capital growth may not cover the interest costs of a standard 108 percent mortgage," Don't let that scare you off, says Geffen, but "it does mean you have to buy well".

Government's housing quota proposal 'taken off the table'
Business Report - South Africa
A government proposal that 20 percent of property developments be set aside for affordable housing has been "taken off the table", according to Neil Gopal, the chief executive of the SA Property Owners' Association (Sapoa).

Gopal said yesterday that agreement had been reached on this issue after discussions earlier this week between Sapoa and the housing department.

He said Sapoa had informed housing department officials that there were other important issues related to the provision of affordable housing and the focus should not only be on "the 20 percent issue".
Business Report

One South African, one holiday home
Moneyweb - South Africa
"Call some place paradise, Kiss it goodbye"

The quotation is from "The Last Resort", the Eagles' moving lament of the despoliation of the American West by people who "raped the land" by building "ugly boxes".

It is highly applicable to South Africa today.

The sorriest example here might be Jeffreys Bay. In front of arguably the best surfing tubes in the world is a hideous town replete with some of the worst architecture in the world.

It's a jumble of large angular structures of concrete, glass and steel, unrelieved by vegetation, dreamed up by the successful panel beaters of Pretoria.

Streamlined environmental regulations take effect
Mail&Guardian - South Africa
South Africa's revised Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations came into effect on Monday, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism announced.

"It's all systems go ... Having gone through a rigorous legal process with stakeholders, and other parties making their valuable input in the process, we are happy that the new regulations are now law in this country," department spokesperson JP Louw said.

The new regulations had been revised to be quicker, simpler and better, and resulted from a substantial consultative process.

Land claims settlements near 90%, says Gwanya
Business Day - South Africa
The Land Claims Commission says it has settled 89% of the claims lodged with it, while the remaining 11% are expected to be completed by 2008.

The commission has been criticised by commercial farming interests and claimants for taking too long to complete land claims. However, Land Claims Commissioner Thozamile Gwanya said in Pietermaritzburg yesterday that the process was doing well compared with other countries.

Australia, New Zealand and Canada have dealt with only 5%-7% of claims since their land restitution programmes started in the 1980s.
Business Day

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