Property 24/10 - 126

Home transfers hard when you owe SARS
If you are selling your home, pay all debts owing to the South African Receiver of Revenue (SARS) – or risk having the property transfer blocked.

This is according to Errol King, Rawson Properties franchisee for Muizenberg in the Western Cape.

King says people selling their homes from now on need to make certain that they are in good standing with the SARS– or they are likely to find themselves unable to transfer their properties.

“Since the onset of the recession in 2008 there have been one or two cases where the seller was prevented by SARS from giving transfer until he had cleaned up his act with them.”

The attorneys at Smith Tabata Buchanan Boyeshave warned that this year SARS is taking steps to check whether property sellers have outstanding payments or, even worse, have not filed tax returns, according to King.

Where this is the case, he says it appears that SARS can insist that the property seller meets all debts owed to SARS and the seller may also have to provide security for the VAT payments on the sale (if these apply).

Home loan interest rate: Fix or Float?
The crystal balls of most prominent economists have tended to mist over these past few months, with few, if any, correctly predicting the SA Reserve Bank’s half percent interest rate cut on July 19.

This cut brought the repo rate (the rate at which the Reserve Bank lends to retail banks) down to 5 percent and the banks’ prime lending and variable mortgage interest rates to 8.5 percent.

The guessing game continues as we ponder two further meetings of the bank’s monetary policy committee – on September 20 and November 22, according to Pam Golding Properties (PGP).

Will interest rates fall further, stay on hold, or begin a new upward cycle?

For indebted households, with the major portion of debt being their home mortgage bonds, the outlook is critical.

Conversely, it’s equally of importance to savers and those living on fixed incomes.

The former want lower interest rates; the latter seek higher rates.

IEASA GM warns agents to qualify
Dianne Brock, general manager of the Institute of Estate Agents of SA (IEASA), Western Cape was recently asked to clarify some confusing issues surrounding the qualifications necessary for estate agents and principals.

Many people question why agents and principals need a National Qualification Framework (NQF) qualification, as well as having to write the Professional Designation Exam (PDE), says Brock.

The answer is simple - the real estate sector needs well-trained, knowledgeable professionals to meet their clients’ needs.

“Buying and selling a home is probably the biggest investment any person will make and the agent has a huge responsibility to guide the client properly through this process,” says Brock.

She says estate agents may not operate without a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC), but are now also required by law to have a real estate qualification at NQF4 level (agents) and NQF5 (principals) by 2013 if they want to continue to practise as estate agents in this country.

In addition, all real estate professionals must obtain their PDE to hold an FFC.

Deposits remain key to home buying
Property ownership is considered to be one of the biggest investment decisions and financial commitments a person can make.

Buying property is not a decision to be taken lightly and it is important for buyers to ask the right questions and do the necessary research before signing an offer to purchase, says Elza Schoombie, broker/owner of RE/MAX Country Classic, which operates in the Ladybrand area of the Free State.

Schoombie explains that the first thing buyers should do when looking to buy a home is to establish what price range of property they can afford and then save up a deposit.

“Saving up for a deposit of between 10 percent and 30 percent will help buyers when qualifying for home loan finance.”

Schoombie says buyers should also ensure that they have extra cash available for the property transfer cost and bond registration fees.

Unsecured bank loans a concern
Something is wrong when unsecured loans increase month-on- month while only 6 percent of South Africans have qualified for home loans so far.

According to chairman of the Rawson Property Group, Bill Rawson, the rapid rise in the banks’ unsecured loans (30 percent up this year on the same period last year) should be carefully watched.

He says this should not be allowed to slow down or influence bank home loans – this has now been raised for discussion by the South African Reserve Bank.

South Africa’s financial press recently reported that the Reserve Bank has been in talks with all South African banks on this subject. 

“It is definitely one of the reasons, in my opinion, why the latest Economic Confidence Index shows a decline to 48.6 (for the third quarter of this year) from 51.2 for the second quarter. 

Low house price growth & home bargains
Real house price deflation will continue over the short to medium term on the back of expected trends in nominal price growth and headline CPI.

This is according to the Absa House Price Index report that reveals a marginal positive year-on-year (y/y) growth recorded in the average value of homes in the middle segment of the housing market in August 2012.

Absa note that trends in month-on-month growth point to a continued subdued price performance in the near term.

According to the report, home values in the middle segment of the housing market were up by a marginal 0.2 percent (y/y) in August after declining by a revised 0.5 percent y/y in July.

Writing in the report, Absa Home Loans property analyst Jacques du Toit says annual house price growth has been in negative territory since the beginning of the year, largely affected by continued price deflation in the small category of the middle segment of the market.

One stop property management services
In recent years, it has become evident that requirements by property owners and property asset managers in regard to property services are changing.

It is now expected that property services companies provide a comprehensive ‘one-stop’ property and facilities management service, says Sulayman Abdullah, chief executive officer of Excellerate Facilities Management (EFM) – a subsidiary of Excellerate Property Services.

EFM, which provides such a service, has Level 3 BBBEE credentials and operates nationally in South Africa with headquarters in Sandton, Johannesburg.

“Facilities management is rapidly emerging as an important factor which can play a major role in boosting the income stream of property assets.”

Worldwide it is accepted that facilities management has developed faster than almost any other discipline in the property industry.

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