Property 24/10 - 143

Foreigners will not own SA land
Foreign nationals will no longer be able to own land in South Africa once government's land policy is finalised and passed into law, Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti said on Tuesday.

"All people who are foreign nationals will not own land, but will lease land on a long-term basis," he said.

Nkwinti was responding to a question during a "dialogue" with farm workers in the Western Cape town of Paarl.

The question had to do with foreign ownership of farms.

The minister said government had completed an audit of state-owned land, but was still busy with its audit of public and private land.

"Privately-owned land includes land which is owned by foreigners. We are busy auditing all of that land," he said.

"When we've finished that, the policy of government, which will kick in at that point - because at the moment, remember, it's privately-owned land - after we conclude that in Cabinet, and Parliament promulgates the law, it will then say: ‘All people who are foreign nationals will not own land, but will lease land on a long-term basis'."

Can I cancel my sole mandate?
A Property24 reader asks:

Should a sole mandate be cancelled before the time period (for whatever reason), is the seller liable for anything? What must the seller do to clear their name/mandate?

Francois Venter, Director of Jawitz Properties advises:

The seller needs to first check the terms of the written sole mandate agreement. If the contract is for a fixed period then it is subject to the terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) 68 of 2008. In terms of the Act, a cooling off period may apply, depending on how the estate agent and the seller made contact with each other. If the seller made contact with the agent, no cooling off period will apply once the agreement has been signed, but if the estate agent made contact with the seller, a five day cooling off period will stand from the day the sole mandate agreement was signed. If the seller chooses to cancel within the five day cooling off period, this will not trigger any financial or legal consequences. In other words, if the estate agent approached the seller directly, or used direct marketing tactics such as dropping off a leaflet in the seller’s mailbox and then  a sole mandate was signed, the seller has five days to change his/her mind, no questions asked.

Reduce risks in sect. title management
Reports pointing to dishonesty during the financial management of sectional title schemes by managing agencies have trustees reviewing the agreements in place with their managing agents and insurers as well as their fiduciary roles as trustees.

Martin Bester, managing director of Intersect Sectional Title Services, a sectional title specialist company in the Western Cape, says that this is by no means a bad thing. Bester is on the residential and sectional title committee at SAPOA and is an alternate member of the Sectional Titles Regulations Board.

He says a basic checklist should be ticked off when considering the appointment of a managing agency.  "Should the agency not comply with any aspects thereof then the trustees should seriously consider the merits of their appointment, if at all.”

Home loans and affordable housing
Although the South African economy is expected to grow by 2.6 percent in 2013 according to Nedbank, the bank remains committed to affordable housing in the country.  Although the South African economy lost significant momentum in Q3 2012, it is still growing and on a recovery path, says Nicky Weimar, senior economist at Nedbank.

Weimar says they expect the economy to grow by 2.6 percent in 2013, 3.5 percent in 2014 and 3.6 percent in 2015.

She notes that household debt remains high, but however gloomy the situation is, she says the good news is the economy will grow in 2013, albeit modestly and warns consumers to remain cautious and watch their spending habits as well to use 2013 to strengthen their finances.

In the housing market, she says those with access to finance should use this time to buy as it is a buyer's market with many properties reasonably priced.

Low levies not always a good thing
In all sectional title developments, as a purchaser, one of the first questions most asked is what the levy is.

This is according to Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter, who says buyers tend to compare the costs of different apartments with the levies but this can be a dangerous approach.  

She says a low levy is not always necessarily a good thing. 

Some people looking at the top-end luxury apartments are often horrified at the levies being charged, but they need to sit down and do the exercise of calculating what it costs to live in a freestanding house with all the extras such as garden maintenance, swimming pools, landscaping, electric fencing, a security guard at the gate, etc.  

People are often taken aback with the high levies but if all of the incidentals are added up it is easy to see why these are necessary. The benefit of this is that a buyer will have all of the extras and only pay a portion of the cost of running these each month.

Essential tips for first-time buyers
The current lending climate is tough for first-time buyers particularly with the stringent National Credit Act requirements and the worldwide recession affecting banks and how strict they are when it comes to approving home loans.  However, there are a few tips that first-time buyers can follow to make the process of applying for a home loan and ultimately owning their desired property a little easier, says Francois Venter, Director of Jawitz Properties.

He says before you even begin house hunting, the first step is to establish what home loan amount you can afford.

The National Credit Act calls for banks to review an applicant’s gross income thoroughly, 30 percent of which is generally allocated to cover home loan repayments while also considering monthly expenses such as groceries, personal loans, current rent, utilities, school fees, and even entertainment and clothing expenses, among other items.

Romance: bad for the rental market
Romance is bad for the rental market. We know that Valentine’s Day has a huge impact on sales of flowers, chocolates and candlelit dinners.  But romance also has a huge impact on another area of the economy: property.

When a couple decides to move in together, two households become one. And when things go pear-shaped, somebody has to move out – usually into rented accommodation.

An intriguing spike in the Tenant Profile Network’s (TPN) rental statistics bears this out: South African men in their 30s generally don’t rent – until they turn 39, when suddenly the figures jump.

TPN runs credit checks on potential tenants on behalf of landlords and agents.

In general, South Africans rent while they’re in their 20s before buying a home and settling down.

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