Property 24/10 - 149

Student accommodation solutions
Partnerships between the private property sector and the country’s academic institutions is a credible solution to providing safe and affordable accommodation for thousands of students, says managing director, Kirstin Schubach of student accommodation specialists, the Aengus Property Group. Schubach was commenting after shortages of student accommodation led to protests at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) when hundreds of students were left on the street. UKZN registers up to 44 000 undergraduate and postgraduate students each year, but can only provide accommodation for 10 917 students - about 25 percent of its student body.

“Universities around the country are suffering from a shortage of student accommodation, mainly because of the massive investment needed to build and maintain student residences and the surge in the number of students attending tertiary institutions,” says Schubach. 

According to Schubach between 50 and 80 percent of students attending these institutions require accommodation, but there simply aren’t enough beds.

Sales in execution: Know your rights
The National Debt Mediation Association (NDMA) has in the past two months, January and February 2013, successfully mediated and helped to stop 18 sales in execution out of 26 requests received.In most cases consumers approached the NDMA when the credit provider had a valid court order but even under these circumstances credit providers were willing to offer concessions or rectify omissions after the consumer’s financial circumstances were properly presented or gaps identified in the process followed by the credit provider to acquire the court order.

When the bank sells your property to recover the money it lent you, it’s known as a sale in execution and the property is sold in a public auction held by a Sheriff of the Court.

In many cases, this is the banks’s last resort after following steps outlined in the National Credit Act, which includes an opportunity provided in section 129 of the Act to work on a plan to bring payments up to date.

What powers do body corporates have?
Throughout the South African sectional title property industry, problems arise because body corporates are not aware of the extent of their functions and powers and often fail to exercise them as the law requires.  This is according to Johalna Minnaar, National Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, who says the Sectional Title Act 95 of 1986 defined the roles of body corporates. However, it is widely accepted in their sector that, although these are understood in principle, many members and their trustees lack in-depth knowledge of the laws to which they are supposed to be working.

The functions of a body corporate are generally better understood than the powers which they confer, says Minnaar

Lessons from an African property investor
Having worked on the African continent since 1998, I am very optimistic and have seen the significant change that happened post 2005 and we are on the right path in terms of growth.  There isn't a week that goes by without a news article praising Africa's opportunities and it is very clear that global investors are keen to invest in Africa.

We launched our first Private Equity Real Estate (PERE) Fund in 2006 with approximately US$155 million with a strong focus on Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and investment in Greenfield developments, mostly Grade A shopping centres and office buildings.

Following the success of our first fund, we have set up our second PERE Fund for SSA with US$280 million of equity under management, which gives us sufficient fire-power to undertake more than US$1billion of property projects in markets that include Ghana (Accra), Nigeria (Lagos/Abuja), Kenya (Nairobi), Zambia (Lusaka), Mozambique (Maputo) and Uganda (Kampala).

What makes Africa the next big thing in terms of development and investment? Why should one invest in the continent? 

Green office property trends in 2013
Coupled with benefits of green buildings in South Africa, the focus of the green building industry will continue to switch from new building design and construction to greening existing buildings, says Manfred Braune, technical executive at the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA).  Braune explains that there is a continuing trend to urban development, and that it favours renovation over new building.

However, he says there will be a significant increase in improving the performance of existing buildings, because the capital outlays required for new buildings is often not possible in the current economic climate.

“This will include everything from individual tenant refits, soft building retrofits all the way to deep retrofits,” he says.

He points out that in each of these cases, it will become more important to distinguish and transparently benchmark the impact of the resultant retrofit (in terms of energy, water, waste, materials etc.), because tenants are becoming more aware of how these factors are eroding their profits.

Free ST trustee workshop in Cape Town
A free workshop for trustees of bodies corporate has been organised by property management company IHFM.  The workshop will be held on Saturday, 6th April, from 9am to 12 noon at the Hamiltons Rugby Club, 1 Stephan Way, Green Point, just in front of the Cape Town Stadium.

Marina Constas of BBM Law is the main speaker and she will be talking on the Sectional Title Act, problems that may be encountered in sectional title and the recent amendments to the current Sectional Title Act and Prescribed Management effective on the 14th April 2013 as well as the Sectional Title Amendment.

Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, says there will be a general question and answer session that would be particularly beneficial for trustees who are new to their roles in managing a sectional title scheme.

Interest rates remain unchanged
Interest rates should remain unchanged in 2013 in light of the current domestic and global outlook, an analyst said on Wednesday.  "We expect interest rates to remain unchanged in 2013, leaving South Africa's monetary policy stance quite accommodative," said Investec economist Annabel Bishop.

"Should economic growth deteriorate substantially (not our expected case) the SARB may cut interest rates by 25 basis points."

On Wednesday, the SA Reserve Bank kept the repo rate unchanged at five percent, and the prime lending rate at 8.5 percent.

Governor Gill Marcus made the announcement a few hours after Stats SA reported that Consumer Price Inflation had risen to 5.9 percent in February.

Using your home loan to manage debt
Home loans can be useful tools for managing debt and are generally priced more competitively than short-term debt options - but how many of us really know how to use this facility effectively?  It is important for consumers to understand how to optimise their debt structures in order to create financial wellbeing, says Ewald Kellerman, head of sales at FNB Home Loans. Decisions on how a home loan is managed from the decision to move, upgrade or downgrade your home, to the structure of monthly repayments and deposits, could significantly affect the amount of interest charged and the overall benefit you will derive from this credit class, he explains.

Most of us probably know it's a 'good idea' to pay more into our home loans each month and by doing so we will save on interest. But how many really practice this? Let's face it, we live in a consumer driven world where we are constantly bombarded by images and messages of what we could or should have in our lives. It's easy to feel that you 'need' a new car or deserve an overseas trip because others around you seem to be indulging, and while you don't have the cash now, you believe you can 'cut back' later and 'so what' if you pay some extra interest. We're human after all, and at some stage most of us except those truly disciplined individuals, will spend on something that we know we shouldn't buy with money we don't have.

Cape Town valuations shock many
After the chaos that reigned when the 2009 property valuation roll came out, it seemed as though all the significant teething problems would have been resolved, but it appears that once again the system does not work.  This is according to Seeff City Bowl agents, Michael Hauser and Doris Ricketts, who say they would say that the problem is getting worse. Most estate agents are simply inundated with requests for assistance in objecting to the latest valuations.

Homeowners have until the end of April to object to their property valuations whereafter the new municipal rates will come into effect, based on what the agents describe as inflated values.

Many pensioners who have lived in their homes for decades are faced with outrageous valuation increases that will result in monthly rates bills that they cannot afford. Most of these residents live on meagre pensions and will end up losing their homes. 

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