Property 24/10 - 151

Home loans for less than R18k earners
SA Home Loans, South Africa’s largest non-bank specialist home loan provider, has entered the affordable housing market, a development that spells welcome news for house hunters earning less than R18 000 per month. SA Home Loans Chief Executive Kevin Penwarden says now, lower income earners have access to the same innovative, consumer friendly approach to mortgage lending that's helped more than 150 000 individuals and families purchase their own homes. 

He says affordable housing is a major segment of the South African housing market, with properties valued between R250 000 and R500 000 making up more than a quarter of all registered residential properties. 

Despite this, there remains a massive shortage of decent affordable housing, he says. "This demand has not been matched by a similar appetite in the provision of end-user finance by home loan providers, so we're confident that our entry improves not only the scope, but also the quality of choice available to lower income buyers.” 

Smart home staging tips for selling
When selling a home first impressions count, and an important aspect in achieving a successful sale is to avoid a situation where potential buyers overlook your property due to poor maintenance, clutter and the like. This is the word according to Barbara Becker, area principal for Pam Golding Properties (PGP) in the Pietermaritzburg and KwaZulu-Natal Midlands areas, who saysthe aim of a professional real estate agent is to sell your home in a short period of time, at a good market related price and with the least amount of stress for the seller.

She says the seller’s property should be exhibited to suitable, potential buyers as the one which is the most appealing and well presented within its price bracket.

“It’s a fact that homes which enable the buyer to simply move in and enjoy the property, sell quicker and at far better prices as purchasers are saved time, inconvenience and additional cost.”

Becker says key aspects of setting the stage for the successful sale of your home are to de-clutter, refresh, refurbish, tidy and organise, and de-personalise.

Franchising transforms property sector
There are two factors in the South African residential property sector which have transformed the entire playing field and made the whole operation more efficient and customer-friendly. This is according to Tony Clarke, managing director of the Rawson Property Group, who says the two factors are the insistence on new educational qualifications for estate agents and the swing among estate agencies to franchise rather than branch operations.

“I am convinced that the introduction of franchising will come to be recognised as even more important than the imposing of property-related educational qualifications,” Clarke says.

He says franchising estate agencies have resulted in independent, entrepreneurial people being attracted to the sector from the outset. These are, he says, “the sort of personalities who like to take command of their own futures and are only too willing to be given full responsibility for them."

Tenant’s rights: property auctioned
South African tenants are protected by the common law principle of ‘huur gaat voor koop’, which essentially translates to the concept that a lease comes before a sale.  This is good news for tenants, as this means that if the property they are renting is ever sold, the new landlord must honour the existing terms of the rental agreement, says TPN managing director, Michele Dickens. 

She says when a property is purchased on auction, and that property has an existing lease agreement in place, the tenant’s tenure is secure under the ‘huur gaat voor koop’ law. “The new landlord steps into the shoes of the ex-landlord with whom the lease has been signed. As such, he takes on all the rights and responsibilities of the property, including issues such as maintenance, payment of levies and utilities,” she explains. 

However, there are certain situations where the ‘huur gaat voor koop’ maxim will not be upheld. One such circumstance is where the lease agreement specifically contracts outside of the common law. In this case, the lease can be cancelled if the property is sold, provided the tenant is given reasonable notice, which is, in most cases, one calendar month. 

Responsibilities of a body corporate
If maintenance to a section is in continued disrepair should the body corporate intervene?

The classic situation in which this question is asked is when an owner fails to repair a leak in their section and the leak damages a section below. This can result from leaks in balconies, kitchens or bathrooms.

Section 44(1)(c) places the obligation to maintain and repair sections squarely on the shoulders of the owners. The body corporate is only responsible for the maintenance and repair of the common property. If there is no common property between the section that is leaking and the section that is suffering consequential damage, the issue is between the owners and the body corporate has no need to get involved.

Landscaping tips for new complexes
The quality of the landscaping associated with the developments of a professional property developer sets them apart from the short term fly-by night-operators.  This is according to Paul Henry, managing director of Rawson Developers, who says it amazes him how some developers will spend millions on their buildings but will scrimp and save on items related to the gardens and the surroundings.

He says this has a hugely detrimental effect on the appearance of the development, but Rawson's aim is to ensure that Cape Town’s suburbs continue to be green and leafy.

Developers with a feeling of responsibility to the communities where they are operating often draw up lists of the landscaping principles they are committed to and share them with the Home Owners' Association.

He says at Rawson Developers the obligations list includes policies such as replacing any trees removed by the building process with new plantings and trebling the previous number of trees on the site when possible. Henry says trees reduce noise levels and attract birds.

REITs structure for listed funds
From 1 April, all property companies currently listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), either property loan stocks or property unit trusts, will convert to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) structure and any new listings in this sector will have to comply with JSE REIT listing requirements.  Patrycja Kula, business development manager at the JSE, explains that the REIT structure is in line with international best practice and having a globally understood structure will make our listed property sector much more attractive to foreign investors.

The tax advantages of the new structure will also make the listed property sector much more attractive to local investors.”

“When South African listed property funds convert to this system South Africa will be the 8th largest REIT market and the REITs structure will bring about much needed tax and regulatory changes,” says Kula.

This change follows the formal announcement of REIT tax legislation for South Africa, published on 25 October 2012 by National Treasury to introduce this internationally recognised structure in South Africa.

Growth in industrial property rentals
The growth in industrial rentals is slowly heating up, seemingly benefiting from the lagged impact of declining industrial property vacancy rates.  This is according to Rode Review report which reveals that vacancy rates on warehouse and high-tech property dropped during 2010 and 2011, and how since 2011 the growth in prime industrial rentals has heated up.

In fact, such has been the acceleration in the growth of rentals that in the fourth quarter of 2012, prime industrial rentals recorded a nationally averaged growth rate of 7 percent.

Rawson unveils new website
Mid February saw the official launch and unveiling of the Rawson Property Group’s new website. A product of months of research and development, this clean and image rich website incorporates the latest technology and aims to keep the user at the forefront of all design.  Neil Pursey, Rawson Property Group’s Online marketing manager, says they now believe that their website aptly communicates their brand’s personality - quirky, personal, consumer-minded and educational but serious about selling. 

He says they’re excited about how it will elevate their brand in the online space. 

Pursey, who worked alongside Knnktr to create the website, says it is a consumer-centric and goal-orientated website that is built around the user, with the main focus of making sure that it works perfectly for most people, instead of trying to cater to the needs of every single ‘edge case’ and thereby compromising the usability of the website for the majority of users. 

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