Property 24/10 - 158

SA homes a safe haven for investors
Amid growing market confidence, interest rates remain stable and unchanged, with prime lending rate at 8.5 percent, it seems there is security in bricks and mortar.  Looking back at house price growth cycles, history shows that the South African residential market has the propensity for significant capital growth, says Seeff chairman, Samuel Seeff.

It is for this reason that he believes by buying smartly now, buyers could reap significant rewards once the market turns.

“The secret is to buy below your means and allow room in your budget for future interest rate and basic utility cost hikes.”

Seeff points out that indications are that buyer confidence is up, predominantly in the major metropolitan areas where the gap between supply and demand is beginning to narrow with growing stock shortages being reported.

In some instances, buyers can still get good deals and mortgages are more affordable than they have been in decades.

US housing market starting to recover>
The infamous US housing crisis which spilled over into worldwide markets and was a major cause of the 2008 global financial crisis seems to finally be over. In the US at least.  Residential real estate prices released by S&P/Case Shiller recently show that the US residential market has begun to recover after 5 years of negative growth.

The results show that in the 12 months to February 2013, US house prices rose by 9.3 percent.

This index is based off the property values in 20 major cities.

The largest gainers were Phoenix with 23 percent growth, followed by San Francisco (19 percent growth) and Las Vegas (18 percent growth).

The two largest US cities, Los Angeles and New York, also both recorded price growth over the 12 month period.

Los Angeles registered strong growth of 14 percent, while New York recorded more moderate growth of 1.9 percent.

Can HOA hike levies for not building?
A Property24 reader asks:
I bought into a homeowners' association scheme where it stipulated that I must build within a certain time period. The time is up and I cannot afford to build and am now being threatened with 3 times the levies.

Is there any recourse or option I have in the homeowners' association enforcing this if I do not qualify to get finance to build? 

Jennifer Paddock, Specialist Sectional Title Attorney and Managing Partner of Paddocks, sectional title and homeowners' association specialists, advises:

This type of provision is quite common in HOAs. The courts have looked at the fairness of such a provision and have upheld it on a number of occasions. Therefore it is not considered to be fundamentally unfair.  

Sellers must sign 'condition' report
In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, as it stands right now, all sellers of residential properties must sign a condition report on the property that they are selling, providing all known details of defects on the property.  This is according to Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Anne Porter, who says the Property Practitioners’ Bill, which is being drafted by the Estate Agency Affairs Board and will govern all estate agents and real estate principals in South Africa, will include this as a requirement from all agents, to bring it in line with the Consumer Protection Act. 


KZN launches rental housing plan
Five thousand people will move into the government subsidised housing rental units within 24 months.  This was annouced by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements & Public Works Ravi Pillay at the launch of the province’s five-year Rental Housing Strategic Plan in Durban.

Before the launch, the province of KwaZulu-Natal only had three housing institutions delivering rental housing. The three housing institutions could not meet the ever-increasing demand. According to the latest Census data KwaZulu-Natal has a housing backlog of 700 000 units.

“This situation was untenable as we did not have a structured approach towards the delivery and roll-out of rental housing, hence the development of the five-year Rental Housing Strategic Plan,” Pillay said.

The plan is a collaborative effort of the provincial Department of Human Settlements and the Social Housing Regulatory Authority (SHRA), a social housing public entity of the National Human Settlements Department. SHRA was requested to identify the rental housing demand in the province’s six high-capacity municipalities namely Msunduzi, Hibiscus Coast, KwaDukuza, Newcastle, City of uMhlathuze and Mnambithi-Ladysmith, so as to ensure that the department meets the rental housing targets.

Home loans and bond originators
People applying for bonds often do not appreciate two fundamental facts about the process and the banks’ credit criteria applicable to mortgage bond borrowers.  This is according to Mike van Alphen, National Manager for Rawson Finance, the Rawson Property Group’s bond origination division, who says the first fact is that the loan criteria at the banks vary quite widely and this applies not just to the conditions under which the loan is made but also to the interest rates charged.

The second, he says is that the banks, being dynamic and much on the ball, are continually re-assessing their strategies and are likely to make changes to their loan parameters as and when they seem necessary.

Van Alphen says while certain banks have become recognised as front-runners in awarding mortgage bonds, others, less prominent in this field may have loopholes and special conditions which, in certain cases can make their deals more attractive.

The role of a rental agent explained
It’s not surprising that many landlords choose to enlist the specialised services of a rental agent when letting a property. Not only can an efficient rental agent assist with the tenant screening process, but they can also help ensure that the landlord receives rent timeously and regularly.  However, a rental agent’s involvement with the tenant can vary greatly depending on their mandate with the landlord, and it’s important that tenants understand exactly what that mandate entails and what kind of information they should expect agents to disclose.

Michelle Dickens , Managing Director of TPN Credit Bureau, a specialist tenant credit bureau, explains that in most cases the rental agent is there to advertise a property on behalf of the landlord, to arrange property viewings with prospective tenants and assume the responsibility of the application process, which includes acquiring supporting documents from the tenant and conducting the appropriate tenant and credit checks.

However, as Dickens further points out, sometimes the agreement between the rental agent and landlord extends beyond this, such that the rental agent is the party who invoices the tenant and collects the rent. In cases where the property in question is for full management of the property, the rental agent will act on the instruction of the landlord and become involved with inspections and maintenance issues.

SAPOA honours SA property development
Professional property owners in South Africa have voted the new Alexander Forbes head office at 115 West Street, Sandton, as the overall winner at the prestigious South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) Innovative Excellence in Property Development Awards 2013, held at Sun City.  In a showcase of outstanding property development, SAPOA announced the top performers in a dozen categories at its annual awards ceremony, as well as the overall award clinched by Alexander Forbes. It revealed the winners at the 45th annual SAPOA International Property Convention & Exhibition. 

Neil Gopal, CEO of SAPOA, says the winners highlight excellence in design and innovation. They meet today’s challenges and tomorrow’s needs and reflect the cutting-edge of design in South Africa and globally, he says. “Besides the quality and originality, it is pleasing to see such strong emphasis on the environment in the designs submitted in this year’s record number of entries.” 

The award winners were decided by a multi-disciplinary expert panel of judges comprising leaders in their fields. 

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