Property 24/10 - 188

The all-new
As 2013 comes to a close and industries begin slowing down for the year, Property24, South Africa’s number one Property Search Site, has been hard at work putting the finishing touches onto their revamped property website.

The goal was to maintain the wealth of valuable information on, while focusing on an excellent user experience to make property hunting as simple and engaging as possible. With creative design, the result is a sleek, easy-to-navigate new-look

Being the leading property search portal in the country, is continually developing and adding innovative tools and features to help South Africans search for, buy and own property with ease and confidence. And the website’s fresh new look offers everything that users have come to expect, but in an even more user-friendly environment.

“Our aim remains to offer the public and property professionals the best possible property search platform, and we are constantly working to improve the user experience”, explains JP Farinha, CEO of Property24. “We wanted consumers to feel at ease and at home on our website, and for it to be the place where they want to spend time browsing for property in a warm and comfortable online environment.”

Buy property you can afford
South African banks are increasingly looking to the affordable housing sector in a bid to reverse skyrocketing mortgage decline rates.

Speaking at the latest International Housing Solutions’ Affordable Housing Conference in 2013, senior bank representatives said affordability was a major concern in the current market.

With homeownership on the decline, as noted in recent reports, banks remained keen to lend. However applicants were advised to ensure they did not set their sights unachievably high when seeking their first home loans.

Also speaking at the conference was Dominic Adu, chief executive officer of Ghana Home Loans, who said mortgage decline rates in that country stood at an extraordinary 90 percent - primarily because applicants applied for too expensive properties and, if they could not buy them, they would rather not buy at all.

Factors impacting the property market
There are very few, if any investment decisions that can have such a massive impact on a person’s financial well-being as buying property.

For the large majority of the population who are able to purchase property, it is likely to be the largest single financial investment they ever make in their lifetime, says Adrian Goslett, chief executive officer of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“The fact that property is often a consumer’s largest asset that accounts for possibly the biggest portion of their personal wealth is true for both those who live in South Africa as well as those abroad.”

Owning a property is seen by many around the world as a measure of success and achievement.

In fact, a large portion of the South African population value property ownership over nearly every other kind of investment available to them.

Property outlook positive in 2014
With 2014 set to be a milestone year for the country as we celebrate 20 years of democracy and head into an elections year that is likely to dominate the landscape, Seeff chairman Samuel Seeff says that there is much to be upbeat about.

Following five years of inhibited growth and, while still a telling tale of two halves, activity in the primary urban areas has strengthened notably this year and is now at one of the healthiest levels since 2009.

“This year may well be the year where we see the first signs of real growth since 2007 with potential double-digit price growth in the primary urban areas a real possibility,” he explains.

He says they experienced one of the best winter periods with turnover of more than R2.5 billion for the June to August period in 2013 and the demand has carried into the summer months.

Listed property investment prospects
With 2014 having kicked off and some people looking at investing money, the listed property sector may be ideal for investors looking to cash in.

STANLIB fund managers expect the sector to achieve distribution growth of between 7 and 8 percent over the next 12 months, comfortably outpacing inflation.

“Our four year total return outlook for the listed property sector is 8 percent, which we believe is attractive to other asset classes given our assumption of bond yields at 9.25 percent in four years' time,” says STANLIB head of listed property funds, Keillen Ndlovu.

He explains that they are not too concerned about the outlook for the retail and industrial property market as they believe there is sufficient demand for space in these property types.

What makes your perfect home?
On the back of two years of overwhelmingly successful TV ad campaigns, and with the fresh new-look website up and running, Property24 has launched their new My Perfect Home cross-platform advertising campaign.

The campaign uses various platforms including TV, social and digital channels to explore what a home really means to people and asks South Africans what makes their perfect home.

JP Farinha, CEO of Property24, says, “We were inspired by the passion and emotion people show when they are house hunting, and more importantly, when they find their perfect home. The tools that we offer house hunters and the property industry as a whole are created with the purpose of making this process easier to navigate and ultimately more rewarding. This campaign brings the feeling of home together with technology and allows South Africans to share their experiences with us and the wider Property24 community.”

Top 5 property New Year's resolutions
If you’re in the property market or thinking about buying your first home, you should be considering a number of things to help save you money and protect your investment.

This is according to Careen McKinon, ooba Western Cape provincial sales manager, who says it’s always easy to start the new year with good intentions, but, it’s also just as easy to lose determination as the year gets underway.

She says property is an ongoing commitment, so whether you’re a buyer, owner or seller, make sure you stick to your property resolutions.

McKinon says these should be your top resolutions for 2014:

1. Start saving for a deposit
If you’re considering buying a property at any time in the next two to three years, the time to start saving for a deposit is right now.

“Having a deposit increases your chances of securing a home loan and a better interest rate. So if you’re even just starting to think about buying a home, this is the first and most important step you should take.”

Negotiating after a home inspection
More and more South African home buyers are now making their offer to purchase (OTP) contingent on a satisfactory home inspection report – usually paid for by the buyer. This means that, while the signed OTP places the seller and buyer on the same page and guarantees the deal, the buyer still has room to negotiate if the home inspection report reveals any unpleasant surprises as to the actual condition of the home.

John Graham from HouseCheck says some buyers prefer to commission a home inspection before submitting the OTP. Doing the house inspection upfront means that the buyer can pitch the offer price after first obtaining insight into the actual condition of the property.

Either way, Graham says buyers who use a good home inspection company are in a far better negotiating position. If the OTP is conditional on a satisfactory home inspection report then, in many cases, the deal-making and negotiations will continue after the OTP has been signed.

For example, if you’re a buyer, the property inspection or sellers’ disclosures, maybe the roof system has some issues, may prompt you to seek a credit. But where do you go from there?

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