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More SA women than men buying property
Employed in higher paying managerial positions or successfully setting up their own businesses, many South African women today are enjoying greater financial independence than they did 10 years ago. The upshot of this is that larger numbers of women are either buying their own residential properties or are co-investing in homes with their life partners.

This is according to Trish Luthulifrom Pam Golding Properties' (PGP) New Business division in Gauteng, who says todaywomen are more career driven; many are in leadership roles in business and government or have attained success as entrepreneurs.

She says with more disposable income available to them, greater numbers of women have been able to invest in residential property in recent years. PGP property agents report that they have been assisting more and more female home buyers. According to First National Bank (FNB), in May 2014, approximately 10 percent of residential homes in South Africa were bought by women and nine percent by single men, with the balance made up of couples.

22 held for defrauding City of Joburg
The Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Parks Tau, said a year-long investigation into corruption and fraud cases at the City of Johannesburg has resulted in 22 arrests. The arrests include two City Power employees, two City of Johannesburg officials as well as external contractors and members of the public.

Briefing media in Johannesburg on Thursday, the Mayor said it was believed that as a result of the fraudulent activities, R200 million had been lost in revenue. The city has recovered R107 million of the revenue lost.

Mayor Tau said he could not divulge the details of the cases as he did not want to jeopardise further arrests, but said 30 other large power users were believed to be involved in defrauding the city.

Investing in SA REITs for good returns
SA REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) have delivered higher total returns than other asset classes over 10 years. In addition, they also represent lower risk over 10 years.

Mark Stevens, SA REIT Association Marketing Committee Chairman, says REITs are structured to be lower risk investments and, furthermore, most have clearly defined investment strategies specifically designed to mitigate risk and optimise investor value. When it comes to managing risk, REITs start with a diverse portfolio of properties.

“Most SA REITs are diversified across various types of commercial property, like offices, malls, warehouses, factories, hotels and even apartment blocks. These properties are often spread across different cities and provinces. They can also be spread across different grades of property,” says Stevens. “Moreover, their income comes from numerous leases with creditworthy tenants that expire at different times.”

New rental club for SA agents
Although the Rental Property Law industry is worth R5 billion a year, South African rental property agents are often still not properly skilled enough to handle the legal practical implications of leasing property and dealing with tenants.

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which came to law in 2011, has added to the stress of dealing with legal issues. At the same time, the industry is beset with people who try and educate rental agents without actually having the practical knowledge of what goes on in the lifecycle of the lease.

Rental property law expert and director at Marlon Shevelew and Associates Inc, Marlon Shevelew, says the leasing of property is often a lengthy process which includes, but is not limited to, procuring and vetting a tenant, negotiation of the lease agreement, procuring the deposit or guarantee, or insurance product and the managing of the premises for the landlord.

ABCs of buy-to-let property investing
The question about whether a home is an asset is often illogically extended into a debate about whether property is in fact a "good investment". Comparing a primary residence, holiday home, or similar lifestyle property, to a buy-to-let investment property acquired to increase wealth, is comparing apples and pears. So is comparing a buy-to-let property investment to a passive investment on the stock market or in a retirement fund.

"A buy-to-let property is not similar to a primary or lifestyle residence, it is much more like a business venture undertaken to create, firstly, an ongoing, inflation-linked income and, secondly, capital growth," explains Dr Koos du Toit, CEO of P3 Investment Group.

The model is very similar to that employed by listed property companies, he explains. "Like residential buy-to-let property investors, albeit on a larger scale, listed companies acquire a property, such as a shopping centre, often using gearing (finance).

Home equity - when should you use it?
It might be tempting for homeowners with equity in their bond account to withdraw some of that wealth and use it for more immediate needs or wants. While this may not always be the best idea, there are certain situations where this can actually benefit the homeowner.

This is according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says when it comes to a homeowner using their home equity, the important thing is responsible borrowing and only using it when it can put the homeowner in a better financial position than they were in before. He says the homeowner needs to carefully assess the situation and determine whether the decision could impede them financially or add to their future financial well-being.

He notes that there are a few common scenarios in which homeowners use their home equity. Some options may make sense, while others do not – the decision will largely be based on the homeowner’s circumstances and future plans.

Can landlord use deposit to repaint?
A Property24 reader asks:
I rented a house managed by an agent on behalf of the landlord for 5 years and had paid a deposit. The first inspection was done by the agent and myself two weeks before I left the property, while the final inspection was done by the agent and owner without me. There is no damage to the property, there is only a small amount of dirt on wall paint and carpets (the wall is not damaged and carpets not torn).

Now the owner wants to use my deposit to paint the walls and clean the carpets. Is this the tenant's responsibility to paint the walls after I have been paying rent? It is obvious that the wall will become dirty while the tenant is staying in the place.

Martin Goodman, Director of Rentshield, advises:

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