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Transformation in property conference
On 6 November, the South African Institute of Black Property Practitioners (SAIBPP) will hold a one-day conference at the Turbine Hall in Newtown, Johannesburg, to look at issues of transformation in the property sector over the past 20 years since democracy.

Members of SAIBPP, which represents black property professionals and owners, as well as other property organisations, are expected to attend the conference. The theme of the conference is “property transformation 20 years after democracy”.

SAIBPP president, Thomas Matlala, says that a transformed property sector is beneficial for the country as a whole. “Transformation is imperative. It leads to job creation. It leads to money staying in the country, which affects South Africa’s balance of payments positively. It also leads to skills development. It’s good for our country’s economy and stability,” he says.

SA real estate investment trends
The introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) in South Africa last year has already resulted in a wave of conversions of various property vehicles into this tax-efficient structure. This trend is in line with international developments, which has seen REITs gain significant prominence over the last few years.

According to Ken Reynolds, Nedbank Corporate Property Finance Regional Executive: Gauteng, while there are some exceptions, South Africa tends to have more generalist property REITs that invest in a mix of segments such as commercial, industrial, office and retail. “One of the trends we have seen internationally is for more focused REITs that invest solely in just one segment of the property market.

“While many international REITs are weighted in favour of a specific sector, this trend hasn’t emerged in South Africa yet. Over time we could expect to see more focused REITs locally and in fact it is likely that a REIT focused purely on the residential sector will list at some point over the next 12 months. This would be completely new to our market and could be the catalyst towards more sector-specific REITs.

SA property market slowing down
The exuberance that was evident in the property market a year ago is coming to an end, and home sellers in most parts of SA now need to moderate their price expectations accordingly.

That’s the advice of Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA, who says that although summer is here and the prime home-buying season is picking up momentum, the heat has gone out of the market in the past few months and the rate of price growth is slowing down.

“Since 2012, when the market really began to turn after the 2008 and 2009 recession, we have seen the average home sale price in our group rise by around 26%, and at this level we are seeing indications of buyer resistance in most of the country except Cape Town, where demand is still very high.”

Transformation charter deadline looms
The deadline to align the Property Sector Transformation Charter with the DTI’s Revised B-BBEE Act and Codes is looming. The sector is running out of time to adapt its charter and, if it doesn’t make the April 2015 deadline, the charter will fall away and the property industry will automatically adopt the revised DTI BEE codes. This will place it under immense pressure to speed up transformation, says Marius Muller, CEO of Pareto.

“With the new codes there’s a great opportunity to relook how the property sector achieves BEE and ensure it is done in a sustainable way,” says Muller. “In general, the sector has made slow transformation progress. After 20 years of democracy, we should be seeing more change. There’s more that we can do. We should want to do better.”

The first BEE Codes were introduced in 2007, after which the Property Sector Transformation Charter was separately legislated but, following a review, the South African Government revised the BEE Codes in October 2013. The sector has till the end of April 2015 to ensure its charter is compliant with the new codes.

Free property seminars around SA
The Rawson Property Group has extended its training services to the general public. The group is now offering anyone interested in property as a career, or simply as a subject, the chance to take part in comprehensive one day seminars - and there will be absolutely no charge for the service.

This is according to Barry Fourie, the Rawson Property Group’s National Training Manager, who says that the seminar is a useful introduction to the real estate world, and it will be “very helpful” for anyone looking to be “further educated in the basic facts of real estate”.

The course will be held once every quarter in all the major CBDs of South Africa, and will, among other topics, cover such matters as the governance of the South African estate agency industry, contract law, the legislation framework within which the property sector has to operate, the sales process and how to go about marketing real estate in a highly effective and profitable way.

My ex is obstructing the property sale
A Property24 reader asks:
My husband and I got divorced in 2009 and we have decided to sell our house, but he has not been very cooperative and does not allow potential buyers access to view the house. I really need to sell the house as I need the deposit for a new house in order to move on with my life.

Please could you advise?
Charles Vining, Managing Director of Seeff Sandton and the Law Firm Vining Camerer Incorporated, advises:

Property co-ownership and liability
When people co-own a piece of land, they might be under the impression that each person owns a specific area, i.e. if they live in a cottage and use the surrounding hectares, it might be assumed that section is theirs, but this is not usually how it works.

This is according to Lanice Steward, managing director of Knight Frank Residential South Africa, who says co-ownership is usually a share or a percentage of the total, and this means that they are also "co-liable", and have obligations towards the whole of the property, not just the section that they occupy.

Steward says it is advisable for the co-owners of a property to have a separate agreement that states the terms and conditions of their ownership.

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