Property 24/10 - 25

Become more energy efficient
Not only is Eskom becoming more and more expensive as time goes on, but it is still as unreliable as ever. The average household will be paying at least double for the same amount of electricity within three years!

For most of us converting the entire home to an alternative energy source would be prohibitively expensive, but regardless of the monetary fact everybody should be working towards this goal - as not only is it less expensive, but it is far more eco-friendly as well. Let us have a look at what uses up the most power in the home, and show some energy alternatives that are friendlier on the pocket and the environment to run:

Protect property when getting married
When it comes to property, it pays to do proper estate planning and draw up the right agreements when you get married.

Cape Town lawyer, Ulrik Strandvik of Grant Gunston Attorneys, says when couples get married, there is often a strong feeling that to draw up an ante-nuptial contract reflects a lack of trust and commitment.

"This is understandable because the ante-nuptial contract is specifically designed to cope with possible negative outcomes down the line, such as death or divorce."

This perception, says Strandvik, should be put aside because in reality an ante-nuptial contract is in most ways more equitable and preferable to being married in community of property - and it facilitates estate planning.

Room dividers: Space transformers
The great divide
Homes are being influenced by many retail, office and hotel design trends. It is not too difficult to understand why - many of the values and principles we aspire to have deliberately been the muse behind many of these consumer-driven commercial designs, and slowly they are finding their way back to our living spaces.
One such trend is the need for transient interior spaces - spaces that can change and adapt to different living ages. This trend has been very evident in the surge of the popular loft-style apartments - where there are little or no interior walls or divides. Here the spaces are open-plan in the extreme - relying on the positioning of the furniture and the inclusion of various décor accents and lighting, to divide the space into different living areas. This gives the inhabitant of such spaces the freedom to change the interior layout whenever he or she pleases, as there are no permanent structures defining them.

Loads of properties soon under gavel
A total of 69 homes in various Cape Town locations will be going on auction on Saturday 28 August 2010.

This will be the year's largest Cape residential auction and has attracted widespread interest from local and international buyers with a record crowd expected.

Ish Hendricks of Auction Alliance says the properties are valued between R200k and R3m and are situated in the Southern Suburbs, Northern Suburbs, Helderberg and Atlantic Seaboard. "Due to the variety of properties on offer the auction offers a mix of investment opportunities for both first-time buyers and the experienced property investor."

Buyers + sellers: Get price right
The one factor buyers and sellers always have to keep in mind when entering into a property deal is the price.

Buyers want it to be lower and sellers want it to be higher. Somewhere there needs to be a compromise by both parties, but where exactly is this point?

The latest statistics from First National Bank show that 80% of sellers still have to drop their asking prices in order to achieve a sale. "And the average drop is around 12%, which means that most sellers are quite seriously out of step with what buyers are actually willing or able to pay," says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group.

"Such sellers will usually argue that prospective buyers are quite at liberty to make lower offers, but the fact is that serious buyers will usually not make any offer at all on a home they consider to be overpriced, especially if there are many properties on the market for them to choose from.

Homeownership more than just nest egg
Even though the economic benefits of property are invariably and almost exclusively extolled, other "soft" advantages play an equally vital role in building families up.

So says Bill Rawson, chairman of Rawson Properties, who adds that the psychological and social benefits of homeownership are often underemphasised.

"Until now, agents have often tended to emphasise the economic benefits of home owning - the fact is that this is one of the few ways in which the salaried family man can get gearing for a large investment/nest egg.

Development constraints to boost prices
The development sector is going to be hard-pressed to respond rapidly to improved demand for new commercial or residential stock when the market picks up.

Building activity is still under heavy pressure and will be in the short-term, but is forecast to start picking up towards the end of the year.

So says Colin Green, a director of Rabie Property Group, who added that the recovery will lead to stock shortages and an inevitable increase in property prices.

He says the current downturn in the global property markets has seen very few new developments coming to the market. "This, together with the new stricter credit laws and uncertainty with regards the true state of the economy, means that developers have been focusing on survival with little appetite or optimism for the future.

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