Property 24/10 - 31

Trustees can be held liable for debts
Members of a body corporate can be held liable for money owed to a local municipality or an insurance company if owners of properties have not paid their levies.

Michael Bauer, general manager of sectional title administration company IHFM says that all too often this actually happens in South Africa. He says that the creditor will usually demand payment, take steps to collect the debt, issue a court summons and often get a default judgment against the body corporate.

"When it is evident that the body corporate does not have the funds to pay the judgment amount then the creditor is entitled to amend the judgment making the members liable for the debt," he says.

Create more space in a compact home
Trying to accommodate a growing family in a compact townhouse, flat or apartment can be a paramount challenge. Here are some tips to create space.

Lighting is everything
Flat overhead lighting makes your space seem smaller. Accessorise with separate light sources and lamps. Not only will this 'stretch' the corners of your room, it will give you control over your atmosphere, allowing you to conceal cluttered areas and highlight others to get the best and most flexible use out of your space.

Strategically place mirrors in your apartment to capitalise on natural light. This also creates the impression of extra space by tricking the eye into believing there is a twin room.

Buy-to-let in despair
While estate agents throughout South Africa remain rather ambivalent about the buy-to-let market, auctioneering company Auction Alliance claims that more and more wealthy investors are now looking to the coastal market for holiday properties that can be bought and then rented to holidaymakers all year round.

FNB's latest Estate Agent Survey - for the third quarter of this year - shows that the buy-to-let sales, expressed as a percentage of total property buying remained at a record low of just 7%, unchanged from the last quarter.

Worryingly, agent confidence in the near-term prospects for this segment of the property market deteriorated even further.

Housing estate a best-kept secret
Somerset Country Estate (in the Heritage Park security precinct at Somerset west) represents one of the best offers in the entire Helderberg Basin today claims Shiraaz Hassan, director of Asrin Property Developers.

The estate, one of the largest in the area, covers 19,2ha although the 206 units planned for the site will mean that only 54% of the area is developed.

The remaining land will be kept as public open space with ponds for the diverse population of birds living in the parkland.

"With only 10,56 units per hectare, this development will retain its country ambience and atmosphere," claims Hassan.

Q&A: Strategies for managing debt
For many consumers in South Africa the realities of economic hardship are now being felt with many homeowners facing increasingly tough financial times says Peter Gilmour, chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

"Unfortunately, the property market is often the first to suffer in a tough economic climate, often with serious long-term implications for many consumers. As economic activity declines, so increasingly more properties enter the foreclosure process. However, all too often, there is such stress and shame surrounding this topic, and even though it is an increasingly common occurrence, many homeowners are not sure how to best handle the complex situation with their lenders."

Statistics released by Debtbusters indicate that there are 400,000 distressed home loans in South Africa at the moment.

Gilmour answers some common questions and offers solutions:

House of the year: Revamped homestead
A weekend retreat in the heart of the Swartland has taken first place in the House and Leisure House of the Year competition in association with Weylandts. The winning home was determined by the votes of House and Leisure readers, and was announced at a party in Sandton last night. More than 18 000 readers voted in this year's competition, which saw 12 homes across South Africa competing for the coveted title of SA's best house.

Seven Cape Town homes net R122m
More than R100m has been spent by cash-flush buyers on seven properties in the Western Cape during August and September, representing what is being dubbed as the first signs of a recovery phase for the property market in Cape Town.

This stylish Bantry Bay home was recently sold for R20,25m.

Laurie Wener, managing director of Pam Golding Properties says that there has been a distinct increase in activity in the property market although buyers remain extremely price conscious and value for money is their main priority.
She says the company sold two properties in Constantia for R31m and R27m respectively, another in Bantry Bay for R20m, two in Fresnaye for R11m and R14,8m, a property in Higgovale for R8,2m and an apartment in Mouille Point for R10m - a total of R122m.

Welkom to become SA Silicon Valley?
A project to build a R3-billion electronics manufacturing hub is likely to get underway in the economically depressed area of Matjhabeng (Welkom) in the Free State.

Although details remain sketchy, the Free State government is believed to have approved the project concept that will see the National Association of Manufacturers in Electronic Components as the first group to occupy the new site.

They will be known as ICT City and, as part of the project, the bulk infrastructure that will service the new site will be upgraded. The land being used for the development will be rented from the Free State government.

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