Property 24/10 - 46

Atlantic Seaboard homes sell slowly
Property on the Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town was listed for an average of 234 days and sold at 29,2% below the asking price making homes there the most difficult to sell quickly in the Western Cape according to figures compiled by the Institute of Estate Agents.

Property on the Atlantic Seaboard in Cape Town was listed for an average of 234 days and sold at 29,2% below the asking price making homes there the most difficult to sell quickly in the Western Cape.

The PropStats Survey showed that properties along the West Coast were also difficult to sell and were listed for about 300 days but sold for 20% below the listed price at an average of R800k. The best performing areas in the Western Cape were Helderberg, where it took about 46 days to achieve a sale with prices just 3,8% below the asking price.

Homes in the south-eastern suburbs also sold quite quickly, taking 57 days to conclude a sale. The average price in these suburbs was R985k.

Buying property: Cooling off period
The new Consumer Protection Act which will come into effect at the end of March 2011 will significantly impact on the way business is done in South Africa and has some rather serious implications for the property industry.

It creates rights for the consumer buying property while regulating closely how suppliers or estate agents operate. Estate agencies and property professionals need to be aware of the implications and prepare for changes in the way they will interact with property buyers and sellers in the future.
Section 16 of the Consumer Protection Act states as follows:
"A consumer may rescind a transaction resulting from any direct marketing without reason or penalty, by notice to the supplier in writing …, within five business days after the later of the date on which
a) The transaction or agreement was concluded; or
b) The goods that were the subject of the transaction were delivered to the consumer.

Leapfrog launches new expansion drive
The 50-office Leapfrog Property Group has entered a new phase of growth that will both reinforce and expand its national operating footprint in the South African residential property market.

This was announced by Ronald Ennik, a director and equity holder of Leapfrog.
The company was launched in 2007 by Jan le Roux, the former CEO of the PA Group (the holding company of mortgage originator Betterbond).

The key elements of Leapfrog's new expansion phase, says Ennik, include
- An intensive countrywide drive to recruit additional top-drawer agents and franchise holders
- The roll-out of Leapfrog into the Free State and Limpopo provinces
- Extending the group's operating network in KwaZulu-Natal with the opening of a new branch in Richards Bay
- Intensifying Leapfrog's already robust operations in Soweto, and
- Building on the success of a sales and rental unit that has already carved a strong market foothold in Johannesburg City and its 'dormitory' fringe areas, including Braamfontein and Berea.

Green building and training offered
Green building continues to gain momentum in South Africa and is no longer only being practised by a handful of dedicated experts, but starting to spread to the mainstream industry.

For anyone involved in the building and development sector, whether they are developers, architects, engineers, property managers, product manufacturers and contractors it is becoming increasingly important to hold the relevant knowledge and qualifications on green building, rating systems and accreditation.

The Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA) continues to offer its unique Green Star SA Accredited Professional courses. This one-day course provides a detailed overview of the Green Star SA green building rating system and provides an excellent introduction to green building.

Rental increases - what's permissible?
In terms of South Africa property law there are no limits to the amount by which a landlord can increase the rent on a property, but in practice most leases contain a clause stipulating that the annual increase will be a specified percentage (usually 10%) at the expiry of a twelve month period.

However, this clause is not fully binding and can be renegotiated by the landlord or tenant. If the tenant finds the new increase unacceptable, he can give notice to the landlord and vacate the premises. Similarly, if the landlord finds that the rental is below the market rentals in the area, he can give the tenant notice that he will terminate the lease, the minimum time allowed for this being one calendar month.

Caution should be exercised on renewing options, says Michael Bauer, general manager of IHFM, and landlords must guard against a single sided option, i.e. allowing only the tenant to decide.

Wetlands trashed by developers
Joburg Water and the Johannesburg Roads Agency have been named as two of the culprits responsible for the irreparable damage that has been done to wetlands in Gauteng. Property developers and mining companies are also accused of causing severe damage to the environment.

According to the report about 50% of the 160 000 wetlands have already been destroyed and unless this practice is halted, more wetlands will vanish.

The report, compiled by members of the Johannesburg Council's environmental committee, show that Joburg Water built a sewerage plant in the centre of the Blue Hills wetlands near Kyalami. A family of rare grass owls was driven out of their natural habitat as a result.

The Johannesburg Roads Agency built a temporary road through a bullfrog pan in Glen Austin where hundreds of endangered giant African bullfrogs live. There are plans to build roads around the wetland area. Eskom intended laying cables through the pan but was persuaded not to do so by the Johannesburg's environment department.

Robben Island church gets makeover
The historic Anglican, now non-denominational, church on Robben Island will soon be repainted and repaired to its former glory.

Peter Jäck, MD of Indawo who have been awarded the contract, said that the church is an integral part of Robben Island's traumatic history.

This church which dates from 1841, says Jäck, was built on the orders of the British commandant of the island, Capt Richard Wolfe, who took over in 1833. It was later made responsible by the Cape colony governor, John Montagu, for improving the prisoners' appalling living conditions on the island - and initiating the much-praised policy of putting convicts into the Bains father and son pass building teams which opened up the interior.

Think like a buyer' when pricing home
It may not be easy to accept that your property might not be worth as much as you had hoped, but for a seller 'pricing it right' is probably the single most important part of marketing your home and finding a buyer.

If you are unsure what your home is worth - your estate agent will guide you or you can get an online property valuation which should verify what they recommend.

The boom years have passed and with fewer people qualifying for home loans nowadays and a lot of stock on the market to choose from, it is indeed a buyer's market and you may need to adjust your expectations.

One of the best ways to think about the price is to view it from the buyer's perspective.

"Allagents have at one time or another encountered a seller who is adamant about an asking price that is too high for current market conditions," says Berry Everitt, CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group and advises that there are two things that such homeowners need to bear in mind.

Stellenbosch development on cards
Stellenbosch has been slow on the property development front, mainly due to a shortage of land within the municipal boundary as well as strict rules governing the demolition of existing older homes.

An artist's impression of a typical freestanding unit at Asrin Property Developers' new Nuutgevonden development in Stellenbosch.

In view of the fact that there is a demand for accommodation in this student town, a new residential estate, Nuutgevonden, will soon be launched by Asrin Property Developers with prices of units starting from R599 000. The property development will be on a 6,2ha site located on the corner of the R304 and Welgevonden Link Road.

Nuutgevonden will be launched this month offering 194 homes for sale which will be divided into six different sections.

There will be 141 sectional title apartments in three-storey blocks, with a mono-pitched roof and a secure parking basement; and 54 single residential homes in modern, Cape farmhouse styles, which are intended to complement the design aesthetics that prevail in Stellenbosch.

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