Property 24/10 - 53

CPA, sole mandates can be cancelled
The new Consumer Protection Act includes a five day cooling-off period that allows any buyer to effectively cancel an offer to purchase as long as this is done within five days of the offer being submitted and accepted.

According to Lanice Steward, managing director Anne Porter Knight Frank, the implications are much wider than just cancelling a sale. She says that any estate agent who gets a sole mandate from a seller must realise that the seller can cancel that sole mandate as long as he or she does so within five working days of signing it.

"There is an important proviso though. This ruling only applies if the sole mandate to sell the property came about as a result of a direct marketing campaign.

Home loans pricing more conservative
Banks may well have relaxed their lending requirements over the past 18 months but don't expect home loans to be more competitively priced. In fact, it appears that the days of homebuyers qualifying for discounts of 1,5% to 2% (percentage points) below the prime interest rate are gone for good.

For those buying property, lending requirements may have relaxed over the past 18 months, but don't expect home loans to be more competitively priced

Mortgage originators say currently homebuyers are lucky if they are able to negotiate an interest rate concession of 0,5% below prime. "Prime plus loans are more common," says Saul Geffen, CEO of ooba.

Geffen notes the pricing of home loans is currently even more conservative than 12 to 18 month ago. He says that's a function of banks' margins being under pressure due to the higher cost of funding, rising bad debts and stricter capital requirements that banks have to adhere to.

Geffen says banks are currently pricing for risk, therefore the credit risk profile of an applicant is a key factor that will determine at what interest rate a bank is prepared to approve a home loan. Other factors that come into play include the size of the deposit, the loan size, the type of property being purchased and whether the applicant is self-employed or not.

What solutions for SA's land woes?
Relatively recent report by the African Development Bank says that formal land tenure and management systems -introduced during Africa's colonial era - have generally had limited coverage.

It says that in practice land rights claimed and allocated by African states are often in direct conflict with the land tenure practices of ordinary people. This makes land tenure in Africa uncertain and leads to a lack of investment because private companies have no certainty that their investments will ever turn to profits.

South Africa- like many of its northern neighbours - is in the midst of its own land reform wrangle and by most accounts the land reform process as it is structured at this point has failed. This is particularly true of commercial farming activities where once productive farms are now lying fallow, broken and unattended.

There are isolated pockets where the agricultural land has been handed back to a community and they have managed to keep the farms productive but those are isolated cases. Most reports show that those farms that were broken up and given back to the people have ended up being useless tracts of unproductive land.

Pay the attorney your deposit
When buying a property it is advisable to pay the requisite deposit directly to the conveyancing attorney rather than to the estate agent responsible for the sale claims Yusuf Boda, a legal manager at insurance company Legal & Tax.

Boda says that this stipulation can be made in the offer to purchase. The deposit is part of the purchase price and as such is only payable to the seller once the property has been registered in the buyer's name at the Deeds Office.

He says that it's advisable for buyers to instruct the conveyancing attorneys in writing that the money should be invested in an interest bearing account. The money will be kept in trust but the interest that accrues on it will be for the benefit of the buyer and not the seller.

Without this stipulation the conveyancing attorney - or if the money is paid to an estate agency - the agency may keep the interest.

Joint ownership an option
Applying for a joint mortgage is a more attractive option for some people eager to enter the property market.

A survey by mortgage bond originators, ooba, has found that the average age of a first-time home buyer is now 37 and that applying for a joint mortgage is a more attractive option for some people eager to enter the property market.

Ooba says that the average house price is now more than R800k and its survey showed that about 38% of people thought that partnering with a friend or relative to get a bond was a positive option when buying a home.

About 36% of those surveyed were opposed to the option because of the many risks that buying a property might represent.

Saul Geffen, chief executive of ooba warned that while partnering with a sibling, parent or partner might be an effective way to secure a bond, a few issues had to be considered and resolved before such arrangement was formalised.

Clay bricks offer many benefits
The clay brick is one of the oldest and most enduring building materials in the world. Clay bricks have a long history dating as far back as 3000BC, and today they continue to offer a durable and classically timeless appeal to either traditional or contemporary architecture.

There are a number of practical benefits of choosing clay brick as your main building material. They are widely available and a comparatively forgiving medium for fairly unskilled labour to work with. Rain will not necessarily halt the building process if you are building with clay bricks, as it rarely becomes too wet to work with - merely using a dryer mortar is frequently sufficient to guarantee acceptable adhesion.

Versatility is another benefit of clay bricks - they can be used as a structural element on their own or in conjunction with reinforced concrete, as a thermal or acoustic insulator, as an aesthetically pleasing cladding or as highly practical filler between concrete and steel.

Order to demolish holiday home
Langebaan is on the West Coast just an hours drive north of Cape Town. A variety of marine birds can be seen on the hiking trail between Strandfontein, Ebenhaezer, Papendorp and Doringbaai, situated just south of the Olifant's River Estuary.

The owner of a house in Langebaan in the Western Cape has been forced to demolish the home because it was built within a hundred metres of the high-water mark on the Olifants River.

The house contravened the National Environmental Management Act, which prohibits any building within 100 metres of the high-water mark. Property owner Chris Koch was issued with a directive by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning to rehabilitate the land to its original state once the house was demolished.

According to Suzanne du Plessis, who is chairwoman of a Western Cape conservation organisation known as Friends of the Swart Tobie, the current legislation is very clear: no house or building may be erected in the mouth of an estuary or within 100 m of the coastal water mark.

Western Cape spends R2,1bn on housing
The Western Cape Department of Human Settlements has spent R2,19-billion on housing projects and intends spending a further R2,58-billion during the coming financial year according to MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela.
Last year the national department threatened to cut the allocation to the Western Cape because of under-spending by the provincial department. He says that 20% of this will be paid to municipalities to assist with the installation of bulk infrastructure works.
The bulk infrastructure works were cited as one of the reasons for delays in housing projects in the province.

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