Property 24/10 - 54

Extra charges to cancel home loans
Property owners who took out home loans on property prior to the National Credit Act being enforced should be aware that there are a number of additional charges that can be imposed by banks when a bond is cancelled.

The irony is that the last bond repayment on a house does not mean that the property is paid off or that the ownership of the property has automatically transferred from the bank to the owner.

This is because a number of fees must first be paid to a bank to cancel the mortgage loan. These fees include the legal costs (R1 500) postage and petties of R250, a Deeds Office search costing R100 along with a fee of R140 as well as an electronic conveyancing charge of R50.

The total amounts to just over R2 300. Lawyers refuse to lodge a bond for cancellation unless those fees are first paid into their account.

Stop complaining, CT residents told
Cape Town property owners are quick to prevent high-density projects going up in their neighbourhoods but they should know the zoning rules first.

While Cape Town residents often object to high density housing units going up in the suburbs, the reality is that they should consult the exacting development rules that are rigorously applied by the city administrators.

This is the view of Paul Henry, managing director of Rawson Developers who points out that Cape Town's development rules are some of the most stringent in the country.

"People who protest about new developments fail to understand that the council is trying to reverse the injustices of the apartheid system that forced poor non-white people to live on the urban fringe. Now the council is trying to allow in-city residential developments and to increase the density of residential areas close to the city," he says.

Referring to Cape Town's integrated zoning scheme - which will shortly become law - Henry says it combines it combines 20 different zoning schemes that have been amalgamated into a single system.

Escape to Ladismith in the Karoo
Anyone interested in getting away from the crowded and congested highways, shopping malls and parking lots of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban or Port Elizabeth could consider moving to Ladismith, a small gem set in the heart of the Little Karoo.

For it is here that picturesque and historic bargain properties can be bought for a relative pittance.

Ladismith is just 100 km west of Oudtshoorn and about 300 km away from Cape Town via the N1 through Laingsburg. It also has a meandering arterial road, Route 62 that is part of the wine route and is part of the main road linking Port Elizabeth with Cape Town.

"Ladismith is a prefect contrast to the typical coastal getaway," says Masood Husain, area manager for Pam Golding Properties. "Buyers looking for a scenic and tranquil haven away from the big cities are finding the town appealing and affordable. It's nearest 'big city' is Riversdal, about 80 kms away."

Banks must ease lending criteria
While the transfer duty and taxes on property sales have dropped the reality is that banks are still being too strict when asked to lend money.

More and more estate agencies are calling on banks to ease up on their tough lending criteria in order to stimulate the property market and Lanice Steward managing director of Anne Porter Knight Frank claims that the National Credit Act is being applied with "unreasonable stringency".

She says that the reductions in transfer duty on properties - announced by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his budget speech earlier this year - will help to stimulate the property market.

"But these measures will be of relatively little effect unless they are accompanied by a less stringent approach to individual home loans by the banking groups," she says.

In terms of the new transfer tax laws, no duty is payable on homes priced up to R600k. On sales of between R600k and R1m transfer duty of 3% is charged on the amount exceeding R600k (in other words on R400k).

Joburg inner city property scheme
Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo launched the Inner-City Property Scheme (ICPS) on Wednesday.

"The ICPS is an important initiative by the City of Johannesburg, in partnership with the private sector, to address urban decay and accelerate the rejuvenation of the CBD," Masondo told journalists in Johannesburg.

"...The state and appearance of a CBD is an important barometer to determine the ability of a city to attract and retain investment.

"It is also a reflection of the extent of the advancement to commerce and overall economic development."

The ICPS was replacing the Better Buildings Programme which had the objective of turning "bad" buildings into "better buildings", he said.

Billions to re-develop Cape Town
The Prestwich Street precinct will include plans to link the city with the Waterfront using a pedestrian route.

A major regeneration plan for six precincts in Cape Town will include water taxis at Athlone, the refurbishment of Valkenberg Hospital and the possible development of a waterfront casino at the V&A.

The multi-billion project may include a second international airport being built outside the city at Saldanha Bay.

The six precincts are:
- Artscape - which will include the expanded Cape Town International Convention Centre and the area around the Artscape Theatre. About R4,5-billion has been earmarked for this project.

- Somerset - centred around the Somerset Hospital, has still to be finalised but includes the expansion and development of the area across the road from the Waterfront. A new casino is likely to be built in this precinct.

Plumbing certification needed in CT
Anyone selling a house in Cape Town must not only provide the buyer with an electrical compliance certificate but will also have to get a certificate from a certified plumber stating that the plumbing in the property is sound and in good working condition.

According to Anton du Plessis of Vineyard Estates, plumbing certification has become law and will be enforced by city officials. He says that without the compliance certificates the sales process will be delayed.

He says that homeowners who are thinking of putting a property on the market can conduct a few basic checks to ensure that the plumbing system is sound.

Decorating with nature
Kitchens and bathrooms are almost always designed with a lot of geometric design lines and hard features, but with the use of cleverly placed potted plants, they can be quickly and easily transformed into softer and more inviting places in your home.

In the kitchen
In most homes, the kitchen is the hub of family activity and it can be made brighter and cosier with the addition of some potted houseplants. It does not really matter how large and airy, or how small and dark a kitchen is - all you need to do is to choose plants to match the room's conditions. Most kitchens have a sink that faces a window, with a tiled windowsill - this is one of the many ideal positions for pot plants.

Planting a selection of herbs in the kitchen can serve a dual purpose - while beautifying the space, it also places the herbs within easy reach of the chef. With enough light, most herbs grow well inside the home - basil, oregano, mint, parsley and rosemary are a few of the obvious choices. The herbs can be planted in a number of small pots or they can even be planted together in a long narrow planter that stands on the windowsill.

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