Property 24/10 - 56

Join the Clicks for Bricks Challenge
The South African housing backlog is expected to take another two decades to clear and according to the latest statistics from the President's Coordinating Council, 2.1 million homes are still required for 12 million people.Yet, Habitat for Humanity South Africa maintains that simple, decent, affordable housing is a vital platform for effecting change from one generation to the next for families, communities and South Africa at large. has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity South Africa to launch the Property24 Clicks for Bricks Challenge. To contribute towards building the house, visit and simply click on the "like" button.

To make a contribution towards housing in South Africa and raise awareness around the country's housing shortage, has teamed up with Habitat for Humanity South Africa to launch the Property24 Clicks for Bricks Challenge.

For every "like" that receives on its Facebook page,, R5 will be donated towards the R91 000 cost of building a home. The goal is to achieve 18 200 likes, donate the R91 000 to Habitat for Humanity South Africa, and then invite members of the page to be part of the building team that constructs the actual home. will share the challenge's progress with its Facebook community via a fun and interactive application that portrays the construction stages of the home being built as the target draws nearer.

Home loans - applications up 36%
Home loan applications last month reached their highest level in three years according to mortgage originator ooba. It says that home loan applications in March were up by 36% compared to the average monthly figure for last year.

However, ooba points out that home loan applications remained depressed and were almost 40% lower than those recorded at the peak of the property boom in 2007.

According to ooba, the average price of houses increased from R850 864 last year to 860 492 in the first quarter of this year.

Saul Geffen, ooba's chief executive says that the results are both surprising and positive because the property market had been floundering for at least two years.

Property market, little to cheer about
Latest data from the major banks paint a bleak picture of South Africa's residential property market, with last year's mini-recovery turning out to be short-lived.

Latest data from the major banks paint a bleak picture of South Africa's residential property market, with last year's mini-recovery turning out to be short-lived.

Although house prices were up an average 5% to 7% in 2010 (depending on whether one uses Absa, Standard Bank or FNB's figures) most indices had slowed to close to zero by end-March. In fact, it now appears increasingly likely that house prices will drop again this year, mirroring the market's 2009 performance when prices dipped in nominal terms for the first time in more than twenty years.

It's ironic that this time around interest rates are at their lowest level in 35 years. Industry players blame stubbornly high levels of household debt, an uncertain labour market, banks' still-high deposit requirements and an oversupply of sales stock for the housing market's lacklustre performance. Sharp increases in electricity tariffs, municipal rates and taxes as well as food and fuel prices are other factors that are placing home buying decisions on the backburner.

CT Senator Park to be revamped
Senator Park, a dodgy block of flats in central Cape Town that has allegedly been home to drug-dealers and prostitutes is to be revamped once all the tenants have been thrown out.
It may remain a residential complex or may be transformed into a boutique hotel, student accommodation or chambers of attorneys and advocates. Senator Park comprises 168 units, owned by different people.

Yesterday Senator Park's body corporate obtained an order from the Western Cape High Court allowing it to upgrade the building and instruct all the tenants to move out prior to the refurbishment. Existing tenants have not yet been told about the court order.

A report by structural engineer Vernon Collis said that the building is in a poor state and needs to be repaired but these repairs cannot be undertaken while the building is occupied.

Tenants will be forced to vacate Senator Park by July this year and if necessary the body corporate will obtain eviction orders forcing them to vacate the flats.

Huge fines for abandoning a building
Property owners who neglect or abandon their buildings - mainly in shoddy, run-down suburbs or within Johannesburg's inner-city - could face fines of up to R1-million. Tough new laws to prevent the hijacking of buildings are to be introduced from September this year.

The council will investigate any bad buildings and fines or court orders demanding compliance with the bylaws will be issued to the building's owners.

This emerged at the Building Hijacking and Slum Lording Summit held in Johannesburg yesterday.

The fines also apply to people who hijack buildings and then let out rooms. These slumlords do not pay rates or service costs to the City of Joburg.

According to Nathi Mthethwa, Region E director of the inner-city said that the fines are currently limited to between R2k and R3k for an offence.

Buy-to-let investors in Rondebosch
Sales worth R150-million have been recorded at Rondebosch Oaks Phase Two, River's Edge and The Rondebosch and 64% of investors who purchased units in these developments intend to rent them from day one.

According to Bill Rawson, chairman of Rawson Properties and Rawson Developers the academic belt around Rondebosch represents a sound investment in residential property.

He says that sales levels would have been even higher if banks were prepared to adopt what he called "a more reasonable approach" to granting finance.

"The situation is particularly frustrating for those people who are self-employed. Even the most senior directors and staff of non-corporate enterprises are treated with suspicion and have to supply proof of salary for several months before banks will consider providing finance," says Rawson.

Securing your home when you are away
With the Easter weekend just around the corner, many homeowners will be preparing to go on a well needed break. But with crime statistics the way they are, every South African leaving their most precious assets and valuables behind in an unoccupied home is often left wondering about how safe these belongings actually are.

The truth of the matter is that most burglars tend to operate on an opportunistic basis - they are more likely to pick a home where their movements will be less easily detected, and an unoccupied home provides the ideal opportunity. Here they will be able to break in at their leisure, take what they want, load it up and leave, without being detected. Traditional security measures such as burglar bars, high walls and fences, security gates and alarm systems are all great deterrents, but lighting is another security measure that often doesn't get its dues.

Deal only with qualified estate agents
There are some estate agents in South Africa who have been working tirelessly to gain a form of professional status for those people engaged in the business of selling houses.

And some of their efforts have paid off too, with the stipulation that agents must have a minimum recognised qualification in order to sell houses and that they must have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate issued by the Estate Agency Affairs Board.

And, the reasons for wanting some form of recognition are well-founded if you consider that the investment made in a home is often the largest investment made by any family at any time in their lives. Estate agents need to understand the complexities of a property transaction and to effectively guide both the buyer and the seller through the tangled processes of selling fixed assets.

Ideally estate agents need to be specialists who have a thorough understanding of the benefits and pitfalls of a particular property transaction. The problem is that the estate agents earn money from the person who is selling the house - rather than the person buying it - and as such, their loyalty is to the seller.

But that's beside the point really because the more important point is that all estate agents are supposed to be correctly registered with the Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) and each one of them must have a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (that is renewed each year) in order to practice as an estate agent.

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