Property 24/10 - 69

Interest rates hike unlikely
The Reserve Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will announce the decision on interest rates on Thursday.

The rate was cut by 50 basis points to 5.5 percent in November 2010. This was the lowest reading in almost 30 years.

Speaking to Property24 ahead of the MPC announcement, Kura Chihota, managing director at Leapfrog Property Group said they expect interest rates to remain unchanged.

“Consumers are not actively buying at the moment, an increase in interest rates will be wholly inappropriate at this stage,” said Chihota.

James Templeton, chief executive officer of Emira Property Fund said they do not think interest rates will have much of an impact on listed property at all.

Should you upgrade or sell?
With second-hand residential property still selling below the price peaks of 2007, it can sometimes make good sense to sell and upgrade to a bigger home rather than to improve or extend your existing home, says Lanice Steward, MD of the Cape estate agency Anne Porter Knight Frank. 

An online property valuation will give you an indication of the area trend. This way you can compare actual sold prices and use it to guide you in deciding whether it would in be your best interest to sell or renovate.

“When families need more room because the children are becoming teenagers (and need their own space) or grandparents are coming to stay, a guest suite, a work room or a study are now essential (or for the 101 other reasons which make extensions necessary), it can be exciting to extend an existing home. 

“Many of us have done this at some stage in our lives and can testify that despite the difficulties with builders and planning authorities, it can be a rewarding experience. 

10 tips to prevent water damage
Water damage is the most common cause of household insurance claims. Not surprisingly, it is also the area in which most damages claims are rejected by insurers.

This is because “home owners often confuse damage arising gradually over time from poor maintenance with once-off and unforeseen catastrophic events like exceptional storms, snow or freak floods” says Gari Dombo, Managing Director of Alexander Forbes Insurance.

The scary thing about most water damage is that it is usually very gradual and remains undetected until the last moment when, suddenly, out of the blue, a wall collapses or a pipe or geyser bursts damaging a host of other household goods and property. 

From an insurance perspective, “the onus falls on homeowners to regularly maintain their homes, checking for leakages or accumulating water so that if water-related damage occurs it cannot be attributed to lack of maintenance and can be genuinely classed as unforeseen” advises Dombo.

Joburg inner city property in vogue
There was a time when investors had interest in buying property in the inner city of Johannesburg.

Tenants turned buyers are aged between 25 and 35 years and mostly work in the financial sector, entering a new chapter of their lives and loving the new city vibe.

Since early 2000, the Johannesburg CBD has undergone major changes through various regeneration projects to revamp its face.

These projects have either been completed or are underway in the CBD, Braamfontein, Newtown and Empire Road area in Parktown.

JHI Properties leasing and sales broker Sipho Shabangu says the regeneration projects in the CBD have increased investor appetite in the inner city.

“Investor confidence levels have gone up with both young and old investors buying in the inner city,” says Shabangu.

Architecture conference: The future
Architects and designers will be probing burning issues facing the built environment at the 2011 Conversations on Architecture conferences (COA), taking place alongside Decorex Joburg on 5 August at Gallagher Convention Centre, and on 11 August in Cape Town at the CTICC. 

Has architecture become a fast food art form? Should architecture not return to being a handmade craft? With 2011 remaining a tumultuous year for the global economy, the effect has filtered down to the design and architectural markets, forcing these industries to seriously re-evaluate itself and the environment. 

"When countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, battle even with EU support, one can imagine how it is for developing economies," says Hugh Fraser, facilitator of COA, a one-day seminar sponsored by CaesarStone. 

Can tenants just walk out?
In terms of the new Consumer Protection Act it may be possible for a tenant to walk out of a property that he or she can no longer afford even though there might be a lease agreement in place.

Michelle Dickens, managing director of TPN Credit Bureau says that the Act has changed the nature of traditional property rentals and the tenant now has more fundamental rights than ever before.

Because of this, she says, landlords and estate agents must make sure that the existing lease agreements comply with the stipulations of the Consumer Protection Act.

She says the final regulations governing rentals were published in April and “took the industry by surprise”. Dickens says that as a result of this the property industry has been in a state of flux as neither the landlords nor the estate agents were prepared for the final regulations as contained in the Act.

She says that TPN has spent months with leading property attorney Marlon Shevelew interpreting the Act and regulations and how these would affect the property industry and the existing or future tenants.

Illegal agents compliance extension
The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) is offering illegally operating estate agency practitioners an additional three months to meet the requirements to become registered and compliant agents.

The three-month amnesty period commenced on Friday, April 15 and has been extended for three additional months. The new deadline was Saturday, October 15, the EAAB said on Friday.

"Since the beginning of the amnesty period, the amnesty committee of the EEAB has considered and granted a significant amount of amnesty applicants," said the board's chairman, Thami Bolani.

"The committee was especially gratified that, in granting a number of these amnesty applications, subject to compliance by the applicant with certain necessary conditions, it was effectively able to regularise the positions of hitherto illegally operating estate agency practitioners, meaningfully contribute to their future employment prospects and, also, ensure that they were actively brought into the regulatory fold of professional estate agents," he added.

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