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Joint effort to ease housing backlog
Business Report - South Africa
Johannesburg - The Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) would be working in partnership to finance efforts to ease the housing backlog across the country, Samson Moraba, the NHFC chief executive, said on Friday.

The NHFC has made between R200 million and R300 million available to housing projects in Cape Town while the DBSA has earmarked R1.2 billion for infrastructural projects and wider development challenges there.

Moraba said: "We want to take our partnership efforts with the DBSA and this kind of integrated financing to other provinces as well."
Business Report

Number of estate agents on the rise
NetAssets - South Africa
The residential property market boom has seen a very rapid rise in the number of registered estate agents, the Estate Agency Affairs Board reports in its annual report tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The number of registrations rose from 21619 in the 2002 financial year to 38,399 in the 15 months to end-March last year, a year-on-year increase of about 80%. Chairman Linda Nyembe said more previously disadvantaged people appeared to be entering the white-dominated industry.
Net Assets

How to square fee growth with profitability?
The Herald - Scotland
Scottish law firms are concerned that fee growth and profitability may prove incompatible goals over the next few years, according to a survey for Grant Thornton's Legal Focus Group.
The straw poll of 20 leading Scottish practices found that 70% feared they would not be able to improve both their fees and profitability.

Providing new services for existing clients was cited as the strategy likely to yield the highest fee growth in the next three to four years. The provision of existing services to new clients, and existing services to existing clients, were seen as relatively less lucrative.
The Herald

Johannesburg's planning nightmare
Business Day - South Africa
A severe shortage of town planners in Johannesburg's town planning department has developers up in arms.

Developers say they have been told that more than 50% of town planners resigned en masse in December to take up better-paying jobs with the Ekurhuleni municipality. Although they say there has always been a backlog when it comes to processing township applications and other approvals for developments, it is now impossible to get anything done.
Business Day

Don't take offers lightly
Property24 - South Africa
Prospective homebuyers who submit offers to purchase could find themselves in hot water if they believe their options are still open during the acceptance period stipulated in the offer.

"There is a misconception among some homebuyers that even though they have put in an offer on a property, their options are still open and they can carry on shopping around for other properties - and even making other offers," says Mark Beckett, MD of mortgage originator Bond Choice.

Price rises affect duties on estates
Business Day - South Africa
The strong performance in domestic property could leave estates strapped for cash, says BoE Private Clients.

Niel Raubenheimer, fiduciary specialist at BoE Private Clients, says many homes have doubled in value over the past two years. On death, estate duty is payable at 20% of an estate valued at more than R1,5m.
Business Day

Standard Bank leads the lending frenzy
Business Report - South Africa
Johannesburg - Standard Bank Group, South Africa's largest lender, granted home loans and credit cards faster than any of its rivals last year as it took advantage of low interest rates to boost market share.

The value of the bank's mortgages jumped 41 percent last year, lifting its market share to 26 percent, from 23 percent in 2003. Its credit card business grew by the same margin, taking its market share to 33 percent from 29 percent.

Standard Bank "must be doing something right", said Laurie Dippenaar, the chief executive of FirstRand. "They're beating us currently and I acknowledge that."
Business Report

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