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Beware agents who don't negotiate
Property24.com - South Africa
Although many real estate practitioners have reached a high degree of professionalism, homeowners are still being exploited - mainly because of their own greed - by fly-by-night operators.

Stuart Manning, CEO of Seeff Properties, says the biggest concern at the moment is that borderline agents are manipulating prices to get the sale done, even when this is to the seller's disadvantage.

"More and more often we are hearing of agents encouraging buyers to 'try an offer of X amount,' - which has been disclosed to them, in confidence, as their client's rock bottom price. This is an absolute betrayal of their client's trust, not only that they would keep the information confidential but that they would negotiate hard for the best possible price."

Another warning on origination fees
Property24.com - South Africa
With mortgage origination becoming increasingly competitive, a second major player has now warned against sharp practice in the industry.

Andrea Atkinson, manager for Bond Choice Home Loans in Port Elizabeth, said this week that consumers should be wary of operators that wished to charge them "hefty fees" for their services.

This follows the recent warning by Rudi Botha, CEO of PA BetterBond, against operators who are extracting "administration fees" of between 10 and 18 percent from clients' further advances on existing mortgages.

Banks to levy tax on home loans
Finance24.com - South Africa
Homebuyers may in future have to pay an extra "tax" to help compensate banks for losses on home loans in the low-income market.

In addition, a new home loan product with a 20-year fixed rate could soon be introduced for people earning between R1,500 and R7,500 a month, and South Africa could soon have its own version of Fannie Mae - the US government mortgage securitisation organisation.

According to a recent report in Rapport, these measures are among the proposals made to government this week by the Banking Association, representing all the major banks, with regard to their undertaking to provide R42bn worth of housing finance to low-income groups by 2008.

Estate agent launches conveyancing service
The Scotsman.com -UK
Scotland's largest independent estate agency has launched a conveyancing service, in a move designed to steal market share from legal firms.

Clyde Property yesterday unveiled the service, offering conveyancing for buyers and sellers - believed to be the first of its kind. It has been officially launched after a two-week trial exceeded expectations: four times as many customers opted for the service than expected.
The Scotsman

Housing microfinance 'to take off in Africa'
Business Day - South Africa
The trend of providing micro loans to poor people to buy houses is likely to rocket in the next few years as an alternative to conventional bank mortgages, says low-income finance expert David Porteous.

While delegates to the African Microfinance Conference in Cape Town agreed that "housing microfinance" was gaining ground across Africa, commitments by the large South African banks could provide a fresh twist to this tale.

Under the Financial Sector Charter, SA's big-four commercial banks had agreed to divert a far greater amount of funds into low-income housing and were on the verge of nailing down a deal with government to manage the risk.
Business Day

Neighbours clash over loss of river view
Dispatch - South Africa
A spat between neighbours over alterations in one of East London's most sought-after cluster home complexes will be settled in the high court.

The court action is between Jennifer Geyer, a resident of Nahoon's Princess Alice Ridge, and four of her neighbours who have rejected her request that a senior advocate act as arbiter in the dispute.

During an earlier arbitration in September last year Grahamstown advocate Murray Lowe ruled in favour of one of the neighbours, Desmond Vick, who objected to Geyer raising her garage to a second level in the complex where houses sell for up to R2,5 million.

Lowe said there had been an understanding between residents that any building would not be any higher than one level above street level in the front row of the cluster complex.

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