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Higher rates rock investors
Fin24.co.za - South Africa
Johannesburg - The property market is undergoing a major change of gear in the midst of rising interest rates - and it's clear it's affecting the feeling of wealth it brought to so many people during the past few years.

On the JSE it's putting pressure on the prices of property counters, and at the same time some credit institutions are issuing warnings about an increase in bad debts.

Among them is ABSA, which holds South Africa's largest mortgage book, and Woolworths, as well as Edcon and African Bank Investments - the largest clothing retailer and microlender respectively.

The ability of the man in the street to pay is undermined by factors such as increasing fuel prices (sometimes described as being similar to an additional tax) and, of course, the higher interest rates on mortgages and other debt, such as hire purchase financing for cars and other durable goods. It's not only individuals who are being hit. Smaller businesses, which have less bargaining power with the banks, have to pay more for overdrafts.

Potential still in middle, lower end for development
Business Day - South Africa
While the recent interest hikes have dampened home buyer confidence, there still appears to be growth potential in the middle and lower end of the property market, with developers and estate agents reporting high activity levels.

According to the First National Bank (FNB) residential property barometer for the second quarter of 2006, released yesterday, activity levels in the residential property market moved down to 5,5 or a "stable" level from a "fairly active" level of about 6,3 over the past four quarters. The activity levels are measured out of 10.

FNB Homeloans CEO Ed Grondel, who presented the findings of the barometer, which measures the sentiment of 150 property professionals every quarter, said the 5,5 level was measured after the second 50 basis point hike in interest rates.
Business Day

Land Registry set to test "Chain Matrix" system
Computer Weekly - UK
The Land Registry is preparing to test a prototype of a new online system that will track the "chain" of transactions when people buy or sell property.
The Land Registry, which maintains the register of land ownership in England and Wales, is setting up the "Chain Matrix" online service as part of its e-conveyancing programme.

It is inviting conveyancing professionals to test the new system - designed to make property transactions easier and more transparent - in Bristol, Portsmouth and Fareham from November 2006.

Most residential property sales involve a "chain" of buyers and sellers, each dependent on the progress of transactions further up the line. The Chain Matrix online service aims to make the process clearer by allowing conveyancers, estate agents, lenders, buyers and sellers to keep track of their chains.
Computer Weekly

'Commission delays land reform'
News24.com - South Africa
The Land Claims Commission was refusing to allow voluntary sellers of land to appoint their own conveyancers, thus delaying the finalising of land claims, organised agriculture said on Thursday.

"In some cases documents were already at the deeds office to be processed when the commission suddenly decided that they were not happy with the attorneys and withdrew the documents," said Annelize Crosby, spokesperson for AgriSA.

She said the commission now wants to appoint its own conveyancers in certain provinces where landowners were willing to sell their properties.

Farmers losing millions
"Landowners are already subject to cumbersome administration and lengthy processes that often take years without the original offer being adjusted and in the process lose millions of rands annually," she said.

Chief land claims commissioner Tozi Gwanya, however, stood firm on the decision, saying it was in the interest of transformation.

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