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Estate agent numbers dwindling
Fin24.com - South Africa
Since October last year the number of registered estate agents has shrunk by more than half to about 40 000 - from a high of 84 000 between October 2006 and October 2007.
So says Wendy Machanik, managing director of Wendy Machanik Properties.

At the same time consolidation is taking place, with smaller businesses being swallowed by large estate agencies, points out Sotheby's International Realty chairperson Lew Geffen.

This is not, however, regarded as a disaster, but more a shake-out, separating the wheat from the chaff. Geffen and Machanik agree that it's positive for consumers because those remaining in the market are generally better trained, and thus better equipped to give good service.

Leapfrog reports signs of market revival
RodneyHayter.com - South Africa
Increasing numbers attending show houses and more buyers prepared to put pen to paper and signing offers to purchase, may well mean that the worst is behind us and that an upswing in the residential property market may be imminent, according to Leapfrog Group MD Bruce Swain.

Swain's confidence stems from a countrywide Leapfrog road show, where estate agents and franchisees were generally upbeat that the tide in the residential real estate market had indeed begun to turn.

"Given the slump that we've seen in the residential market these past six months, signs are becoming more positive and there's a general feeling that we're slowly but surely coming out of the pit."

Crisis claims rising toll of properties
Business Times - South Africa
Repossession flood calls for creativity, writes Don Robertson.
Banks are repossessing hundreds of homes a month from distressed homeowners and the numbers are rising as the financial position of families worsens. The decision by Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni to hold interest rates steady last Thursday will have little impact on the financial status of homeowners, said property experts.

But homeowners who find themselves in trouble with bond repayments are advised to immediately contact their banks, all of which will offer assistance, for example by allowing a missed monthly payment or extending the period of the loan.

Managing executive of Absa Home Loans, Luthando Vutula, commenting on the interest rate decision, said many consumers were experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the down cycle and he encouraged existing and prospective homeowners to contact their banks to check the various options available regarding home loans.
Business Times

Property conveyancing and legal process - Part 2
hip-consultant.co.uk - UK
In part 2 of our property conveyancing guide we look at what is involved in the closing stages of the home buying and selling process.

You may wish to read Part 1 of the Property Conveyancing Guide here.

Once your lawyer is satisfied that all of his enquiries have been dealt with; he has seen satisfactory search results and he is in possession of his copy of the formal offer of mortgage you will be invited to sign the contract and various other papers. This will either be in person or through the post. You should also receive a report, often called a "property report" at this stage which will set out any salient points arising from the searches and enquiries.

You should read this carefully and ask as many questions as you need to be satisfied that you understand the contents of the report - remember it is your lawyer's job to investigate and present the facts but it is up to you (and potentially your mortgage lender) to decide if the property represents a good investment.

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