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4th Quarter 2010 FNB Estate Agent Survey
FNB - South Africa
The 4th quarter 2010 FNB Estate Agent Survey pointed to some very slight strengthening in residential demand, although the major portion of that improvement is probably seasonal. However, there was no reported improvement in pricing realism, with both the average time on the market and the percentage of sellers having to drop their asking price remaining virtually unchanged at their high levels.

Examining the various motives for buying and selling, the agents would appear to be telling us that the household sector still experiences very significant financial constraints, but perhaps less financial stress. This conclusion is drawn firstly from the fact that the 4th quarter survey indicates a record 92% of total buying being for primary residence purposes, with non-essential buying motives (buy-to-let, holiday and buying for relatives) being a very low priority. Secondly, selling in order to upgrade, too, has receded in significance late in 2010. However, the indicator that perhaps the level of financial stress has receded is the fact that the 4th quarter survey showed 17% of sellers being those downscaling due to financial pressure, the lowest estimate of this selling category since early-2008.

As we head into 2011, however, it would appear that agents' near term expectations have deteriorated, and while many point to the positive factor of low interest rates, many also point to the negatives of still-tight bank lending criteria as well as deteriorating perceptions of home affordability.
FNB Estate Agent Survey

Cabinet to glimpse new land ownership plan soon
Business Report - South Africa
Details of the government's envisaged curtailment of foreign land ownership and changes to the willing buyer, willing seller principle are expected to be contained in a revised green paper, which is due to be put to the cabinet shortly.

It was suggested in an early draft of the paper that an expropriation model be considered in place of the willing buyer, willing seller model.

Nearly a year ago, Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti revealed that the department would table a green paper on agrarian transformation, rural development and land reform before cabinet. But spokesman Mtobeli Mxotwa said recently that it had yet to be tabled.

President Jacob Zuma had asked the department, after the recent cabinet lekgotla, to not comment on this matter until the State of the Nation address next month revealed details of the revised paper.
Business Report

Sectional title owners now responsible for excess payments on insurance claims
RealEstateWeb - South Africa
Insurance issues on sectional title schemes can cause controversy.

Trustees of sectional title schemes tend to be contentious and argumentative over insurance matters, believing, wrongly, that all insurance costs should be paid by the body corporate.

The sectional title management company, pointed out recently in an e-mailed newsletter that since November 2008 an amendment to the Sectional Title Act stipulates that the owner of any sectional title scheme is responsible for all excess payments on insurance claims - unless the body corporate has taken a special resolution that they will cover these in certain special cases.

Most law students female, 74% black
Fin24.com - South Africa
The composition of first-year law students is irrevocably changing and reflects the transformation the profession is currently undergoing.

According to the Law Society of South Africa's department of legal education and development (LEAD), last year there were more women (3 873) first-year students than men (3 118) studying law. Almost 74% of the first-years were black.

Most law students choose the four-year LLB degree while fewer students tackle BCom LLB.

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