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Absa Residential Building Stats - First Quarter 2011
Absa - South Africa
Residential building activity improved in the first quarter of 2011
Building activity in respect of new housing in the South African residential property market showed some improvement in both the planning and construction phases in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the corresponding period in 2010.

The number of new housing units for which building plans were approved by local government authorities was up by 14,6% year-on-year (y/y), or 1 331 units, in the first three months of 2011. This increase in plans approved was driven by the segments of houses smaller than 80m², and flats and townhouses. These developments are regarded as an indication of a growing demand for smaller-sized and higher-density housing against the background of the affordability of housing and mortgage finance, impacted by the general state of household finances.

The construction phase of new housing, which lags the planning phase, also showed some improvement in levels of activity in the first quarter of the year compared with a year ago. The number of new housing units constructed increased by 0,7% y/y, driven by the segments of smaller-sized houses and flats and townhouses. The abovementioned improvement in the number of housing units for which plans were approved, are expected to be reflected in the construction phase in the second half of the year.
Absa Building Stats

Improvements on rental properties without prior consent
RealEstateWeb - South Africa
Tenants be warned...

A recent High Court case, Ekosto 1042 vs Van Wyk, has important implications for the real estate sector - and for landlords and rental agents in particular.

The tenant in a rented property, it appears, claimed that he had, at his own expense, carried out certain significant improvements to the property. However, the tenant had kept no records of the cost involved here, nor could it clearly be proved that the improvements were as extensive as outlined.

The tenant then refused payment of the rental as compensation for what he considered a valuable contribution to the apartment.

The court, in the absence of payment documents, upheld the landlord's decision that the tenant had to leave on account of not paying his rent.
Real Estate Web

Conveyancing firms must change to compete, solicitors warned
Law Gazette - UK
Residential conveyancing firms must change their business models to withstand the threat posed by new entrants to the legal market place, delegates at the Law Society's annual property section conference heard last week.

The Society's chief executive Des Hudson said the introduction of alternative business structures, the changed regulatory environment and the economic climate meant firms needed to examine their business plan and make a 'positive choice' about their future.

He told delegates in London last week that the new 'competitor players' will target commoditisable high-volume private client work such as conveyancing.

The entrance of big brands will hasten the change in clients' expectations of the price, value and service they receive for legal services, Hudson said.

'Those firms that are out at lunchtime, do not have extended hours services, and have no online service will find things highly problematic,' he warned.
Law Gazette

SARS 'on top of new electronic transfer duty system'
Business Day - South Africa
Teething problems with the new electronic transfer duty system were being resolved, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) said yesterday.

"There is no backlog in the turnaround time for transfer duty certificates. We are satisfied the system is working properly and we are on top of things," Mark Kingon, business systems group executive at SARS, said yesterday.

Last month conveyancers threw the book at SARS, maintaining that there was a backlog in transfer duty returns submitted to SARS, with some taking more than 10 days. Property transactions were being delayed because a transfer duty certificate was required by SARS before the transfer of a property could take place by the deeds office.
Business Day

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