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Cybercrime and conveyancing
Walker Morris - UK
Money laundering... mortgage fraud... now conveyancer hacking. Walker Morris’ Banking Litigation specialist, Alasdair Urwin, explains the latest fraud risk of which lenders, borrowers, conveyancers and the general public should be aware.

Conveyancing solicitors: safe as houses?
Many of us are familiar with ‘phishing’. This is the means by which fraudsters acquire sensitive information, such as bank account details, by posing as a known or trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. We are alive to the risks to a certain extent, and we generally think twice before revealing sensitive or financial details online or in response to unexpected or unsolicited correspondence.

One of the latest pools in which fraudsters have decided to phish, however, is that of the e-mail accounts of real estate conveyancing solicitors. It seems that this has been a lucrative recent development for cybercriminals because a combination of ignorance of the risks; the general public’s rightful trust in solicitors’ firms and the conveyancing process; the tempting prospect of purchase monies; and a lack of sufficient data security has meant that, just in the last few months, significant property transaction funds have fallen prey to fraud [1].
Walker Morris

What late-blooming property owners need to know
IolProperty - South Africa
Although most people have learned a considerable amount by the time they reach their mid- to late-thirties, they may not know much at all about buying a house.

That's because the age of first-time buyers is now much higher than it was a generation ago, and is still rising in many parts of the world thanks to high levels of student debt among people in their twenties, and a simultaneous trend towards later marriage and starting a family, says Shaun Rademeyer of mortgage originator BetterLife Home Loans.

"Our latest statistics show that in SA, for example, the average age of first-time buyers is now 34. And that means they often also have quite different needs - and financial concerns - from those their parents had when they were buying their first homes.

"Good schools and short commutes, for example, are likely to be much more important, and not only because these often serve to underpin local home values.

House price indices- August
Absa - South Africa
House price growth remaining on a downward trend

August 2015 saw a continuation of the declining trend in year-on-year growth in the average nominal value of homes in the various categories of middle-segment housing in South Africa. Average month-on-month price growth has slowed down further to below 0,2% in August – its lowest level since early 2012 and contributing to the downward trend in year-on-year price growth.

Real house price growth, i.e. after adjustment for the effect of consumer price inflation, also slowed down up to July as a result of declining nominal price growth and steadily rising consumer price inflation in recent months. Some real year-on-year price deflation was evident in all categories of middle-segment housing in July. The average level of house prices was in July almost 12% lower in real terms compared with the peak in August 2007.

The average nominal value of homes in each of the middle-segment categories was as follows in August 2015:

  • Small homes (80m²-140m²): R869 000
  • Medium-sized homes (141m²-220 m²): R1 206 000
  • Large homes (221m²-400m²): R1 917 000

House Price Indices Aug 2015

Sectional title debacle costs city R8.7m plus
Legal Resources Centre - South Africa
THE homes of poor people liv­ing in a highrise 200 unit building which was converted from “council housing stock” to sectional title almost 15 years ago have been “saved” with the eThekwini Municipality agreeing to write off R8.7 million owed for water.

The municipality has also agreed to install separate water meters in each flat at Flamingo Court in Umbilo, which lawyers and property experts say is finally an acknowledgement that it has a responsibility to put right some of the consequences of what they say is its failed housing programme.

Had the owners been forced to foot the bills themselves, it would have cost them R95 000 each and special levies of R900 a month which most could not afford, meaning they would have lost their homes.

While the Durban High Court settlement reached between the municipality and lawyers for the residents is considered a significant victory, the residents still intend to press ahead with an application challenging the housing policy which, they say, has left them abandoned in neglected high rise sectional title buildings totally unsuitable for the poor.
Legal Resources Centre

What's really happening in SA property ...
Moneyweb - South Africa
Property is not the largest investment the ordinary person will ever make – as the industry likes to claim. That, in my view, is your pension.

But it remains an important decision nevertheless, and one that anyone in the middle to upper class will make several times in a lifetime.

Know that when you read most comments and articles about the state and future prospects of home prices in South Africa, as elsewhere in the developing world, you are most probably reading marketing fluff.

Developers, estate agents, home-owners, banks, mortgage originators and everyone else in this industry is always optimistic about the market. Google the property market going back over the last five or six years and most, if not all commentary about the outlook for property prices is always positive. “It’s always a good time to buy property, some more so than others,” is the constant refrain you get from estate agents.

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