Maximising small spacesTue 29 Sep 2015

Maximising small spaces Whether it is because you are retiring and buying a smaller home, moving in with roommates or have just purchased your first start-up home, it can be a big advantage to find ways to maximise the space you have and make the most of what is available, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He provides a few tips for when one moves into a smaller space: Declutter Ideally when it comes to downsizing or maximising small spaces, it is best to reduce clutter as much as possible and only keep the items that are essential. Holding onto unnecessary items will only make it harder to find space for the necessary ones. “Confront drawers that have been classified as the ‘everything drawer’ and see what is useful and what is just taking up space. Often the reason an item lands up sitting in a drawer for months is because there is no longer any use for it,” says Goslett. Sort stuff into yes, no and maybe piles If possible it is best not to have a maybe pile as this means dealing with items more than once. Homeowners should try to deal with each item once and make a decision as to whether they are keeping it or getting rid of it. While this may seem like a difficult task, especially for those who struggle to let go, ask whether the item could be replaced if it lost and how often it really gets used. Donate While packing it is possible that you’ll find a number of hidden treasures that might not make sense to take to your new home. There are several charitable foundations that do amazing community work which would benefit from a donation of household items. “A great deal of charity organisations can only do the work that they do due to donations made by the public. Making a donation is a great way to reduce clutter and provide assistance to members of the community who are less fortunate,” says Goslett. Remember to only donate items that will be useful and which are still in good working order. Make some money Goslett points out that selling off items is another excellent way to get rid of unwanted items while making some money to put towards the move or towards buying more suitable items to fit the new space. Be seasonal Although it might not always be practical, only have the current seasons clothing in the cupboard. Large winter coats and winter boots take up a lot of space, so if possible these items should be left in storage or stored in sealable containers and packed away until needed. Get organised Although the object is to get rid of items, going and buying an organisation system or containers that can help to reduce the amount of space needed for items can make sense. “Organisation goes a long way to decluttering an area without having to throw any items away,” says Goslett. Follow the trend Getting rid of clothing and unwanted items will mean that you may no longer need a large set of drawers. Large pieces of furniture can be sold or donated to make space for more suitably sized furniture. Be strategic Instead of aimlessly shoving items away, have a plan when packing them into cupboards and drawers. If an item is not used very often but is an item that is going to be kept, pack it into a box and label it. Boxes and containers are easily stacked to make more space and will help to protect the items inside. “Having a plan and ensuring that only the necessary items are moved across to the new home will ensure that the most is made of a small space. Maximising the space available will make the home a more comfortable space to live in,” Goslett concludes.
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Tenants and landlords should know their rightsMon 28 Sep 2015

Tenants and landlords should know their rightsOne of the most important aspects that potential landlords should consider before deciding to let out a property is a tenant’s rights and what implications they have if the contract turns bad at any stage during the period that the tenant occupies the property, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Times have changed over the years and removing a tenant from a property is far more difficult than it used to be, even if that tenant is defaulting on their monthly payment. Landlords who overlook a tenant’s rights and use illegal or unfair methods to remove the delinquent tenant from the property will be dealt with severely by the courts. This emphasises the importance of researching tenant’s legal rights, along with thoroughly vetting all potential tenants before they take occupation of a property,” says Goslett. He notes that anyone considering letting out a residential property should familiarise themselves with the Prevention of Illegal Evictions Act (PIE) Act. “While the Act has been in effect for some time, with access to so much more information, tenants are becoming far more aware of their rights and landlords need to know what they can and cannot do. Although the systems were put in place to protect both parties, the Act weighs in the tenant’s favour,” says Goslett. “A landlord cannot under any circumstances resort to eviction tactics such as changing the locks, cutting off water and electricity or forcibly removing a tenant that hasn’t paid rent without receiving authority from the courts to do so.” “As much has tenants have rights and those rights should be protected, it is also the responsibility of the tenant to ensure that they keep to their end of the agreement and look after the property as if it were their own,” says Goslett. According to Goslett, the relationship between the tenant and landlord should be based on mutual respect with both parties benefiting from the arrangement. A tenant should ensure that the rent is paid timeously on a monthly basis and the landlord needs to ensure that the property is maintained and kept in a satisfactory condition. He notes that the Rental Housing Tribunal administers the Rental Housing Act 50 of 1999, facilitating relations between tenants and landlords. The responsibilities of the Tribunal include advising tenants and landlords of their rights and obligations as well as resolving issues. The Housing Tribunal has mediating facilities and if the issue cannot be resolved over the table, then a hearing will be called. It is worth noting that a ruling of the Tribunal is deemed to be an order of a magistrate ‘s court in terms of the Magistrate ‘s Court Act,1944 (Act No 32 of 1944). The most common issues raised with the Tribunal include:
  • Failure to refund deposits
  • Unlawful notice to vacate
  • Exorbitant increases in the rental
  • Failure to pay rent
  • Unlawful seizure of possessions
  • Failure to reduce the lease to writing
It is important for landlords to do their research and handle their rental portfolio in a professional manner erring on the side of caution. “Landlords have certain obligations and procedures that they need to adhere to. The landlord needs to know these procedures, just has it is equally important for tenants to become familiar with their rights. “Landlords and tenants who can maintain a good relationship will reap the rewards of a mutually beneficial agreement,” Goslett concludes.
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What sellers can expect from a show dayTue 22 Sep 2015

What sellers can expect from a show day Once sellers have placed their home on the market and have made the necessary preparations, what can they expect from their first show day? Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that are several things that sellers can expect when they open their home to the public. Don’t be home According to Goslett, the first thing that sellers should expect is to make arrangements to be out of the home during show days. “Potential buyers will feel far more comfortable to explore the home if the current owner of the home is not present. It is best to leave the showing of the house to the agent, so that buyers can envision themselves living in the home,” says Goslett. Expect neighbours to drop in Among the potential buyers there are likely to be a number of curious neighbours that drop by to see the home. This is partly because they would like to compare the property to theirs and see the potential price they could sell their home for and partly just to snoop. The upside is that they will be able to talk to potential buyers about the area. Remain contactable Goslett says that while homeowners should not be home during show days, they should be available via phone at all times in case the agent or a potential buyer has a question. Find an alternative place to park your vehicle Ensure that there is as much free parking space available for buyers as possible. If the homeowners only has one car then this isn’t a problem as they won’t be there during the show days, however all other vehicles should be parked at a friend’s or neighbour’s home to make space for potential buyers and the real estate agent. Feedback from the agent Goslett says that the real estate agent will solicit comments from the potential buyers who view the home and will be able to provide feedback to the seller. This information will be helpful to gauge the interest in the property and make adjustments regarding the asking price or home updates that need to be done. Be patient While the shortages of property available to buyers has pushed the market in seller’s favour, some homes may still take some time to sell. “An agent’s objective is to sell a home for the best possible price in the shortest period of time, but this may not be overnight. It could take one or two days before the show day foot traffic translates into calls from buyers who are serious about purchasing the home,” says Goslett. He concludes by saying that if the seller has chosen to work with a reputable, experienced real estate professional, show days can be a highly effective marketing tool.
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Making compromises during the home searchTue 15 Sep 2015

Making compromises during the home search Buying a property with a spouse or partner can be an exciting time, however choosing a home that meets both parties’ needs is not always easy. “One person’s vision of the ideal home may not be the same as the others’. Everyone has their own unique idea of their dream home, which often makes finding the perfect home for both individuals a difficult task,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that while difficult, it is not impossible, provided that both parties are willing to work through it together to find a home that makes everyone happy. Goslett provides a few tips that can make the process a little bit easier: Write a list Putting pen to paper is an ideal way to organize one’s thoughts and have a clear vision of what each person wants. Both partners need to sit down and make a list of the top ten features they would like in their next home. They might be surprised to learn that their wants are not as different as they seem at first. Determining wants from needs Once each person has made their list, they should then categorise each of the items into wants and needs. Goslett says that a want is something that the buyer would like, but could live without if necessary while a need is something that they cannot live without. An example of a want is a view from the home, while a need could be office space or an extra bedroom for a growing family. Put the items in order of priority Arrange the features on the lists in order from the most important to the least important. Put the items in order of priority Communication is a key element for a successful relationship between two people. This means that sitting down and discussing the motivation behind each of the items on the lists, which will give the other person some insight into why those aspects are important. Be open to making compromises Although both parties may not agree on certain items, it does not mean that homes with these features should be completely discarded from the search. Goslett says that buyers may be more inclined to change their mind about a feature once they have seen it in person and have heard the other person’s motivation behind why that element is important to them. Keep an open mind and be prepared to make some compromises. Be open to making compromises A real estate agent can provide an objective point of view that can help both parties find neutral ground. Goslett points out that an experienced real estate professional will be able to give unbiased advice regarding which features will be able to fit into their budget and which won’t work as well. Run the numbers Calculate the cost of adding the features to the home at a later stage. Just because the home does not currently have all the features at the moment, it does not mean that it cannot be changed. Part of the compromise might be waiting a while before the home is upgraded, but not necessarily completely letting go of those wants. Take a break Searching for a home can be an emotional experience, so if discussions become too heated, take a time out from the search and focus on something else for a while. Sometimes stepping away from a situation can give a new perspective and renewed energy to deal with it. Keep an eye on the big picture Buying a home together is about embarking on a new adventure. It should be more about moving forward together than pulling in opposite directions. Compromising is worthwhile if it means that the relationship is strengthened. “Buying a property with someone may mean letting go of the dream home vision to find the right home that fits both partners,” Goslett concludes.
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Fixtures and fitting - what goes and what stays?Thu 10 Sep 2015

Fixtures and fitting - what goes and what stays? Often when disputes arise between buyers and sellers, it is regarding an item of the home that was seen as a fixture, but was during the home sale process. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, it is for this reason that sale agreement between the two parties, otherwise referred to as the offer to purchase, needs to be clear regarding all aspects relating to the sale of the home. “It is not uncommon for a homeowner to have installed certain items in their home that they intend to take with them when they move. Even if the item is regarded as fixture, a seller is within their rights to take the item, provided the buyer is aware of the fact and is in agreement,” says Goslett. “Alternatively, if the agreement of sale excludes any specific item, the seller is entitled to remove it, which again points to the importance of ensuring that the sale agreement that covers all aspects clearly.” He notes that disagreements occur when the sale agreement is vague and does not list the specific fixtures that will remain in the property. According to Goslett, the seller should prepare a list itemising exactly what is to be sold with the house prior to listing the property with an estate agent. “The list should be incorporated into the mandate to sell so that the agent can point out to potential buyers any items that will be removed by the seller at a later stage,” he says. When it comes to fixtures and fittings, the general rule is that when a buyer purchases a property, they receive the land, the permanent physical improvements such as any buildings erected on the land, along with all items that are permanently attached to the improvements or buildings that are erected on the land. This includes all upgrades, fixtures and fittings of a permanent nature. This is why it is to define what is regarded as permanent nature. According to Goslett, there are three aspects to consider when defining whether a fixture or fitting is of permanent nature:
  • The first aspect to establish is the intended nature and purpose of the item when it was attached. Is the item attached to the land or a structure erected on the land and does this item intend to serve the land on a permanent nature?
  • How was the item attached? If the item is attached to the degree that removing it would cause damage to the structure or land that it is attached to, then the item should remained fixed and be considered permanent.
  • The owner’s intention when attaching the item should be taken into account. If the intention of the owner was to permanently attach the item, then that should be given consideration.
According to Goslett, if an item is bolted, cemented, sown or planted and has taken root it is generally regarded as permanent. He points out that a contentious issue can arise when it comes to structures such as Wendy houses, pergolas or other similar structures. Goslett says that the seller should provide the buyer with plans if the structures are permanent and will remain on the property. To avoid any confusion or disputes at a later stage, Goslett says that a basic clause regarding the fixtures and fittings should be included in the agreement of sale. The clause should be similar to the following: The property is sold inclusive of all existing fixtures and fittings of a permanent nature, which the seller warrants are his/her exclusive property, fully paid for and in working condition, including but not limited to: the existing garden, trees, shrubs, plants, curtain rails, rods, pelmets, fitted carpets, the light fittings, stove and/or oven, hanging mirrors, towel racks, shelves, as well as special tap fittings, removable kitchen units, tennis court net, fireplace grate/blower, fitted kitchen storage units, awnings, post box, burglar alarm system, doorbell/knocker, the television aerial and accessories (if applicable), pool filter, pump and all cleaning equipment including automatic pool cleaner (whether fixed or movable, if applicable), swimming pool equipment, inner and outer door keys. “The more specific the clause is the better. This is to ensure that nothing is left open to interpretation by either party. Taking the time and effort to include all fixtures when the sale agreement is drafted will help to avoid any frustration that could arise later on,” says Goslett, who notes that while there might be a verbal agreement between the two parties, if the agreement has not been reduced to writing it is very hard to prove anything at a later stage should the need arise. “Before placing their home on the market, a seller needs to carefully consider exactly what they are intending to include in the sale and perhaps remove items before the home is opened to buyers,” says Goslett, “However, if it is not feasible to remove the items beforehand it is imperative that there is an open channel of communication and the seller’s intentions are made clear to buyers from the outset. This will ensure that conflict is avoided by both parties,” he concludes.
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Parent or not, schools matterWed 26 Aug 2015

Parent or not, schools matter When purchasing a home there are several factors to consider such as price, type, and costs to name a few. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that of all the considerations the most important aspect when deciding which property to choose is location.

“Everyone knows that location is important, but not everyone knows what elements make an area a good location or not, or how this influences buying decisions,” says Goslett. “A major factor in determining whether a location is preferable is its proximity to amenities such as shopping malls and medical facilities. One of the most important aspects that has a major impact on buying decisions is proximity to good schools, because of its influence on both housing prices and children’s education.”

According to Goslett, whether the buyer has children, an elderly parent looking to downsize or years from starting a family, the quality of schools in the area should be a factor in the buyer’s home search because of its impact on the homes in the area. He notes that homes in the areas that are considered to be the best school districts will on average sell for more, than similar homes in other areas. “Generally areas that are close to good schools have higher numbers of people looking at the same homes, which pushes up demand having an impact on the home’s pricing. Demand has a direct influence on the appreciation potential of a property or area. As a result the resale value of homes in these areas often fare better, even in a stunted market,” Goslett explains.

So why do schools have the impact they do on housing? Goslett says it is largely due to the schooling zoning system. “If there is space available, parents may register their child for any public school. However, most public schools will have a specific feeder zone. The child’s home address will determine which schools the child is zoned for. The children within the feeder area will be given preference over others outside of that zone.”

According to the Department of Education, first preference is given to children whose parents reside within the feeder zone. This also includes parents who live at their place of employment, such as in the case of a domestic worker. Second preference will be to those children whose parents work in the feeder area and third will be the remainder of the applicants which are processed subject to availability on a first-come, first-serve basis. Once all spaces have been filled, the rest of the children will be placed on a waiting list. The provincial department of education is obliged to find every child a place in a school. However, it may not be your first choice.

“Before buyers purchase a property it is important that they do their research on schools in the area and how they are rated. Furthermore, as purchasing property is viewed as a long term investment, where possible, buyers should assess what plans they have for the future. Although they may not have children at the moment, if children are a part of their plans, then considering the schools in a particular area could become a priority that influences their buying decision,” says Goslett.

Where would buyers be able to get information about schools in the area where they are interested in purchasing? Buyers can contact their provincial department of education or browse the website. The Department of Education has a countrywide database of all public schools that can be of assistance to property buyers. This database has information such as the school address and contact details.

“Buying a property is a huge decision that should be carefully considered. Having the necessary information at hand will ensure that buyers make the best decision when choosing a home,” Goslett concludes.

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Ways to use your tax refund on your homeMon 24 Aug 2015

purchasing a fixer-upper During July this year many homeowners would have submitted a tax return and possibly received a lump sum of money back from the South African Revenue Service. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that getting a tax refund is an ideal opportunity for homeowners to invest in their home and make some changes that could add value to their property. “There are several ways in which homeowners can use their tax refunds to make home improvements, regardless of the amount of money that they receive. They don’t have to undertake large expensive renovations to see the benefits as there are relatively inexpensive home upgrades that can boost both the look and value of the property,” says Goslett. He provides homeowners with a few ideas to improve their home with their tax refund: Update kitchen fixtures They say that the heart of a home is the kitchen as it is normally a room in the home where the homeowner will spend a lot of their time. Goslett says that in order to upgrade the kitchen there is no need to redo the entire space to give it a fresh new look. Simple changes such as new cabinet handles and knobs or new taps will go a long way to a whole new look and feel. Freshen up the bathroom Again, there is no need for the bathroom to be given a complete overhaul to have it looking fresh. “One or two key changes can make a big difference,” says Goslett. “Try replacing old shower doors or the tiles in the shower, re-finishing the bathtub or replacing the toilet and basin. All of these changes will freshen up the bathroom’s look and add to its aesthetic appeal. Replace the garage door Very often the garage door is the first feature of the home that is seen as soon as a person arrives. Replacing the garage door can upgrade or modernise the entire look of the home, as well as being an excellent investment. Goslett says according to a property cost versus value analysis around 80% of the costs of replacing a garage door are recouped when the home is sold. Garage shelving Another fairly inexpensive addition to the garage is shelving. Aside from being an excellent selling point, the additional storage space will make it far easier to keep the garage neat and tidy. Replace the front door Much like the garage door, the front door to the home is one of the first features that people see when approaching the home. “The front door is what welcomes the homeowner, guests and potential buyers to the home, so it is an important element in the overall first impression,” says Goslett. He notes that the homeowner can expect to recoup more than 90% of the cost of the front door when the property is sold. Along with the front door, the homeowner can also look at upgrading the doorbell and the lighting. Plant a tree A beautiful tree in the garden will enhance the look of the property and the best part is that it is good for the environment. Homeowners who wish to restrict their water usage could opt for other landscaping enhancements instead, such as some stepping stones or water-wise plants for the garden. As a general rule, only indigenous plants and trees should be used as they consume very little water and require minimal maintenance. “For homeowners who are not looking to make home improvements, they can still make use of their tax refund by paying it into their bond. Paying lump sums into the bond will reduce interest charges and will help to cut time off the period on the loan,” Goslett concludes.
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Purchasing a fixer-upperWed 19 Aug 2015

purchasing a fixer-upper Buying a home that is in need of attention can be a highly beneficial investment, however, this is dependent on whether the purchaser takes the necessary precautions and follows the right procedures, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Regardless of the kind of property that the buyer is choosing to invest in, it is important that they do the required research and lay down the groundwork before committing themselves to the purchase. This is especially important when looking for homes that would be considered as a fixer-upper as the buyer will need to pay additional money onto the property to renovate it. Knowing what is a good buy and what should be steered clear of is a key aspect to success when purchasing a fixer-upper property,” advises Goslett. He adds that there are several advantages to purchasing a home that needs renovation. “For many investors who have the capital to spend on renovating, purchasing a home in need of attention is a way to secure a higher profit margin when they sell the property at a later stage, provided of course that they are savvy with how much they spend fixing the property,” says Goslett. He notes that another advantage is that there is often less competition in the market for these kinds of homes, which means that they generally sell for lower prices than most of the homes in the area. This greatly increases their potential for return on investment - especially if they were bought at a good price. According to Goslett, a property’s investment potential is largely based on the decisions that are made by the investor at the beginning of the transaction. “Making the right decisions from the outset will give the purchaser the best chance seeing a healthy return. While the perfect home may be hidden under the guise of various unsightly essentials that would normally repel potential buyers, fixer-upper investors will need to see past the property’s outward appearance and envision the home’s true potential,” says Goslett, who provides some tips for those looking for the ideal fixer-upper. Location is always vital No other aspect will have a greater impact on the property’s potential for appreciation in value than its location. “All property professionals agree that location is the first thing that any property buyer should focus on. This is because a property’s location determines so much of its current value and growth in value in the future,” says Goslett. He points out that from an investment perspective, homes that are in proximity to a range of amenities such as shopping centres, entertainment areas and good schools generally see a higher percentage of capital growth over the long term than those that aren’t. How the home is designed Renovating a home is one thing, but completely changing the design of the property can be very costly. Goslett says that this is why it is important that the shell of the home is designed well and laid out correctly. In some cases where rooms have been added at a later stage there can be a disconnection in the home’s layout if it has not been properly thought out. Sometimes it is better for buyers to walk away than to try to correct a bad design. The overall condition of the home While certain renovations are manageable, if there are too many defects or possible structural damages, the home may not be worth the money or the effort. A good fixer-upper is a home that is at least in a liveable condition. “Cosmetic issues can easily be fixed, but major changes to the home’s structure or foundation take a lot more money and expertise. Homes with these of issues will be a money-trap rather than a good investment,” says Goslett. He points out that as with any investment, it is always better to gather as much information as possible in order to make an informed decision that will pay off in the long run. Buyers who are unsure of anything should seek the advice of a reputable contractor to ensure that the home is structurally sound. “It better to go into an investment with both eyes open, than blindly hoping for the best,” Goslett concludes.
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Tips for surviving a house huntTue 18 Aug 2015

tips for surviving a house hunt Beginning the journey to find the right home is an exciting time for buyers, although in today’s competitive market with a limited number of homes available for purchase, it might take buyers some time to find exactly what they are looking for. However, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, while the house hunt can take time, it is an important part of the process that can be much smoother if handled in the right manner. Goslett provides potential buyers with some tips for surviving their house hunt: Prioritise Before starting to look for home, it is important to sit down and set priorities. “The buyer needs to decide which aspects of a home are most important and which aren’t. If the buyer is purchasing a home with their partner or has a family, each party involved should have a say in the discussion to determine which features are musts and which are simply wants. This will make it much easier to narrow down the search to a list of favourites and make compromises that fit into the budget,” says Goslett. Wear the appropriate clothing When spending the day looking at homes it is best to wear comfortable shoes, preferably ones that are easy to take off and put back on. “Certain homeowners may want buyers to remove their shoes before entering the home, so having shoes that are easy to slip on and off are advisable,” says Goslett. Remember to bring the right tools A tape measure is an excellent tool for taking the guess work out of house hunting. “Rather than trying to figure out whether or not a piece of furniture fits in a particular space, just take a tape measure and find out. A smartphone or tablet are also great items to have along to take photos of the home to refer back to later. When the buyer has viewed several properties, photos will help to compare and distinguish between them,” says Goslett. Don’t let the home’s aesthetics cloud judgement While everyone wants a home that is aesthetically pleasing, it is important to look beyond the home’s outward appearance and focus on other aspects such as its location and structure. Goslett says that the look of a home can be changed, but it is vital that the home has the right bones and can accommodate the buyer’s needs. Brace yourself for the unexpected When purchasing a property there might be some things that the buyer cannot prepare for. It might be a matter of the buyer discovering a defect in the home or issues that they are not prepared to take on and decide to walk away from the deal. Whatever the reasoning, a buyer needs to be prepared for the fact that things won’t always go smoothly. This is why buyers should be as prepared as possible before making an offer to purchase, which is legally binding, and make sure all checks have been undertaken beforehand. Stick to your criteria In a market with limited homes available for sale it may be tempting for a buyer to settle if they can’t find exactly what they are looking for, but it is important to remember that purchasing a property is a long term decision. “Most people will stay in their home for at least seven to ten years, so settling will mean living with the compromises for an extended period of time. Even if it takes a while longer to find the right home, it is better to stick to your guns and not compromise on those must-haves,” advises Goslett. Enjoy the process and treat yourself If the buyer is looking for a property in an area that they have never stayed in before, they should make a point of trying out one of the local restaurants, bakeries, spas or coffee shops. “This is a great way of getting to know the area better and what it has to offer, it is also a great way to make the weekend house-hunting excursion a lot nicer,” Goslett concludes.
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Pros and cons of going from renting to owningThu 13 Aug 2015

Although a worthwhile endeavour, deciding to take the step away from renting and towards owning a property comes with its own set of challenges. For this reason, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, it is best to consider all the pros and cons before signing on the bottom line. He provides some pros and cons to think about: PRO: The home is yours to customize Goslett says that one of the best things about owning a property is there is more freedom around what can be done. “Whether it’s changing the colours of the walls or removing the carpets, the owner has the ability to do just about whatever they want within the boundaries of their property. In most cases, owning a home means not having to consult with another party or agent before making changes or upgrades,” says Goslett. CON: All upgrades and changes are at the owner’s expense Along with the freedom of choice around changes that can be made to a home, comes the financial responsibility. If anything breaks or needs to be upgraded in a rental property, the tenant can simply request that the management agent or landlord sort it out. “When one owns a property, bear in mind that the onus will fall on the property owner to find a contractor that they trust to undertake the work, and to cover the cost of the repairs or replacement,” says Goslett. PRO: You can finally settle in one place Owning a home means no more worrying about the rent going up or the landlord deciding to sell. As a homeowner, there is security in the fact that you will probably be in that home for the next five to ten years. “Buying a home means that the owner can establish their roots, build long-term relationships with neighbours and settle,” adds Goslett. CON: No longer as mobile Renting a property gives the tenant the flexibility to move once the lease is up or their circumstances change. For owners however, the monthly bond repayment will remain their responsibility until the property has been sold. PRO: Build home equity The money that is paid towards rent is going to someone’s bond and it is money that the tenant will never see again. For homeowners, money paid towards their own bond is paying off an asset and building equity. Ideally the equity that has been built up in the home will be realised once it is sold and the owner will be able to walk away with money for a deposit on another home. CON: The market plays a part When one owns a property, they are affected by the phase of the market when it comes time to sell. “The market will have a major impact on how long a property stays on the market, as well as the price at which it sells. While it is ideal for a homeowner to sell their property for more than what they paid for it, this is largely dependent on the conditions surrounding the market, when they bought the property and when they decide to sell it,” says Goslett. “At the end of the day, there are several benefits to buying and owning a home, provided that the buyer is ready for all that homeownership entails. It is important that the decision is not made lightly and that all aspects are carefully considered beforehand,” Goslett concludes.
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Things to avoid when selling your homeTue 11 Aug 2015

While it is useful to learn from your mistakes, it is far more ideal to learn from other people’s mistakes and thereby avoid making them altogether. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, this is particularly important when selling a home. He provides a few common mistakes that sellers have made in the past, in the hope that future sellers avoid repeating them: Selling the home privately There are certain things that should be left to the professionals. Selling a property can be a complex, intricate process. While going it alone might be a tempting option to avoid paying an estate agent’s commission, working with a reputable real estate professional will ensure that the home is sold for the best possible price within the shortest possible time. A professional agent from a reputable company will provide the seller with a valuation, advice and all the additional data they need in order to ensure the property is correctly priced to sell. They will also market the property to the correct type of buyer from their database of potential purchasers. Selecting the wrong real estate agent While not using an estate agent can be a mistake, using the wrong agent can be just as detrimental to the success of the sale. The simple fact is that all agents are not equal, so it is vital to select the right one for the job. It is important to work with an agent who has working experience in the area that the property is situated. The agent must have a depth of knowledge on the property market, specifically the micro-market in the seller’s neighbourhood. Overpricing the property While it is good to have high expectations, sellers should rather be smart when pricing their home. Although many sellers will be tempted to over-price their property to counteract buyer negotiations, overpricing could chase buyers away altogether, leaving the home sitting on the market for longer than it has to. Listing the home at a price above fair market value and then letting it drop several times can also lead to a lower selling price than the seller was originally hoping for. A savvy agent can help the seller set the best, most competitive price for their home based on other recent sales and local market trends. Worrying about the little things When selling a property it is important to keep things in perspective. The seller needs to bear in mind that they are in the process of one of the biggest financial transactions they are likely to ever make. While it might be easy to get distracted by the costs of the pre-listing repairs and upgrades, once the home is sold, the seller can focus on the rewarding outcome and forget about the small frustrations along the way. Becoming overly emotional It is easy to get wrapped up in the fact that many memories have been built up in the home, however while these are heartfelt stories, they will not win over buyers. Although sellers will have an emotional attachment to the home, potential buyers will only be looking at the home itself. The seller’s personal history with the home can sometimes cloud a buyer’s judgment, which is where an objective estate agent can be a valuable asset.

“Avoiding these mistakes will help to ensure that the process of selling a home is less stressful and a far easier procedure to handle,” Goslett concludes.

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Property ownership hinges on savingsWed 05 Aug 2015

According to statistics from the South African Savings Institute, at the end of 2014 the average household debt to disposable income ratio was around 78.3%. Essentially what this means is that the large majority of consumers in South Africa are not able to put money aside for savings because of their high personal debt levels. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that compared to other emerging markets throughout the world, South Africa is considered to have a low savings rate. “The result of a low savings culture among consumers means that few have the cash reserves to make large purchases and will therefore be forced to rely on financial institutions to loan them the money. This once again pushes up their debt-to-income ratio and means that they are viewed as less creditworthy by financial institutions. As higher debt levels mean that a consumer is classified by lenders as higher risk, they will more than likely be paying a higher interest rate on their bond, if it is approved,” says Goslett. He adds that those who don’t currently have savings in place but would like to purchase a property in the future will need to make some financial adjustments to start putting money aside. “With electricity tariffs and the cost of living rising, it has become increasingly more difficult for potential buyers to prepare for purchasing a property. It will take a lot of discipline, but as a first step potential buyers will need to focus on lowering their debt levels where possible. Bringing down debt is necessary as obtaining the finance to buy a home is closely linked to an applicant’s affordability ratio. This highlights the extreme importance of personal financial planning,” says Goslett. Since the introduction of the National Credit Act in 2007, affordability has been a key aspect for potential buyers to focus on. While it was commonplace for buyers to be able to secure home loan finance without some form of a deposit pre-2007, in today’s market most buyers will need to show that they have a portion of the home’s purchase price saved up in cash. Ideally buyers should have around 10% to 30% of the purchase price saved up, along with the other costs associated with a property purchase such as transfer duty and attorney’s fees. “During 2007 the bond approval rate was around 70%, however this dropped down to approximately 28% the following year. Over the last seven years consumers have grown more accustomed to bond approval requirements. Bond origination group, BetterLife Home Loans, points out that only 29% of home loan applications submitted to lenders in the first quarter of this year were declined outright. This is an improvement from the 32% a year ago and 38% during the first quarter of 2013,” says Goslett. “It must be noted however, that while there has been an improvement in bond approval statistics, it does not mean that banks have eased up on their lending requirements.” Lending criteria remains stringent with banks placing a high emphasis on a buyer’s affordability. When assessing a bond application, the overall picture of the client’s credit history is taken into account including aspects such as the total amount of credit outstanding as well as the applicant’s ability to pay off debt. Goslett says that there are several ways in which consumers can show higher levels of affordability:
  • Seek the expertise of a professional financial adviser and planner, who can assist in formulating a personal finance plan
  • Create a budget which includes savings and stick to it
  • Avoid buying luxury or unnecessary items
  • Shop around – comparing prices to ensure you find the best value for items and services
  • Stay away from credit - rather pay cash whenever possible
  • Review all policies and medical aids annually to ensure you are getting the best possible deal
  • Go green - save on electricity and water costs by cutting down consumption
“Those who are able to cut down on their spending and reduce their household debt-to-income levels will be in a far better positon to show the affordability levels necessary to purchase a home. Although it requires discipline and it may be difficult at first, consumers will need to initiate a finance plan that works for them in order to keep their homeownership dreams alive,” Goslett concludes.
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Is it time to sell your home?Mon 08 Jun 2015

With the shortage of property available at the moment, many homeowners may be more inclined to put their property on the market and take advantage of the current conditions. "Inventory shortages have pushed both demand and property prices up with several areas throughout the country experiencing multiple-offer situations," says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "Greater numbers of buyers are showing the necessary affordability levels to purchase property, however in several areas there are just not properties available to them. There is currently a backlog of buyers waiting for property, which means that when homes do go on the market they are snapped up in no time. In the current market, sellers are now in the driving seat when it comes to negotiations," says Goslett. "Although, that said, deciding to sell is still a big decision which needs to be weighed up carefully, taking into consideration several aspects such as lifestyle and finances." Goslett adds that selling a home often means that the seller will be become a buyer in the same market, so it is important that they take some time to make sure they are ready to move on from their current property. To assist homeowners with the decision, Goslett provides a few signs that will give the homeowner insight into whether they are ready to sell: The space no longer fits your family Normally the number one reason that homeowners decide to put their property on the market is because their family has grown to the point where their current home no longer meets their needs. The needs of a family changes as it grows with the arrival of new members. There is also the matter of children outgrowing shared spaces or rooms. Other situations could also mean more space requirements, such as in-laws moving in or a family member needing a home office. "All these factors will play a role in the decision to move on and find a home that can accommodate the changes," says Goslett. A sales boom in your area While property prices throughout the country are seeing a gradual upward trend, certain areas are seeing a much higher percentage in growth than others. A homeowner within one of these property price hotspots might be more inclined to sell, especially if they have been undecided about selling up to this point. You are not keeping up with the maintenance If the homeowner is no longer managing with the maintenance or upkeep of the property, perhaps it is time to move to a smaller home that requires little or no effort to maintain. "While some homeowner's family situations may require them to move in a larger home, others may already have a large home, but have children who have moved out. If the expense and maintenance is becoming too much and more time is spent trying to maintain the home than enjoying it, what's the point. It might be time to let go of the larger property and purchase something that is more practical for the homeowner's needs," advises Goslett. There is equity in the home While home equity evaporated during the recession years and many were forced to hold onto their homes, for many homeowners the recovering property prices have brought equity back. According to Goslett, homeowners who have not had their homes evaluated for some time should have it appraised and research to see were that leaves them financially. With a positive home equity, selling is always an option. A change in life Life can be unpredictable, it evolves and changes, which in turn has an impact on the decisions we make. Motivation for selling could include a growing or shrinking family, a new job or a divorce. "Regardless of the changes and things that may occur, it is important for a homeowner to live in a home that suits their needs and fits with where they are at in their life. It is important for a homeowner to feel comfortable and live in the right home for them. Once that changes, homeowners know it might be time to sell," Goslett concludes.
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Tips for selling your second propertyMon 01 Jun 2015

For those who own a second property or holiday home, they will know that it represents years of pipe dreaming, carefully planning and a desire to better one?s life. It is for this reason that selling a holiday home might be a greater challenge, but could also be a far more rewarding endeavour. "Consumers who are looking at purchasing a holiday home more often than not want to fulfil a lifelong dream. Whether it started at childhood visiting a certain location every year, or whether it has developed due to a need to have a more balanced lifestyle and place to get away from the worries of everyday life, owning a holiday home is what many aspire to," says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Regardless of whether a holiday-home owner is looking to upgrade, downsize or just sell, Goslett says that there are a few things that they can do to help them sell their second home and possibly make someone?s dream come true: Highlight features that holiday home buyers are looking for When marketing and taking photos of the property, focus on the home's elements that will be of particular interest to a holiday home buyers.? Some of these features could include a swimming pool, views of the ocean, mountains or lake, access to a golf course or spa and proximity to amenities such as entertainment and shopping facilities. Remember it's more than just a home Goslett notes that consumers purchase a holiday home for more than just what the home has to offer. "Very often holiday home buyers have decided to purchase a property in a certain area because of the area and not necessarily the home itself. Holiday home buyers often purchase because of the surroundings and things that they can do within that location, such as water sports or hiking," says Goslett. While highlighting the property?s selling features is important, Goslett adds that the seller should also focus on emphasising the story of the surrounding community and the numerous things that the area offers. Consider renting it to a potential buyer for a holiday period A holiday home is one of few types of properties where a try-before-you-buy concept can work well. "If the holiday home is not being used for a weekend or holiday, why not let it out to potential buyers to allow them to get a feel for the property and the area. It is a win-win situation for both parties as the owner can make some extra money while waiting for the property to sell and buyer will know whether it is the right property for them," says Goslett. Patience is key According to Goslett, the biggest difference between a primary residence sale and a holiday home sale is that it is not about the buyer needing a roof over their head. This means that a holiday home or investment buyer will not be in a rush to make their final decision. This will take some patience on the seller's part. Have data and figures available Goslett says that one concern that all property buyers have is the cost of owning and maintaining the property, so if possible sellers should have all the figures and data available for potential buyers to have a look at. "Many holiday-home buyers may want to rent out their property while they are not making use of it in order to defray some of the ownership costs. Having accurate financial information at hand will enable them to better assess the viability of the purchase and have realistic expectations," advises Goslett. He concludes by saying that selling a holiday home is about selling the lifestyle and not just the property.
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Tools that homeowners can't live withoutMon 01 Jun 2015

Purchasing a home is an amazing milestone that most people aspire to, however owning a property comes with certain additional responsibilities such as home maintenance. To ensure that the value of the home is protected and that the occupants of the home remain safe, home maintenance is an extremely important aspect that every homeowner will be required to do at some point. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that while home maintenance is a very necessary part of home ownership, it does not have to cost the homeowner a lot of money, provided of course that they have a reasonable amount of know-know and some basic but vital tools around the house. "There are a few tools that every homeowner should have to ensure that they can tackle the general and basic maintenance tasks that may be required of them," says Goslett. He provides homeowners with a list of some very helpful tools that should be kept in the home: Screwdrivers Homeowners will find that there are very few maintenance tasks that don't require a screwdriver in some way. Whether tightening a loose fixture, removing a light-covering to replace a lightbulb or assembling a new piece of furniture, a screwdriver is an essential tool that every homeowner will need to use at some stage. "It is advisable to have both flathead and Philips-head screwdrivers in an array of sizes. A complete set is relatively inexpensive, but will soon be regarded as an item that cannot be lived without," says Goslett. Hammer Another absolute must have for a homeowner?s toolbox is a good hammer. This comes particularly in handy when wanting to hang picture frames or photos. When considering purchasing a hammer, the best and most versatile option is one with a claw head and anti-vibration rubber grip. A utility knife Sometimes also known as a Stanley knife or box cutter, this tool is great for moving home and opening well taped-up boxes. Most utility knives will have a retractable blade so that they can be stored or carried safely. Another excellent knife to have in the house is a putty knife, which is the ideal tool for replacing a broken window pane ? an absolute necessity for families with small boys. A spirit or wall level Owning a wall level takes the guesswork out of hanging shelving or artwork on a level plane. While an experienced eye will be able to hang items fairly well, a wall level will ensure that the piece of art or shelf is perfectly even on the first try. Measuring tape Goslett says that knowing how big a certain area in the home is before purchasing an appliance or item of furniture will save much frustration. "Often homeowners need to know how wide or long an area is before they purchase something to fit into that specific space ? a measuring tape is the ideal tool to make this an accurate exercise," says Goslett. Measuring tapes come in various lengths from 3 metres upwards. While a 3 metre tape is perfect for most jobs around the home, a 5 metre measuring tape will allow homeowners to accurately measure bigger spaces. Flashlight Given the fact that most South Africans will continue to experience regular power outages for the foreseeable future, a durable, good-quality flashlight as well as extra batteries is a must for every household. "Aside from the effects of loadshedding, a flashlight is also extremely handy when working on repairs in tighter and darker areas around the home. Hybrid versions, which use solar power or are rechargeable, are more expensive an the outset but will save the homeowner on batteries over the long term," says Goslett. An adjustable wrench and pliers Owning an adjustable wrench means being able to tackle several maintenance jobs with only one tool. Pliers are also a must have for every homeowner ? the best option is a pair with serrated jaws which allow for better grip. Toolbox Lastly, a homeowner will require somewhere to keep the tools, such as an easy-to-carry toolbox. Keeping all the most commonly used tools in one place makes it easier to find and store. "Having the right tools for any job and being prepared, will make the job at hand far easier to overcome," Goslett concludes.
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Downsizing EfficientlyFri 29 May 2015

Downsizing from a large, freestanding property to a smaller, more manageable unit within a retirement estate can provide several lifestyle benefits for those who are planning to retire. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says that aside from the fact that a smaller home will be far easier to maintain, it also provides the owner with far more freedom to be able to lock-up-and-go any time of the year without worrying about maintenance or the upkeep of the property while they are away. "While a home with features such as a large garden or swimming pool is ideal for homeowners with growing children, these features cost money and take up a lot of time to maintain. Downsizing will give the retiree more time to pursue other interests and will have the added bonus of significantly reducing the monthly costs of rates and taxes, utility bills, insurance and security as well as maintenance and repair costs," says Goslett. However, downsizing a property for retirement is not simply a matter of selling a large property and buying a smaller one. "Over the years it is natural to collect things and buy furniture and items that fit a larger home. Reducing the size of a home will also mean reducing amount of items that can be moved into the smaller space," explains Goslett. "It is important to pare down on possessions where possible. While it may seem like a daunting exercise, any home would need to be decluttered regardless of whether a homeowner is looking to downsize or place their home on the market and move." According to Goslett, there are a few steps that can help homeowners to downsize efficiently and prepare them for the move: Plan for the moving day: once a moving day has been scheduled, it is important to start planning the move, working up until the set date. "Ideally it is best to start approximately three months before moving day by tackling one room at a time. This will be a far less taxing exercise than trying to tackle the entire house in a shorter period of time," advises Goslett. Sort into don?t, do, maybe: if possible it is best not to have a maybe pile as this means dealing with items more than once. Goslett says that if possible, homeowners should try to deal with each item once and make a decision as to whether they are keeping it or getting rid of the item. While this may seem like a difficult task, especially for those who struggle to let go, ask whether the item could be replaced if it lost and how often it really gets used. Sometimes more is just more: are duplicates really necessary? If there are items that are being kept just in case something breaks, it is probably better to get rid of the duplicates than take up space for something that may never happen. This applies to clothing as well - get rid of items that no longer fit or that are being held onto for 'one day'. Scale down on collections: Regardless of whether someone is downsizing or not, cutting a collection can be very upsetting, especially if it has taken years to grow the collection. However, limited space may require that only a few favoured items are kept. The number of items to be kept will be based on the amount of display space available. Make some money: selling off items is an excellent way to make some money to put towards the move while getting rid of unwanted items. However, it is important to stick to the three month time frame and start early. While some items could sell rather quickly, others could take longer than expected so it?s better to be prepared for this. An auction house is another option: according to Goslett, homeowners who have an assortment of valuable items that they would like to sell could consider making use of an auction house. An auction house is the ideal avenue to sell items such as antique furniture and artwork. An appraiser would come to the home to assess and value the items in the lot before taking the items to auction. This will provide the owner with an estimate as to how much they can expect on the day of auction. Donate: there are several charitable foundations that do amazing community work which would benefit from a donation of household items. "Organisations such as the RE/MAX Foundation can only do the work that they do due to donations made by the public. Making a donation is a way to downsize and provide assistance to members of the community who are less fortunate. Knowing the items are going to people in need will make it far easier to part with them," says Goslett. He concludes that downsizing and decluttering will enable retirees to save on costs and have more time to themselves, meaning they will be able to enjoy retirement to the fullest. For more information visit
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Security considerations when renting a propertyThu 28 May 2015

Security is a major determining factor for most property buyers in South Africa, which is why homes within security estates or those that have state-of-the-art security systems generally sell for a higher premium. What about tenants? A large portion of the population prefers to rent rather than own a property due to financial and other reasons. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that just because a person is renting, it doesn?t mean that their safety or the security aspects of a property should be any less important. "When deciding which rental property is the best option, a tenant should consider the security aspects and the possibility of any security issues that may occur," advises Goslett. "Although rental properties could be more cost effective and less responsibility then owning a home, they can be difficult to keep secure. It is vital that the tenant finds out what security features have been installed in the property to make it a safer place to live before signing the lease agreement." According to Goslett, the first question that a tenant should ask themselves is what their security needs are. It is important to remember that while sectional title complexes are regarded as a safer option, they are not untouched by criminal activity. He adds that security goes beyond the extent of the property itself. "In the case where the rental property is situated within a sectional title complex, the tenant should enquire about the security features of the complex as a whole, such as access control, security guards on site or patrols. Many complexes may also have surveillance of some kind, which will vastly increase the security of the development," says Goslett, who adds that it is also advisable to ask whether access codes or door locks are changed once tenants move from the rental property. He notes that while landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is in a good condition and is well-maintained with reasonable security precautions such as door and window locks, landlords are not required to provide any additional security. "However," says Goslett, "if a tenant has their heart set on staying in the property, they could get prior written permission from the landlord for them to install security features at their own cost. In some cases the landlord may decide to pay a portion or all of the costs because it will increase the value of the property as well as possible future rental income. Once a tenant is aware of what security aspects are in place and what is required, they will be limited by their agreement with the landlord as to what they can install. This is why it is so important to discuss the matter and come to an understanding with the landlord before any agreement is signed." Another aspect to be aware of is the lighting surrounding the property. Dark areas make it easier for intruders to approach and either enter or assess a building. Outdoor floodlights can help to eliminate the risk and motion-sensor models are a value-for-money, effective option. Outdoors is not the only place that requires good lighting. According to Goslett, a lighting timer for inside the home can create the illusion of someone being home even when the tenant is traveling. Tenants should also check whether there are fire extinguishers and where the fire escape stairs and exits are.? Another important aspect to consider is the parking area and access from rental property to where the car is parked. They should check to see if the area is well-lit, and if there is a garage to park the car in. "Once all aspects have been checked and the tenant is satisfied that their security questions have been sufficiently addressed, they can confidently decide on which rental property they feel most secure in. Feeling safe is an important part of feeling at home," Goslett concludes. For more information visit
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RE/MAX Global Learning Centre (GLC) is accredited by Services SETAMon 25 May 2015

In an effort to lead transformation compliance within the real estate sector, RE/MAX of Southern Africa has invested in establishing its own Accredited Training Institution, the Global Learning Centre (GLC). This was achieved during the first audit by the Services SETA of the GLC in March with accreditation by the Services SETA awarded on 1 April. Challenging the many barriers to entry for new and emerging estate agents, the GLC solution to compliance integrates the best of world-class training with the compulsory qualification and the regulatory intern logbook into the GLC Intern Programme.? This turnkey solution simplifies requirements into a streamlined process, making it both cost effective and an integrated user experience. While the GLC Intern Programme has been designed to fully meet regulatory requirements of the accrediting authorities, it has been progressively structured to incorporate eLearning via a multi-mode delivery platform, which facilitates a blend of methodologies.? The solution promotes 'high touch' eLearning, using multimedia technology, a specific workplace-based mentoring component, class-based tutoring and portfolio support workshops, online chat forums and specialist support interventions.? The Learner Management System (LMS) is robust and subject to interrogation and audit, containing a powerful dashboard and data analytics for effective management by Margaret Nicol, the GLC Development Manager, who is responsible for the design and development of the accredited programme. The GLC is currently in the pilot phase of implementation of the GLC Intern Programme, with the initial focus on training GLC Certified Mentors, who are responsible for implementation of the programme in the work environment.? The interns or new recruits then undergo a full orientation and induction programme to ensure they understand the programme structure, roles and responsibilities, the learning pathway, qualification processes and achievement requirements. Their initial focus will be on sales, as that is the backbone of an agent's trade and the means by which they will make a living and potentially become future rising stars. ?RE/MAX of Southern Africa has a unique, international introductory programme that is customised by world-renown real estate expert and coach, Brian Buffini, designed to lead them to greatness is as little as 100 days! On successful completion of this initial phase, interns are selected onto and enrolled on the GLC Intern Programme, where they will receive full training and support to achieve the compliance requirements in as little as six modules. The main focus for RE/MAX of Southern Africa is on growing its market share while at the same time transforming the industry. ?"It is a priority for the RE/MAX of Southern Africa brand to grow its agent base over the next five years. We currently have over 2 200 agents working throughout the Southern Africa region and we?have plans to increase that number to 5 000 agents by 2020. We expect much of that growth to come from the new emerging markets in South Africa and with the launch of the RE/MAX GLC Intern Program, which will be providing top class real estate training, we will ensure that the customer experience is consistent with the brand?s high standards," says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "The programme will be offered to agents at the lowest possible rate and will be designed to be the simplest, easiest and fastest way to become a certified Professional Practitioner in Real Estate that is fully EAAB compliant," Nicol explains. "The system will comprehensively incorporate the key elements for those entering the real estate sector, such as the Services Seta FETC: Real Estate, NQFL4 accreditation and EAAB mandatory one year internship, along with the RE/MAX Accelerate course and Buffini?s 100 Days to Greatness. This will ensure that agents will be fully equipped to service buyers and sellers in the housing market and provide a professional service from day one," Nicol concludes. For more information visit
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Adrian Goslett comments on the interest rate announcementThu 21 May 2015

Although inflation is currently on the rise and economic growth is under pressure, the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to leave the interest rates untouched for the time being. The prime lending rate will remain at 9.25%, while the repo rate remains at 5.75%. Current economic factors, such as the rising inflationary pressure, must have made the decision a tough one, with any of the three possible policy options a prospect. However, keeping the rates unchanged for a while longer seemed the most practical at this stage and is welcome news for consumers, even if only for the next two months. While a cut in the rate would temporarily boost the economy and relieve some of the financial burden that many consumers and households are currently carrying, the move would weaken the rand. A weakened rand would only increase inflationary pressure, pushing the rate of inflation outside of the target zone, which would in turn force the Reserve Bank to increase the rates to counteract this. Conversely, a hike in the rates would result in a strengthened rand but would also hurt consumers and damage economic growth further. Although the Reserve Bank does not want to constrain consumer spending, they also don?t want to keep inflation pressure from exceeding the projected goals and targets. Rate increases will have the desired impact on inflation, but will place a lot of strain on consumers. Many consumers are already dealing with high debt levels and the increasing cost of living. Things such as impending electricity price hikes will affect the majority of consumer?s lives and most likely impact on their ability to afford non-essential items. Any further financial constraints will have homeowners stay in the homes they are currently in or downgrade to smaller, more affordable homes where possible. Economists predict that the global interest rate trajectory will remain flatter for longer, which will probably keep the rates where they are until a hike is seen in the US, which is expected to happen around the middle of this year. The Reserve Bank will likely follow suit, so consumers should expect a hike before the year is over. Those who can afford to do so should take advantage of the interest rate stability we have experienced and pay down debt to prepare for future hikes.
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All debt is equal, right?Mon 11 May 2015

All debt is the same right? Not exactly, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "Very often consumers seem to put all debt in the same category, however while all debt is debt, it is not all equal. Identifying the difference between bad debt and what could be considered as potentially good debt will assist consumers to make more informed and better financial decisions moving forward," says Goslett. Before the global property market downturn, many homeowners would turn to their home equity as a credit source when they required large sums of money. However, post-recession thinking is somewhat different with homeowners rather paying down their homeloan accounts as much as possible to ensure that they see a greater return on their investment should they decide to sell.? As a result a popular alternative would be for consumers to dip into their retirement funds and take portions of this money in cash when needed. Unfortunately, taking money out of retirement investments will only cost the consumer in the long run and have a detrimental impact on their retirement income. Goslett says that instead of getting to the point of resorting to taking away from a retirement fund, it is important to understand the nature of the debt and see whether it will put the consumer in a better or worse position then they are currently in. "It is extremely important for a consumer to make the distinction between a good debt, a necessary debt and a bad one, as this will help to drive their decision-making process." He adds that the determining factor between a good and bad debt is that a good debt will result in the consumer's financial value growing over time. "A prime example of this is a bond, which results in the consumer owning an asset ? a home. The property not only serves the consumer's need for shelter, but also appreciates in value and grows the consumer's net worth over time," says Goslett. "Something to consider however, is that a loan can tip over into becoming a bad debt if the homeowner becomes financially distressed and can no longer afford their property. This emphasises the importance of having a financial contingency plan in place when purchasing a home." A necessary debt would be something that would change the consumer's station in life, such as a student loan. In order to fund their education, most students will require some kind of loan. While this means that they will start their career in debt, it will also provide them with the opportunity to earn a higher salary or possibly fast track their career progress. Another necessary loan for most would be car finance, however this can also fall into the bad debt category if the buyer selects a car that is far too expensive to run or maintain. According to Goslett, any debt that is purely for consumption is bad debt like holidays, food or items of furniture, for example. "These kinds of items will not retain their value. Taking out a loan to pay for these items is never a good idea, as it will only place more financial pressure on the consumer and put them in a worse off position as they will end up paying off these items for months or even years without any financial return," advises Goslett. He notes that regardless of what category the debt falls into, ideally the sooner the debt is paid off, the better off the consumer will be. "The fact is that debt accrues interest and the sooner it is paid off, the less interest a consumer will have to pay. More importantly, once all debt has been paid, a consumer has the freedom to start saving and building a nest egg for themselves," Goslett concludes.
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