Become an AgentWed 03 Feb 2016

Become a real estate agent with RE/MAX and be part of an award winning team with astronomical personal and professional growth potential. 
In terms of transaction sides and ends, we are known as one of the leading real estate agency in the business and have been for the past 10 years. 
What’s in it For You? 
Choosing to become a real estate agent with us means that you are not just joining a business, but a family. Your name becomes synonymous with success and award winning service. And, since we have branches in over 90 countries around the world, you affiliate yourself with a household name that has been around since 1973. 
Being a RE/MAX real estate agent also brings several benefits with it: 
Learn and earn - We grant you access to several means of real estate education, which can ultimately improve your earning potential . Through our webinars, videos, and e-Learning courses, you can become an advanced area specialist in no time. 
Charity opportunities - We try and be involved in as many initiatives as we can. All in all, we have donated over R7 million to charities around the world. It’s difficult not to want to be a part of a company that cares as much as RE/MAX.
RE/MAX University - Expand your know-how through a  wealth of educational videos, that help you improve the different aspects of your knowledge from negotiation skills to growing your client base. 
So Much More than Property
At RE/MAX, we believe we’re in the business of selling dreams to our clientele. And in order to maintain this, we want to empower our real estate agents to become the best area specialist with us. 
If you want to become a real estate agent with RE/MAX and want to know more about the benefits associated with it, contact us or browse our website for more information.
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Credibility Goes FarWed 03 Feb 2016

According to an MMR Strategy Group study, RE/MAX has been named the number one real estate company. For this reason, it’s advantageous to you to have a reputable name behind you when you start your RE/MAX franchise.
As we have branches in over 90 countries, becoming part of our family means extending your real estate reach on a global scale.
A Household Name
We have been in the property industry for over 40 years, meaning that we’ve established ourselves as a frontrunner in real estate sales and franchise opportunities.
In addition to being a part of our global charity initiatives, you can reap several benefits when you open your RE/MAX franchise:
  • Advice from the best - We provide quality guidance on all things relating to starting your real estate franchise. We can advise you on advertising strategies as well as which platforms to utilise to get your message heard.
  • Leads delivered to you - With quality leads at no extra charge, this means that you have a steady stream of customers coming through your doors. All in all, an average of 4000 leads are delivered to RE/MAX agents on a daily basis, enabling you with ample opportunity to sell property.
  • Joining an incredible team - There’s nothing better than working with people who strive for excellence and results. RE/MAX agents are known to be leaders in productivity, sales, and overall metrics. Globally Renowned When you take advantage of RE/MAX franchise opportunities you become a part of something that’s about more than just property sales.
Aside from being the most visited real estate website visited in South Africa, we believe in supporting and enabling our franchisees to learn and grow with us. This is done through our online education portal, RE/MAX University in an effort to ensure that you chase your dreams and get educated while doing so.
If you are interested in opening your own RE/MAX franchisecontact us today to find out how.
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The effects of moving on childrenWed 03 Feb 2016

The effects of moving on children
While there are many exciting aspects about moving to a new home, the move itself can be a very stressful process, particularly for the children. A change in routine and possible lifestyle can bring about fear and anxiety in children, especially if they are not fully prepared for what is about to happen. According to international psychological studies a child may become sullen or act out in anger, both of which could be signs of depression. 
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that although moving can be an anxious event for children, much of the negative emotional impact can be minimized by the parents being aware of the risks to their children and dealing with the process in a positive manner.  “It is important to remember that while moving can be stressful, not all moves are bad moves. Moving can be an extremely positive experience, provided parents can keep their children’s anxiety levels as low as possible,” says Goslett. 
He notes that the reason for the move has a lot to do with how much stress is involved in the process. If the move is due to the family upgrading to a larger home or a better neighbourhood, there will be far less emotional upheaval than if the reason for the move is because of a loss of income or the loss of a family unit. “Another factor that will have an impact on the level of stress caused is the timing of the move. According to psychology studies, while very young children and older children handle moving in their own stride, children between the ages of 11 and 14 years old seem to be more affected by a move. This is largely due to the hormonal changes that this age group is dealing with,” says Goslett.
Irrespective of the reason for the move, Goslett says that there are ways that parents can make the transition easier for their children.
Leading up to the move
Communication is key – It is important that parents make children aware of the move as early into the process as possible, as this will give them time to get used to the idea. Children will have a higher level of anxiety if they feel as if something is going on and they are not fully aware of the details.
Highlight the positive aspects – Parents should focus of the positive factors around the new location.  In some instances the children might think that moving will mean leaving their favourite things behind, so parents should ensure that the children know that their beloved toys and pets are coming along.  
Focus on elements that won’t change – Children often feel most secure when they have a consistent routine and elements that remain the same regardless of the circumstances. Parents can emphasize aspects that will not change during or after the move such as play schedules, bedtimes or the fact that they have a loving family that supports them.
During the moving process
Allow the children to say goodbye – This aspect does not just relate to neighbours and their friends, but also some of their favourite local places such as the park. It might be worthwhile to tell the children that saying goodbye today does not mean goodbye forever and that they might be able to visit those friends or places at another time in the future.. 
Avoid letting the children see the moving truck – During the move it might be better for the children to be at a friend or family member. Seeing all their possessions loaded into a truck and hauled away can be an upsetting experience for some children. 
In the new home
The children’s bedroom should be top priority – Setting up the children’s bedroom first will establish an area in the home that is familiar and safe. 
Give the child time to adjust – It will take time to adjust and acclimatize to the new surroundings for both adults and the children. Take the children around the new area and explore. This is a great way to find nearby parks and activities for them to do. 
Get involved – The only way to become a part of a community is to get involved. This could be in the form of joining the local church or playgroup. Getting plugged into the community will help make it feel like home far quicker. 
Listen – This element applies to all stages of the moving process. It is very important that regardless of the child’s reaction to the move, they know that their parents are listening and pay attention to their emotions and needs. They may need to be reminded that there is no wrong or right emotion and that their feelings are valid. 
 “An important element to reducing the stress on the children is the parents supporting and helping each other to deal with the change in circumstances. As with most situations that can have a negative impact on relationships, mutual support is vital to ensure that both adults and children adjust to the move as seamlessly as possible,” Goslett concludes.
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Be wise with water Tue 02 Feb 2016

Be wise with water
With summer in full swing, these persistent hot days are a constant reminder of the concerning water levels throughout the country. Water shortages have become a burning issue with many regions throughout South Africa currently experiencing water restrictions, to ensure that the precious resource is sustained. 
“Water is a vital commodity that we require in order to survive. Without water the environment we live in could not survive, so it is imperative that the necessary precautions are taken to ensure that this essential resource is not used carelessly,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
He notes that there are several ways that homeowners or tenants can save water in and around the home, which will bring down monthly water bills and more importantly, reduce water usage. Goslett provides a few tips that will assist people in lessening their impact on the national water crisis:
Inside the home:
It is important to make sure that once a tap has been used it is closed properly. While this seems like a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drip per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day.  This equates to around 10 000 litres of water wasted over a period on a year, simply from one single dripping tap.
Ensure that tap washers are replaced regularly and fit aerators to restrict and spread the flow. An aerator will reduce water usage creating a no-splashing stream and often delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth. This will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use. 
Showering will use far less water than bathing, provided that the shower is less than 5 minutes long. If there is only the option of taking a bath, the bath should be as shallow as possible and water reused to water the garden. 
Installing a water-saving shower head will also aid in reducing water usage. Ideally when showering the water should not be at full force and it should be turned off when soaping or shaving. When opting to shave at the basin, it is best to plug the basin rather than rinsing the razor with running water. This will save approximately 45 litres of water a month. 
Much like a leaking tap, a leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. Installing a water-saving toilet is an option, but for those who don’t wish to spend money on the outlay, adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush. A few drops of food colouring in the cistern will help to determine if any water is leaking from the toilet. If the colour seeps into the bowl, the system is leaking and should be fixed without delay.  
If possible only use washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded to avoid unnecessary water usage. Rather than rinsing dishes under running water, opt to rinse items in a basin of water and then reuse the water in the garden. When waiting for dishwater to heat up, run the tap into bottles to use as drinking water. By keeping bottles of drinking water in the fridge there is no need to let lukewarm water be wasted when waiting for the tap water to cool. 
Outside the home:
Homeowners in South Africa consume an estimated 30% to 50% of water on watering and maintaining their gardens, so it seems that this is the most significant area for water to be saved. While an attractive, established garden can add considerable value to a property, a water-wise garden that takes less water to maintain but is still beautiful makes sense from both an environmental and financial view point. 
Choose the right plants
As a general rule, only indigenous plants should be used as they consume very little water and require minimal maintenance.  Certain bedding plants can drink a lot of water, however by adding mulching to the bed and water retention granules to the soil, the need for water can be substantially reduced. It is best to water the garden either before 9am in the morning or after 4pm in the afternoon – even later on really hot days. In addition, no watering should take place within 24 hours of rainfall as it should provide adequate saturation.
Reduce lawn areas
Lawns guzzle water, so assess how much is really necessary. Consider adding hardscaping features such as a paved or cobblestone footpath, which will reduce watering areas as well as add to the aesthetic appeal and overall feel of the garden.  
“With soaring temperatures and the lack of water currently being experienced, becoming water-wise is essential. It is not just about saving an important resource, but also about sustainability and of course saving money with today’s higher cost of living,” Goslett concludes.  
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Occupational rent explainedFri 29 Jan 2016

Occupational rent explained
Regardless of whether someone is on the selling or buying end of a property transaction, it is imperative that they are familiar with all the conditions that the offer to purchase stipulates, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
According to South African legislation, those who would like to either sell or buy a property are required by law to reduce all contractual agreements to writing. Goslett says that the aim of this is to reduce the risk of any ambiguity during the transaction and to have a clear guideline as to what each party is entitled to and what they are responsible for.  “Since the Consumer Protection Act was signed into law in 2011, contractual language has become easier to comprehend. However, that said, it is still vital that both the buyer and seller go through the offer to purchase and agree with all conditions and provisions mentioned in the contract before they sign it, especially when it deals with aspects such as occupational rent,” advises Goslett.  
He adds that the clause relating to occupational rent is vital as it protects both parties in the contract. Essentially what the clause does is ensure that the seller will be financially compensated if the purchaser moves into the home before the transfers occurs. Equally, it will also provide financial compensation if the transfer takes place and the seller is still occupying the property. 
Goslett says that the occupational clause in a sales agreement is often overlooked because the majority of buyers only plan to move into the home once transfer has happened. In most instances buyers want to avoid having to pay occupational rent and therefore wait for the property to be registered in their name before taking occupation. “However,” says Goslett, “sometimes life doesn’t always go according to plan and the buyer might find themselves in circumstances that force them to move into the property sooner than anticipated. Buyers will often have to give notice at their current residence before moving to their new home. If notice is given and the transfer of the property is delayed, they could find themselves occupying their new home while it is still owned by the previous owners.  In an instance such as this knowing what the contract says about occupational rent will become of paramount importance.”
According to Goslett, it is not only the buyer that could find themselves paying occupational rent. If the seller has sold their current property to purchase another and are waiting for the transfer to go through, they could end up staying in their current residence longer than expected. This would mean that they could end up paying occupational rent to the new owners of the property.  Although these situations are not ideal, it is in these instances that knowing and understanding the terms of the occupational rent clause that will allow the parties involved to know what is expected and not be caught unaware.  
Goslett says that in the event of either possibility happening, it is imperative that the occupational clause in the sales agreement states the amount of occupational rent that should be paid. Even if the date of occupation is listed as the date of transfer, the occupational rent amount should still be put into the agreement in writing.  This will ensure that conflict or any misunderstandings are avoided. “While the rental amount is ultimately the seller’s decision, both parties will need to decide and agree upon the occupational rent amount prior to them signing any agreement. The rental amount should be market related and should ideally be enough to cover the bond repayment,” says Goslett.
He concludes by saying that by understanding the sales agreement and its conditions, buyers and sellers can avoid any unnecessary conflict, which will make the entire process of buying or selling a home a far less daunting one.
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Rate increases by 50 basis pointsThu 28 Jan 2016

Rate increases by 50 basis points
As most economists had predicted, the Reverse Bank has announced another rate hike at today’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting, bringing the benchmark repo rate up to 6.75% and the prime lending to 10.25%. The decision was largely brought about to counter the effects of the depreciation of the rand, along with increased inflationary pressure.
The Reserve Bank had made it clear over the course of last year that we are currently in a rate hiking phase and that consumers would need to prepare themselves for this. The rate increase, along with issues such as poor economic growth, rising food prices due to drought conditions and the possibility of an increase in electricity tariffs will continue to place additional financial pressure on consumers, who will need to make the necessary financial adjustments to endure the tough times ahead. Future rate increases could be a tipping point for many South African consumers who will no longer be able to service their financial commitments.  
Many will be facing the New Year, after the holiday spending-spree, with less money in their back-pockets to pay their monthly bills. This year consumers will need to focus on preparing themselves financially and watch out for increased living expenses and factor these into their household budget. Those who are over-indebted should seek financial advice and first consolidate and pay off short-term debt. They will need to create a budget that allows them to live within their means.  If necessary, sell the second car and get rid of credit cards. Selling a home should be the last option, as property is the one long-term asset that should yield a return over time unlike cars, boats and the like.  After a consumer has gotten rid of or ring-fenced their short term debt, they should speak to their bank about the options of restructuring their bond. 
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Could the weaker rand benefit the country?Wed 27 Jan 2016

Could the weaker rand benefit the country?
A part from other economic factors such as the interest rate and the level of inflation, South Africa’s exchange rate is one of the most vital aspects to the health of the country’s economy. Over the last few years the rand has depreciated significantly causing concern among consumers. However, is it possible that the weakening rand could be a good thing for the country? While most would look at the current exchange rate as an indication of the sad state of the country’s economy, a weakened currency can have its benefits.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that while a weaker rand makes imported items and overseas travel more expensive for South African consumers, the current exchange rate will be very attractive to foreign investors, provided of course that foreign sentiment towards the country remains positive. “Property within South Africa is becoming more and more affordable for buyers with currencies like dollars or pounds. This could mean that we may see higher numbers of foreign investors purchasing homes in 2016, bringing both capital and skills into the country,” says Goslett. “That said, the allure of the weaker rand could be underpinned by other economic concerns that foreigners may have about South Africa. There will only be an increase in foreign property investment if buyers perceive the country to be a feasible investment option.”
He adds that foreigners who buy property in South Africa will do so based on the fact that they have fallen in love with the country and intend to use their asset on a regular basis, rather they purely basing their decision the fact that the property is relatively affordable. 
Goslett notes that another benefit of a weaker rand is that it may address the current trade deficit and see companies looking to local suppliers rather than importing items. At the moment South Africa imports more goods than it exports, which means many local businesses have suffered. A weakened rand makes international imports more expensive, while simultaneously making South African exports more competitive in the global market. Essentially what this means is that the sales of South African products will increase on a worldwide scale. “The weakening rand will more than likely quell the demand for international goods, with many refocusing on local industry to substitute foreign investments. The higher demand for locally developed items will increase the need for workers and help to address the current high unemployment rate,” says Goslett.
He adds that there has also been a massive uptick in tourism due to the weaker currency. “More visitors and investors coming to South Africa means more revenue entering the country and more opportunity for employment,” says Goslett. “Although it will take some time, the effect of the currency devaluation will ripple through the economy and have a knock-on effect throughout the country. There will be more opportunity for small local businesses and as more people gain employment, there will be larger numbers of consumers who will be able to realise their dreams of purchasing a property for example.”
According to Goslett there are also ways that South African investors can use the weakening currency to their benefit. “If local investors look at offshore investment options with the plan to retire in South Africa, then a weaker rand will be favourable because it means that they will be getting more from their investment returns once converted from a foreign currency to rands. This could mean being able to purchase a larger or better retirement property,” says Goslett. 
He concludes by saying that while there are benefits to currency devaluation, any positive aspects will take time to play out in the economy and the benefits will be far less if it begins to occur on a regular basis, with the risk of an increased inflation rate becoming a factor if nothing is done about it. If the rand continues to fall, we will likely see the South African Reserve Bank take a stronger stance at their monetary policy committee meeting later this month, possibly pushing the interest rate up by around 50 basis points. 
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Setting an asking priceFri 15 Jan 2016

Setting an asking price
While it is possible for homeowners to research certain information online, there is no programme or site available online to those outside of the real estate profession that can accurately value your property. To set the right asking price it takes specific area knowledge, market savvy and even a touch of psychology, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“With the vast number of possible variants that have an impact on pricing, it is very difficult to set an asking price by merely doing some research online. While there could be other homes situated in the same area that offer similar features, there are other aspects that come into play that could place your home at a different value in the market,” Goslett explains. “This is where the services of an experienced real estate professional can be extremely important to the seller.” 
Goslett provides a few elements that real estate agents could look at when determining the right, most competitive asking price for a home:
Past sales
Often looking at the past is a gateway into looking at the future. Looking at the sales prices of homes in the area over the last six months will give the agent some insight into what buyers are prepared to pay for homes in that area.  Careful consideration will be made to how long each property sat on the market, as well as how the initial asking price differed from the eventual selling price. 
A comparative market analysis (CMA) is the accepted method to accurately determine a property’s value. Information and statistics are gathered from various sources and compiled together to determine the average price per square metre of property in the area.  By determining the square metre pricing, the agent is able to compare apples with apples. Once this base has been reached, it is far easier to give an accurate appraisal of the property, taking into consideration any other factors that might have an affect the properties exact value. These factors would include the condition of the property and its size, security features, finishes and fixtures, and any other features that could set the house apart from others in the areas. 
The market trends
While there are wider elements that will impact the property market around the country, such as interest rate hikes and access to finance, most micro markets will have unique aspects that influence the sale of homes in that particular area. These aspects could include new companies moving into the area or plans for improving local amenities such as parks or shopping malls.  The agent will look at what is affecting the market in the neighbourhood and consider the influence this will have on the perceived value of the home. Both countrywide influences and local factors will have an impact on home’s potential perceived value among buyers.
The neighbours 
The perceived value of a property has a lot to do with the area in which it is situated and the surrounding homes around the property. While a home in the same neighbourhood - approximately the same size and age - could have recently sold for a high price, if the seller’s home is surrounded by rundown homes or noisy neighbours they may not have the same fortune. Unfortunately it is largely out of the seller’s hands, but the neighbouring properties can have an influence on how the home is valued by buyers. On the flipside, while bad neighbours can bring down the home’s value, if the grass is in fact greener on the opposite side of the fence, it can have a positive impact on the value of the home. 
The Goldilocks price
Finding the asking price that is ‘just right’ from the start is crucial to selling it within the fastest time frame and for the best price. Over-pricing can chase away buyers from the start, while pricing the property too low will leave money out on the table.   A property that is inflated by around 10% above its market related value is much less likely to sell within 30 days of it being on the market, compared to one that is priced within 5% of its market value. An inflated asking-price can actually have the opposite effect to what the seller intended, especially if the over-pricing leads to the property sitting on the market for longer than it should and becoming stale. A home for sale becomes stale when potential buyers start to question why is hasn’t sold yet. “There is often a negative association with a property that has been on the market for longer than the average time, which can lead to it eventually selling for below its actual value,” says Goslett.
He concludes by saying that working with a reputable, experienced real estate agent and making sure the asking price is correct from the outset, will ultimately make all the difference in achieving the seller’s goal.
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Buy or sell, what's the right order?Wed 13 Jan 2016

Buy or sell, what's the right order?
With the competitive environment surrounding today’s real estate market, some homeowners who have decided to move to another property may find themselves asking whether it is best to first sell their existing property, or find another home before they sell their current one. 
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that with high demand and low inventory buyers need to move quickly when they find a property that they really want. For some this may mean putting in an offer while they still currently own another property. “The answer to whether homeowners should look to buy first and sell their current property later, or sell before looking at other homes will largely depend on their personal circumstances and unique situation,” says Goslett. “There are a few aspects that first need to be considered and will influence the homeowner’s decision. These factors include the financial options available to them, local market conditions and of course the homeowner’s feelings about moving more than once should they have to vacate their current home before the new home is available.” 
Goslett provides three considerations that homeowners need to bear in mind before making their decision: 
Consider - finance
Only a small percentage of buyers are able to purchase a property with cash, while most are reliant on banks to obtain the necessary finance. What this means is that homebuyers who are upgrading to a larger or more expensive home may need the equity from the sale of their current home as a deposit.  
“In the instance where the sale of the owner’s current home needs to happen first, they could sell the property and then negotiate with the new owners that they rent the property back from them until they find a new place. This will depend on how eager the new owner is to move into their new home and the previous owner will be required to pay occupational rent,” says Goslett. “Another option would be for the seller to find temporary accommodation with family members or friends or at a short-term rental. In this instance storage facilities may also become a necessity.” 
According to Goslett, sellers who would like an advance on their home equity can opt to have the money bridged before the sale of the home is concluded.  The bridging finance will be based on the equity available on the property, the seller’s credit record and the expected cash inflow.
He notes that while having the equity readily available is a pro, the con is that a temporary living arrangement could force the buyer into making a faster decision than they perhaps should. It is important that the buyer takes the time to find the right home that fits their criteria. With stock shortages a reality in today’s market, it could take more time than initially anticipated. “Perhaps the optimum decision would be for the homeowner to stay in their current home while looking for another property.  They could then make an offer to purchase their next home subject to the sale of their current home going through. This way they have time to do their research and find the perfect home that fits all their criteria before making a move,” advises Goslett. 
If the homeowner is in the rare position of not needing the equity from their current home, to obtain finance for an additional property, they still run the risk of being stuck with two properties. While this could be fine as a short-term solution, it may not work for the homeowner on a long-term basis. In this instance the homeowner will need to have a contingency plan in place.
Consider - local market conditions
While there are external factors that impact the property market in general, most areas will be uniquely affected by their individual circumstances. Aspects such as the type of home, price range and availability of other similar homes in the area will all have an impact of the sale of the property. “A real estate professional will be a valuable source of information when it comes to researching the specific factors that influence the property market in a particular area. The agent will be able to provide the homeowner with insight into how long homes are sitting on the market for on average, and how much they are selling for. This information will be vital when gauging time frames and possible equity expected from the sale,” says Goslett.
On the opposite end, from a buying perspective, the purchaser should be researching properties that are available in the areas they want to buy in, looking at all aspects of the neighbourhood and elements that may have an influence on their decision.  
Consider - risk and emotion
Regardless of whether the homeowner decides to sell first, or buy and then sell, each option brings with it an element of risk. For this reason, homeowners must ask themselves whether it would be better to sell first and possibly not have accommodation to go to or buy first and have two bonds to pay until the one home is sold. “Although there will be an emotional element that drives the answers to each of these questions, ultimately the answers should be based on the financial options available, along with the local market conditions. Either way, the homeowner will need to be prepared and have a plan in place to deal with the consequences of each scenario,” Goslett concludes.
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Financial distress - What are my options?Tue 12 Jan 2016

Financial distress - What are my options?
Although the property market has seen an increase in activity over the last few years, economic conditions are still tough for many and the predicted interest rate hikes are likely to place further strain on homeowners around the country. 
“This year, those with high debt levels will be heavily affected as the interest rate increases and the cost of living continues along its upward trajectory. While for some, it may simply be a matter of readjusting certain behaviour to rectify their financial situation, others may find themselves in more dire circumstances further along the road,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  “Due to the fact that many feel overly stressed and sometimes shameful about their financial distress, they are less likely to communicate about the topic and ask for help. However, it is vital that homeowners in financial trouble take immediate action and proceed with the necessary steps before the situation slips out of their control. It is a time to act decisively, take control of the situation and consult with people who can assist.”
Goslett offers homeowners advice on how to handle this often complex situation:
Evaluate your situation
Homeowners need to be honest with themselves and look at their circumstance objectively when determining whether they can continue to pay their bond. Goslett says that if a homeowner can no longer afford their bond, they need to notify their lender as soon as possible. “Avoiding the situation and doing nothing is the worst possible decision a homeowner in distress can make. It is best to be upfront with the bank and tell them the situation, rather than defaulting on a payment without notification. If the situation is left to run its course, it will not only result in the homeowner losing their property, it will also lead to a tarnished credit record and black listing,” says Goslett.
He adds that a blacklisting will leave the consumer unable to obtain any credit for the next five to 10 years. This means that even renting a property will become difficult due to the fact that most landlords do credit checks on their potential tenants. 
Communication is key
Some homeowners might be under the impression that the bank will repossess their property as soon as they communicate their distress. However, this is not the case. Banks want the homeowner to keep their property and will try to assist where possible to ensure that this happens, but the only way they can help is if they are aware of the situation. “There are a number of ways that the bank can help the homeowner, such as rescheduling debt, offering some advice on the right steps to take or renegotiating the term of the loan from 20 years to 30 years. However this can only be done if the bank knows that the homeowner requires assistance. Once the homeowner tells their lender where they are financially, the bank will be able to offer solutions,” says Goslett.  
Seek professional council
If the situation has gotten to the point where the homeowner can no longer handle it by themselves, it is advisable that they make use of a professional debt counsellor who can provide guidance. A debt counsellor will be able to assist the homeowner in reviewing their finances and submitting a proposed repayment plan to the relevant creditors. An application will be made in court to have the proposal granted. Once the proposal has been granted creditors will not be able to proceed with legal action and the bank will not be able to repossess the property. If it seems as though the homeowner’s circumstances are not likely to change in the near future, they can opt to be placed under administration rather than debt review - however in this case the property can be repossessed to order to mitigate the debt.
Sell the distressed property
According to Goslett, homeowners that do not see any way out of their financial situation can opt to consult with a real estate company that specialises in the sale of distressed properties. In an effort to help distressed homeowners, banks are working with reputable estate agencies to sell their properties at market-related prices. If the homeowner would like to keep their credit record intact, the most effective method of doing so is selling the property and recovering from the financial crisis. “In certain cases where the homeowner has built up enough equity, they may be able to cover not only their remaining bond, but also some other debts as well. Essentially this option could provide the homeowner with an opportunity to start again with a clean slate,” says Goslett.
He notes that on average distressed properties spend around 45 days on the market and achieve around 92% of the asking price. In addition, the number of offers that have been accepted by the banks has increased considerably with more buyers showing an interest in the distressed property market.
RE/MAX of Southern Africa is the only real estate company in the country that has a dedicated distressed property department and Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) qualified agents that are trained to assist homeowners with these specific types of properties and situations.
 “Although financial distress can be a complicated and stressful situation, homeowners have options available to them, along with professionals who can assist them in navigating through these unfortunate circumstances,” Goslett concludes. 
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Selling a vacant propertyFri 08 Jan 2016

Selling a vacant property
It’s not uncommon for sellers to experience a degree of stress when selling their home. These feeling can be amplified if the seller no longer lives there and the home is vacant. The reality is that while most people are hard-working, law-abiding citizens, there is a portion of society who are not. A vacant home can be an easy target for vandals and the chance of the home being broken into increases. 
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that when selling a vacant property it is necessary to take precautions to ensure that the home remains in its best possible state. “An unoccupied home is more vulnerable to criminals, so it is important to ensure that extra caution is taken,” says Goslett.
He provides a number of tips that can be practiced to protect the property during the sale period:
Inform the local law enforcement
Contact the local police station in the area and alert them of the fact that the property is currently vacant. As a tax paying resident of the local municipality, the seller has a right to request that the police keep an eye on the property while it is vacant. Many stations will be happy to take note of the vacant property and make additional drive-bys in the neighbourhood. Contacting the local police station can reduce the possibility of a problem with the home. 
Contact the neighbours
If possible, alert the neighbours that the property is for sale and is currently vacant. Ask them to keep an eye on the property and make contact if there is anything they think needs your attention. Many neighbourhoods will have a watch or association that will patrol the area. It is also possible to ask the real estate agent to check on the property periodically between showings. 
Install a security system
If the home does not already have an alarm system, installing a system will protect the property while adding value. Security is a top priority among buyers, so homes with security systems generally sell for higher premiums. 
Home staging
Although the home is unoccupied, it does not need to be completely empty. If the home is on the market, there is a good chance that the agent will want to take photos of the interior of the home. Ideally the photos should either be taken with the furniture still in the home before the seller moves out or with a few small choice pieces. Not only will this make the property seem more homely, it will also prevent criminals who are looking online to see the property as an easy target.
Secure entrances
This is more than just ensuring that the front and back doors are locked. Securing entrances also refers to closing the windows securely and bolting the glass sliding door. Pay attention to any area in the home that could be used to gain entrance. Extra precautions could include adding deadbolts to all the doors and installing wooden or metal sticks in sliding door tracks. 
Pick up mail and newspapers regularly
An overflowing mailbox and stacks of newspapers at the front door is a sure giveaway that the home is not occupied. If possible ensure that the mail is retrieved on a regular basis. Sellers can also ask neighbours, friends and relatives to help out by stopping by the property occasionally to empty the mailbox. It is vital that the seller informs the post office and all relevant parties of the change of address as soon as possible so that the mail is forwarded to the correct address – this will eliminate the chance of an overflowing mailbox. 
Install a timer on the lights
Installing a timer and setting the lights to turn on in the evening will give the appearance that there are people in the home while being energy efficient.  It is important that there is sufficient lighting for both the interior and exterior of the home. A poorly lit exterior will allow criminals the comfort of not being seen by people passing the home. Motion activated lighting is an ideal security feature and selling point. 
Maintain the exterior of the home
An uncut lawn and overgrown shrubs will be a sure sign that the property is vacant. It is important for the seller to maintain the exterior of the home regularly, ensuring that the grass is cut and the flower beds are watered and maintained. A well-maintained home with curb appeal is evidence that the home is visited often. Not only will maintaining the home deter trespassers, it will also make the home more attractive to prospective buyers. 
“Although selling a vacant property can be stressful, using the above tips can help to ensure that the process goes smoothly and without any issues. Using an experienced real estate professional from a reputable brand will also expedite the process and ensure a quick and seamless sale,” Goslett concludes.
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Steps to financial freedomThu 07 Jan 2016

Steps to financial freedom
With imminent interest rate hikes and the rising cost of living, 2016 is expected to be a difficult year for many consumers financially if they don’t currently have a system in place, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that regardless of whether someone is earning five thousand rand a month or five million, it is important to have solid financial principles in place to be able to get through the tough times and continue to thrive even when the economy is not in an ideal state.
“There have been many high-fliers who have lost everything because they did not understand the fundamentals regarding finances.  Irrespective of the individual’s earning potential, the same principles can be used and applied to ensure that the person has a solid financial foundation that they can grow from,” says Goslett. “Much like building a home, it is vital to start with a foundation and build upwards from there through a process of steps. Skipping a step will result in a shaky structure that will not stand in trying times.”
Goslett points to the financial management system of Dave Ramsey called the Seven Baby Steps as an excellent guideline and starting point. “Dave Ramsey is an author, talk show host and personal finance expert, who has developed a method to help people out of debt and financial stress and into a life of saving and giving. Even having had a successful real estate career, through some bad decisions, Ramsey lost everything and had to start again from nothing. This experience has provided him with hands on knowledge on how to reach financial freedom from a difficult situation,” says Goslett. 
He provides a guideline to the seven financial steps laid out in the program: 
Build a starter emergency fund
Most homeowners will know that there are always unexpected life events that happen and require additional funding. Regardless of whether it is a burst geyser or leaking roof, things happen and consumers need to be ready. An emergency fund will ensure that the consumer does not have to go further into debt to fix the problem. As an initial goal, it is good to aim for a savings of around R10 000 as a start-up emergency fund.
Pay off debt
Apart from the bond, make a list of all debts from smallest to largest. Debts with the smallest balances are given top priority, as these can be cleared off the list far more quickly than larger amounts. If two debts are similar amounts, then the one with the highest interest rate should be paid off first. The idea is to pay off the first debt and then use that money to pay off the second debt faster. This will have a knock-on effect and will help the consumer to clear all their debt in a shorter period of time.
Three to six months of expenses in savings
Unlike the initial starter emergency fund, this step is to build up a full emergency fund that covers all household expenses for at least three months, but ideally up to six months. This will ensure that the consumer will be prepared for some of life’s larger surprises and will be able to stay out of debt for good. 
Invest in your retirement
This step in the plan is to build long-term wealth. With no debt and a full emergency fund in place, it is time to focus on putting money aside for retirement. The money that was once used to pay debt can now be used to build a future. Ideally around 15% of the household income should be invested for retirement. There are several retirement fund options available to consumers, so they should be able to find one that works for them. A broker or financial adviser could prove to be a valuable asset at this stage. 
An education fund
What better way to prepare your children for the future than to invest in their education. University and all the associated fees can be costly, especially in a multiple-child home. Setting aside money for the children’s education will put consumers ahead of the curve when their children leave school and want to study further. 
Pay off your bond early
One of the best investments a homeowner can make is to pay off their home loan faster to reduce the amount of interest they pay over the term of the loan. Even a small additional monthly payment can make a big difference to fast-tracking financial freedom for the homeowner. An increase of R500 on a 20-year bond of R1 million at an interest rate of 9.75%, will reduce the term of the loan by around three years and save the homeowner a total of R202 903.00. 
Build wealth and give
The final step of the program is to live life and be generous. People who have no debt and no payments are free to do anything they would like to do. Exercising discipline for a few years will set you up for the rest of your life. Continue to set goals and budget every month, but have some fun along the way. 
“Getting to financial freedom is less about the knowledge and more about the change in behaviour and self-discipline. Having the know-how means nothing until it is applied and put into practise. Making a commitment to change to help consumers go from where they are now, to where they want to be,” Goslett concludes.
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Defects to be aware of when purchasing a homeThu 07 Jan 2016

Defects to be aware of when purchasing a home
Regardless of whether it is a buyer purchasing their first property or an experienced investor who is expanding their portfolio, buying a property is a large investment, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Due to the fact that a property investment can have such a significant impact on a buyer’s financial well-being, it is imperative that they look past the aesthetic appeal of a home and focus rather on the integrity of the components that make up the property. While a home can be beautiful at first glance, there may be underlying elements that could end up costing the buyer a lot of money in the long run,” says Goslett. “While the seller is required to provide the buyer with a list of defects, it is still advisable for the buyer to be aware of certain aspects when viewing a property.”
Goslett provides a few defects that buyers should keep an eye out for when looking at a home:
Rotten wood
Areas in the home such as bathrooms and kitchens are often exposed to moisture, which could cause the wooden elements in these areas to rot over time if not maintained. It is important that wood is treated and protected with a paint or finish that is specifically designed for this purpose. Exterior features such as decks or trims that are made from wood should also be checked as these will be exposed to the elements. 
Loose or dangerous railings
While inspecting the exterior decks, it is vital to ensure that all the railings are fastened securely and that none are missing. This applies to any staircases or balconies as well – unstable or insecure railings can be very dangerous. 
Adequate ventilation is essential to ensure that any moisture in the home can evaporate. Moisture that sits for extended periods of time can cause issues. Another important aspect to consider is the space between the roof and the ceiling. This area should be well ventilated to ensure the longevity of the roof.  Weep holes and ventilation ducts will allow the intense heat in that space to escape, which will promote evaporation of the moisture and ensure that interior walls and structural elements stay dry. 
Roof problems
While checking the roof buyers should look out for old, broken or missing tiles that need to be replaced. If the roof is in bad repair, it should not be ignored as a leaky or damaged roof can cause other costly problems elsewhere in the home.
Plumbing problems
Buyers should look under sinks for pipes that are leaking or need repairs. It is important to have all plumbing issues addressed before the purchase of the home goes through as this will save the buyer a lot of money in costly repairs.
Electrical faults
Although the seller will be required to present an electrical compliance certificate to the buyer during the sale process, it is advisable to double check that electrical systems in the home are up to code. Outdated or faulty electrical systems can be extremely dangerous and cause breaker tripping or fire. 
Drainage and water control
Poor drainage systems around the exterior of the home can lead to water and damp problems in low lying areas around the property. This could cause penetrating damp as well as compromise the foundation of the structure if it persists. Water intrusion can be one of the most destructive and expensive problems.  Make sure all drainage areas are properly graded and direct water away from the house. Buyers should also check that water control elements such as gutters and downspouts are well-maintained. 
Amateur repairs
Although not always easy to spot, often homeowners who have lived in a home for extended period of time will have attempted to make some repairs themselves.  Check the plumbing and electrical areas as these are the areas where DIY repairs are most commonly seen. 
“If homebuyers are in doubt, before they sign on the dotted line they should get a trained, certified inspector who can help them look for defects and guide them to a smart buying decision,” Goslett concludes.
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Moving homes - pay attention to the detailsTue 05 Jan 2016

Moving homes - pay attention to the details
Although packing and unpacking boxes is a major element to moving homes, it is certainly not the only factor that needs to be considered when changing your address, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“When it comes to moving homes there are also a few legal matters that will require attention,” says Goslett. “Each situation will be different and as such there will be unique aspects that should be taken into account. For example, if the new homebuyer was renting their previous property and are still bound by the lease agreement, they will need to read through their contract to see what their options are. They might be able to be released from the lease agreement early or find another tenant that could take over the property until the terms of the lease ends. This will require some research and a discussion with the landlord.”
Goslett notes that there are a number of legal and technical details that buyers need to keep in mind when moving. He offers some advice and considerations for buyers moving to a new home: 
It is best to ensure that the move is covered
A vital aspect when making arrangements with a moving company is to check whether any mishaps are covered by insurance. The homebuyer should read through all documentation provided by the moving company to see what falls under their insurance coverage during the move and what isn’t. While the moving company will provide some insurance, depending on the contract, it might be worthwhile to take out additional coverage. 
Send change of address to the relevant parties
A change of address notification will need to be sent to all creditors, along with being changed on any banks accounts. This will ensure that no payments or important notices are missed by the homeowner that could affect their credit record in the future. As a precaution, Goslett says that the homebuyer should also ask the post office to forward all post to their new address. The change of address should also be sent to any publications that the homebuyer has subscriptions with, and to family and friends.
Transfer or disconnect utilities 
Utilities or services will need to be transferred to the new address or discontinued if they are no longer applicable. These would include items such as water and electricity services, newspaper delivery, a telephone landline, DSTV subscription or a private security company. According to Goslett, there might be a deposit that can be refunded from certain service providers. He notes that homebuyers should also advise service providers where final bills are to be sent. 
Obtain all the necessary records
Although not as important if the buyer is moving to a home within the same area, for those who are relocating to another city it is important to get a copy of all vital documentation. This will include medical records from the family doctor, along with any chronic prescriptions that need to refilled or transferred to another pharmacy. Goslett says that buyers with families should get their children’s school records such as copies of report cards and a transfer card. Other records would include birth documents for all family members and any legal records. 
“While relocating can be a rather tedious exercise, if the homebuyer has a checklist and systematically deals with all the necessary aspects involved, it will be a far more manageable experience,” Goslett concludes. 
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Launching the home buying processTue 05 Jan 2016

Launching the home buying process
There are few events in life that have the same profound impact as buying a home. Purchasing a property is a milestone in life that most aim for and many regard as a coming-of-age event and status symbol. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that buying a home has several advantages over renting, such as the sense of ownership and not needing to get permission from the landlord to do anything to the home. 
“Another major advantage to buying a home instead of renting one is that owning a property is in fact a kind of forced saving. The reality is that most South Africans do not save enough money for their retirement. The country’s current household saving rate is around 16%, which is relatively low when compared to other emerging markets. Paying money into a bond every month is a way of building equity and putting money away for the future. A homeowner will be able to sell the home that they have paid off over 20 years and downsize. This will offer welcomed financial relief when it is needed most. South African’s that have rented for their entire lives will have no asset to sell,” says Goslett.
In order to make the most out of the property investment, the secret is to get into the market as soon as financially viable, advises Goslett. “Although it may require the buyer to initially tighten their belt to meet the monthly repayments, assuming there are no drastic changes, a 20-year bond will decrease in real terms as the buyer’s salary increases. This will make the bond more affordable as time passes. Essentially, the earlier a buyer gets into the market, the better off they will be,” he says. 
Goslett notes that while getting ready to purchase a home requires some preparation and can take some time, the actual process of buying a property can be simplified into three basic steps:
Get pre-approved
Once a prospective buyer is ready to get into the property market, they may be tempted to hit the show houses as soon as possible. However it is best to start by paying a visit to the bank or a bond origination company such as the Betterlife Group to see how much you qualify for.  The pre-qualification process is essentially an affordability assessment based on the buyer’s earnings and credit profile. This will provide the buyer with a predetermined amount that they will qualify for when applying for a bond. Getting pre-approved gives the buyer an idea of what price bracket they can shop around in, narrowing down the search considerably and helping to reduce the risk of disappointment. 
It is important to factor in all costs when determining what is affordable, such as transfer fees, attorney fees and any renovation costs if applicable. It is also advisable to consider that South Africa is currently in an interest rate hiking cycle. Should rates increase, it is vital that the buyer can still comfortably afford the home. 
Making an offer
Buyers should work with a real agent estate from a reputable brand that has extensive knowledge of the area in which they would like to purchase. Working closely with an agent will ensure that the buyer is informed of any new stock that comes onto the market as it becomes available. It is vital that buyers bear in mind the old adage of location, location, location when looking for their ideal home. 
Goslett says that once a buyer has found what they think is the right home, they should get a trusted second opinion from friends and family members, who will look at the property with an objective view and possibly point out any defects that the buyer may have initially missed. These aspects should be taken into consideration when making the offer.
The real estate agent will be able to provide guidance to the buyer regarding what offering price would be acceptable to the seller. The agent will also be able to provide the buyer with comparative pricing of what other similar homes in the areas have recently sold for. 
Apply for a bond
Once the offer has been accepted by the seller, the next step is to approach the bank for a bond. Goslett says that buyers can either approach the bank themselves or make use of a bond originator. The service provided by the bond originator is at no cost to the buyer. The benefit of using an origination company is that they will apply at all the banks at the same time in order to secure the most preferential interest rate. Provided that all paperwork is in order, the buyer should receive an answer regarding their bond approval within a week. 
According to Goslett, while it might be tempting to look at a 30-year bond option because of the lower monthly repayments, the interest amount paid on the bond over the longer term of the loan will be significantly higher. 
“Taking the necessary steps to purchase a property will provide the homeowner with an asset in their name that can provide them with good returns on investment over the long term,” Goslett concludes.
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How the US Fed hike could impact SA marketsThu 17 Dec 2015

How the US Fed hike could impact SA markets
In anticipation of the US Federal Reserve bank hiking its benchmark Fed Funds interest rate, the first rate hike in the US in almost a decade, the South African Reserve Bank took proactive action by hiking the interest rate by 25 basis points at the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting. This was an attempt to lessen the residue effect that the hike would have on the South African market.  
Some economists believe that the reaction of the US equity markets to the hike in the US interest rates will be one of the most crucial influences on South Africa’s financial markets this year. Fed Chair, Janet Yellen had prepared the financial markets for the rate hike by describing the contraction in the US GDP during the first quarter of the year as transitory. The rate was already expected to rise in September this year, however the rate increase was pushed back to the end of the year. 
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the US has a major impact on the markets around the world, pointing to the sub-prime crisis as an example. “Often the monetary policies of the US Fed have a knock-on effect, with investors closely watching the US markets. While there are currently not that many US investors in South Africa when compared with some other emerging markets, the hike in rate is likely to increase investment interest in the US, with many choosing to take their money out of foreign countries and place it back into the US markets,” says Goslett. “Although year-to-date foreign investors have bought approximately R8.5 billion worth of SA bonds and around R22.9 billion in equities, data has shown that the percentage of non-resident owned SA government bonds has dropped to its lowest level in 18 months due to a loss of appetite ahead of the Fed’s expected interest rate hike. Now that the rate has been hiked this trend is likely to continue.” 
South Africa, along with other emerging-market economies will have to adopt measures that will both attract and retain foreign investment interest. 
According to economists, while the interest rate hiking cycle is likely to bring about a correction in US and global stocks, the correction will only have a mild impact on long-term investors, who should not be deterred. Property for example, will be far less impacted by the change as mortgages are not entirely dependent upon the Fed rate. Even with the increase, the overall rates will still be well below historic averages and it is anticipated that a slight increase will not have much impact on property sales in the US. The National Association of Realtors still forecasts that existing home sales in the US during 2016 will increase to 5.5 million from an anticipated 5.3 million in 2015. This is largely due to the fact that property investors do not solely base their decision on mortgage rates, but also take into consideration factors such as location, price, size and proximity to amenities. 
Goslett says that investors who have purchased property, which is viewed as a long-term investment, should remain invested rather than attempting to time the market. “While the property market experiences cyclical phases, property investments are far less volatile than other investment vehicles such as the equity and share markets, proving to be a solid asset class in which to invest over the long term,” advises Goslett.  “Although there are sometimes unexpected factors that can impact on the property market, generally property price growth is fairly consistent over time. This makes it easier to more accurately predict the potential return on investment with a property purchase as opposed to any other investment class. Unlike other investment options, there is no need for a property investor to constantly be watching the market to see exactly the right time they need to sell to make a profit,” he says. 
Goslett notes that with the US Fed increasing its rate, which will place pressure on the rand, and inflation expected to rise over the silly season due to excessive spending, it is likely that the South African Reserve Bank will continue on its hiking cycle. South African consumers can expect further interest rate hikes during the first half of next year. “Although interest rates have recently increased and are expected to go up further in the near future, rates are still relatively low when compared with the rates seen post-recession - in June 2008 the prime interest rate was 15.50%. It will be sometime before South African consumers see a rate that is even close to that,” says Goslett.
He urges consumers and prospective property buyers to focus on reducing debt levels and increasing their savings. “Those with low or no debt and savings in place, will see the rate hiking cycle in a far more positive light. Reducing debt will give prospective buyers the best opportunity to get into the property market. It is important to remember that despite rising interest rates, property will remain a sought-after asset class in the future and a key building block to personal wealth,” Goslett concludes. 
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Maintaining your holiday homeTue 15 Dec 2015

Maintaining your holiday home
Whether a primary residence or holiday home, upkeep is a vital aspect of homeownership, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Maintaining a property assists in ensuring that the home holds its value over time and that it remains in a livable condition,” says Goslett. “However, for many owners there is often the dilemma of what work needs to be done on the property and what they can actually afford to do when owning a second property.”
He notes that when a homeowner is at their holiday home enjoying their time off, the last thing they will feel like doing is thinking about what needs to be done around the property to prepare it for the months when they are not there. However, just like their primary residence their holiday home will need to be taken care of. “The grass grows rapidly during the rainy season, leaves fall from the trees during the autumn months and the swimming pool turns green. These are just some of the aspects that need to be considered and addressed by those who have holiday homes. It is also important to remember any large-scale maintenance projects should be booked well in advance, as experienced, reliable contractors are often not working during the holiday season,” says Goslett. “When selecting a contractor get at least two quotes for work that needs to be carried out on the property. It is surprising how different the range of prices can be from one contractor to the next. It is also advisable to ask for contactable references.”
Goslett adds that if the property is going to be left empty for long periods of time during the year, there are several things that holiday homeowners can do to ensure that their property is kept in a good condition: 
Exterior Maintenance:
Exterior walls – Check for any cracks in the exterior walls and carry out the necessary repairs. Cracks in the walls could lead to damp problems, which can be costly to fix. Early detection and maintenance will prevent larger repair outlays at a later stage. 
Door locks – Ensure that all door locks are in good working order and where necessary replace faulty lock barrels. This aspect cannot be over emphasized as it will assist in keeping the home safe when no-one is around. Remember to also have a look at the locks on any out-buildings such as sheds.  
Gutters and downpipes – debris can cause blockages in gutters and downpipes, which could result in penetrating damp and damaged fascia boards. Holiday homeowners should clear any leaves or foreign items out of their gutters at least once a year.  It is also advisable to replace any damaged gutter sections and seal joints. 
Drains - If possible, jet wash any accessible drainage points. This will prevent blockages from forming and ensure the integrity of the drain. 
Window and door frames – wooden frames will require regular maintenance, especially if the home is located at the coast.  Wooden frames should be inspected for rot and treated with a weatherproofing solvent at least once a year. Although it might be expensive at the onset, replacing wooden frames with aluminum will reduce the need for maintenance and will be a cost effective solution over the long term.
Patios and terraces – Wash down the patio or terrace to remove any dirt and see whether any grouting is missing and needs to be replaced. Remove and repair any damaged grout to prevent frost damage over the colder months and to ensure good surface drainage. 
It may also be worthwhile to consider getting the lawnmower and garden equipment serviced. 
Interior Maintenance:
Geysers – The geyser is the most power-hungry component in a home. Ensure that the geyser is turned off over periods when the property is not in use.
Water Mains – The water should be shut off at the mains. Once the water mains have been shut off, open up all the taps in the basins, sinks and showers to drain all the water from the pipes. This will prevent the water in the pipes from causing rust. 
Plugs - If possible, remove all plugs from wall sockets to prevent electrical equipment being damaged during thunderstorms. 
Fridge and freezer – The freezer and the fridge should be thoroughly defrosted and the doors should be left open to prevent mold from forming inside the unit.
“A property that is well-maintained will retain its value and will be a pleasure to those who make use of it. Taking care of the property and fixing  problems as soon as they arise, will ensure that small issues don’t become major complications,” Goslett concludes.
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Sellers: Deciding between multiple offersMon 14 Dec 2015

Sellers: Deciding between multiple offers
With the growing demand for property and many areas experiencing stock shortages, it is becoming more and more common for sellers to get multiple offers on their home, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  He notes that while it might be tempting for the seller to accept the offer with the highest monetary value, it is essential that they assess each of the offers they receive based on its own merits. 
“At first glance it would seem that the offer with the highest rand figure would be the natural choice, however the seller should read through each of the offers carefully, paying specific attention to the clauses in each,” says Goslett. “In cases such as this, sellers will benefit greatly from working with a trusted real estate agent who can assist them through the process of selecting the right offer to purchase. An agent’s role is to act in the best interest of the seller and ensure that the best possible result is reached during the property transaction. While the highest value offer is the ultimate goal, there are several other elements that will have an impact on the transaction and should be considered before making a final decision.”
Goslett says that before even considering an offer, the seller will need to ensure that they have a few aspects in place:
1. The seller needs to make sure that all documentation regarding the property is up-to-date and correct. If any renovations or additions have been made to the property the seller is required to have copies of any council-approved plans. This will reduce the time it takes for the property to be transferred and will ensure everything goes smoothly.
2. Ensure that the contract is in plain language and easy to understand. It should also detail all the elements that the parties need to agree to, including factors such as which items will be regarded as fixtures and fittings. Having these aspects in a written document will reduce any chance of a misunderstanding or disagreement in the future.
According to Goslett, when the seller is considering each of the offers they receive, there are a number of aspects they should pay particular attention to. These factors will help them in the decision-making process:
Offer is subject to conditions
The majority of offers that a seller will receive will be subject to certain conditions transpiring first, such as the sale of the buyer’s previous home. While it is not very common to find an offer that is totally void of conditions, the seller will need to keep in mind that their home will be off the market while the terms and conditions of the offer are waiting to be met. 
Does the buyer have a deposit?
Generally banks will require most buyers to have a deposit of between 10% and 30% of the purchase price of the home to be approved for finance. A deposit will greatly increase a buyer’s chances of bond approval. A deposit is an excellent indication that the buyer is in a financial position to purchase a home and are serious about the offer. 
Consider the financing
Simply put – cash is king. A cash buyer will not be reliant on the bank for bond approval before they are able to go ahead with the purchase. This makes the transaction far less complicated, so less can go wrong. It is also important to remember that a bank is far more willing to grant finance to a buyer that requires less than 80% of the purchase price of the property. 
Although it is generally not an issue, it is advisable to be cautious of buyers that require third parties to sign a surety on their behalf. The seller should also look at whether the buyer can provide proof from the bank that the funds are available to back up the offer.
Date of occupation
Note the date of occupation on each of the offers. Ideally the occupational date should coincide with the transfer date as much as possible. This will ensure that unnecessary stress and complications are kept to a minimum in the event that the deal falls through. If the offer contains any suspensive conditions, the sellers should not allow occupation of the home until these conditions are met and all documentation has been signed by both the buyer and seller at the conveyance attorney. The seller can counter the occupation date, if the best offer on the table doesn’t quite meet their timeline.  
“Once a seller has considered all other factors and are content to move forward, they should then consider the value of the offer. In some cases, a lower offer might be the right offer depending on the conditions presented. The seller needs to select an offer that best fits  their needs,” Goslett concludes.
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Keep it freshFri 11 Dec 2015

Keep it fresh
Updating the exterior of the home with a fresh coat of paint is a great way to refresh the look of a property and make it more attractive to buyers. “In fact,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, “a new coat of paint does not only add to the aesthetic appeal of a home, it can also have an influence on the perceived value of the property. However, it is important to select the right colour to complement the home and its surroundings.”
He notes that while choosing the colour for the home will largely be based on the homeowner’s personal preference and sense of style, one method which homeowners can use to give them a basic guideline on where to start is by using the acronym of the word FRESH when considering which colour to use. 
F: This stands for features on the exterior of the home that are fixed. Fixed features include the permanent design elements of the home such as the foundation stone, brick facades and pathways. “Very often there will be a colour that is common to all these elements which should be identified in order to find the right colour paint that will enhance it,” Goslett explains. 
R: Look at the regional colours in the particular area in which the home is situated. These colours will usually be based on elements such as the surroundings, styles and building materials used.  Neighbourhood consistency will make the area more inviting and aesthetically pleasing to buyers. 
E: Consider the environment in which the home is located, as the chosen colour will need to complement its surroundings, whether that be city, beach or mountainside.  Nature as well as the built environment should be considered to ensure that there is a sense of continuity with the rest of the houses in the neighbourhood. Have a walk around the property and take in the various sites, perhaps making note of what is seen with a camera. This will allow the homeowner to see any common colour palettes and take note of elements such as the surrounding landscape, foliage, textures and adjacent buildings. Most neutral colours will blend in with any environment; however the homeowner can opt to paint the home in a contrasting white to make it stand out. The colour white is known to show off the architectural details of a home.  
S: Style of the home. Some colours work well with a particular style of home more than others, depending on the overall look and feel of the property. There are also certain areas in some parts of the country that will have a specific building style and colour scheme that best suits that type of architecture, for example Cape Dutch style housing is generally white. 
H: Where possible preserve the intrinsic colours of the area’s history. If the home is situated in an area with a rich history, a coastal area or rural environment, customary colours of the area should be preserved. In coastal environments, various blues are used to mimic the colours of the ocean. Very often the natural habitat of certain geographical areas surrounding the home will have a large influence on how the home should look and feel.
Goslett advises homeowners who are unsure of any colour, to test several swatches of the colour palette on a section of the home. “Allow the painted area to dry for 24 hours and then view it in the morning, noon and evening, as the colours will appear to be different tones depending on the time of day. This will give homeowners the chance to compare the shades to see which one is best for them,” says Goslett.  
He concludes by saying that while the home’s surroundings will give the homeowner an idea of where to start, each home and homeowner is different and what works for one may not work for another. Be individual and let your home be a reflection of your style and personality.
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The landlord is selling, what are my rights?Tue 08 Dec 2015

The landlord is selling, what are my rights?
Many tenants may find themselves in a situation where the landlord decides to put their rental property on the market. What rights does the tenant have if this happens? Are they within their right to breach the lease agreement that they have in place with the landlord?
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that according to South African legislation a landlord is not prohibited from selling the rental property to a third party while the property is occupied by a tenant and there is a leasing agreement in place. “However,” says Goslett, “in terms of the legal principle huur gaan voort koop, the lease agreement precedes the sale. As a result the tenant is within their right to retain occupation of the property for the remainder of the agreed upon lease period.”
He adds even though the tenant can stay for the remainder of the of the lease agreement, some may feel anxious about possibly dealing with a different landlord or the renewal terms of the lease with the new owner. Another concern is what the new owner intends to do with the property. It is possible that the new owner intends on living in the property themselves, rather than letting it out. 
“If the tenant finds themselves in such a situation, they might want to find alternative accommodation as soon as possible. However, the tenant’s right to terminate the agreement will largely be determined by the contract that they signed and what the law stipulates. The initial step would be for the tenant to read their lease agreement to see where they stand and what obligations they have contractually bound themselves to. In certain cases, there may have been a sales provision made in the agreement for such a situation,” says Goslett. “If agreed upon at the signing of the lease, there might be a stipulation giving the tenant to cancel their current contract should the property be placed on the market.  If these are the terms and there is mutual consent, the tenant is absolved from any penalties that may arise due to breeching the agreement.” 
If no such stipulation exists, Goslett advises that all terms and conditions in the lease before the sale of the property will be carried over to the new owner of the property. Essentially what this means is that it is far more difficult to get out of the contract, if nothing has been specifically stated in the lease with regards to the sale of the property. In this case, if the tenant breaches the lease agreement they could face paying a penalty of some kind. “The lease agreement will remain in effect under the new landlord and the tenant will be obligated by law to respect the stipulated terms, as will the new landlord. 
“It is possible for a buyer to purchase a rental property with the intention of retaining the tenant.  If this is the case they will more than likely not want to release the tenant from their contractual obligations,” says Goslett.
In terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), a fixed term contract within the fixed term can be terminated early on the condition that the new owner is a supplier who lets property in the ordinary course of his business. This is regulated by section 14 of the Act.  In these kinds of situations a tenant is able to give a 20 business day notice period during the term of the lease. However, they would then be liable for the notice month and possibly a reasonable penalty fee. Goslett says that the CPA will not be applicable if the parties to a lease agreement are both juristic persons.  
“Ideally, before the tenant makes any decisions about cancelling their lease agreement, they should first communicate with the landlord. Discussing the matter could help put certain issues to rest and there may be little or no need for concern. There is the possibility that the sale of the property only takes place after the period of the lease agreement has expired, or the new landlord may be better than the current one,” Goslett concludes.
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