Some light at the end of the tunnelThu 20 Jul 2017

While the Reserve Bank had said it had come to an end of its hiking cycle, few would have predicted a cut in the rates this year.  In fact, a cutting cycle was only expected in 2018 However, South African Reserve Bank governor Lesetja Kganyago, announced today that the interest rate would decrease by 25 basis points, bringing the repo rate down to 6.75% and the prime rate down to 10.25%.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that the decision to lower the rates will bring much-needed relief to homeowners and consumers who are still coming to terms with the continued rising cost of living. However, whether the rate cut will stimulate the property market will remain to be seen. He notes that uncertain policy and the recent credit downgrades have negatively impacted consumer confidence which has slowed the market in most areas throughout the country. Goslett says that a slower economy and rising unemployment rate has also played a role in the property sector, resulting in the decline of freehold property prices.
“During the second quarter of the year, the average price of freehold property declined from R1 161 481 to R1 139 604. The muted inflation of freehold homes can be largely attributed to the slower South African economy and rising unemployment rate. The unemployment rate in South Africa is currently at 27.7%, the highest it has been since 2008. The struggling economy and significant unemployment rate poses a threat to household income growth and erodes affordability. In turn, demand for property is constrained which negatively affected property prices,” says Goslett.

 

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Tools that every homeowner needsTue 18 Jul 2017

Tools that every homeowner needs

Becoming a homeowner is a milestone that many aspire to, however owning a property comes with a few additional responsibilities, like home maintenance. Why is maintaining a home so important? “For two reasons,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, “the first reason is to protect the value of the home, and the second reason is to ensure that the occupants of the home remain safe. Staying on top of things with minor fixes will help you to avoid big problems further down the line.”
He adds that while home maintenance is a necessary element of owning property, it does not have to cost the homeowner a lot of money, especially if they have a reasonable amount of know-how and some basic but vital tools around the house. “There are some tools that are an absolute necessity in every household. Tools that will assist homeowners in taking care of general, basic maintenance jobs that might be required of them,” says Goslett.
Here is a list of some very helpful tools that should be kept in the home:
Screwdrivers
Whether tightening a loose fixture, removing a light covering, assembling a new piece of furniture or replacing a light bulb – new homeowners will soon find out that there are very few maintenance tasks that don’t require a screwdriver. At some stage, every homeowner will need to use a screwdriver, making it an essential household tool. Ideally, homeowners should have an array of different sizes of both flathead and Philips-head screwdrivers. While a reasonably inexpensive tool, it will soon be regarded as a must-have item that the homeowner can't do without. 
Hammer
Another staple in a homeowner’s maintenance arsenal is the hammer. A good hammer will come in handy when hanging 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 spirit or wall level
It is far easier to hang a shelf or artwork on a level plane with a spirit level as a guide. While an experienced eye will be able to hang items fairly well, a wall level takes the guesswork out of the job and ensures that the piece of art or shelf is perfectly even on the first try.
A utility knife
Also known as a Stanley knife or box cutter, a utility knife 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.
A putty knife is another excellent knife to have in the house, as it is the ideal tool for replacing a broken window pane – an absolute necessity for families with small boys.
Measuring tape
Often homeowners need to know how big a certain area in the home is before they purchase an appliance or item of furniture. Having an accurate way to measure the space will save a lot of frustration. A measuring tape is an ideal tool to make sure that homeowners don’t purchase an item that doesn’t fit in the intended space.
Measuring tapes come in various lengths from three metres upwards. While a 3-metre tape is perfect for most jobs around the home, a 5-metre or 8-metre measuring tape will allow homeowners to measure larger spaces in a shorter time.
Flashlight
Whether it's dealing with a power cut or trying to find something that has fallen into a dark space, a durable, good-quality flashlight, as well as extra batteries, is a must for every household. If not finding your way around the house during load shedding, a flashlight is also extremely handy when working on repairs in tighter and darker areas around the home. While more expensive from the outset, hybrid flashlights that use solar power or are rechargeable will save the homeowner on batteries over the long term.
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 that has serrated jaws offering a 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 them easier to find and store.
Goslett concludes by saying that being prepared and owning the right tools, will make any maintenance job far easier to handle.

 

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Tenants - Are you creditworthy?Mon 17 Jul 2017

Tenants - Are you creditworthy?

In South Africa’s highly competitive rental market properties are in high demand and short supply. With economic uncertainty and the rising cost of living placing pressure on consumers, many have put their homeownership aspirations on the backburner and are opting to remain in the rental market for the meanwhile. As a result, demand in the rental market has continued to increase, making it more and more difficult for tenants to find a suitable rental property.

Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the competition for rental property coupled with changes in legislation has led to landlords and rental agents scrutinising each potential tenant, which has also made it harder for tenants to find a rental property.  “The Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act 19 of 1998 (PIE) and the Consumer Protection Act 68 of 2008 (CPA) have made it more difficult to evict tenants, even those who default on the rental payment. As a result, landlords and management agents have introduced more stringent screening criteria to ensure they select the right tenant from the start. In today’s market, the creditworthiness of a tenant has become more important with landlords starting to check credit reports to establish whether the potential tenant has a clean credit history,” says Goslett.

While once reserved for those looking to purchase a home, being creditworthy is just as important to tenants in the current market. “Much like a bank will run credit checks before they approve a bond, landlords and letting agents are also running checks because they want to make sure that the tenant they select is both willing and able to time their bills on time,” says Goslett. “Regardless of whether the tenant has a high income and the money to pay the required deposit – a clear credit record is a must.”

According to Goslett, a favourable credit score and clean credit record is a valuable asset when applying for a rental property. Each year consumers can obtain a free credit report from the credit bureaus within the country to assess their financial position. He notes that it is advisable for tenants to know your credit score and check your credit record for any inaccuracies.  

“Any missed, or slow payments will have a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. However, it is also important to be mindful of the less obvious credit infractions such as opening too many accounts, numerous credit enquiries, co-signing for a third party or only paying the minimum required payment. All of these things will impair your records and could scare off landlords,” Goslett explains.

He provides prospective tenants with tips to avoid adverse information on their credit history:

  • Read all clauses before signing a contract with a creditor
  • Make regular payments to creditor by the 7th of each month
  • Keep a list of all creditors, the basis of credit and amount to be paid
  • Keep a record of all payments made to creditors
  • If you relocate, notify all creditors of the change of address
  • Attend to all correspondence from creditors or their legal representation

Tenants can get a free credit report from the following sites:

www.transunion.co.za

www.experion.co.za

www.xds.co.za

www.compusan.co.za

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The four don'ts of listing your homeTue 11 Jul 2017

The four don'ts of listing your home

Just as most people require assistance when navigating the property purchasing process, the same can be said about those who find themselves listing their first property. “There is a lot to consider,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, “which is why it is best to bring on board an experienced real estate professional who can assist with pricing the home correctly and marketing it to the right target audience. Together with an agent, sellers can work through the process of listing their home and achieving the best possible price in the shortest possible time frame.”
He adds that as sellers tick off items on their property listing to-do list, it is also important for them to consider the things they should avoid when placing their home on the market.  Goslett provides four things in particular that sellers should avoid when listing their home:
Don’t make too many improvements
Preparing the home for sale and ensuring that it is in good condition will improve the seller’s chance of selling the property and increase their possible return on investment. Updating certain aspects and replacing anything that is broken is a great idea. However, it is important not to over improve or make improvements that are extremely specific to a certain taste. Not everyone wants a home gym or built-in bar. It is best to stay neutral and make improvements that will appeal to the greatest number of people.  
Avoid over-decorating
When it comes to decorating – less is more. Much like over-improving, over-decorating should be avoided. Stick to a simple decorating style that is universally palatable. Steer clear of adding too many items to a room, as it will make a space appear smaller and cramped. If the home is not cluttered, it leaves the focus on what’s important – the home’s features.
Leave the showing to the agent
If the agent calls to say they are bringing a prospective buyer to view the property, while not always possible, it is best to be out of the home. Buyers want to imagine themselves living in a home; this isn’t easy if they are constantly confronted with the seller.  Having the seller and their family at home can make it uncomfortable for buyers to view the home. If getting out of the house isn’t possible for whatever reason, at least sit outside to give buyers the opportunity to envision themselves living in the space.
It’s not personal
After living in a home for some time, it is natural to be emotionally attached. 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. It is important to bear in mind that buyers won’t be viewing the property with the same emotional response. While it can be difficult at times, it is best not to take things personally.
“Avoiding these don’ts will help to ensure that the process of listing a home is less stressful and a far easier procedure to handle,” Goslett concludes.

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Pros and cons of solar panelsMon 10 Jul 2017

Pros and cons of solar panels

As residential electricity tariffs continue to increase and place financial pressure on South African households, many are looking at alternate power sources, such as solar panels, in an attempt to reduce their household electricity consumption.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the more electricity a household uses, the more it is charged per unit of electricity. Because of this, there is a growing trend of households introducing energy-efficient elements to curb their energy usage and overall cost of running the home. “While the concept of ‘green energy’ is not new, the growing cost of electricity has led to consumers becoming more conscious of the energy they use. A study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that apart from a safe neighbourhood, the factor that influenced home-buying decisions the most was a home’s energy efficiency,” says Goslett.
He notes that elements such as solar panels have become increasingly more popular with the energy-efficient movement gaining momentum. However, Goslett says that there are a few pros and cons that homeowners should consider before they go ahead with adding solar panels to their home:
Pro – Reduce utility bill
It goes without saying that using power generated from the sun will reduce the amount of electricity used from the main power grid, which will reduce the household’s utility bill. In most cases, solar panel systems save between 50% and 75% of an electricity bill. The money saved can go towards paying the solar panels off or other household expenses.
Con – The upfront cost
Even though solar panels have become more affordable over the years, the initial upfront cost of installation can be expensive, and it could take some time for the system to pay itself off – typically around seven years.
Pro – Increases value of the home
Energy-efficient elements add value to a home, and a large percentage of the initial outlay of such elements is recouped when the property is sold. “According to the NAHB, approximately 61% of homebuyers would be prepared to pay an additional R50 000 to R100 000 on a home that had features which would reduce utility costs,” says Goslett.
Con – Won’t work on every roof
There are some roofing materials, particularly in older homes, that make it difficult to install solar panels such as slate tiles. There is also the matter of available space on the roof, many homes have limited clear space to fit the solar panels.
Pro – Reduced carbon footprint
Although going green will save money on utility costs and add value to the home – the financial aspect it is not the only reason. It is also about sustainability and reducing the household’s effect on the environment and its surroundings. Generating energy from fossil fuels emits harmful carbon dioxide and methane which contributes to global warming – using solar panels for power does not. Solar power also doesn’t require water to process, while other energy sources do.
Con – Maintenance
As with all household elements, solar panels require upkeep and maintenance, which come at an additional cost. The solar panels will need to be cleaned, repaired when necessary and insured.  
“For the right home, installing solar panels could provide a sustainable method of reducing both their energy cost and impact on the environment,” Goslett concludes.

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Landlord is selling - what are my options?Fri 07 Jul 2017

Landlord is selling - what are my options?

If a landlord decides that they would like to sell their rental property, do tenants have to move out? According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, the law does not prevent a homeowner from selling their property while it is being rented out to a third party. However, the lease agreement precedes the sale. “Essentially this means that the tenant can remain in occupation of the rental property until the lease agreement lapses,” he adds.
While there is no obligation for the tenant to move out of the property, the change in ownership could bring about anxious feelings at the prospect of having to deal with another landlord or the renewal terms of the lease with the new owner. There is also the matter of the new owner's intentions. If the home was not purchased as an investment property, but rather a primary residence, the new owner will not want to renew the lease as they will want to take occupation as soon as possible.
“Instead of waiting out the lease, some tenants may want to find alternative accommodation sooner rather than later. If this is the case, they will need to read through the lease agreement to see what it says about early termination. It is possible for there to be 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 the right to cancel the contract should the property be sold.  If these are the terms and there is mutual consent, the tenant is absolved from any penalties that may arise due to a breach of the agreement.”
If no such sale stipulation exists, then all terms and conditions of the lease before the sale of the property will be carried over to the new owner, making it far more difficult to get out of for the tenant. 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.
If the tenant decides to leave before the lease ends, they will be regarded as being in breach of the contract and could face paying a penalty of some kind. “An investment buyer may have purchased the property with the intention of retaining the tenant. In this situation, they will be less likely to release the tenant from the lease agreement,” says Goslett.
Regarding 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 their business. Section 14 of the Act regulates these matters.  In these circumstances, a tenant can 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. It is important to bear in mind that if the landlord and tenant are both juristic persons, the CPA cannot be applied.
“Before making any decisions regarding cancelling the lease agreement, tenants should discuss the matter with the new landlord. Communicating will ensure that both parties are on the same page and will help put certain issues to rest. There could be little or no need for concern. The sale of the property might only take place after the lease agreement has expired, or the new landlord may be better than the current one,” Goslett concludes.

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How to get over the one that got awayThu 06 Jul 2017

How to get over the one that got away

You finally find the ideal home that you have been looking for, complete with all the features you have always wanted, from the right kind of countertops to the right size garden and everything in between. You envisage all the good times you are going to have in your new home while signing an offer to purchase - but fate intervenes. Whether it’s a more attractive offer from a competing buyer or a seller that changes their mind and decides to stay – the deal falls through.  What now? How do you recover?
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says just because a buyer may have missed out on one home it doesn’t mean that they should give up hope and stop trying. “If a home is well looked after and priced correctly – it will attract attention from multiple interested parties. While this is great for sellers, only one buyer will be successful in securing the deal, which may mean many walking away disappointed. If buyers are persistent and patient, they will have more chances of finding a home that suits their needs,” says Goslett.
He provides buyers with a few tips to deal with the disappointment and keeping going:
Get back in the game
If you are going to sit around and think about the one that got away, don’t do it for too long. Perhaps a quick toast to what could have been, and then get straight back to the search. Things move fast in today’s property market, so there is no time to waste on something that will never be. While you are sitting on the sidelines, opportunities at finding an even better hope are passing by.
Don’t dwell on one dwelling
We all know the adage - “there are more fish in the sea.” The saying rings true in the housing market. Don’t dwell on just one dwelling – remove the listing that got away and move forward. Delete any photos you took of the property during the viewing and do your best to not compare new homes with the one you lost. There are many homes out there with lots of new possibilities, so keep an open mind.
Don’t rush in and settle
Don’t let being despondent and frustrated push you into a rushed property purchase. Some buyers may be inclined to buy the next available property within their budget just to get the process over with, which is not advised. Rather stay true to your list of wants and needs. While certain elements could be compromised on, it is not good to completely abandon your idea of the ideal home.
Relook at the budget
Take a step back and re-evaluate your budget. Is there a difference between what you can afford to spend and what the homes you have been looking at are selling for? Perhaps you need to save up a bit more to be more competitive when making an offer? Alternatively, it might be a matter of looking at a less expensive neighbourhood to find a home that has everything you want. Either way, this is a great time to reflect and regroup.
Talk to your real estate agent
Your agent will be able to provide some valuable advice on surviving the highs and lows of your real estate journey.

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National Housing Report 2017 – Q2Wed 05 Jul 2017



Deeds Office statistics reveal that in the second quarter of this year, 35 637 bonds were registered, with an average bond amount of approximately R1 033 000. The number of bonds registered increased by 549, while the average bond amount increased by R6 000 when compared with last quarter's figures. Approximately 51 515 bonds were cancelled during the same time frame.
Average freehold price softens
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that while the average price of a sectional title unit increased from R944 008 to R948 176 during Q2, the average price of freehold property declined from R1 161 481 to R1 139 604. He adds that the muted inflation of freehold homes can be attributed to the slower South African economy and rising unemployment rate which is impacting the property market.  According to Stats SA’s Quarterly Labour Force Survey (QLFS),  during the first quarter of the year, unemployment rose to 27.7%, the highest it has been since 2008. Goslett says that the struggling economy and significant unemployment rate poses a threat to household income growth and erodes affordability. In turn, demand for property is restricted which negatively affected property prices.
Goslett says that since the beginning of April up until the end of June, around 28 127 freehold homes have been sold, of which 4 086 are first-time registrations, with the remaining 24 041 repeat sales. During this time frame, 14 807 sectional title units were sold, as well as 6 260 homes within estates. Regarding sectional title sales, only 136 transactions were first-time registrations.


Affordable housing continues to lead the market
Once again data from Lightstone, a property information and statistic provider, revealed that the largest amount of sales traffic in the property market was from homes priced below R400 000. Based on developed home sales, this price bracket accounted for 26.52% of property sales in the second quarter of this year. “With a large percentage of the population falling into the affordable housing market, transaction volumes within this segment of the market continue to outperform all other sectors,” says Goslett.
Other pricing sectors
Properties priced between R400 000 and R800 000 accounted for 25.42% of the sales, while those priced between R800 000 and R1.5 million made up 26.13% of the country’s home sales in the last three months. Homes priced from R1.5 million to R3 million represented a 16.17% share of the market, while properties with a price tag above the R3 million mark, accounted for just 5.76%.
Homeowners downscaling
Goslett says that a trend developing in the market is that many high-end property owners are selling their luxury homes to purchase smaller more affordable properties – possibly another reason for the decline in the average freehold price. Lightstone recently reported that over the last 12 months house price inflation in the luxury band, which is considered homes with a selling price of R1.5 million or higher, has declined.  In contrast, the mid-value segment (R250 000 to R700 000) of the market saw an increase in inflation from 4.67% to 7.07% within the same period.  “The irony is that as the demand for higher-end properties decreases, so will their prices. Likewise, the increased demand for mid-value properties will push up the prices, making them more expensive,” says Goslett. 

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Security a driving factor in rental marketTue 27 Jun 2017

Security a driving factor in rental market

Security has been a major influence in property buying decisions, with South Africans among the most security-conscience home buyers in the world. However, what about the rental market, is security as important?
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that due to financial and various other reasons, a large portion of the population remains in the rental market. Just because they do not own the property they are living in, does it means that safety will be any less of a factor?  “Of course not,” he says, “whether a tenant or owner, security is a top consideration which is impacting both sectors of the market.”
He adds that where the challenge comes in is that while rental properties can be more cost effective and are less responsibility than owning, tenants are restricted in what they can do to the property themselves. “Because of this, tenants should inquire about the security features a property has before they commit to signing a lease agreement. It might be difficult for tenants to get the landlord to upgrade the security after the fact,” says Goslett.
He notes that while landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is in good condition and well-maintained with reasonable security precautions such as door and window locks, landlords are not required to provide any additional security. “If there is a particular property that the tenant would like to rent, they could request permission in writing to install additional security features at their own cost. It is possible that the landlord may pay a portion of the upgrade, as it will increase the value of the home, along with the future potential rental income,” says Goslett.
Before searching for a property to rent, tenants should have an idea about their security criteria and type of property they want. “While sectional title properties are perceived to be a safer than stand-alone homes, they are not untouched by criminal activity.  Security goes beyond the property itself,” says Goslett.  He adds that if the rental property is within a sectional title complex, the tenant should find out about the security features of the complex as a whole, such as access control, security guards on site or patrols. There might be cameras or surveillance of some kind, which will vastly increase the security of the development.
Goslett says that tenants should ask whether access codes or door locks are changed once tenants move out of the rental property. Another aspect to consider is the lighting surrounding the property - dark areas make it easier for intruders to approach and gain access unnoticed.  Outdoor floodlights can mitigate the risk to some degree, and motion-sensor models are a value-for-money, effective option. The exterior is not the only place that requires good lighting. Goslett notes that a lighting timer for inside the home can create the illusion of someone being home even when the tenant is travelling.
As an extra safety precaution, tenants should 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 the property to where the car is parked - check whether the area is well-lit and if there is a garage to park the car in.
In conclusion, Goslett says that tenants should only sign a lease agreement and move into a rental property once all their security criteria have been sufficiently met - feeling safe is an important part of feeling at home.

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Deadly sins of property investmentMon 26 Jun 2017

Deadly sins of property investment

While purchasing investment property can be risky, it can also be a gateway to a future free from financial worry if the right principles are applied, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Seasoned real estate investors will have a fairly wide understanding of the market and the property investment game, however, many first-time investors are likely to make the wrong and often costly decisions cutting their teeth. While there are lucrative investment opportunities in every market, investors need to be aware of and steer clear of certain pitfalls that will negatively influence the return on their investment,” says Goslett.
He provides seven deadly sins that property investors should avoid at all costs:
Patience is key – don’t rush in
Property investment takes time and research. It is never a good idea to rush into any property deal without giving it the consideration it deserves. “A hasty decision can cost an investor down the line. Doing research will empower investors with the knowledge they need to make an informed decision. It will provide them with a greater understanding of the market and assist them in recognised an opportunity when it presents itself,” says Goslett.
It is best to shop around and take the time to compare properties in a particular area and then see what other are available on the market. Look at the price of a property and compare this to the value. An estate agent will also be able to provide a comparative market analysis of the area.
Never underestimate location
All property experts agree that location is of prime importance. The reason for this is that location will largely determine a property’s appreciation potential. No matter how amazing a property is, if it is situated in a bad location – it will never fetch a premium price. “Demand drives property pricing, and prime locations are in high demand, which consistently pushes prices up.Therefore, choosing a property is the right location is essential to the success of the investment,” advises Goslett.
He adds that investors should look for areas that are in proximity to a good range of amenities. Areas that consistently show steady growth in value are those that are near to business nodes, transport routes, good schools and shopping centres. While rental income is important, the primary goal should be capital growth.
Don’t assume
Sellers are required to provide a list of defects that they are aware of; however, it is advisable to have a professional home inspector take a look at the property. They will be able to find problems that may otherwise go unnoticed, such as the structural integrity of the property. It may cost money to hire an inspector, but this could save a lot more money for repairs in the long run.
Get help, don’t go it alone
If possible, why not learn from others mistakes, instead of making your own. “Ideally, it is best to find an experienced, successful investor who is willing to be a mentor.  A savvy property investor that has been in the game for some time will be able to show a new investor the ropes and guide them through the process,” says Goslett.
Never forget the budget
Losing track of finances and debt could be one of the deadest investment sins. It is imperative that investors do in-depth budget and cash flow analysis to determine their financial position accurately.  “Investors must know what they can afford and what they can’t, which can be measured by completing a personal cash flow statement,” says Goslett.
He adds investors should compare financing deals from different banks before deciding to secure a home loan, as the even a small variant in the interest rate charged will have a big impact on the investment over the long term.  It is also important to bear in mind that most banks still require a deposit of between 10% and 30% of the purchase price.
Don’t neglect maintenance
Regardless of whether it is a primary residence or part of a rental portfolio, keeping the property well maintained is an essential element of ensuring a good return on that investment.  “Maintenance costs should form part of the investor’s budget and plan. They will also need to ensure they have the time or capacity to manage and maintain the property. With a rental property, a management agent can be hired to ensure all repairs and general management is taken care of,” says Goslett.
Remember to diversify
According to Goslett, when purchasing property specifically for investment purposes, it is imperative to diversify your portfolio as it will minimise exposure to risk. Rather than putting all eggs in one basket, investors should try to buy different kinds of properties in various areas.
He concludes by saying that property investors should learn as much as possible about the environment they are trading in, consult various experts and make use of reputable and knowledgeable real estate professionals to assist them in their investment endeavours.

 

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Listing photos - Make sure they are goodThu 22 Jun 2017

Listing photos - Make sure they are good

According to research, most buyers will start looking for property online before they go to any other source. What this means is that the first impression buyers will have of a home is its online listing photo. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of REMAX of Southern Africa, says that this shows the importance of using listings photos that highlight the home’s top features to entice buyers to want to look further.
“An attractive, highly marketable home can be overlooked by buyers if the listing images are poor quality or don’t showcase the property’s selling points. For this reason, it is imperative that listing photos are high-quality images that draw in buyers’ attention and provide them with insight into what the property has to offer.  Buyers are not going to take the time to see the home in person if the are not interested in what the images portray online. Sellers should ensure that they are completely satisfied with the images that the agent uses to market their home,” advises Goslett.
It goes without saying that not every seller will have professional photographic expertise, but most will be able to discern whether a photo is good or bad. Sellers need to look at the photos from a buyers perspective and be as objective as possible. “Ask yourself, if you saw this photo and nothing else, would you want to see more? Are the images enticing or would you scan over it and move onto the next home?”
While the task of taking the photos can be left up to the agent or a professional photographer, Goslett says sellers should ensure that they prepare and get their home ready before it is photographed. He provides a few pointers that seller can use to ensure the images of the home convey the right message:
Ensure the home is clean and tidy
Sellers should look at the photoshoot as a show day and prepare the home accordingly.  Pack away items that are not in use, ensure the beds are made and that there are no dirty dishes in the sink. These things will detract from what’s important and will draw the attention away from the home’s features. If the photos are in high resolution, which is advisable, the photos could reflect evidence of dirt, so the home should be cleaned beforehand. Pay particular attention to reflective surfaces, as these can easily show marks and streaks.
Get rid of clutter
A simple, minimalistic look will keep the focus on the home’s features and not on the seller’s style. Less is more, so if it is possible, remove clutter and any bulky pieces of furniture that can make an area appear smaller than it is.
Take a few test shots
With the advent of digital cameras, sellers can take as many photographs as they need to get the right ones. A good idea would be to take a photo, review it, and then make adjustments if need be.
Pay attention to the interior and exterior
When preparing the home for a photo shoot, don’t just focus all the effort on the inside. Mow the lawn and ensure that the garden is clear of refuse. Pack away any garden tools and toys that may be outside. If possible, it is best if there aren’t any vehicles in the pictures.
The weather and time of day
The ideal time to take a photo of the property would be either early in the morning or late in the afternoon on a clear sunny day. These times of day will ensure that the home is sufficiently lit without having the harsh glare of the midday hours. If the light is too bright, the photos could appear flat or colourless.  If the weather is overcast and rainy, there is the chance that the home could appear very dark and uninviting. Irrespective of whether photos are being taken of the inside or the outside of the home, ensure that the lights on as this will provide extra lighting and enhance the details seen in the photos.
Ideally, use a professional
Although photos taken by the seller or agent can suffice, it is best to get the expertise of a professional photographer.
“Because photos play such a pivotal role in the successful marketing of the property, it’s  worth making sure that the images are of a high quality and standard.  Through the eyes of potential buyers, the photos can impact how the property is perceived and whether they would be willing to take the next step of viewing the property in person. Taking the time and effort to get the images right will pay off and will help the seller achieve their goal of attracting buyers,” Goslett concludes.

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The role of the EAABTue 20 Jun 2017

The role of the EAAB

According to a Homeowner Insights study conducted by Absa and Columinate in 2016, only 16% of people selling their properties trusted their estate agents. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that a possible reason for this statistic is that there is a lack of proper expectations that are being set out from the beginning of the homeowner’s interaction with the estate agent.
“Estate agents need to be upfront with their clients and from the outset give realistic guidelines and information as to what they can expect from the agent and the sales process.  Also, it is important to take into consideration that of the approximate 40 000 real estate agents operating in South Africa - not everyone can be considered to be a full-time professional agent regardless of their qualifications. The property sales process is complex, and it should be handled by a professional who has the necessary experience to deal the many facets involved,” advises Goslett.
How can estate agents change the perception in the market and build trust with their clients? “It takes a long time to build trust – it is not something that happens overnight. It takes time to build trust, but only one act to break it. For agents to change the perception of them in the market, they need to do what they say they are going to do. If expectations have been established, the agent needs to follow through to ensure that the expectations are met to their client's satisfaction. Agents build up a metaphoric ‘trust bank’ with their clients, making deposits by being trustworthy and a person that sticks to their word,” says Goslett.  
Even if an agent has the right qualification to sell a property, it does not mean that they are trustworthy or reputable. “The agent may be qualified to deal with the complexity of a property sales transaction, but this will not give the seller any insight into whether they are ethical in their business practices. Essentially the only way that a seller will be able to know whether they are dealing with an ethical agent is by contacting their previous clients and references.  As with most services or professionals, the best agent is a referral from a trusted source such as a family member or friend,” advises Goslett.
He adds that while it is essentially the individual agent who needs to ensure that they conduct themselves in an honourable manner, there are measures in place to ensure that their clients are not without recourse if the dealings sour. “Buyers and sellers should only deal with estate agents who hold a Fidelity Fund Certificate, issued by the Estate Agents Affairs Board (EAAB). The EAAB aims to regulate the industry and ensure that consumers are protected in their dealings with real estate agents,” advises Goslett. “The EAAB manages and controls the Estate Agents Affairs Fund, which exists to reimburse someone who, under certain circumstances, has suffered a loss due to their dealings with an estate agent, such as mishandling money that has been entrusted to them.”
If a dispute arises between an agent and their client, depending on the circumstances, the EAAB will set up a mediation to ensure that the matter gets resolved. Many of the agreements that estate agents use when entering into a contract with their client will have a clause that deals with disputes and the procedure that needs to be followed should one occur.  Goslett concludes by saying that if the matter is not resolved by the EAAB, the client still has the option of contacting an attorney and taking legal action.

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Property - Asset or expense?Mon 19 Jun 2017

Property - Asset or expense?

Is property an asset or expense? At first glance, the question seems to be simple to answer, of course, property is an asset. However, there is more to it than initially meets the eye.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says when looking at a primary residence, the home being an asset will be determined by whether the value of the property is appreciating or depreciating. He notes that there are several factors that will have an influence on the property’s value such as the market, growth in the area and the demand for property in the area. Regarding a second or investment property, whether or not it is an asset will be based on whether it is generating a profit from the income it receives.
“While some people may perceive higher end homes as assets, it is less about price and more about growth in value. Regardless of what end of the scale the home is on if the value of the home is showing growth – it is an asset,” says Goslett.
So how can property buyers ensure that they are purchasing an asset and not an expense? According to Goslett, buyers need to do their research and make the right decision upfront. When selecting a property, there are some aspects that need to be taken into consideration, such as location, which is a key element in the home’s potential for growth in value. “Buyers also need to look at the price of homes in the area and how they have grown over the last few years, as well as any future development plans that may be happening in the area that could have an impact on the property’s value,” he adds.
Goslett says that a great way to assess an area’s potential for future appreciation is by looking at the past and the history of the area. “By looking back, it is possible to some degree to look ahead. Useless there are big changes happening in the area, it is a fairly safe bet to gauge the future appreciation potential of an area based on its past performance,” Goslett explains.
He adds that upgrades to infrastructure or the development of new amenities will positively impact the appreciation potential of the homes in an area. “While it depends on the facility, the introduction of a mall can boost property values in an area as it offers convenience to the residents. However, the shopping mall will only add value to an area if it is a well-run establishment that attracts the right kind of foot traffic,” says Goslett. “That said, I would say schools have a greater influence on property values than shopping malls. Many potential buyers look for a property with education in mind, whether they currently have children or not. Again, how the school impacts on the area is based on the school and its reputation. A good school that offers an exceptional education will increase demand for property surrounding it, which will push property prices up.”
The success of a property investment is based on the decisions made at the start of the purchasing process – not when the property is sold. “To purchase an asset that grows in value over time, buyers need to do their homework and an make informed decision before they put pen to paper,” Goslett concludes.

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Considering letting out your property?Thu 15 Jun 2017

Considering letting out your property?
While the thought of owning and letting out property is an appealing financial venture to many, there is more to being a landlord than collecting the rent each month, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“Depending on the circumstances, owning a rental property can be fairly time consuming and involved, especially if you decide to manage the property yourself,” says Goslett. “It is possible for the endeavour to be financially rewarding, but it is vital to be fully aware of what it entails before taking the leap. Understanding what is involved and doing some research on the matter will put you in the best position to handle whatever may come your way and increase the chance of making it a success.”
Here are five aspects that all potential landlords should think about when considering getting into the property rental business:
1. You are in it for the long haul
Property should be considered a long-term investment - it takes time for property to appreciate in value and build equity. A rental property will likely get to the stage that it is paying for itself, or ideally making a profit – but this will take time.  “While possible, it is rare that the rental will cover all the costs from the outset. Whether part of the bond repayment or merely maintenance of the property, it is likely that you will need to carry some of the monthly costs in the beginning. However, the rental amount will increase over time, reducing the amount of money you as the landlord will need to cover. Eventually, it will get to the point where the rental covers all costs, and there is a profit generated. Getting to this tipping point won’t happen overnight, it can be a drawn-out process that requires patience and resolve to see it through,” says Goslett.
2. The bond won’t be the only expense
Consider all the costs involved with owning property, not just the bond. Landlords need to know the numbers.  Aspects to take into account include general maintenance, insurance, rates and taxes and possibly the services of an attorney or a professional rental agent. An attorney is a valuable asset when it comes to drawing up lease agreements, as well as providing sound legal advice regarding your rights and responsibilities. There is also the matter of dealing with defaulting tenants should it be necessary. A rental agent will take care of screening and vetting tenants, collecting the monthly rental and general management of the property.
“Provision should be made for the upkeep of the property, along with any other unforeseen circumstances or repairs that require attention. Setting money aside in a contingency fund must form part of a landlord’s monthly budget.  Knowing the numbers and budgeting for expenditure will ensure that money is allocated to where it needs to go,” says Goslett. 
3. Have a checklist
Having a checklist that includes all items you need to go over when a tenant moves in and again when they move out, will ensure that nothing is overlooked. It will help you to assess the property and ensure that it is in a good condition when handing over the keys. The same checklist can be used when the tenant moves out, to compare the condition of the home to its state before the tenant took occupancy. 
Items that should appear on the checklist could include the following:
Check that the stove is in working order.
Check all lights and electrical points.
Ensure the geyser is working correctly.
Check for any leaks or damp that needs waterproofing.
Check that the gutters are unclogged and clear of debris.
4. Make sure contracts include all details
All stipulations should be clearly stated upfront in a detailed contract to avoid any future complications or misunderstandings. The more detailed the contract the better, as there is less chance of any ambiguity. If aspects of the tenancy are dealt with in the contract,  there will be no areas left open for interpretation. Factors such as acceptable tenant behaviour, breakage costs, preferred method of payment and date that the rental is payable by should be all included in the document. 
5. Vetting and selecting the right tenants
The financial success of a rental property is largely determined by tenant selection. Prospective tenants must be carefully vetted before a rental agreement is concluded. If possible, obtain details of the tenant’s previous rental history, reasons they are moving, their place of employment and income. References should be contacted to verify as much of the information as possible. “The tenant vetting process is where the services of a rental agent will be a valuable asset. While discrimination against tenants is illegal, it is not wise to simply accept the first tenant who applys for the property,” advises Goslett.  
While not for everyone, owning a rental property can be a vehicle for wealth creation over the long term - the key element to success is to always view property investment with the future in mind.
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Avoid these moving mistakesWed 14 Jun 2017

Avoid these moving mistakes

At least once in their lifetime, the majority of the population will move from one home to another. While some may have a reasonably pleasant experience with few hassles, others may never want to move again after going through it once. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, moving can be a very stressful endeavour, in fact, according to psychological research, it is among the top major life stressors. However, if people avoid a few key mistakes, the process can be less daunting and a far smoother process.
Employing an unreliable moving company
It may require some research and a bit of time, but using a reliable, professional moving company will relief much of the stress. Often the best way to find the right mover is through a referral from a friend or family member who has used them before. “No two moving experiences are alike, but using a mover that has been referred by a trusted source will to some degree ensure that you know they do a good job,” says Goslett.  “If no-one can provide a referral, there is a lot of information available on the Internet and other forms of public information. Most companies will have websites that list their services, service history, areas they operate in and a rough estimate as to how much it will cost.”
Online searches are great for compiling information and making a list of possible choices. An additional advantage of looking at websites is that they should provide contact information, which allows you to ask questions and obtain a written response. Beware of any companies who do not provide a local address or information about licensing or insurance.
Goslett says that social media is also an excellent platform to garner information. “Social media gives consumers an avenue in which to share their opinions and knowledge, which goes back to finding a referral from someone who has already used a mover and has been impressed by their service,” he adds.
Not shopping around
Shopping around and getting several quotes will provide you with a better idea of whether or not you are getting good value for money from your moving company. Contact a few different providers and get quotes in writing. “During this process, remember that it is very difficult for a moving company to provide an accurate estimate over the phone without conducting an on-site inventory of the goods. The moving company must be prepared to come to the home to provide a written quote,” advises Goslett. “If they insist on a signed contract or deposit before they are willing to provide a quote - rather look elsewhere.”
Taking too many unnecessary things
Moving is a great time to go through all the items in the home and decide what to keep and what can be thrown away. If an item hasn’t been worn, seen or used during the past year, then you probably don’t need it. If you are not keeping it for sentimental reasons, why not give it to someone who will get some use out of it. Evaluating your possessions before you move, will ensure that only the items you want and need go to your new home.
Failing to schedule your move well in advance
Preparation is a key ingredient to a smooth and hassle-free move – so prepare well in advance, rather than leaving it to the last minute and rushing to get everything done. “If the move is scheduled weeks or even months before it happens, it will give you some breathing room and allow time to get everything packed, organised and ready to go,” says Goslett.
Not packing ahead of time
Starting the packing process well before the move will relieve some of the stress. Start by boxing non-essentials, which can be packed ahead of time and put out of the way. “Anything that is not used on a daily basis or essential up until the move can be packed in a box and ready to go.  If the move is in the warmer months, pack away winter clothes and heavy jackets, and duplicate items can be pared down to only the bare essentials,” says Goslett.
Moving will be a far more bearable endeavour if you prepare ahead of time and avoid the avoid mistakes. If you are as organised as possible, it will make the process smoother and something to look forward to.

 

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The benefits of home inspectionsTue 13 Jun 2017

The benefits of home inspections

Whether a first-time buyer or seasoned investor, purchasing a property is a substantial commitment that needs to be fully considered, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Because buying a property is such a big decision that can have a massive impact on your financial well-being, it is best to go into each transaction fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. Before putting in an offer on any home, consider having the property inspected by a professional who can provide you with a comprehensive list of all the home’s underlying flaws. While a home might be aesthetically pleasing on the surface,  it is important to look past that and check the integrity of the components that make up the property to ensure that the purchase won’t end up costing more in the long run,” warns Goslett.
The Consumer Protection Act will not have an effect on the voetstoots clause used in agreements of sale in an ordinary property transaction, making the need to inspect a property thoroughly ever more important. In certain circumstances, you are protected if severe defects are found after transfer, but it is difficult to determine whether the seller deliberately concealed the defect or genuinely wasn’t aware of them.
While sellers are obliged to provide a list of all the defects they are aware of, what about the defects they aren’t. Common law states sellers are responsible for all defects in the property for three years from the date of discovery of the defect.  However, the voetstoots clause protects the seller against all defects – including defects that he does not know about. In the instance that a seller is aware of a defect and conceals it, you will be able to take action against the seller, provided you can prove that the seller deliberately hid it – not an easy task.
It is often very difficult to identify any structural problems the house may have if it is not your area of expertise.  Having the home inspected will provide you with an estimated cost of any repair that is necessary before committing to the sale. Knowing whether or not there are any underlying problems with the house will provide you with the opportunity of making a more informed decision.
Home inspections don’t just benefit buyers – they can assist sellers as well. “Having your property inspected by a professional before placing it on the market will provide you with insight into what needs to be done to the home before listing. It also offers potential buyers the peace of mind that there are no major issues with the home.  A home in good repair will attract a greater number of buyers when listed and will attain a higher sales price than a home in the same area that is in need of repair,” says Goslett.
He adds that even if you are not selling your home, a professional home inspection can assist you in maintaining your greatest investment to ensure future appreciation. “Inspecting the home at least once a year will ensure that minor issues don’t become major problems. An inspector can check for damage to the foundation of the home, any faulty or outdated wiring and electrical problems, damaged plumbing or water leaks and anything else that, if left unchecked and unrepaired, could lead to a costly repair in the future,” says Goslett.
Having the home inspected is not just about maintaining your investment, but also about the safety of those who live in it. Faulty electrical systems can potentially be extremely dangerous and cause breaker tripping or, in some cases, even fire.  Unstable or insecure railings on staircases or balconies are also not safe. If these features of the home are not checked and maintained, accidents could occur,” Goslett concludes.

 

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Tips to save energy during winterMon 12 Jun 2017

Tips to save energy during winter

As we head into the cold winter months, household energy consumption will start to increase as people turn up the heat to stay warm, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Keeping warm during winter usually means using more energy and paying higher utility costs each month. Finding ways to reduce household energy usage will assist homeowners to keep warm without electricity bills becoming excessive,” says Goslett.
He provides a few tips that will help save energy this winter:
Regulate the geyser
The most energy-hungry appliance in the home is the geyser, so start there. According to statistical data, geysers account for as much as 40% of the electricity bill on a monthly basis. Goslett says that one solution is to switch off the geyser during the day when no-one is home and then turn it on for a set number of hours in the evening. He notes an alternative solution is to have the geyser automated so that it can be controlled remotely.
“There are several automation products available to homeowners in this country, that allow them to control the geyser’s thermostat remotely. The homeowner has the option of setting the times the geyser will be on and at what temperature – automatically,” says Goslett.  
During winter the cold piping also cools the water down as it travels through it, essentially making it necessary to use more hot water to bath or shower which uses more energy. Insulating the pipes leading out of the geyser will reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain the water’s temperature. Ideally, the entire length of all hot water pipes should be insulated to reduce heat loss, however insulating at least three to five metres from the geyser will make a difference.
Also, a geyser blanket can also add further insulation keeping the water inside the geyser hotter for longer. A geyser blanket typically consists of a 50mm layer of glass fibre insulation with reflective foil sheeting on one side. A good geyser blanket will considerably reduce the rate at which the water cools.
Although costly at the outset, installing solar panels can reduce the amount of water that the geyser needs to heat up, which can dramatically reduce electricity costs over the long term.
Energy-efficient light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED) use at least 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and can last a lot longer. “While it depends on the type of bulb, certain energy efficient bulbs can last between 10 and 35 times longer than a regular bulb, which means that costs are saved on electricity as well as the replacement of bulbs,” says Goslett.
Energy-efficient bulbs use less wattage but are still able to create the same amount of light as a conventional bulb.  A 3-watt LED, for example, would be equivalent to a 45-watt incandescent bulb. Using less energy means that they do not get hot when used over long periods of time, and this makes them especially effective in areas where lights are kept on for longer than three hours. Not only do energy efficient bulbs reduce costs, but they also reduce the household pollutant output in the environment by creating less heat.
Frequently used household appliances
The energy output of appliances such as the refrigerator can be reduced by regulating the temperature gauge. Ideally, the temperature should range between three to five degrees Celsius.
“Check other appliances around the house as well, such as the washing machine. Around 40% of the energy used to wash clothing can be reduced by setting the machine to 30 degrees. Also, don’t use the washing machine or dishwasher when they are half full, rather wait for a full load.  Keeping the frequency of use to a minimum will reduce energy usage. While these larger items should be full, the kettle should only have the required amount of water in it, as this will reduce the time taken for the water to reach boiling point,” advises Goslett.
Opting to hang clothes on an outside line to dry rather than using a tumble dryer will also use less electricity.
Unplug unnecessary appliances
If left plugged in on stand mode, items such as laptops and other household appliances will continue to use power, so rather turn them off completely or simply unplug them. A computer or laptop, for example, can use around 20% as much power as it would if it was in full use. Unless it is necessary to have an appliance plugged in at all times, it is far more energy efficient to unplug them - this also serves as protection against lightning strikes and power surges.
Insulating the home
Heat can escape through areas in the home that are poorly insulated, such as a window that doesn’t close properly. Around 50% and 80% of the home’s warmth escapes through the ceiling. Goslett says that homeowners can reduce this to around 3% by installing proper ceiling insulation, which will also mean that far less energy is required to heat the home.
“The rising cost of electricity and worldwide depletion of resources has made it all the more vital to find ways kerb costs and reduce carbon emissions. Choosing energy efficient options and investments now will have a massive impact on our energy and resource consumption in the future,” Goslett concludes.

 

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Homeowners' associationsFri 09 Jun 2017

Homeowners' associations

With security a factor that is influencing home-buying decisions in South Africa, many are choosing to purchase homes within boomed off areas or secure lifestyle estates, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. As a homeowner in an estate or boomed off area, the buyer may be required to join a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), which means adhering to numerous rules and regulations stipulated by the HOA.
Unlike a body corporate which manages a sectional title development, in a Homeowners’ Association, each member owns the house and the erf or plot on which the home is situated. Usually established by the residents within a community, an HOA is formed to ensure that the infrastructure of an area is maintained. Another major role of an HOA is ensuring the safety of those who live within the community.
According to Goslett, the rules and regulations laid out by an HOA can address numerous aspects such as the colour that a homeowner is allowed to paint their home or whether pets are allowed on the premises. “The stipulations can be restrictive, which is why those who are wanting to buy a home within a community that is governed by an HOA should ensure that the regulations don’t conflict with their lifestyle,” he says.
Before purchasing such property, buyers need to do their research and delve into the details of the HOA regulations.  Goslett provides a few aspects to consider about HOA’s:
Are members required to pay a fee?
It is not uncommon for members of an HOA to pay a monthly premium or levy towards the association. Compare how the monthly fees match up against other similar developments in the surrounding suburbs.
How are the fees allocated?
Is is important for homeowners to know where their money is being used and allocated. Most of the time, HOA fees are allocated to the maintenance of common areas and amenities such as the outdoor landscaping, swimming pool and the gym or clubhouse. Potential buyers should find out what is included in the fee and what is not.
Have rates been hiked recently?
While doing their homework on the HOA, buyers should get the history of how much and how often the rates have increased over the last ten year period. Looking at the past will provide a window into what to expect in the future. Another important aspect to enquire about is whether any additional fees have been charged to homeowners when the HOA lacks the reserves to cover a big project.
What are the community’s priorities?
Reading the minutes of the last few HOA Annual General Meetings will give potential homeowners a clear idea of the community’s priorities and what issues and topics keep rearing their heads.
Pay attention to the fine print
Don’t neglect any aspect of the document and read through all regulations, restrictions and conditions before committing to buying the home. It will take some time to read the documentation in its entirety, but it is better to do it beforehand than move in and find out that you are unable to park a second car outside the property or store a caravan in the garden. Rather know up front, than be caught unaware with little recourse.
Penalties
What are the consequences if the regulations are not adhered to? It is essential for buyers to be aware of the penalties for non-compliance.
Goslett concludes by saying that before purchasing any property, governed by an HOA or not, it is vital that the buyer understands all aspects of the purchase and knows what they are getting themselves into. Having a clear idea of the regulations and rules an HOA has in place will provide some insight when choosing to buy a home to in a particular estate.

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Online search tips: Finding the ideal homeThu 08 Jun 2017

Online search tips: Finding the ideal home

With access to technology becoming increasingly more attainable, it has become easier than ever to start looking for a home online. However, the volume of listings available on property search portals can be rather overwhelming, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Statistics reveal that nine out of every ten prospective homebuyers will look to the internet before making use of any other type of resource when starting their home buying journey.  “Potential buyers are choosing the internet as the resource of choice because of the convenience it provides. Users can access massive volumes of information at the click of a button without leaving the comfort of their home or office. However, while access to the vast amounts of information is why many start their search online, exposure to such high volumes of property listings could make the search harder if you don’t have a way of narrowing down your search criteria,” says Goslett.
He provides a few tips to help filter down search results and make it easier to streamline the list of homes you would like to see in person:
Price
Before looking at any homes online or otherwise, know what you can afford. “It is best to start the home buying journey by assessing your finances and getting pre-approval on home loan finance. Contacting a bank or bond origination company such as BetterLife will assist in determining what you can afford and what price range of homes to start searching in,” advises Goslett. “Bear in mind that it is best to leave a bit of cushioning in the budget. It is important to remain within a price range that doesn’t stretch the budget to the absolute high-end of the scale. When entering search criteria online be sure to choose a price range that fits comfortably into the budget’s limits.”
Searching for homes that fit comfortably within the budget will provide you with some room to negotiate should you find yourself in a multiple offer situation. “It provides the flexibility to be competitive in the market, and submit a counter offer if necessary. You will be able to put in a higher offer on a home without it putting you under too much financial strain.”
Check the map
Don’t get caught up with the images of the property and forget to look at its location. A home might have been newly renovated and is picture perfect, but where it is located will determine its potential for appreciation in value over time. You can change a home, but not its location. “Look at the map to see where the home is situated and how that ties in with your requirements. Before contacting the listing agent, consider the property’s proximity to work, good schools and amenities,” says Goslett.
Narrow down your top neighbourhoods
Each neighbourhood or suburb within a city will have a different sub-culture and feel.  “While all part of the same city, different neighbourhoods will cater to different kinds of buyers and lifestyles. While family buyers may want to live in the quieter suburbs that are close to schools, younger buyers may prefer to be in fast-paced hubs. Searching for specific neighbourhoods will greatly filter down the property search,” says Goslett.
Remember to balance character with upkeep
An older home may fit your criteria regarding features, but it could come at the cost of updating or fixing certain elements of the home. “Newer homes are often smaller but will require less maintenance from the start. It is important to find the balance between a home’s character and its upkeep,” says Goslett.
Photos and videos only focus on certain aspects
Even though technology has reached the point where one can take a virtual tour of a home, viewing a property in this way is still restrictive to a degree. “An online search is an ideal method to narrow down a property search, but seeing a home in person will give you a much better feel for the home,” says Goslett. “Walking through a home in person will clear up any uncertainties you may have and will help you to decide whether or not you can see yourself living in the property,” he concludes.

 

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Saving water is essentialThu 01 Jun 2017

Saving water is essential

With the Western Cape’s water supply at critically low levels, the City of Cape Town has escalated water restrictions to Level 4, which limits residents to 100L of water per day. Effective from 1 June, residents will not be allowed to use municipal water for outside or non-essential use.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, who is a resident of Cape Town, says that if the water crisis continues along its currents path, the city could decide to takes matter even further by implementing Level 4B in the next two months. “While water usage levels have dropped, they are still not aligned with the daily goal of 500 million litres. Households are urged to be vigilant with their water usage, as the resource continues to dwindle to dangerously low levels. Where possible Cape Town residents need to reduce their household water consumption to try to sustain the little water we have,” says Goslett.
He notes that there are several ways that homeowners or tenants can save water in and around the home, which reduces water usage. Goslett provides a few tips that will assist people in lessening their impact on the water crisis:
Taps
It is important to make sure that after a tap is used, it is closed properly. While this seems like a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drop per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day, which equates to around 10 000 litres of water a year.  That is a lot of water 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 delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth, as will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use.
Bathroom
Showering will use far less water than bathing, provided that the shower is short. Cut shower time to two minutes or less. 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, flush the toilet or wash the car. Installing a water-saving shower head will also aid in reducing water usage. Ideally when showering the water should not be in 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.  
Kitchen
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 elsewhere. When running 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. Move food from the freezer to the fridge to defrost naturally, rather than placing it under running water.
“Water is a vital commodity that we require to survive. Without water, the environment we live in could not survive. With the lack of water in Cape Town becoming water-wise in the household is essential,” Goslett concludes.

 

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