How a junk status may impact the marketTue 10 May 2016

How a junk status may impact the market
“Pay down short-term debt and consolidate long-term debt,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Moody’s Investors Service rating agency recently affirmed the country’s status at two notches above sub-investment or junk status, but gave the country a negative outlook. While it is good news that the rating was not downgraded, we are not out of the woods just yet. Moody’s is only one of three rating agencies that will be reviewing the country’s credit status to determine whether the rating will be downgraded to junk status, with Standard and Poor and Fitch still to conduct their reviews. The decision will largely be determined by the policymakers’ ability to implement a strong medium-term strategy that will rein in the government’s debt growth. 
Goslett says that if the country is downgraded to junk status it would have a negative impact on consumers and the property market as a whole. “Essentially the country’s rating impacts the cost of credit. A junk status will mean that it will cost more for the government to borrow money, which in turn will have a knock on effect on the consumer. Financial institutions will need to hold more money in reserve, which will make it more difficult to obtain credit, and the credit that is granted will come at a higher cost,” says Goslett. “A marginal mitigating factor is that to some degree financial institutions have already made provision and priced in the effects that a downgrade would have on credit costs.”
He adds that the higher cost of credit will curb the demand for big ticket items such as property and motor vehicles. “Those who wish to enter the property market are already dealing with increasing interest rates and higher food and electricity prices, so an increased cost of credit would place further strain on consumers who are already feeling the effects of the growing cost of living,” says Goslett. 
According to Goslett a junk status will also keep foreign investment at bay. “If South Africa is downgraded, foreign investors will see this country as too risky and will avoid investing here. With less demand from foreign investors, the prices of our assets will depreciate, along with the currency. If the rand falls further, it will cause inflation to increase, which will place more pressure on the interest rate and the cost for goods. All of this will only cause the cycle to repeat itself and make it that much harder to dig our way back out of junk status. According to economists, it will extend the electricity crisis and lock the country into a low-growth pathway,” says Goslett. “It is far easier to maintain an investment status, than it is to improve the status once it has been downgraded. Research concluded by Rand Merchant Bank reveals that on average it takes approximately seven to eight years for a country to recover from a downgrade.” 
Goslett notes that if the South Africa continues on the path of low economic growth, it will impact the country’s ability to maintain and upgrade infrastructure – this at a time when the country is already experiencing power shortages. “We will also see less development due to lack of demand and the fact the developers will struggle to gain access to the necessary financial backing,” he adds.
“For the sake of the consumer and country as a whole, it is imperative that a downgrade is avoided at all costs. The government will need to fully commitment to cutting spending and boost the country’s position to pay back debt. Consumers are urged to prepare themselves financially by reducing their own debt levels and putting away savings,” Goslett concludes.
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Location, location, locationTue 10 May 2016

Location, location, location
Regardless of whether a property professional works with commercial or residential property, all will agree on one aspect, and that is that location is one of the most important aspects to consider when purchasing a property. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that property experts emphasise the importance of location because it has such a massive bearing on a property’s potential investment return.
He notes that location refers to several aspects that potential homebuyers need to consider before they make their final decision and sign an offer to purchase. There are various factors that influence whether a particular location would be considered to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’. “The more positive elements that a location has going for it, the greater the potential resale value the property will have over the long term. Essentially it comes down to desirability and whether buyers would want to live where the home is situated - demand directly influences price,” says Goslett. 
Many buyers focus on the home itself and compromise on its location, however in terms of the appreciation potential of the property this will end up hurting their back pocket. It is always better to put location as a top priority and rather compromise on the property. While it is impossible to change a property’s location, the home can be renovated or changed to meet the owner’s needs.
According to Goslett a good location is where there is the potential for growth and development. The area needs to be able to support the demand for property over the long term and subsequently increase the value of the property in time. However, it is important to bear in mind that certain development can bring down the value of a property, such as the construction of a power plant or dump within proximity to the home. “Before purchasing in an area buyers should find out about the future development plans of an area. Developments such as new industrial sites, new roads or railways or even industrial activities can vastly alter the price profile of an area,” he warns.  
Commercial activity and corporate investment in an area is also indication that an area has the potential for strong investment returns. Goslett says before a national retailer or property developer invests in an area, they will undertake thorough market research to determine the area’s potential. The presence of residential and commercial property development, along with long-established or well-known brands within the surrounds will indicate that there is a level of confidence that the area has good growth potential,” advises Goslett.
The infrastructure of an area will also have an impact on the value of the properties located there. “There needs to be provisions made to ensure that the infrastructure in an area can accommodate the level of service required by its residents. Neglected areas that experience poor service delivery are not a good option. It is fairly easy to distinguish these areas based on the upkeep of the general public land such as the parks, pavements and roads,” says Goslett. 
Proximity to quality amenities which include shopping and medical facilities, entertainment areas, restaurants, public services and schools is also another factor to consider when determining the perfect location. “Convenience is a highly valued commodity,” says Goslett. 
He adds that crime is another aspect that potential buyers should take into account. Homes in an area with a high crime rate will not hold their value over time. Goslett says that potential buyers will be able to find out about the crime rate in an area by contacting the local residents association, speaking to potential neighbours or consulting with the security companies that service the area.  “Driving through an area during different times of the day could indicate either unpleasant or welcome conditions. The different times could bring about a variety of elements such as how severe the traffic is during peak times or how lively and noisy the night life is,” says Goslett.  
Accessibility to transport routes can also have an impact on an area’s appreciation potential. Many South Africans have to commute relatively far distances to where they work every day, which has pushed up demand for property with easy access to major transport routes and modes of transportation such as the Gautrain or bus stations. “There is a fine balance to consider when selecting a property within proximity to major transport routes. It is important to be within range, however being too close could expose the property to a significant amount of noise and have a negative impact on the home’s value,” adds Goslett. 
“The adage of location, location, location was first used in 1926, and is as relevant now as it was then. While finding the right home in the right location will require time and research, the future benefits of solid growth in the value of the property will certainly make it worthwhile,” Goslett concludes.
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Spreading some warmth this winterMon 09 May 2016

Spreading some warmth this winter
As the colder winter months edge closer, the RE/MAX Foundation is once again preparing for its annual Coats and Cans initiative which will run from 9 May up until the 24 June 2016. Members of the public who wish to contribute any blankets, winter woollies and non-perishable food items to the campaign will be able to drop off their donations at their local RE/MAX office. 
Adrian Goslett, Director of the RE/MAX Foundation and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that the campaign has become a fixed feature on the annual calendar because of the amazing impact the initiative has had on communities throughout South Africa. “Each year the public astonishes us with their generous contributions, which all go to helping the underprivileged in their local communities. There are countless numbers of people in this country who live below the breadline, struggling to buy enough food to adequately sustain themselves and their families, let alone purchase the additional warm clothing they need to get through the winter months. As the temperature drops the fight for survival becomes increasingly difficult, as it now includes the need to stay warm.  With the help of those within the local community, the RE/MAX Foundation aims to assist as many people in need as possible, making their lives slightly more comfortable during the harsh colder months,” says Goslett.
He notes that due to public support, the campaign has made a significant difference to people’s lives. “While the initiative is run by the RE/MAX Foundation, the success and reach that the campaign has enjoyed over the past few years has been solely attributed to the participation of those in the local communities.  The more people who contribute to the cause, the more people we have been able to help. As a company we are a link in a chain and can only do so much within the community. However, when people come together to contribute towards a common goal, big things happen and lives are impacted in a positive way,” says Goslett. 
He adds that to ensure that the collected items benefit the local community in which the RE/MAX office is located; each office will nominate a charity or organisation in their area that will receive the goods. “The reasoning behind this concept is that we want the donations that are received from the public to impact their local community and make a difference to the people in that specific area. The thinking is that when one lives and works within a community, they will have some insight into which organisations would benefit the most from the donations,” says Goslett.
The public is urged to once again get involved and visit their local RE/MAX office to donate some much needed items. “A warm meal and winter coat is often taken for granted, but for many it is a luxury that they simply cannot afford.  Every donation will have a positive impact on those who receive it,” Goslett concludes.  
For more information regarding the RE/MAX Foundation or the Coats and Cans Winter Campaign visit or contact the Foundation manager, Sandy Smith on 021 700 2000.
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Backed by the BestFri 29 Apr 2016

Backed by the Best
Opening a business can seem daunting at first. This is true if you’re going out on your own, or joining a venture that’s been around for years. If you’re interested in real estate, when you choose to open a RE/MAX franchise, you’ll be supported by a team dedicated to making the process easier for you.
Add Knowledge to Your Arsenal
RE/MAX offers both new agents and franchisees a host of opportunities to gain invaluable expertise in the property industry. All with one goal in mind: to help you the best as you can possibly be. At RE/MAX, we’re firm believers in the old saying ‘knowledge is power’, which is why we equip you with business development courses.
We offer this training through the Global Learning Centre (GLC). There are several worthwhile advantages to studying through the GLC when you open your RE/MAX franchise. However, two of the biggest perks are:
  • All-inclusive courses - Rest assured that when you choose your area of learning,  you’ll be exposed to all the knowledge that is available on the subject at the time. As property is an industry that is constantly changing, we keep our modules up-to-date and relevant.
  • Anytime, anywhere - There are few things more satisfying than knowing that you can study your passion at your leisure. You can apply for a course, and work your way through the material from wherever you are, provided you have an internet connection. And, as the training is all done through correspondence, you can do your coursework whenever you have a free minute. So, whether you have a full-time job, or you’re raising small children, there’s no reason why you can’t study with RE/MAX.
Have the Best Backing You
When you open a franchise with RE/MAX, you won’t be left in the dark, because we offer you guidance and assistance every step of the way.
Additionally, we provide you with:
  • Daily leads
  • Free marketing across multiple platforms
  • Growth potential
  • Opportunities to immigrate
  • The backing of a world renowned name
If you’re passionate about the real estate industry and looking to open your own business, a RE/MAX franchise is the ideal solution.
Contact your nearest branch today to find out how you can fulfill your dreams of opening a business.
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How to Become an AgentFri 29 Apr 2016

How to Become an Agent
When you become a RE/MAX agent you’re joining not just starting a new venture, you’re joining a family. That’s one of the advantages of belonging to a company that’s been around for as long as we have.
Fuel Your Passion for Property
There are a host of perks that come with being one of our real estate agents. For example, we provide you with leads every day, ensuring that you never have a shortage of opportunities to sell property.
Other ways we assist you on your journey to become a leading area specialist include:
  • Access to education - RE/MAX has a revolutionary endeavour known as the Global Learning Centre (GLC) in place. Through online correspondence courses, you can add to your knowledge of the property industry from anywhere in the world. This helps you become sought after, specialist real estate agent.
  • Exposure to experts - When you start as a RE/MAX agent, you can expect to be working with some of the best professionals in the field. This is an excellent learning opportunity for you while you’re getting acquainted with your position as an area specialist.
  • A trusted platform  - We’ve been in the business of selling property for over 40 years. Additionally, we’re ranked globally as one of the leading real estate brands, which means your name immediately becomes synonymous with excellence.
Simply Exemplary
At RE/MAX, we believe in giving our real estate agents all the knowledge and tools they need to perform at their absolute best. Wouldn’t you want to be a part of an agency that’s about so much more than just selling property and driving sales?
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Could virtual reality change the real estate sectorFri 29 Apr 2016

Could virtual reality change the real estate sector
No longer just for computer gaming enthusiasts, 2016 has been dubbed as the year of virtual reality – but will this have any impact on the real estate sector and how business is operated in the future? 
While VR is not a new concept, there has been rapid advancement and augmented reality technology is at the stage where it could start to have an impact on consumers’ daily lives over the next few years. There is a wide array of applications that VR could possibly have within the education sector, the office environment, medical facilities and of course the real estate sector.  “Although it will still take some time for VR to become available to the majority of consumers, the advancement in the technology through hardware development and computing power has made the integration of VR into real estate business far more possible,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
How does virtual reality differ from augmented reality? While augmented reality provides an additional layer of 3D content to the user’s actual surroundings, VR fully submerges the user into a simulated environment. Wearing a headset, the user is transported into another place offering them a 360 degree view of their simulated surroundings. 
“In terms of real estate application, it will allow potential buyers to take 360 degree virtual tours of homes for sale all over the country without having to travel. The buyer will be able to virtually tour multiple properties from the comfort of their own home in a matter of minutes. This will reduce the stress of relocating to a new city or even a new country,” says Goslett. “The process will allow potential buyers to check through serval homes and quickly narrow down the field to a few choice homes that they would like to take a second look at in person.”  
According to Goslett, virtual reality could be an excellent tool for developers. “Developers will be able to give potential buyers a virtual tour of an architectural rendering of a property before it has been constructed. The buyer will be able to view an off-plan property and get an idea of the space and how it works before ground has been broken and building has started,” says Goslett. 
While most people have heard of virtual reality, very few have had the privilege of actually experiencing it first-hand. Although the technology is there, it will still be a while before we see everyone shopping for their homes in VR. “However, that said, there are already elements of VR that are accessible to the general public and already being used within the real estate sector, such as Google Street View, which allows the user to visit city and suburb streets that they have never actually set foot on.  There is also Google Cardboard, which is an inexpensive devise that allows people to experience a VR simulation by merely inserting their phone into a cardboard casing.”
What can we expect from virtual reality in the future? According to technology commentators, developments are underway to introduce haptic or kinaesthetic communication to virtual reality. Using forces and sensations the technology will replicate the sense of touch and allow users to see their hands in the virtual world. The user will be able to open doors and cupboards, interacting with their virtual surroundings when viewing a property.  Further developments are also being made to introduce the other senses into the VR world such as smell and taste. The buyer will be able to smell the freshly brewed coffee or baking cookies during the virtual home tour. These introductions can be used to simulate the same emotional response in buyers as they would if used in home staging during a show day. 
“Even with the advancement in technology and possible application, it remains to be seen whether the virtual world will ever truly rival the actual experience of shopping for a home in person,” Goslett concludes.
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Tips on investing in your first propertyMon 25 Apr 2016

Tips on investing in your first property
When deciding on investing in property for the first time, there a few key elements that investors should take into consideration, such as whether they are investment-ready and well informed on all the available options, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“Purchasing a property is a major commitment that should be carefully evaluated in terms of your life plans and financial situation both currently and in the future,” says Goslett. “As a first time property investor it is vital to be informed and ask the right questions, such as when, where, why and how to invest in your first property.”
Goslett provides some guidelines as to how first-time investors can find the answers to these questions:
According to Goslett, the short answer to this question is as soon as you can afford to. While it is important to watch the market and buy at the right time, it is never too early to get into the property market. “Property investors should take the necessary time required to ensure that they make an educated decision, assessing whether they can afford to make the necessary financial commitments.  To make an accurate assessment of this, it is advisable to use the resources available, for example banks and bond originators such as Betterbond, will be able to give purchasers estimated repayment figures based on bond requirements,” says Goslett. “Monthly bond repayments should not exceed more than 30% of the buyer’s total expenses and most buyers will be required to put down a deposit of between 10% and 30% of the purchase price of the property before they are approved for finance.”
It is important to keep in mind that it is not just the bond repayments that will need to be paid. There are a number of other costs involved in a property transaction that can add up to a substantial amount. These fees include Transfer duties, deed office fees and levies, municipal rates, bank charges, bond initiation fees, home insurance costs as well as the monthly administration fee that is charged by the bank, moving costs and the cost of maintaining the property.  It is essential to include all of these aspects into the calculation when assessing affordability. 
According to Goslett location is of the utmost importance and in terms of investment, can never be stressed enough. “Location is vital because being in the right area and position will ensure a good resale value and return on your investment.  When looking into an area, consider proximity to amenities such as schools and shopping centres.  Online property search portals can be used to find statistics on areas and values of property. Estate agents can provide you with a comparative market analysis, which will give you thorough knowledge of the property sales dynamics of a certain area,” says Goslett.  
Property remains a solid asset class in which to invest. Goslett says that buying property is a huge step towards financial security and growth and is a great way to invest in your future. “Property is far less volatile than the equity or share markets and, unlike other investment options, with property investors have complete control over their asset. Generally property prices tend to increase fairly consistently over time, which makes it a lot easier to gauge the estimated return on investment much more accurately than any other investment class. Property owners will not have to sleep with one eye glued to the stock market and have to sell the minute the market is at a high,” says Goslett. 
He adds that another beauty about property is that it is the only asset class that can be financed and leveraged. In layman’s terms this means that an investor can buy property with someone else’s money. If an investor can prove affordability and meet the loan repayment conditions, property is practically the only investment option that banks are willing to finance. This is because they know that if managed correctly, the money they lend to individuals is being invested in an appreciating asset. If you are looking for an investment that either keeps up with inflation or outstrips it in terms of growth over the long term, then property is for you. 
Save, save, save. Wherever possible an investor should put aside as much money as they can. “The larger the deposit, the lower the repayments and the easier it is to buy a property. It is also vital to have as much disposable income as possible, as this will have a bearing on whether the bond is approved or not. Paying off any existing debt as soon as possible will improve the investor’s disposable income along with their credit rating. Maintaining a clean credit record will be invaluable when being assessed for bond approval. 
Once the investor has the required deposit and decided on the type of property that will suit their life stage, working with a mortgage originator will ensure that the bond application is a smooth, hassle free process.  “When you are ready to take the next step, it is important to partner with a reputable estate agency to help source the right property,” Goslett concludes.
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Keeping your home flu free in the colder monthsTue 19 Apr 2016

Keeping your home flu free in the colder months
As the weather turns and gets colder, many will be focusing their attention on preparing for winter and staying germ free during the flu season. Apart from getting vaccinated from the flu virus and the time-honoured tactic of washing hands well and often, there are other ways that homeowners can keep their home from serving as a breeding ground for colds and flu.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, provides homeowners with a few simples tips to keep them healthy during the colder seasons:
Change your fixtures
There are certain metals such as copper, aluminium, lead, iron and silver that are all antimicrobial, which means that they actively kill bacteria. Goslett says that of all the metals, brass is the most effective at kill germs. Considering that doorknobs are a common gathering place for germs and bacteria, changing to brass ones will not only add to the look of the home, but also act as an effective strategy for keeping the home flu-free. 
Pay attention to germ hot spots
Aside from door handles, there are several other germ hot spots throughout the home such as the kitchen sink, counter tops, phones, the remote controls, the fridge door, toilet handles, children’s toys and anything else that is frequently used by those living in the home. The influenza virus spreads through touching something that a person with the virus has been in contact with or sneezed on, so it is vital that these objects are cleaned regularly with some kind of antibacterial solution or wipe. Keeping antibacterial wipes in several locations throughout the home will increase the likelihood of the occupants using them. 
Place items in the washer
Although wiping an item down is an effective way of cleaning it, placing it in the dishwasher is a method that is far more effective and much more efficient at killing germs. This is a great way to frequently disinfect children’s toys and dog toys. Not all items will be dishwasher safe, however it is possible to Google which items can be put in the dishwasher. 
Replace or wash sponges and cleaning tools regularly
How often something gets cleaned will be meaningless if the sponge, mop or rag used to clean it with is filthy. Sponges, mops and clothes hold onto a host of germs so should either be washed or replaced on a regular basis. Unless sanitised between uses, a dirty mop will simply spread the germs faster. Some of the tidiest homes could have the highest number of germs because the cleaning tools used have not been cleaned between uses. Placing a sponge in the microwave for two minutes or running it through a dishwasher cycle will help to kill any festering colonies of germs between uses. 
Viruses thrive in dry air. Scientific research has shown that humidity can make it much harder for viruses to multiple. Studies showed that homes that kept humidity levels at between 40% and 60% had far less airborne flu viruses floating around. A humidifier can reduce airborne flu virus particles by as much as 30%, but it is important to remember that a humidifier can also be a breeding ground for bacteria if not cleaned regularly. 
Wash linens often
Ideally bed linens should be washed at least once a week to get rid of any lingering germs in the bedroom. Germs can build up on blankets and sheets, effecting home occupants while they sleep. It is also advisable to frequently wash other linens used around the home as well, such as throws and towels.
“While these tips will not completely eradicate the risk of the home’s occupants getting a cold or the flu, they will significantly reduce the chances. Being vigilant and taking the necessary precautions will assist in keeping all those in the home healthy during the flu season,” Goslett concludes.


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Purchasing a property off planTue 19 Apr 2016

Purchasing a property off plan
As demand for property continues to outstrip what is currently available to buyers on the market, the off-plan property sector has continued to grow from strength to strength, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
He notes that aside from the fact that there is simply not enough properties on the market to meet the current buyer demand, purchasing a home off-plan has grown in popularity because these properties are generally more cost effective to purchase than existing homes with similar features within the same area. This makes this kind of property purchase highly attractive among property buyers and investors alike. “Often homes that are sold within the first phase of a development are more affordable than those sold in the later stages. Added to this the initial deposit required from the purchaser to secure the deal is often comparatively far less than other types of purchases. While buying off-plan may mean that the purchaser will have to wait between six months and a year to take occupation, this can be seen as an advantage, as it gives them time to save up for any other expenses related to the property purchase. In addition, the value of the home will invariably increase between the time the buyer signs the contract and the time the construction of the home is complete,” says Goslett. 
He adds that another drawcard that is attracting buyers to off-plan purchases is the fact that they can personalise their home to some degree in terms of the finishes and materials used for some aspects of the build. “The buyer will have a certain amount of freedom in tweaking the design of the property, along with its layout. This is very important to some buyers who wish to have an element of control over the look and feel of their new home,” says Goslett.
According to Goslett, a major difference between purchasing off-plan and buying an existing home is the elements that influence the pricing of each. Home prices of existing properties are largely based on the supply and demand in the market, while off-plan home prices are affected by the cost of the building, materials used and the labour. 
“A big advantage of buying off-plan is that the purchaser does not have to pay transfer duty. Although still liable for the usual conveyancing fees, a buyer who purchases a home off-plan will not have to make provision for transfer fees over and above the purchase price. If a property is bought during the development stage, the developer will charge VAT on the transaction instead of the buyer paying the regular transfer duty,” Goslett explains. “Transfer duty is generally paid on any property purchase above R750 000. The amount charged is based on a sliding scale that increases with the purchase price of the property. However, buyers who are purchasing a home off-plan will not have to take this into consideration – regardless of purchase price.”
While there are several benefits to purchasing an off-plan property, it also comes with its own set of challenges.  “Even though the buyer may have seen an artist’s impression of the property or a show house or two on the development, there is no way of knowing what the final home will actually look like. Most building agreements will allow the developer to deviate from the plans by between 5% and 10% without having to consult the buyer. If the buyer doesn’t monitor the build closely, they could find the layout, size or features of their home altered to some extent. To a large degree purchasing a home off-plan is taking a leap of faith,” says Goslett.
Another aspect to consider is the developer’s credentials, advises Goslett. Before going ahead with any off-plan purchase a buyer should do their research on the developer and check the records of any previous projects they have been involved in. If the developer has been involved in other successful developments, the chances are good that their latest project will be as equally successful. “A buyer is entitled to ask the developer to provide them with evidence of membership to associations such as Master Builders South Africa or the National Home Builders Registration Council,” advises Goslett.
Although it is great to be the first owner of a newly built property, the buyer may have to deal with the construction of other homes surrounding theirs in the initial stages. There is also the matter of dealing with any items on the snag list and possibly establishing a garden from the start. “For the majority of buyers, any issues that they may have to overcome when purchasing a home off-plan, will be a small price to pay for the chance of owning a newly built home that they can call theirs,” Goslett concludes. 
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Avoid first-time buyer mistakesTue 19 Apr 2016

Avoid first-time buyer mistakes
Purchasing a home for the first time can be a very emotionally driven experience with so many new and exciting things to consider, and sometimes complicated processes to negotiate. Often it can be easy for first-time buyers to get caught up on the smaller details, losing sight of the bigger picture and possibly making mistakes that they will pay for in the future, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He provides a few tips to buyers to avoid some common mistakes when purchasing their first home:
Mistake - Not getting pre-approval
Once the decision has been made to buy a property, it might be tempting to jump straight into looking for a home; however this could lead to disappointment down the road. Goslett says that buyers may end up finding a home that they love, only to learn that it is out price bracket when they apply for finance. “It is best to start the process by consulting with a bank or a bond originator such as Betterbond, which can assist the buyer in determining what they can qualify for. Getting pre-approval will save both the buyer and seller a lot of time, because the buyer will be able to sign an offer to purchase knowing that they have the finance available to purchase the property,” says Goslett. 
Mistake – Not working out what you can afford
There is often a difference between what a buyer qualifies for and what they can actually afford, bearing in mind that there needs to be some cushioning in the budget for things such as interest rate hikes. It is vital for buyers to have a look at their own finances and make a list of their expenses before settling on a house budget. “If buyers know what they can afford it will narrow down the property search and ensure that they are not looking for homes outside of their budget,” advises Goslett. “It is important that buyers don’t stretch their finances too thin, leaving them vulnerable to any unforeseen circumstances.” 
Mistake – Focusing on the flaws
While first-time buyers should not compromise on their must-haves, it is important that they don’t overlook a home that essentially meets their criteria, but may have outdated fixtures. “In some cases a buyer will need to look past certain things to be able to recognise the true potential of a home,” says Goslett. “If a buyer focuses too much on the things that are wrong with a home, they may miss the things that are right. It is important not to let go of the crucial elements, but also be able to compromise on aspects that are less important. The cosmetics of a home can be altered, however the home’s location, the view or floor plan cannot.” 
Mistake – Falling in love blindly
Buyers shouldn’t overlook a home because of its flaws, but they shouldn’t completely ignore them either. A home’s look is one thing, but more serious issues such as structural damage or a roof that needs to be replaced is quite another. “Often once buyers have seen a property that they think is the one, their decisions will be based on the emotional connection they develop with the home. It is important that a buyer looks at all the facts before blindly putting in an offer without being fully aware of all the property’s issues,” advises Goslett. 
He notes that if the buyer has any doubts regarding the property, they should enlist the services of a professional contractor who will be able to inspect the home and give them a report as to what is in need of repair. 
Mistake – Waiting too long
It is vital to make informed decisions when selecting the right property, but taking too long to decide before putting in an offer could mean losing out to a faster buyer. With the shortage of property available to buyers, consumers find themselves in a highly competitive property market. “When a buyer has found the right home, they should be decisive and move quickly to avoid disappointment,” says Goslett.
Mistake – Not thinking about the future
Buyers need to consider things such as the resale potential of the home as well as their future plans. While it may seem strange to think about selling the home before it has even been purchased, much of home’s potential return on investment is based on decisions made when the home is bought and not when it is sold. Factors that will affect the home’s resale value include the home’s location, type of property, the number of bedrooms or whether it has a garage or off-street parking. 
According to Goslett buyers also need to consider whether the home will meet their needs both now and in the future. “For example, even if a buyer does not have children at the moment, they might be planning to have in the near future. This could mean needing an extra bedroom or ensuring that they purchase near to a good school. It is important that buyers consider whether the home meets their current situation, but can also change to meet their evolving needs,” Goslett concludes.
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Debunking home selling misconceptionsTue 19 Apr 2016

Debunking home selling misconceptions
When it comes to selling a home there is no shortage of advice from a number of sources, such as family and friends, however being given a lot of information doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the right information. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, receiving advice and information from so many different sources can lead to uncertainty about certain key aspects of the property sales transaction. 
He notes that in today’s age of technology there is a vast amount of information at consumer’s fingertips, but having access to information and determining what can be trusted are two very different things entirely. “It is not always easy to determine what information and advice should be held onto and what to ignore. As a result there are several misconceptions that have made their way into the marketplace,” says Goslett.
He provides a few truths and facts to debunk the misconceptions and steer sellers in the right direction:
Misconception – Sellers determine the home’s selling price
While sellers will have a say in setting the home’s asking price, the selling price of the property is largely based on the market and what buyers are prepared to pay. It is important that the asking price of the home is what is considered to be a fair market value based on key elements such as the home’s size, condition, location, the current property market conditions and the selling prices of comparable homes in the area. “It is ultimately the seller who will have the final say as to what the home is listed for, however it is important to note that the initial asking price and the actual selling price of the property could be vastly different,” says Goslett. 
Misconception – Pricing the home above market value will leave negotiation room
Overpricing a home does two things - it chases potential buyers away and makes other homes in the area look like a bargain. A seller may feel that they are giving themselves some cushioning during the negotiating process, but in actual fact overpricing has the opposite effect because it turns buyers away and the deal never gets to the negotiation stage. If buyers have done their homework and researched home prices in the area, they will recognise an overinflated asking price and will likely by pass taking a second look at the property.  According to Goslett there might be buyers who can afford to purchase the property for its fair market value, but overlook the property if it is listed for too much. There is also the matter of buyers who can afford the inflated price, but soon realise that home may not compare to others in a similar price bracket. Overpricing will lead to the alienation of buyer pools, which can result in the property sitting on the market for longer than it should and ultimately selling for less than it should. 
Misconception – There is no need to spend money on the property before selling
There is a market for buyers who are looking for a home they can fix up or renovate themselves, however most buyers want a home that they can simply just move into. “There is no need to completely update the home, but it will be easier to sell a property that is aesthetically pleasing and well-maintained. This could be merely a matter of a coat of paint and a few minor repairs. It would be ideal to have any major repairs done before the home is placed on the market, but the extent of what is done to the home will depend on the buyer’s financial position and time frame.  If any defaults are found during an inspection, the seller can then discuss options with the buyer regarding additional repairs or dropping their asking price,” says Goslett.
Misconception – Renovations and home improvements pay for themselves when you sell
Although certain renovations and home improvements will add value to the property, very few renovation projects will provide a complete payback on the money invested. Goslett says that before embarking on any project it is important to get expert opinions on what should be fixed or changed and what kind of return can be expected as a result. 
“Debunking misconceptions and knowing the truth about selling will help homeowners to get the most out of their property transaction. It is always best to take advice from a trusted source that can provide accurate and helpful information. If ever in doubt, sellers should seek out the counsel of a reputable real estate professional who will be able to guide them in the right direction,” Goslett concludes.
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What to do after a home burglaryTue 19 Apr 2016

What to do after a home burglary
Crime statistics suggest that unfortunately many South African homeowners may experience their home being broken into and burglarized at some stage. Considering the fact that a home is normally a person’s safe haven and sanctuary away from the outside world, dealing with a burglary can be an extremely traumatic experience for the home’s occupants. A home burglary is an invasion of personal space and after a homeowner has become a victim of such a crime, it will probably take quite some time for them to recover – both in terms of the items they lost as well as their emotional well-being.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that security is a top priority for many homebuyers and homeowners alike, however even with security measures in place there is the chance of becoming a victim of a home burglary. “Coming home to find that your home has been broken into can be very traumatic. Aside from the fact that there will be valuables missing from the home, it also leaves the occupants feeling as if their personal space has been violated. This is often not an easy feeling to overcome,” says Goslett. 
He notes that should homeowners find themselves victims of a break in, there are some initial action steps that they can follow to try and resolve the issue as best as possible:
Leave the home and call the police
It is best to leave the home as it is, not touch anything and call the police or home security company. “Finding that the home has been broken into will have the homeowner’s emotions running high. In this state they may find themselves running from room to room looking for the intruder or cleaning up the mess that they have left behind. However it is best to take yourself out of the situation and wait until the police arrive. This will protect both the homeowner and any evidence that could be used to apprehend the culprits,” says Goslett.  
Talk to neighbours
Talking to neighbours will serve two purposes, one being that they could have seen or heard something that will be useful to the police, and also to alert them to the criminal element in the area. Warn the neighbours to be vigilant and keep an eye out for any suspicious looking characters in the area. 
Contact your insurance
If the household items were insured, the insurance company will need to be notified of the burglary. “Having home insurance is the only way that a homeowner will be able to recover any financial loss that is incurred during a burglary. Ideally a homeowner should take photos of their valuables and high-tickets items in order to keep a record that can be used to identify any of the stolen items,” advises Goslett. 
He notes that once the initial action steps have been taken by the homeowner, there are additional steps that they can take to assist in retrieving their lost valuables. “Homeowners should search online classified adverts for people trying to sell their belongings. If anything is found, they can report it to the police, who can investigate the matter and hopefully get the goods returned,” says Goslett. “Another place to look is local pawn shops. Most pawn shops will require the seller to bring in a form of identification before trading an item for cash. If the homeowner can produce a receipt for the item or a photograph accompanied by a police report, the pawn shop will return the stolen item that has been proven to be theirs.”
What’s next? Goslett says that while it may take some time, victims of a burglary will need to find ways to move forward and start the healing process. “More damaging than the loss of financial goods is the emotional damage that can be caused by such a violation of one’s personal space. Whether to family and friends or a professional counsellor, talking about the incident will help homeowners in the healing process. This will be a crucial step to dealing with the issue and getting over some of the fear, anger and hopelessness,” says Goslett.
He adds that another part of the healing process is making some changes to the home to help prevent it from happening again. “Changing the locks on the all doors and upgrading or investing in a home security system will help the occupants of the home feel a lot safer. Other prevention measures include ensuring that the landscaping around the property is maintained and informing neighbours when on holiday or away for a few days. Although clichéd, it rings true that prevention is better than cure,” Goslett concludes.
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Selling a home when you have petsMon 11 Apr 2016

Selling a home when you have pets
Does having a pet affect your chances of selling your home? The short answer is yes, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Although some homeowners who have pets have strict outside only rules, most allow their animals inside of their homes as a family member. 
“Owning a pet is great for the family and one’s emotional health, however it can be a hindrance when it comes to selling a property. To be competitive in the property market, sellers need to put their best foot forward and ensure that their home is clean and in good repair. It is important for potential buyers to be able to picture themselves living in the home when they view it. Ideally this means removing some of the seller’s personal effects – including their pets and all they bring with them such as toys, bedding and food,” advises Goslett.
He notes that while selling a home with pets can be slightly more challenging, there are ways that sellers can still get the best out of the sale by being prepared. Goslett provides homeowners with a few tips that could assist them in selling their home with pets:
Discuss the matter with the vet
It is vital to bear in mind that while the objective is to sell the home, the animal has its own needs that should be considered. Selling a home and moving to a new environment can be very stressful for pets. “The best thing to do is to consult with the pet’s vet regarding the plan you have in mind and how it could possibly work with your specific animal.  This is particularly important if the pet is older and may not adjust that well to any changes,” says Goslett.
Relocate temporarily
Relocating the pets will make it easier to keep the property clean and show it to potential buyers, but there are several factors to consider. Firstly, the seller will need to have a friend or family member that they are comfortable leaving their pets with and that will be happy to house the pets while the property is on the market.  And there is also the matter of the pet needing to adjust to living with someone temporarily and then adjust again to the new home – this could be added unnecessary stress for the animal. 
On the plus side, not having the pets in the home will give the seller the chance to remove all signs of having a pet in the home, as in some cases these signs could bring down the perceived value of the property. 
Away for the day 
If the seller is not prepared to relocate their pets for the time the property is on the market, they should at least consider having their pets stay somewhere else during showings. It is best for the seller to not be home and leave show days to the real estate agent marketing the home. “If there are pets in the house or garden and the seller is not home, it could cause complications for the agent and could put the pets at risk of accidentally getting out the property during the process,” says Goslett. “Even if the pet is generally friendly towards strangers, there is the chance that with the large amount of people in and out of their territory the dog or cat could react badly to someone and bite or attack them. Leaving a pet in that situation is generally asking for trouble – even if they are not normally aggressive, it is not worth taking the chance.”
Goslett says that in cases where it is simply not possible to remove pets from the home during show days, it is advisable to have someone who can stay at the property and take care of them. An alternative to this is to put them in a contained area of the home and make the real estate agent aware of the fact ahead of time.
Ensure damage is repaired
As lovable as pets can be, pet damage is never endearing when trying to sell your home. Often dogs and cats will damage or destroy elements in the home such as the carpeting, flooring, walls, doors, garden beds and fencing.  “It is best to ensure that all pet damage has been repaired before the home is placed on the market. While this could mean some investment on the seller’s part, the money spent will be recouped in the value added to the property,” says Goslett. 
Get rid of odours and stains
A bad odour will put buyers off immediately so it is vital that sellers get rid of any unpleasant smells and stains left behind by pets.  “According to research, a strong odour is one of the top five reasons why a buyer will pass on a home. This is because the sense of smell can evoke a powerful emotional response that will stay in the buyer’s mind.  A bad smell will create a negative perception of the home that the buyer will not forget. Having the carpets and flooring professionally cleaned will remove stains and have the home smelling great,” advises Goslett. 
He concludes by saying that while selling a home with a pet may take a little more extra work, the effort will pay off in the end. While it might be impossible to hide all evidence that a pet lives in the home, buyers will appreciate the fact that every effort has been taken to ensure that the property looks and smells as good as it would pet-free.
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REMAX of Southern Africa Appoints COOWed 06 Apr 2016

REMAX of Southern Africa Appoints COO
Amanda Cuba has been appointed as Chief Operating Officer of RE/MAX of Southern Africa with immediate effect. Co-owner of Z-Capital Properties, a prominent black empowered company, which purchased a 45% share of RE/MAX of Southern Africa early in 2015, Cuba will be taking a more hands-on role in managing the company’s day-to-day operations and will focus on growing the brand’s market share in both currently tapped and uncharted territory. 
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that when Z-Capital and RE/MAX entered into their partnership last year, the end goal was for Amanda to play a pivotal role in the brand’s future endeavours by breaking into areas of the market that RE/MAX had previously not had market share in. “Amanda’s addition to the leadership team will add impetus to the fulfilment of the company’s goals and vision. We want to be remembered as a company and a brand that helps others achieve their hopes, dreams and desires,” says Goslett.
He notes that it is a priority for RE/MAX of Southern Africa to continue to grow its agent base and brand reach. “We currently have over 2400 agents working throughout the Southern Africa region and we have plans to increase that number to 3000 agents by 2018. In order to accommodate the growth, we will need to open more franchises throughout the region and expand our market share within the real estate industry. This requires having the right people in place to ensure the success of the brand’s vision moving forward. Our goal has been to assemble the finest, most experienced team for RE/MAX of Southern Africa,” says Goslett.
Cuba brings a wealth of experience and business knowledge to the table having successfully built and run several companies. “Not only will the focus be on growing the number of offices within the brand, but also assisting the existing franchises to operate at an optimum level, producing outstanding results. This will be done by fine tuning strategy, enhancing business practices where necessary and ensuring that each office has the resources, information and support they need to increase productivity and outsell their competitors. We want to continue to be the brand that offers the best services and benefits in the industry to its agents and franchisees,” says Cuba. 
She says that one area that she wants to see growth in particular is the affordable housing sector. “Currently there are offices and agents within the brand that do sell homes that fall within the affordable housing band; however it is an area that can grow immensely. Considering the vast amount of South Africans who fall into this segment of the market, we are merely scratching the surface in this sector of the market could do a lot in growing our brand presence in this area,” says Cuba. 
Goslett says that a lot of positive changes have taken place within the brand over the last year and a half. “In order to stay at the head of the pack we have to continue to pioneer and break new ground within the industry. With the changes and good structures that have been put in place to implement the new vision for RE/MAX, such as the appointment of Amanda as COO,  the brand will continue to thrive and achieve exceptional results in the years ahead,” Goslett concludes.


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Building Your Own BusinessThu 24 Mar 2016

There’s no denying the host of benefits associated with being a RE/MAX agent. For one thing, when you join our ranks, you’re affiliating yourself with a global brand that has become a household name in the industry over a span of 43 years. Additionally, your career with us could even catapult you into owning a business of your own one day. 
Reap the Benefits
At RE/MAX, our biggest wish for our agents and franchisees alike is that your experience leads to exponential growth. Any career should be a learning curve that allows you to realise your skills and how best to market them so that you can better yourself. Moreover, a career with RE/MAX will set you off on a path of career development as you earn more while learning about a new industry and making a name for yourself. 
  • Educational opportunities - We have managed to implement the Global Learning Centre (GLC), which is changing the game in property sales. It allows you to educate yourself further on the world of real estate through extensive, up-to-date courses. Best of all, you can study through the GLC whenever you have time, as it’s an online correspondence college that operates 24/7.  
  • Learning through others - Joining RE/MAX opens you up to a network of industry-leading professionals from all walks of life. And, by employing only the best, we have ensured that our agents have a wealth of information available to them through their colleagues. Our agents can provide you with valuable insights into the property industry that you might not get elsewhere. 
Grow With Us
We believe in enabling our RE/MAX agents and franchisees to reach their full potential by implementing the GLC curriculum and vetting our applicants. These are among the many reasons RE/MAX has established itself as a global industry leader and frontrunner in property sales. 
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Make a Name for Yourself in PropertyThu 24 Mar 2016

When you decide to open your very own RE/MAX franchise, you’re instantly given access to  a host of opportunities. Aside from being exposed to other specialists who’ve worked under our illustrious name for years, you get to side with a team of professionals of your very own.
The Benefits Start Here
The RE/MAX name is one that has become synonymous with excellence for over 43 years. This means, once you open your RE/MAX franchise, you won’t have to do any of the grunt work of getting your name out there. And, because you’re joining an internationally recognised brand, launching your very own branch is easy.
Other benefits you stand to reap when opening a RE/MAX branch include: 
  • Free leads - The area specialists you employ won’t have to fight for jobs or opportunities as we deliver high quality leads directly to them at no cost. In total, an average of 4000 leads are sent to a myriad of RE/MAX agents every single day. 
  • Education opportunities - We care about our franchisees as well as each of our representatives who work for the brand. To prove this, we’ve made a Global Learning Centre available to all our employees and those who open a RE/MAX franchise. Through this initiative, you can educate yourself further on the property industry through an extensive host of courses. 
  • Mass advertising - One of the best things about partnering up with us is that you don’t have to work as hard as you might otherwise have to to get your name out there. As we already advertise on multiple platforms, we have worked  long to establish our brand as a household name. 
A Name Worth Standing Behind
Opening a RE/MAX franchise comes with a number of benefits but perhaps the best part is being a part of something that’s so much more. We believe that all of our area specialists and franchisees form a part of a family. And we treat them as such by giving them opportunities they can benefit from. 
Contact your nearest branch today to find out more about opening the doors of your very own RE/MAX franchise. 
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Home Improvement Projects Before you Move Into a New PlaceWed 23 Mar 2016

Home Improvement Projects Before you Move Into a New Place
If you have decided to move to a new place, there is a lot of work that you have to be ready to do. Starting from hiring the appropriate service and managing all of your belongings into boxes and other packing materials, to preparing your new home and dealing with the physical aspect of the move there is truly a ton of stuff you should consider. 
Usually people neglect their new homes up until the moment they arrive there with all of their belongings. This is definitely a huge mistake, because your new home will require not only a great deal of cleaning service, but also some maintenance and preparation work long before you reach your destination. Devote enough time now, if you don’t want to find yourself overwhelmed by the great amount of work that awaits once your furniture and belongings reach the place. 
There is a lot you should consider, if you want to experience a stress-free move and make the new place feel like home. Here is a list of projects you have to finish in your new home before you go there: 
- Renovate the walls - if your new home has wallpapers that you wish to remove, now would be the perfect time for this, before all of your belongings arrive. You will never have completely clutter-free rooms again, and this is why you should finish this project early. Removing wallpapers is a messy job, anyone can tell you that. With glue and water streaming down the walls, a mess is inevitable. Furthermore, you will also have to paint the walls once you deal with the wallpaper, which can lead to even bigger need of cleaning. It is far easier to clean an empty room than it is to move around furniture and other belongings. 
- Fix the floor - if the old owner left behind a shabby carpet and worn-out hardwood flooring, you definitely want to see it all fixed and replaced. Bring the materials and finish the project before the rest of your belongings. You are going to need somewhere to place all of the boxes after all, and also have time to perform thorough cleaning service after the project is done. Installing new floors can be messy and you have to make sure they are well cleaned when you finish all the work.
- Improving your kitchen will also be another good solution for any home, as updating what you already have there will be something that improves the overall value of your property. Swapping the doors of your kitchen furniture with something new, as well as changing the light switch covers and other smaller touches will all become a major improvement if you handle it right.
- Your bathroom will also need work, as it is one of the more frequented parts of a home that requires more work than usual to keep clean. You would do well to work on this to ensure your home has a bathroom that is both aesthetically beautiful and practical in what it has to offer.
With so much work to do it is easy to feel pressured and overwhelmed. If you give yourself enough time for the job, however, you can surely manage all of the tasks without too much trouble.
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Planning your purchaseThu 17 Mar 2016

Planning your purchase
There is little doubt that consumers can expect a further interest rate hike at this month’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, this is not the first interest rate hike that consumers have had to face this year and it won’t be the last either. In fact, he says that financial institutions are expecting the prime lending rate to increase by a minimum of around 2% over the next two years.
“While we agree with financial institutions such as Standard Bank, that we will not see the same financial conditions we experienced in 2008, the fact remains that the interest rate will be going up and homeowners and potential buyers will need to make provision for this,” says Goslett. “Those who are looking to get into the market this year should factor the increase into their budget when assessing what they can afford.  It is important to note that the 2% prediction is on the lower end of the scale and it could be more if the country is downgraded to junk status. We recommend homebuyers factor in this 2% rise in rates when calculating their mortgage repayments. It is further recommended to put down a larger deposit where possible, which will give the buyer more leverage when negotiating with the banks on price (lending rate).”
Goslett notes that in the instance where the downgrade occurs, it will place further pressure on the Reserve Bank to again increase the interest rate. Although not likely, it is not completely out of the realm of possibility that we could see the rate increase by as much as 5% over the next 2 years if this happens. 
This begs the question, is it an ideal time to fix your interest rate?  Goslett says that a fixed rate is definitely something to think about for homeowners that are risk averse or who want to have a fixed amount that they can add into their budget every month. If a homeowner is stretched to the limit they may want to fix their rate to ensure that there are no additional or unexpected expenses that they will have to deal with over the next two years. However, there are a few aspects that homeowners should consider before deciding to fix their rate.
“Generally speaking a fixed rate is normally between 1.5% and 2% above the current prime rate, depending on the agreed terms of the contract.  This means that a fixed rate will only be a worthwhile option if the rate does indeed creep above the predicted 2% marker. The length of the ‘fixed rate period’ is also a critical factor. Homeowners should check all the options available to them and confirm whether an administration fee will be charged to a fixed rate contract before signing,” advises Goslett.
He notes that due to the fact that so many consumers have interest-bearing debt, the cumulative effect of both the short and long term debt could be financially devastating with the expected rate hikes. “The importance of reducing short-term debt cannot be over emphasized. Reducing debt levels will mitigate the compound effect of the interest rate hikes to some degree. However, even so consumers will still need tighten their belts and cut back on unnecessary spending,” adds Goslett. 
Despite the expected rate hikes, property continues to be a solid asset class in which to invest, Goslett assures. “Property prices continue to see growth, particularly in the Western Cape. Growth in this region is around 11.2% per annum compared with the rest of the country that is experiencing a growth rate of approximately 6%,” says Goslett. “Those who are able to meet affordability criteria and have access to finance will find opportunities in the market, however they will need to have a plan of action to weather the interest rate storm ahead,” he concludes. 
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Preparing for any home emergency Wed 16 Mar 2016

Preparing for any home emergency
Part of owning a home is being prepared for the unexpected. Although it is impossible to know when it will strike, there is a good likelihood that at some stage a home emergency will happen. This is why it is always good to have a contingency fund in place to take some of the financial sting out of the equation, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Considering the long term nature of homeownership, it is particularly important for homeowners to have money put aside for a rainy day. Life has an incredible knack of throwing a few curve balls along the way, which is why it is best to have a plan of action in place to deal with the obstacles ahead and keep going. On average the typical buyer of a single-family home will stay in the property for around 13 years - during this time a lot can happen and change.  The homeowner will need to know that they have the means to be able to address those changes as they arise, without it jeopardising their homeownership,” says Goslett. 
Aside from household emergencies such as the needing to replace the roof or repairing any structural damage, both of which could be financially crippling, there are also other factors that will have a massive impact on the household, such as retrenchment or job loss. “If any of these things happen, would the homeowner be in a financial position to still be able to afford their home?  “The harsh reality is that certain homeowners could possibly lose their employment and will need to find a way to still make the necessary payments on their properties. Ideally homeowners should be preparing for these kinds of financial emergencies in order to put themselves in a far better position for the future,” advises Goslett. 
He notes that there are essentially three basic steps that a homeowner will need to take to start their contingency fund. While the idea of putting money aside will be a daunting task, especially with the tough year ahead, the consequences of not having a financial cushion to fall back on will be far greater. An emergency fund will create a safety net that will assist homeowners to deal with any obstacles that comes their way, regardless if it is something as big as losing their job or as trivial as a leaking toilet. 
Step one – Work out the required amount
To start off with, the goal should be to save around one month’s income, however it is best to aim for more. “In a perfect situation six month’s income in savings is ideal. This will create sound financial backing should any emergency arise. It will take a fair amount of time to save up six month’s income so keep motivated by setting smaller interim goals. Achieving regular smaller goals will feel like progress and keep the homeowner focused on the ultimate goal,” says Goslett. 
Step two – Select a saving account
Choosing the right account is a vital element when looking to build up a sufficient savings. Some accounts will yield higher interest rates which will assist in building the savings at a faster rate, however many of these accounts will have a notice period before the money can be released. In an emergency situation this might be a problem, depending on the circumstances.  It is important to find a low-risk account that offers decent interest yield, along with accessibility. 
Step three – Automate the savings
Making the decision to put money into savings every month requires discipline, while some may not struggle with this - others will. The easiest way to ensure that some money is allocated to the emergency fund each month is by arranging a direct deposit system that transfers the selected savings amount into the account without the homeowner having to do a thing. “If the savings amount is automatically put away, it takes discipline out of the picture and ensures that a portion of the homeowner’s income goes towards their contingency fund regularly,” says Goslett. 
An emergency fund for homeowners is crucial to assist them with dealing with any financial crisis without being forced into debt. “An emergency fund is one of the best tools for homeowners to prepare for the unexpected and build a solid foundation for their financial security and independence,” Goslett concludes. 
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Considerations first-time buyers should makeFri 11 Mar 2016

Considerations first-time buyers should make
While renting a property has certain advantages, such as the flexibility to move around, buying a home provides the purchaser with an appreciating asset that they can call their own. However, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, purchasing a property is also a far bigger commitment that requires careful consideration.
“It is vital for potential homebuyers to do the required research before making the final decision to purchase a property. Although it is an extremely rewarding endeavour, it is a long term commitment that should be given the necessary time and deliberation it deserves,” advises Goslett. 
He provides a few aspects that every first-time homebuyer should consider when they starting the process of purchasing a property:
Calculate the cost
It is important to remember that the monthly bond repayment is only one aspect that needs to be considered when determining how much a buyer can afford. “Affording a home means also being able to pay for the other recurring monthly costs involved in owning and maintaining a property,” says Goslett. 
He notes that it is imperative that the buyer selects a home that meets their budget in terms of what the full living costs will be and not just the bond repayment. Additional costs to consider would include utilities, rates and taxes, levies and maintenance costs. These are not costs that are considered by the bank when approving finance, so it is important to discuss and calculate these costs with an experienced real estate agent or a bond originator such as Betterbond. 
Put fundamentals first 
Even if the first property that purchaser buys doesn’t have any luxury features, it is important that they ensure that all the fundamentals are in good repair. While a list of defects should be provided to the buyer, it is still worthwhile to thoroughly inspect the property for any hidden defects. If there is anything that the buyer is unsure of, they should look into getting a professional contractor to inspect the property and provide a snag report. 
Is there potential for growth or change?
While a property might meet the buyer’s current situation, because property should be viewed as a medium to long-term investment, it is best to opt for a home that can grow with the homeowner’s changing criteria. “Ideally it is best to find a property that both fits the buyer’s current needs, but has the potential to be changed to meet their developing requirements,” says Goslett. “While there is no sure-fire way of knowing exactly what the buyer will require in five years’ time, it is good to have an idea and consider what possible life changes could occur over that period. This might include a marriage or possibly a new baby – provisions need to be made for these milestone events.” 
He adds that a home’s potential to grow does not only relate to its size, but also it’s potential to increase in value. “While a home is a place to live, it is also an investment – so it makes sense that the property being purchased has the potential to appreciate in value. Buyers should following the basic principles of home buying to ensure they give themselves the best chance at a good return on investment. These principles include buying in a good location, as well as checking area statistics and figures to ensure the home is bought at a fair market value,” says Goslett.
All elements have a lifespan
Apart from the home’s current defects, it is also important to assess what features will need attention in the near future. Although the home’s features may be in good repair, everything has a lifespan and will require upkeep or repairs at some stage. Buyers should look at the condition of features such as the roof and flooring and try and ascertain how long it will be until these elements need to be replaced. Researching the expected remaining lifespan on large-ticket items can help buyers financially plan for the future.
It might not be perfect, but it’s the right home
There is a good chance that the first home a buyer purchases is not going to be perfect, but it is vital that it is the right home for them and their circumstances. Goslett says that in order to ensure that the home is the right buy, the purchaser needs to have a list of priorities, as well as those items that are nice to have, but can be compromised on. While a double garage or swimming pool is nice to have, it might be more important to have an additional bedroom or larger garden. The importance of these elements and where they rank on the buyer’s list will be entirely up to the buyer themselves. 
“Purchasing a property is an investment that could affect a buyer’s financial wellbeing for the rest of their lives. For this reason, the decision requires far more homework than renting. In order to ensure that the correct decision is made, buyers should take the time to weigh up all the options available to them,” Goslett concludes.
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