According to statistics from the South African Savings Institute, at the end of 2014 the average household debt to disposable income ratio was around 78.3%. Essentially what this means is that the large majority of consumers in South Africa are not able to put money aside for savings because of their high personal debt levels. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that compared to other emerging markets throughout the world, South Africa is considered to have a low savings rate. “The result of a low savings culture among consumers means that few have the cash reserves to make large purchases and will therefore be forced to rely on financial institutions to loan them the money. This once again pushes up their debt-to-income ratio and means that they are viewed as less creditworthy by financial institutions. As higher debt levels mean that a consumer is classified by lenders as higher risk, they will more than likely be paying a higher interest rate on their bond, if it is approved,” says Goslett. He adds that those who don’t currently have savings in place but would like to purchase a property in the future will need to make some financial adjustments to start putting money aside. “With electricity tariffs and the cost of living rising, it has become increasingly more difficult for potential buyers to prepare for purchasing a property. It will take a lot of discipline, but as a first step potential buyers will need to focus on lowering their debt levels where possible. Bringing down debt is necessary as obtaining the finance to buy a home is closely linked to an applicant’s affordability ratio. This highlights the extreme importance of personal financial planning,” says Goslett. Since the introduction of the National Credit Act in 2007, affordability has been a key aspect for potential buyers to focus on. While it was commonplace for buyers to be able to secure home loan finance without some form of a deposit pre-2007, in today’s market most buyers will need to show that they have a portion of the home’s purchase price saved up in cash. Ideally buyers should have around 10% to 30% of the purchase price saved up, along with the other costs associated with a property purchase such as transfer duty and attorney’s fees. “During 2007 the bond approval rate was around 70%, however this dropped down to approximately 28% the following year. Over the last seven years consumers have grown more accustomed to bond approval requirements. Bond origination group, BetterLife Home Loans, points out that only 29% of home loan applications submitted to lenders in the first quarter of this year were declined outright. This is an improvement from the 32% a year ago and 38% during the first quarter of 2013,” says Goslett. “It must be noted however, that while there has been an improvement in bond approval statistics, it does not mean that banks have eased up on their lending requirements.” Lending criteria remains stringent with banks placing a high emphasis on a buyer’s affordability. When assessing a bond application, the overall picture of the client’s credit history is taken into account including aspects such as the total amount of credit outstanding as well as the applicant’s ability to pay off debt. Goslett says that there are several ways in which consumers can show higher levels of affordability:
Seek the expertise of a professional financial adviser and planner, who can assist in formulating a personal finance plan
Create a budget which includes savings and stick to it
Avoid buying luxury or unnecessary items
Shop around – comparing prices to ensure you find the best value for items and services
Stay away from credit - rather pay cash whenever possible
Review all policies and medical aids annually to ensure you are getting the best possible deal
Go green - save on electricity and water costs by cutting down consumption
“Those who are able to cut down on their spending and reduce their household debt-to-income levels will be in a far better positon to show the affordability levels necessary to purchase a home. Although it requires discipline and it may be difficult at first, consumers will need to initiate a finance plan that works for them in order to keep their homeownership dreams alive,” Goslett concludes.
With the shortage of property available at the moment, many homeowners may be more inclined to put their property on the market and take advantage of the current conditions. "Inventory shortages have pushed both demand and property prices up with several areas throughout the country experiencing multiple-offer situations," says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "Greater numbers of buyers are showing the necessary affordability levels to purchase property, however in several areas there are just not properties available to them. There is currently a backlog of buyers waiting for property, which means that when homes do go on the market they are snapped up in no time. In the current market, sellers are now in the driving seat when it comes to negotiations," says Goslett. "Although, that said, deciding to sell is still a big decision which needs to be weighed up carefully, taking into consideration several aspects such as lifestyle and finances." Goslett adds that selling a home often means that the seller will be become a buyer in the same market, so it is important that they take some time to make sure they are ready to move on from their current property. To assist homeowners with the decision, Goslett provides a few signs that will give the homeowner insight into whether they are ready to sell: The space no longer fits your family Normally the number one reason that homeowners decide to put their property on the market is because their family has grown to the point where their current home no longer meets their needs. The needs of a family changes as it grows with the arrival of new members. There is also the matter of children outgrowing shared spaces or rooms. Other situations could also mean more space requirements, such as in-laws moving in or a family member needing a home office. "All these factors will play a role in the decision to move on and find a home that can accommodate the changes," says Goslett. A sales boom in your area While property prices throughout the country are seeing a gradual upward trend, certain areas are seeing a much higher percentage in growth than others. A homeowner within one of these property price hotspots might be more inclined to sell, especially if they have been undecided about selling up to this point. You are not keeping up with the maintenance If the homeowner is no longer managing with the maintenance or upkeep of the property, perhaps it is time to move to a smaller home that requires little or no effort to maintain. "While some homeowner's family situations may require them to move in a larger home, others may already have a large home, but have children who have moved out. If the expense and maintenance is becoming too much and more time is spent trying to maintain the home than enjoying it, what's the point. It might be time to let go of the larger property and purchase something that is more practical for the homeowner's needs," advises Goslett. There is equity in the home While home equity evaporated during the recession years and many were forced to hold onto their homes, for many homeowners the recovering property prices have brought equity back. According to Goslett, homeowners who have not had their homes evaluated for some time should have it appraised and research to see were that leaves them financially. With a positive home equity, selling is always an option. A change in life Life can be unpredictable, it evolves and changes, which in turn has an impact on the decisions we make. Motivation for selling could include a growing or shrinking family, a new job or a divorce. "Regardless of the changes and things that may occur, it is important for a homeowner to live in a home that suits their needs and fits with where they are at in their life. It is important for a homeowner to feel comfortable and live in the right home for them. Once that changes, homeowners know it might be time to sell," Goslett concludes.
For those who own a second property or holiday home, they will know that it represents years of pipe dreaming, carefully planning and a desire to better one?s life. It is for this reason that selling a holiday home might be a greater challenge, but could also be a far more rewarding endeavour. "Consumers who are looking at purchasing a holiday home more often than not want to fulfil a lifelong dream. Whether it started at childhood visiting a certain location every year, or whether it has developed due to a need to have a more balanced lifestyle and place to get away from the worries of everyday life, owning a holiday home is what many aspire to," says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Regardless of whether a holiday-home owner is looking to upgrade, downsize or just sell, Goslett says that there are a few things that they can do to help them sell their second home and possibly make someone?s dream come true: Highlight features that holiday home buyers are looking for When marketing and taking photos of the property, focus on the home's elements that will be of particular interest to a holiday home buyers.? Some of these features could include a swimming pool, views of the ocean, mountains or lake, access to a golf course or spa and proximity to amenities such as entertainment and shopping facilities. Remember it's more than just a home Goslett notes that consumers purchase a holiday home for more than just what the home has to offer. "Very often holiday home buyers have decided to purchase a property in a certain area because of the area and not necessarily the home itself. Holiday home buyers often purchase because of the surroundings and things that they can do within that location, such as water sports or hiking," says Goslett. While highlighting the property?s selling features is important, Goslett adds that the seller should also focus on emphasising the story of the surrounding community and the numerous things that the area offers. Consider renting it to a potential buyer for a holiday period A holiday home is one of few types of properties where a try-before-you-buy concept can work well. "If the holiday home is not being used for a weekend or holiday, why not let it out to potential buyers to allow them to get a feel for the property and the area. It is a win-win situation for both parties as the owner can make some extra money while waiting for the property to sell and buyer will know whether it is the right property for them," says Goslett. Patience is key According to Goslett, the biggest difference between a primary residence sale and a holiday home sale is that it is not about the buyer needing a roof over their head. This means that a holiday home or investment buyer will not be in a rush to make their final decision. This will take some patience on the seller's part. Have data and figures available Goslett says that one concern that all property buyers have is the cost of owning and maintaining the property, so if possible sellers should have all the figures and data available for potential buyers to have a look at. "Many holiday-home buyers may want to rent out their property while they are not making use of it in order to defray some of the ownership costs. Having accurate financial information at hand will enable them to better assess the viability of the purchase and have realistic expectations," advises Goslett. He concludes by saying that selling a holiday home is about selling the lifestyle and not just the property.
Purchasing a home is an amazing milestone that most people aspire to, however owning a property comes with certain additional responsibilities such as home maintenance. To ensure that the value of the home is protected and that the occupants of the home remain safe, home maintenance is an extremely important aspect that every homeowner will be required to do at some point. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that while home maintenance is a very necessary part of home ownership, it does not have to cost the homeowner a lot of money, provided of course that they have a reasonable amount of know-know and some basic but vital tools around the house. "There are a few tools that every homeowner should have to ensure that they can tackle the general and basic maintenance tasks that may be required of them," says Goslett. He provides homeowners with a list of some very helpful tools that should be kept in the home: Screwdrivers Homeowners will find that there are very few maintenance tasks that don't require a screwdriver in some way. Whether tightening a loose fixture, removing a light-covering to replace a lightbulb or assembling a new piece of furniture, a screwdriver is an essential tool that every homeowner will need to use at some stage. "It is advisable to have both flathead and Philips-head screwdrivers in an array of sizes. A complete set is relatively inexpensive, but will soon be regarded as an item that cannot be lived without," says Goslett. Hammer Another absolute must have for a homeowner?s toolbox is a good hammer. This comes particularly in handy when wanting to hang picture frames or photos. When considering purchasing a hammer, the best and most versatile option is one with a claw head and anti-vibration rubber grip. A utility knife Sometimes also known as a Stanley knife or box cutter, this tool is great for moving home and opening well taped-up boxes. Most utility knives will have a retractable blade so that they can be stored or carried safely. Another excellent knife to have in the house is a putty knife, which is the ideal tool for replacing a broken window pane ? an absolute necessity for families with small boys. A spirit or wall level Owning a wall level takes the guesswork out of hanging shelving or artwork on a level plane. While an experienced eye will be able to hang items fairly well, a wall level will ensure that the piece of art or shelf is perfectly even on the first try. Measuring tape Goslett says that knowing how big a certain area in the home is before purchasing an appliance or item of furniture will save much frustration. "Often homeowners need to know how wide or long an area is before they purchase something to fit into that specific space ? a measuring tape is the ideal tool to make this an accurate exercise," says Goslett. Measuring tapes come in various lengths from 3 metres upwards. While a 3 metre tape is perfect for most jobs around the home, a 5 metre measuring tape will allow homeowners to accurately measure bigger spaces. Flashlight Given the fact that most South Africans will continue to experience regular power outages for the foreseeable future, a durable, good-quality flashlight as well as extra batteries is a must for every household. "Aside from the effects of loadshedding, a flashlight is also extremely handy when working on repairs in tighter and darker areas around the home. Hybrid versions, which use solar power or are rechargeable, are more expensive an the outset but will save the homeowner on batteries over the long term," says Goslett. An adjustable wrench and pliers Owning an adjustable wrench means being able to tackle several maintenance jobs with only one tool. Pliers are also a must have for every homeowner ? the best option is a pair with serrated jaws which allow for better grip. Toolbox Lastly, a homeowner will require somewhere to keep the tools, such as an easy-to-carry toolbox. Keeping all the most commonly used tools in one place makes it easier to find and store. "Having the right tools for any job and being prepared, will make the job at hand far easier to overcome," Goslett concludes.
Downsizing from a large, freestanding property to a smaller, more manageable unit within a retirement estate can provide several lifestyle benefits for those who are planning to retire. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says that aside from the fact that a smaller home will be far easier to maintain, it also provides the owner with far more freedom to be able to lock-up-and-go any time of the year without worrying about maintenance or the upkeep of the property while they are away. "While a home with features such as a large garden or swimming pool is ideal for homeowners with growing children, these features cost money and take up a lot of time to maintain. Downsizing will give the retiree more time to pursue other interests and will have the added bonus of significantly reducing the monthly costs of rates and taxes, utility bills, insurance and security as well as maintenance and repair costs," says Goslett. However, downsizing a property for retirement is not simply a matter of selling a large property and buying a smaller one. "Over the years it is natural to collect things and buy furniture and items that fit a larger home. Reducing the size of a home will also mean reducing amount of items that can be moved into the smaller space," explains Goslett. "It is important to pare down on possessions where possible. While it may seem like a daunting exercise, any home would need to be decluttered regardless of whether a homeowner is looking to downsize or place their home on the market and move." According to Goslett, there are a few steps that can help homeowners to downsize efficiently and prepare them for the move: Plan for the moving day: once a moving day has been scheduled, it is important to start planning the move, working up until the set date. "Ideally it is best to start approximately three months before moving day by tackling one room at a time. This will be a far less taxing exercise than trying to tackle the entire house in a shorter period of time," advises Goslett. Sort into don?t, do, maybe: if possible it is best not to have a maybe pile as this means dealing with items more than once. Goslett says that if possible, homeowners should try to deal with each item once and make a decision as to whether they are keeping it or getting rid of the item. While this may seem like a difficult task, especially for those who struggle to let go, ask whether the item could be replaced if it lost and how often it really gets used. Sometimes more is just more: are duplicates really necessary? If there are items that are being kept just in case something breaks, it is probably better to get rid of the duplicates than take up space for something that may never happen. This applies to clothing as well - get rid of items that no longer fit or that are being held onto for 'one day'. Scale down on collections: Regardless of whether someone is downsizing or not, cutting a collection can be very upsetting, especially if it has taken years to grow the collection. However, limited space may require that only a few favoured items are kept. The number of items to be kept will be based on the amount of display space available. Make some money: selling off items is an excellent way to make some money to put towards the move while getting rid of unwanted items. However, it is important to stick to the three month time frame and start early. While some items could sell rather quickly, others could take longer than expected so it?s better to be prepared for this. An auction house is another option: according to Goslett, homeowners who have an assortment of valuable items that they would like to sell could consider making use of an auction house. An auction house is the ideal avenue to sell items such as antique furniture and artwork. An appraiser would come to the home to assess and value the items in the lot before taking the items to auction. This will provide the owner with an estimate as to how much they can expect on the day of auction. Donate: there are several charitable foundations that do amazing community work which would benefit from a donation of household items. "Organisations such as the RE/MAX Foundation can only do the work that they do due to donations made by the public. Making a donation is a way to downsize and provide assistance to members of the community who are less fortunate. Knowing the items are going to people in need will make it far easier to part with them," says Goslett. He concludes that downsizing and decluttering will enable retirees to save on costs and have more time to themselves, meaning they will be able to enjoy retirement to the fullest. For more information visit www.remax.co.za
Security is a major determining factor for most property buyers in South Africa, which is why homes within security estates or those that have state-of-the-art security systems generally sell for a higher premium. What about tenants? A large portion of the population prefers to rent rather than own a property due to financial and other reasons. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that just because a person is renting, it doesn?t mean that their safety or the security aspects of a property should be any less important. "When deciding which rental property is the best option, a tenant should consider the security aspects and the possibility of any security issues that may occur," advises Goslett. "Although rental properties could be more cost effective and less responsibility then owning a home, they can be difficult to keep secure. It is vital that the tenant finds out what security features have been installed in the property to make it a safer place to live before signing the lease agreement." According to Goslett, the first question that a tenant should ask themselves is what their security needs are. It is important to remember that while sectional title complexes are regarded as a safer option, they are not untouched by criminal activity. He adds that security goes beyond the extent of the property itself. "In the case where the rental property is situated within a sectional title complex, the tenant should enquire about the security features of the complex as a whole, such as access control, security guards on site or patrols. Many complexes may also have surveillance of some kind, which will vastly increase the security of the development," says Goslett, who adds that it is also advisable to ask whether access codes or door locks are changed once tenants move from the rental property. He notes that while landlords have a responsibility to ensure that the property is in a good condition and is well-maintained with reasonable security precautions such as door and window locks, landlords are not required to provide any additional security. "However," says Goslett, "if a tenant has their heart set on staying in the property, they could get prior written permission from the landlord for them to install security features at their own cost. In some cases the landlord may decide to pay a portion or all of the costs because it will increase the value of the property as well as possible future rental income. Once a tenant is aware of what security aspects are in place and what is required, they will be limited by their agreement with the landlord as to what they can install. This is why it is so important to discuss the matter and come to an understanding with the landlord before any agreement is signed." Another aspect to be aware of is the lighting surrounding the property. Dark areas make it easier for intruders to approach and either enter or assess a building. Outdoor floodlights can help to eliminate the risk and motion-sensor models are a value-for-money, effective option. Outdoors is not the only place that requires good lighting. According to Goslett, a lighting timer for inside the home can create the illusion of someone being home even when the tenant is traveling. Tenants should also check whether there are fire extinguishers and where the fire escape stairs and exits are.? Another important aspect to consider is the parking area and access from rental property to where the car is parked. They should check to see if the area is well-lit, and if there is a garage to park the car in. "Once all aspects have been checked and the tenant is satisfied that their security questions have been sufficiently addressed, they can confidently decide on which rental property they feel most secure in. Feeling safe is an important part of feeling at home," Goslett concludes. For more information visit www.remax.co.za
In an effort to lead transformation compliance within the real estate sector, RE/MAX of Southern Africa has invested in establishing its own Accredited Training Institution, the Global Learning Centre (GLC). This was achieved during the first audit by the Services SETA of the GLC in March with accreditation by the Services SETA awarded on 1 April. Challenging the many barriers to entry for new and emerging estate agents, the GLC solution to compliance integrates the best of world-class training with the compulsory qualification and the regulatory intern logbook into the GLC Intern Programme.? This turnkey solution simplifies requirements into a streamlined process, making it both cost effective and an integrated user experience. While the GLC Intern Programme has been designed to fully meet regulatory requirements of the accrediting authorities, it has been progressively structured to incorporate eLearning via a multi-mode delivery platform, which facilitates a blend of methodologies.? The solution promotes 'high touch' eLearning, using multimedia technology, a specific workplace-based mentoring component, class-based tutoring and portfolio support workshops, online chat forums and specialist support interventions.? The Learner Management System (LMS) is robust and subject to interrogation and audit, containing a powerful dashboard and data analytics for effective management by Margaret Nicol, the GLC Development Manager, who is responsible for the design and development of the accredited programme. The GLC is currently in the pilot phase of implementation of the GLC Intern Programme, with the initial focus on training GLC Certified Mentors, who are responsible for implementation of the programme in the work environment.? The interns or new recruits then undergo a full orientation and induction programme to ensure they understand the programme structure, roles and responsibilities, the learning pathway, qualification processes and achievement requirements. Their initial focus will be on sales, as that is the backbone of an agent's trade and the means by which they will make a living and potentially become future rising stars. ?RE/MAX of Southern Africa has a unique, international introductory programme that is customised by world-renown real estate expert and coach, Brian Buffini, designed to lead them to greatness is as little as 100 days! On successful completion of this initial phase, interns are selected onto and enrolled on the GLC Intern Programme, where they will receive full training and support to achieve the compliance requirements in as little as six modules. The main focus for RE/MAX of Southern Africa is on growing its market share while at the same time transforming the industry. ?"It is a priority for the RE/MAX of Southern Africa brand to grow its agent base over the next five years. We currently have over 2 200 agents working throughout the Southern Africa region and we?have plans to increase that number to 5 000 agents by 2020. We expect much of that growth to come from the new emerging markets in South Africa and with the launch of the RE/MAX GLC Intern Program, which will be providing top class real estate training, we will ensure that the customer experience is consistent with the brand?s high standards," says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "The programme will be offered to agents at the lowest possible rate and will be designed to be the simplest, easiest and fastest way to become a certified Professional Practitioner in Real Estate that is fully EAAB compliant," Nicol explains. "The system will comprehensively incorporate the key elements for those entering the real estate sector, such as the Services Seta FETC: Real Estate, NQFL4 accreditation and EAAB mandatory one year internship, along with the RE/MAX Accelerate course and Buffini?s 100 Days to Greatness. This will ensure that agents will be fully equipped to service buyers and sellers in the housing market and provide a professional service from day one," Nicol concludes. For more information visit www.remax.co.za
Although inflation is currently on the rise and economic growth is under pressure, the Monetary Policy Committee has decided to leave the interest rates untouched for the time being. The prime lending rate will remain at 9.25%, while the repo rate remains at 5.75%. Current economic factors, such as the rising inflationary pressure, must have made the decision a tough one, with any of the three possible policy options a prospect. However, keeping the rates unchanged for a while longer seemed the most practical at this stage and is welcome news for consumers, even if only for the next two months. While a cut in the rate would temporarily boost the economy and relieve some of the financial burden that many consumers and households are currently carrying, the move would weaken the rand. A weakened rand would only increase inflationary pressure, pushing the rate of inflation outside of the target zone, which would in turn force the Reserve Bank to increase the rates to counteract this. Conversely, a hike in the rates would result in a strengthened rand but would also hurt consumers and damage economic growth further. Although the Reserve Bank does not want to constrain consumer spending, they also don?t want to keep inflation pressure from exceeding the projected goals and targets. Rate increases will have the desired impact on inflation, but will place a lot of strain on consumers. Many consumers are already dealing with high debt levels and the increasing cost of living. Things such as impending electricity price hikes will affect the majority of consumer?s lives and most likely impact on their ability to afford non-essential items. Any further financial constraints will have homeowners stay in the homes they are currently in or downgrade to smaller, more affordable homes where possible. Economists predict that the global interest rate trajectory will remain flatter for longer, which will probably keep the rates where they are until a hike is seen in the US, which is expected to happen around the middle of this year. The Reserve Bank will likely follow suit, so consumers should expect a hike before the year is over. Those who can afford to do so should take advantage of the interest rate stability we have experienced and pay down debt to prepare for future hikes.
All debt is the same right? Not exactly, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "Very often consumers seem to put all debt in the same category, however while all debt is debt, it is not all equal. Identifying the difference between bad debt and what could be considered as potentially good debt will assist consumers to make more informed and better financial decisions moving forward," says Goslett. Before the global property market downturn, many homeowners would turn to their home equity as a credit source when they required large sums of money. However, post-recession thinking is somewhat different with homeowners rather paying down their homeloan accounts as much as possible to ensure that they see a greater return on their investment should they decide to sell.? As a result a popular alternative would be for consumers to dip into their retirement funds and take portions of this money in cash when needed. Unfortunately, taking money out of retirement investments will only cost the consumer in the long run and have a detrimental impact on their retirement income. Goslett says that instead of getting to the point of resorting to taking away from a retirement fund, it is important to understand the nature of the debt and see whether it will put the consumer in a better or worse position then they are currently in. "It is extremely important for a consumer to make the distinction between a good debt, a necessary debt and a bad one, as this will help to drive their decision-making process." He adds that the determining factor between a good and bad debt is that a good debt will result in the consumer's financial value growing over time. "A prime example of this is a bond, which results in the consumer owning an asset ? a home. The property not only serves the consumer's need for shelter, but also appreciates in value and grows the consumer's net worth over time," says Goslett. "Something to consider however, is that a loan can tip over into becoming a bad debt if the homeowner becomes financially distressed and can no longer afford their property. This emphasises the importance of having a financial contingency plan in place when purchasing a home." A necessary debt would be something that would change the consumer's station in life, such as a student loan. In order to fund their education, most students will require some kind of loan. While this means that they will start their career in debt, it will also provide them with the opportunity to earn a higher salary or possibly fast track their career progress. Another necessary loan for most would be car finance, however this can also fall into the bad debt category if the buyer selects a car that is far too expensive to run or maintain. According to Goslett, any debt that is purely for consumption is bad debt like holidays, food or items of furniture, for example. "These kinds of items will not retain their value. Taking out a loan to pay for these items is never a good idea, as it will only place more financial pressure on the consumer and put them in a worse off position as they will end up paying off these items for months or even years without any financial return," advises Goslett. He notes that regardless of what category the debt falls into, ideally the sooner the debt is paid off, the better off the consumer will be. "The fact is that debt accrues interest and the sooner it is paid off, the less interest a consumer will have to pay. More importantly, once all debt has been paid, a consumer has the freedom to start saving and building a nest egg for themselves," Goslett concludes.
In most industries it is currently the Generation X consumer, who are 31 to 45 years old, who have the buying power, but it is the younger generation or Millennials (consumers under the age of 30 years old) who will be the future buying power and backbone of all markets going forward. The millennial generation is currently filling schools, universities and entry-level jobs around the country; however this will soon change as they grow financially. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that there are already areas in and around the country where consumers under the age of 30 years old already represent the highest percentage of recent home buyers. "While Generation X accounts for around 18.74 million South Africans, the Millennials account for approximately 28.4 million people. This means that this up-and-coming generation will have a massive impact on the property market and will demand attention. Those who are looking to sell their property in the future will more than likely encounter a buyer from this generation, so it might be worthwhile to research what it is that this demographic of buyer is looking for," says Goslett. According to research concluded by real estate agents in the US, many of the younger generation buyers are looking for a place where they can socialise and interact with other people, while still having a space that offers them privacy when they want it. Goslett notes that based on this information, there a few things that sellers can do to make their homes appeal more to millennial buyers: Highlight social areas in the home: as socialising is a top priority for younger buyers, the more a home is conductive to entertaining, the more likely they will be attracted to the property. A great example of this is adding a small bar area, or simply adding a table and shelving to a cupboard that is near a living room and using it as a bar. Drinks can be served from it during show days to highlight the feature. Place a braai out on the balcony or outside area, even it is a small one. While it may seem insignificant to older generation buyers, to a young first-time buyer who has never owned one before, it will represent a passage into adulthood and a great excuse to have friends over. While space to entertain at home is important, millennials also enjoy socialising outside of home and meeting friends at local establishments. Homes that are near to amenities and entertainment facilities with be highly sought after. "Sellers should focus on highlighting places such as local bars, popular restaurants and coffee shops that offer free WiFi," says Goslett. Emphasise the preferred amenities: technology is a very important to the millennial generation, so sellers should take time to research elements such as internet connectivity in the area, along with cellphone coverage. If connectivity or cellphone signal is not ideal, a signal booster should remedy the issue and become a selling point. Many millennials are looking for space in the home where they can store their gadgets and electronic items. If the property does not currently have one, building a storage cupboard over an electrical outlet will provide the ideal designated charging station and gadget storage unit. Show off the home?s storage space: transport can sometimes be an issue for millennial buyers as they find their feet financially, with many now opting use public transport systems where they are available or bicycles. As a result, many are faced the problem of where to store their bike if they do not have access to a garage. A solution to this problem is a wall mount where a bike can hang vertically in a space that would otherwise remain unused. "As more and more of the millennial generation gain access to finance and enter the property market, the more important it will be for sellers to stage their properties and make them as appealing as possible to this demographic of buyer. Knowing the buyer and what they are looking for will give sellers an edge in the market," Goslett concludes.
While it is not possible to predict the future and what may or may not happen, it is always a good idea to have a contingency plan in place to ensure that you are prepared for the unexpected. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says that it is particularly important for homeowners to have a plan in place and funds put aside for a rainy day, considering the long term nature of homeownership. "Owning a home is a long term commitment, which means that the homeowner needs to have a plan of action should their financial situation change in anyway. Life can sometimes throw you some unexpected turns, so it is important to ensure that there are funds in place to be able to weather the storm and keep your head well above the water," says Goslett. He notes that an important question that every homeowner should ask is: if they lost their job tomorrow, would they be in a financial position to afford their home? "Unfortunately these things can become a reality and preparing as much as possible for these hurdles will put homeowners in a far better position for the future," adds Goslett. According to Goslett, there are three simple steps that homeowners can take to start creating an emergency fund to use as a financial cushion in tough times. He notes that while the idea of saving up in an emergency fund can seem like a daunting task, the thought of not having one is far more unnerving. An emergency fund can help homeowners financially manage any event, regardless of whether it is something as serious as losing their job or something like a burst geyser that requires urgent replacement. Unexpected expenses do happen, and more often than not at the most inconvenient moments, so it is good to have something in place to fall back on. Decide on an amount Goslett says that as a starting point, it is good to aim for around one month?s net salary, however if possible more is better. "Ideally around six months' worth of a net salary is ideal as a sound financial cushion, but as this will take time to build up, having smaller interim goals are important to help keep focused and motivated," advises Goslett. Homeowners who are contract employees with a less stable income should try to save up as much as possible to ensure that they cover the months when they earn less or don?t earn any money at all. The number of dependents a homeowner has will also influence the amount that should be saved, as will plans to expand the family. Choose an account Account selection is an important aspect when looking to build an emergency fund as certain accounts will yield a higher interest rate than others. However, when looking at a higher-interest-yield account, it is good to consider accessibility. "There is little point to having an emergency fund if the finances cannot be accessed quickly during an emergency. Often higher interest accounts have a longer waiting period before the money can be unlocked and used. Ideally the money should be easily accessible and in a low-risk account," says Goslett. Set up an automatic monthly deposit The easiest way to build up an emergency fund is by arranging a direct deposit system that transfers the selected saving amount into the emergency fund account each month. "The best time for this to happen would be as soon as the salary is paid into the account ? if you don't see it, you don?t spend it. Automating the savings will also take the need to be disciplined out of the equation and will ensure that a certain amount is set aside each and every month," says Goslett. An emergency fund for homeowners is crucial to assist them ward off financial crisis without being forced into debt. "An emergency fund is one of the best tools for homeowners to build onto their financial security and independence," Goslett concludes.
The invention of the cellphone changed the way people communicate, as did the revolution of the smartphone and tablet. Real estate professionals were able to access data and connect with their clients without needing to be in the office. Technology has continued to influence the real estate industry and business in general as the constant progression allows transactions to be concluded in a far more efficient manner. With technology continually evolving and making an impact to the world, it begs the question: what's next? Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that one of the latest technological advancements that could feature in the future of real estate marketing is the drone. "Essentially drones are unmanned aerial crafts that are currently being used in various ways by the military and by people who require aerial video footage. There is also talk that drones are the next step in door-to-door delivery services as well as the postal service," says Goslett. "A pilot is able to control the drone from the ground and survey an area from the air through a camera mounted on the drone. This will enable the person to record aerial footage that can be used to market a property, for example." In terms of property there are several beneficial uses for drones, such as providing images of the condition of a property's roof without a ladder or the common ground areas of a development. It can also be used to give the buyer a tour of the neighbourhood or golf course on the estate. "With security a priority for many homeowners, low-flying drones could be used in the future to patrol large areas for trespassers and automatically relay information to a security tower or the police," says Goslett. Currently what is possible in terms of the technology and what can be done with drones surpasses what is legislated in South Africa. While they can be flown under certain circumstances, the use of drones is prohibited for any commercial purposes. ?The current Civil Aviation Regulations prescribe specific requirements for operating an aircraft in South African civil airspace, and to date no unmanned aircraft system has been able to comply with these requirements. ?However South Africa, much like the rest of the world, has since embarked on the process to enable people to operate drones in the national airspace. As a part of an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), South Africa is actively involved in ICAO Unmanned Aircraft Systems Study Group to develop guidance material and standards to guide contracting states in development of their national guidance material and regulations. Currently the concern is that unmanned aircraft could be a danger if used by someone with no aviation experience. There is the risk that they could collide with each other or other aircraft. "There is also the issue of privacy, as drones will be able to take video footage of homes without the homeowner's consent. Laws would have to be put in place to address this and regulate the use of drones to only shoot footage over a property where the homeowner has given written permission," says Goslett. He says that once regulations have been set that specifically deal with drones, it is predicted that by around 2020 more than 30 000 small drones will be used for commercial purposes in the countries such the US, a trend that will more than likely follow suit here in South Africa. "With technology changing the way people live and interact, the evolution of unmanned aircraft could have a positive impact on the real estate sector, provided the correct regulations have been put in place. Used in the right way, drones could be a valuable marketing tool for the real estate professional of the future," Goslett concludes.
When it comes to tax deductions that a taxpayer is entitled to claim from the Receiver of Revenue, the onus is on the taxpayer to prove that a particular amount is deductible. Not only does the taxpayer have to prove that the amount is deductible, but they also have to justify the claim by showing the calculation of how the amount was calculated. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that while many homeowners qualify for tax deductions, it is not always an easy task for them to establish the amount of interest on their bond that is tax deductible. ?"Even if the situation seems relatively simple, there are often complications and questions that can arise, so a homeowner needs make sure they know what they are doing or consult a professional if they are unsure," says Goslett. He gives an example of a homeowner who has purchased a home for R1 million and uses 20% of their house as a home office as they would be entitled to a tax deduction. "If the current amount owing on the bond is R800 000 and the interest on the bond is at a rate of 14%, then the annual interest changed on the bond would be R112 000. As 20% of the home is used as a home office, the homeowner would be entitled to claim 20% of the R112 000 as a tax deduction in the production of their rental income," explains Goslett. "If the homeowner in this case decides to draw a further R100 000 on their bond to finance personal expenses, bringing the balance of their bond up to R900 000, they will not be able to take into account the tax amount on the additional R100 000, as this is not in the production of income," Goslett explains further. "The interest that is charged on the additional R100 000 will be excluded from the calculation of deductible interest from the time it is taken, going forward for all the years that the homeowner carries the bond.? Essentially what this means is that a smaller percentage of the initial 20% of the interest reflected on the bond statement is tax deductible from then onwards." Goslett adds that the percentage of deductible interest will continue to change as the homeowner makes further withdrawals from their bond account for other non-income producing purposes. According to Goslett, many homeowners want to know whether they can choose how to allocate an out-of-the-ordinary receipt of money into their bond account. "If the homeowner in the above case receives an inheritance of R200 000, do they have the option to only allocate the money to the 80% private portion of their bond and not to the 20% that is considered to be used as office space in order to leave a larger tax deduction?" asks Goslett. "The short answer to that question is no, because the bond is regarded as one account that cannot be divided or proportioned into separate segments. Regardless of how the home is divided and what percentage is for personal use and what percentage is for business use, the bond is over the entire property. What this means is that any money that is allocated to the bond account will reduce the balance of the bond in its entirety." Goslett notes that for this reason, if the homeowner has any other loans that are not tax-deductible, it might be a potentially better option from a tax planning perspective to allocate the inheritance to pay off those loans instead. "Dealing with tax and knowing what can and cannot be deducted can sometimes be a rather overwhelming experience. If ever in doubt, it is best to consult with a professional financial adviser or tax consultant who can provide assistance and guidance through the process," Goslett concludes.
As the temperature drops and the winter months edge closer, many in need will struggle to stay warm. Director of the RE/MAX Foundation and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that this is the reason why RE/MAX has made their Coats and Cans Drive an annual event. "Millions of South Africans are living below the breadline and are struggling to purchase enough food to adequately sustain their dietary needs. During the winter months the difficulty they experience increases as the fight for survival now includes the need to stay warm. RE/MAX of Southern Africa, with the help of the community, 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 each of the RE/MAX offices throughout the country will act as collection points for those who wish to contribute to the Coats and Cans Campaign. From 27 April ?to 26 June 2015, the public will able to drop off any blankets, winter woollies and non-perishable food items. The collected items will be distributed to various organisations that assist and uplift the underprivileged in their local communities. "We hope that this annual campaign will make a difference to those in need, but its success relies on the input from those in the community. The more people who contribute to the cause, the more people we will be able to help. As a company we are only able to do so much, but as a community we can change things and make a real impact on the lives of people around us,"says Goslett. "A warm meal and winter coat is often taken for granted, but for many it is a luxury that they simply cannot afford." 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 have some insight into which organisations would benefit the most from the donations," says Goslett. "We urge people across the country to get involved and visit their local RE/MAX office to donate some much needed items. A number of small contributions from every person in the community will amount to a big impact on the lives of those who really need it," he concludes. For more information regarding the RE/MAX Foundation or the Coats and Cans Winter Campaign visit www.remax.co.za/foundation or contact the Foundation manager, Sandy Smith on 021 700 2000.
More and more homebuyers in today's property market are becoming increasingly interested in homes that offer green elements. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that the term 'green' home has become somewhat of a buzz word in the housing market as a growing number of homebuyers consider energy efficiency as a highly important factor when searching for the perfect property. "Buyers are looking for both energy-saving features as well as environmentally-friendly features. Other features at the top of many buyer's lists are homes that are close to parks, public transportation and suburbs with walkways," says Goslett. "Most homeowners who decide to undertake green renovation projects do so to help conserve energy and reduce their utility costs. However, going green can sometimes be challenging and should be done correctly to ensure the right result is achieved," says Goslett. "There are a great deal of green products available to homeowners, so it is important that they carefully consider the options and make the right choices when deciding which products to use." According to Goslett, homeowners should consider the following pointers when looking at green products:
Ensure that the appropriate insulation is installed in the area being renovated
Use high-efficiency windows rather than those that only minimally meet energy-efficiency standards
Use only low-flow water fixtures
Appliances are graded from ?A? to ?G? to indicate the energy consumption of the product, with the letter 'A' indicating it uses energy most efficiently
Goslett adds that homeowners who are looking to install green features in their homes will be able to recover a percentage of the cost back when they decide to sell, as buyers are placing a higher value on homes that offer these features. "A survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) revealed that 72% of potential homebuyers reported that energy-efficient features in a home would influence their purchasing decision. Around 61% of these same buyers would be prepared to spend an additional R50 000 to R100 000 on a home that had features which would reduce utility costs," says Goslett. "Considering that most homes were built many years ago before energy-efficiency developments, if a home has newly renovated green elements, it could be a buyer's dream. Featuring the green renovations when the home is listed for sale could give the buyer added value and the seller a unique market advantage." Making the decision to add green features to a home need not be an overwhelming process, and it is not necessary to make the entire home eco-friendly. "A homeowner can start by making small changes at first, such as installing energy-efficient lighting. Installing an automated thermostat on the geyser will also help to reduce costs by ensuring that the geyser is only heating water at certain key times. Once these changes have been made a homeowner can compare their utility costs and show the reduction of costs to the real estate agent who is marketing their home. The agent will be able to use this as one of the selling points of the home to potential buyers. With the cost of living and electricity increasing, any savings can be a major influence on buyers. If the property offers similar features to others in the area, but costs less to operate, it will at the very least grab their attention," says Goslett. Remember that it is important to also market the things that potential buyers may not see when they first look at the home. Features such as insulation aren?t something homeowners often think to promote, but, if the home is well insulated, it can be a big selling point. "While one of the reasons for going green is to save money on costs and attract buyers to the home, it is not the only reason. It is also about sustainability and reducing the household's effect on the environment and its surroundings. A home with green elements will not only cut costs, it will also cut the home's carbon footprint," Goslett concludes.
Agent-centric model and recovering market attracts thousands RE/MAX LLC which is located in Denver, Colorado, recently announced that the brand has grown its number of real estate agents to over 100 000 worldwide. This is a remarkable landmark for the brand?s global network, with their international market share spreading further throughout the world. According to statistics, the RE/MAX brand had 98 010 real estate professionals at the end of 2014. As a global real estate franchisor, RE/MAX attracted more than 2 000 agents in the first few months of this year to reach this significant milestone. "As our agent count grew over the last three years, we knew that the 100 000 threshold would be crossed very soon," said Dave Liniger, CEO, Chairman of the board and co-founder of RE/MAX LLC. "Our agent-centric business model has attracted top producers for 42 years. It?s nice to have such large numbers, but we?re most proud of the quality agents who call RE/MAX home." RE/MAX agent growth picked up steam in 2015 and as of April 1 had risen 2.1%, after increasing 5.1% in all of 2014. RE/MAX continues its trend of agent growth while the National Association of Realtors reported February home sales in North America at levels 4.7% higher than one year ago. "In an improving market, the most productive agents will want to affiliate with a recognised brand that supports their efforts with valuable resources and innovative technology tools," Liniger added. He notes that the best agents seek out organisations that can help them succeed in a competitive environment. RE/MAX provides a comprehensive training platform, RE/MAX University, which is available 24/7 on-demand anywhere in the world and which has been recognised with numerous training and video awards. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that much like its global counterparts, the southern African region has seen a number of new agents joining its ranks this year. "Currently we are the largest real estate agency in South Africa with almost twice as many agents as our nearest competitor. Our goal was to reach 2 000 agents by the end of 2014, which we did. We have grown by a further 200 agents since the end of 2014, and currently have over 2 200 agents operating from over 175 offices in 10 countries in southern Africa," says Goslett. In order to position the company for continued growth in all markets over the next 20 years, Z Capital Properties (Pty) Ltd, a prominent black empowerment company, has purchased a 45% ownership interest in RE/MAX of Southern Africa. This decision was made to show both the industry and its clients, that RE/MAX is serious about leading the real estate industry into the next decade. Transformation is very high on the property industry?s agenda in South Africa, and RE/MAX of Southern Africa wanted to be the first real estate group out of the top six groups in the country to introduce black ownership at the highest level. Goslett notes that RE/MAX of Southern Africa will focus on growing its number to reach over 4 000 agents over the next five years. "In order to grow our numbers we will need to break into other markets, as well as grow our market share in the current markets that we operate in. Our focus will be placed on providing opportunities to previously disadvantaged groups and increasing the number of agents of colour we have within the brand. Nearly 30% of the current RE/MAX membership in Southern Africa consists of agents of colour, compared with the current industry average of approximately 5%. RE/MAX plans to grow in 2015 with the many entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds who presently have no employment and who would like to build a business in the real estate arena," adds Goslett. Agents within the RE/MAX network are given all the tools and resources they require to become top agents within the industry. Since 2006, RE/MAX has provided over 14 million online leads to its agents without a referral fee. Other services include a creative advertising campaign and the RE/MAX Design Centre, an online marketing site where agents can create customized materials using professionally designed templates. RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry.? In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. Selling five Master Franchises in 2014, RE/MAX reached around the world to nearly 100 countries. No other real estate brand can match this global footprint. It remains true that nobody in the world sells more real estate than RE/MAX. For more information visit www.remax.co.za
For those who can master the art of property investment, it can be very financially rewarding. However, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, entering into the world of property investment can be intimidating, not to mention risky.
"In every phase of the property market there are opportunities available to investors, provided they are well-versed and undertake the necessary research," says Goslett. "Without putting in the time and effort it requires, property investors could find themselves making the wrong and sometimes very costly decisions. A seasoned and successful property investor can only reach their full potential by having a vast understanding of the property market and the factors that influence it. Knowing what to look for and what to avoid will increases an investor?s chances of success and will ultimately impact on their investment returns."
Goslett provides seven property investment principles that will assist in guiding investors to ensuring that they are making the correct decision:
Patience is a virtue ? there is no need to rush into any investment. "Rather take the time to do the appropriate research, than rush into a deal that could cost you as the investor a lot of money in the long term. When it comes to property investment there is no blissful ignorance ? knowledge is the key to success. The more knowledge and information that an investor has, the better equipped they will be to recognise a good opportunity," Goslett explains.? He notes that there is no need for the investor to take the first deal that comes their way. They can take their time, shop around and compare other properties that are available before making any final decisions. Investors would do well to look at the price of the property and compare this to the value. This can easily be achieved through working with an estate agent and asking them to provide a comparative market analysis.
Location, location, location ? most people know this mantra, and there is good reason for it. Location really is just about everything when it comes to the investment potential of any property. Regardless of the property's condition or type, its location will be the determining factor as to how much the home's value will appreciate. It is imperative for an investor to choose the right location over any other factors. Good options are 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.
Never assume ? while the law protects property buyers to some degree, it is never a good idea to assume that everything in the property checks out just by looking at it. Goslett says that investors should have any property professionally inspected before the purchase agreement is signed. "A professional inspector will be able to spot any defects that may otherwise go unnoticed, such as the structural integrity of the property. While it may cost money to hire an inspector, knowing about any costly defects that the property has may influence the purchasing decision and price," says Goslett. "Having to fix any defects that were not discovered will only eat into possible returns."
If in doubt, ask for help ? it might be tempting to make your mark and go at it alone, but it is far better to learn from other people's mistakes than your own. "If possible, seek the advice of an experienced property investor who will be able to act as a mentor. During the initial stages of learning the ropes, it is always better to have a seasoned investor or advisor there to provide some helpful hints and guidance," advises Goslett.
Stick to the budget ? one of the most dangerous things that a property investor can do is lose track of where they are with their budget. It is vital to keep track of both finances and debt. "Ideally investors should plan an in-depth budget and cash flow analysis in order to ascertain their financial position accurately.? Investors will need to know what they are able to afford and what is out of their reach financially. This should be monitored and can be measured by completing a personal cash flow statement." says Goslett.
Additionally, investors should also compare the financing deals from different banks before deciding where to secure their home loan. The interest rate that the bank is willing to give on the loan will have an impact on the long term returns on the investment, so securing a loan will be an intricate part of the purchasing process. Investors will need to consider that most financial institutions will require between a 10% and 30% deposit.
Suitable maintenance ? once an investment home has been purchased, it doesn't mean that the investor can now sit back and watch the investment flourish. There is a certain amount of care and maintenance required to ensure that the investment returns remain healthy. "The investor will need to protect their investment by ensuring that the property is in good repair and well looked after," says Goslett. "Maintenance costs will need to be added into the investor's budget and plan. There is also the matter of ensuring that they have the time and capacity to properly manage and maintain their property. If they don't have the capacity, a management agent can be hired to make sure that all repairs and general management of the property is taken care of."
Diversification ? Goslett says that in order to mitigate exposure to risk, it is imperative for investors to ensure that they have diversity in their portfolio when purchasing property specifically for investment purposes. ?If possible investors should try to buy different kinds of properties in various areas, rather than buying a few properties in one development.
"As investors need to learn as much as possible about the environment they are trading in, it is advisable that they consult with as many experts as they can, as well as making use of professional, reputable and knowledgeable estate agents to assist them in the sales process," concludes Goslett.
With a large percentage of buyers in the market purchasing their first property, it can be assumed that at some stage in the future these first-time buyers will become first-time sellers. As with purchasing a property, selling a home also requires some homework and research on the owner's part. Another important aspect is selecting a reputable, experienced real estate agent who will be able to provide sound guidance and advice with regard to improving the home's presentation to ensure it appeals to the highest possible number of potential buyers.
"An experienced real estate professional will be able to provide the homeowner with very useful tips and information regarding what buyers can expect in that particular market and what the selling points of the home are," says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. "By heeding the advice given, sellers will be able to position themselves ahead of the game and be fully prepared to place their home on the market."
According to Goslett there are 10 steps that every homeowner should follow to give them a good head start in preparing the home for sale:
Make the home inviting ? the outside of the property is the first area of the home that anyone will see, so make it welcoming to buyers. "You want buyers to be enticed to see more, so clear debris and clutter away from the entrance of the property and the front garden, mow the lawn and cut back any hedges and bushes. Paint the front door, garage door and the gate to give the home a new fresh, clean look. Planting colourful annuals and perennials are a great way to attract attention to the property from the road and potential buyers walking or driving past," says Goslett. "Ensure that the home looks well-maintained by getting to the small repairs that need fixing, such as cracked or broken roof tiles or outside lighting. All exterior defects could instantly lead to a bad overall first impression."
Keep it clean - nothing implies that a home is well taken care of as much as cleanliness. A clean home will win points with buyers as they scrutinise every room ? especially the kitchen and bathrooms. Goslett says that new coat of paint will give dirt-prone areas of the home a clean fresh look. He notes that if the home has carpets, having them cleaned make the home look and smell great. Before the home goes on show, it is important tidy up each room, including inside cupboards and the garage.
Hide unsightly everyday items ? items such as children?s toys and the pet's belongings should be packed away or at least moved to less conspicuous areas of the home on show days. These items also include litter boxes, animal crates, pet dishes, dirty laundry and dirty kitchen sponges.
Pack away unused items ? start packing unused items into boxes and have them stored away - this goes for furniture as well. If items are not used on a daily basis they can be packed away to declutter the home so that it appears bigger, and to give the seller a headstart on their move.
Make wise paint choices ? a well-done, no-frills paint job is the best choice. "Everyone?s taste differs so it is best to stick to a neutral palette of white and beige so that potential buyers are not put off by any unconventional colours," says Goslett. "There is a good chance that the new buyer will repaint and decorate the home as soon as they move in anyway."
Small fixture updates ? aside from making the necessary repairs around the home, updating readily visible fixtures such as the cupboard and door handles, towel racks and curtain rods will completely overhaul the look of the home. These subtle and rather inexpensive changes can make a big impact.
Update the lighting ? the light fixtures should be changed to match the new updated, cleaner look of the home. Goslett says that new energy saving lightbulbs can be installed to highlight specific areas of the home, while being a green feature that many homebuyers are looking for in today's market.
Ensure you have the right window treatments ? according to Goslett natural lighting is another excellent way to enhance the home's features and boost its appearance. He notes that the window treatments used in each room need to be carefully chosen to ensure that they don't make the room seem dark and small. Ensure that the window treatments are appropriately adjusted depending on the time of day that the home is on show.
Have the table set ? freshly cut flowers in a vase or a bowl of fruit in the kitchen or on the dining room table are always a nice touch. These are small but effective details that will impress buyers.
Remember the back of the home ? although it is likely to be the last place that the buyer looks at, it is still a very important feature of the home. The backyard needs to look as spacious and as functional as possible. Plant or pot colorful flowers and keep the landscaping trimmed and neat. Consistently pick up after pets so that buyers feel comfortable touring the yard.
Goslett concludes by saying that it is not always that big changes that make the most impact, sometimes it?s the small things that make all the difference. It is the combination of all these little things that will add to the appeal of the home and impress potential buyers.
As expected by market commentators, it was decided at the second Monetary Policy Committee meeting of 2015 that the interest rate would hold at its current level. This means that the prime lending rate will remain at 9.25% and the repo rate will remain at 5.75%.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that the decision to keep the rates unchanged will be welcomed news for consumers who are already dealing with ongoing rolling blackouts and the increasing cost of living. He notes that although consumers enjoyed fuel price cuts during the first three months of this year, the fuel price will once again be increased, placing further financial pressure on cash-strapped households.
Goslett says that with the fuel price increases, inflation is expected to marginally edge higher in the months ahead, however economists expect that it will still remain within the target band of between 3% and 6% for a while longer. Despite the fact that oil prices have increased, they are still a lot lower than the average of $115/barrel as seen last year.
Even though there was the widely accepted premise that economic growth would strengthen and the South African Reserve Bank would need to increase the interest rate to contain inflation, economic growth remains much slower than desired. In fact, Goslett says that inflation fell to a four-year low of 3.9% year-on-year in February from 4.4% in January. This means that inflation has been within the target band for the last six months. With inflation lowering and the US Federal Reserve (Fed) now likely to delay their first rate hike, the SA Reserve Bank will likely delay the next interest rate hike as well.
According to Goslett, other factors such as the rand weakening to the dollar since the first committee meeting could also prompt the bank to revise its inflation forecast for the year. Despite warning from the Reserve Bank that the interest rate was likely to increase during 2015, it is widely agreed upon by economists that the interest rates will remain unchanged again at the May meeting, and possibly the July meeting too.
"If this is the case, delays in interest rate hikes will be good news for the local residential property market and those wanting to purchase a home," says Goslett. "Over the last few years consumer's disposable income has been overtaken by house price growth, which means that housing is slowly becoming less affordable. If inflation remains low and an interest rate hike is delayed, consumers will have more of a chance to close the gap between their disposable income and the price of property," he concludes.
Each year the RE/MAX brand honours real estate professionals who have gone above and beyond, significantly contributing to both the brand?s success and the real estate industry over the span of their careers. This year the award was presented to Peter and Val Gilmor, Chairman and co-founders of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, at the international RE/MAX convention held in Las Vegas during February.
This marks only the second time in the brand's 42 year history that the award has been presented to real estate professionals outside of North America, with the first time being Pelham Henwood, Broker/Owner of RE/MAX Midlands, whose office is situated in Pietermaritzburg. Henwood received the reward in Denver in 2008.
Dave Liniger, Chairman and co-founder of RE/MAX LLC, says that the RE/MAX Distinguished Service Award recognised the efforts of unique individuals who have gone above the call of duty to better the RE/MAX family, the real estate industry and the larger community. "The award honours those who have been loyal to the company and its objectives over their careers and through their efforts and daily contributions, have woven a considerable part of themselves into the fabric of the organisation and contributed to the organisations' many achievements over the years," he says.
As co-founders of the RE/MAX of Southern Africa region, the pioneer expansion of the brand outside of North America, Peter and Val Gilmour truly embody the essence of what the award stands for and have been a dynamic force within the South African real estate industry, making an impact on the market at almost every level. Together with their partners, Peter and Val originally purchased the RE/MAX Franchise Rights for Southern Africa in 1995 and grew the brand successfully until the region was purchased by RE/MAX?International in 2000.?In 2009, RE/MAX International announced that the Southern African Franchise Operations were re-acquired by Peter and Val Gilmour under a new Master Franchise Agreement. This year the brand celebrates it 20th year of operation in the southern Africa region with a footprint in 10 countries - South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Lesotho, Mauritius and the Seychelles.RE/MAX of Southern Africa has grown considerably in the past two decades, despite the tough trading conditions that have dominated the last few years.
"We are extremely honoured to have been presented with this award by Dave Liniger and RE/MAX LLC in front of our peers at the international convention. It marks an amazing milestone in our journey with the brand and the real estate professionals within the global RE/MAX network," says Peter Gilmour.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett says that through the leadership and contributions of Peter and Val Gilmour, the brand has seen exponential growth over the past twenty years. "Despite the fact the real estate market experienced tough economic conditions during and post the recession, RE/MAX of Southern Africa has continued to make headway in the industry, attracting new agents and acquiring new franchises," says Goslett. "RE/MAX of Southern Africa's success and growth was recognised internationally when it was awarded as the top RE/MAX region in the world for 2012 at the group's Las Vegas convention in March 2013."
He notes that the Gilmours have established and grown the brand to become the largest real estate company in the country that is almost twice as large as its nearest competition with over 2 200 agents and sales in excess of R22 billion achieved for 2014. "It is good to know that the property professionals in our country that fall under the RE/MAX umbrella are among the best in the world and are able to assist buyers and sellers with their expertise in the industry," Goslett concludes.