Schools impact home valuesWed 04 Jan 2017

Schools impact home values
Purchasing a property is a large financial commitment, and as such, there are several vital aspects that buyers need to consider before taking the final step towards homeownership, says Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett. He notes that while price, the type of home and cost, are a few of the factors that require buyers’ attention - the most crucial aspect to consider is location. 
“Most buyers in today’s market will know that location is important, but not everyone knows what elements make an area a good location or not, or how this influences buying decisions,” says Goslett. “A major influential factor is the amenities within proximity to the area, such as the shopping mall and medical facilities. The one amenity that has the largest impact on property-buying decisions are schools, this is because they have an influence on both the housing prices in the area and children’s education.”
He adds that regardless of whether prospective buyers have children or not, the fact that schools have such a large impact on the potential appreciation in value of the homes in the area, they require buyers consideration.  “Irrespective of the person’s life stage, whether they are parents or not planning on having children, schools should have a bearing on the decision-making process due to the influence they have on the investment potential of the property. According to statistics, homes that situated in areas which are the best school districts will on average, sell for more than similar homes outside of these schooling zones,” Goslett explains. “Essentially it all comes down to a matter of demand. Areas within proximity to good schools attract a higher number of potential buyers. The increased demand for property in these regions pushes property values up. The appreciation potential of a home intrinsically links to the demand for property in the area. Even in a slow market, the resale value of homes in a sought-after area will often fare better and be more resilient.”
According to Goslett the reason that schools have such an impact on home values and buying decisions is largely due to the school zoning system.   “Subject to there being space, a parent will be able to register their child at any public school. However, the Department of Education states that the school must prioritise children that live within the feeder zone. Children whose home address is within the feeder zone are given preference over those who live outside the zoning area,” Goslett explains. 
Preference is also given to children whose parents live at their place of employment, such as in the case of a domestic worker who resides on the property.  Children whose parents work in the feeder area are placed higher on the list than those that don’t. Goslett says that once all these children are given a place in the school, the remainder of the applicants will be considered subject to availability. If all spaces are filled, the remainder of the children on the waiting list will have to go to their second-choice school. The provincial department of education is obliged to find every child a place in a school. 
“It is advisable for buyers to do their research on the schools in an area and how they are ranked before they purchase a property. Additionally, as purchasing property is viewed as a long-term investment, where possible, buyers should assess what plans they have for the future. While they may not currently have children if they are a part of their plans, then considering the schools in a particular area could become a priority that influences their buying decision,” says Goslett.
To get information about schools in a certain area, buyers can contact their provincial department of education or browse the website. The Department of Education has a countrywide database of all public schools that can be of assistance to property buyers. This database has information such as the school address and contact details. 
“Buying a property is a huge decision that should be carefully considered. Having the necessary information at hand will ensure that buyers make the best decision when choosing a home,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Negative aspects that influence property valuesWed 04 Jan 2017

Negative aspects that influence property values
Research reveals that it only takes a prospective buyer a few minutes to decide whether they like a home or not, which is why it is essential that the home makes an excellent first impression, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
He adds that while there are certain things that sellers can do to ensure that their home is in its best possible condition before it is listed on the market, unfortunately, there are elements which are beyond the seller’s control that will have an impact on the home’s marketability before a buyer has seen it.   
Goslett looks at a number of these aspects below:
Location
Without a doubt, the number one influence on how a property is valued in buyers’ eyes is its location. “The mantra of location, location, location will continue to ring true throughout the ages. The simple truth of the matter is that location and property values are intrinsically linked,” says Goslett. “Where a home is situated, along with the amenities that surround it will influence the demand for that property. Homes that are in high demand will sell for a higher price. Factors such as its proximity to entertainment and shopping facilities, recreation areas, and good schools will all bear weight on how the property is viewed and valued by potential buyers.”
He adds that in the same way that proximity to positive aspects will have buyers viewing the property in a positive light, proximity to negative elements also plays a role in how buyers view a home.  Aspects such as noisy freeways, railway lines or airports or anything else that could be seen by a buyer as a potential annoyance or eyesore will negatively affect their opinion of the property.
Condition of the neighbourhood
Although the home itself could be in pristine condition, the condition of the surrounding neighbourhood will bear influence on how the property is valued by potential buyers. The neighbourhood in which the home is situated can either push up the value of the home or bring it down. This aspect is completely out of the homeowner’s control, however, the upkeep and maintenance of an area will impact on the home’s value. “The state of an area can change over time, be it positive or negative. Many run-down inner city areas have been transformed through urban renewal projects and are now trendy sought-after neighbourhoods. Likewise, there are other areas that were once thriving but have deteriorated due to poor municipal management, high crime rates or large industrial failures,”  Goslett explains. “A rundown area could result in the homeowner having to drop their price in order to sell. Where possible, homeowner’s should form or join a homeowner’s association to ensure that the community they live in is properly taken care of. This might mean paying some kind of levy or fee, but the rewards will be worth it in the long run.” 
Poor or unusual renovation
Maintaining a home and keeping it current is key, however, homeowners should carefully consider certain renovation projects. “In most cases, renovations will have a positive impact on the perceived value of a property, however, unusual renovations such as a home spa or gym could eliminate it as an option for certain buyers. It is also imperative that all renovations are completed by a professional and are not poorly executed DIY projects. Renovations should be undertaken in the correct manner, through the correct channels and be completed before the home is placed on the market. Poor workmanship or unfinished projects will only devalue the property in the buyer’s eyes,” advises Goslett.  
Lack of parking
While this is more prevalent in densely populated areas such as Cape Town’s central business district, property with no or limited parking is viewed as less valuable than those with a secure parking space. Goslett says that in some cases, a secured parking bay can add well over R100 000 to the value of a property where parking is at a premium.  
“Much of the money a homeowner makes is when they purchase their home, not when they sell it. Completing the necessary research from day one will help homeowners to look out for potentially negative aspects and avoid their property becoming a financial burden in the future,” Goslett concludes.
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Improve your home's value with these holiday maintenance projectsThu 15 Dec 2016

Improve your home's value with these holiday maintenance projects
For the majority of people, purchasing a property is the largest financial commitments that they will ever make, and it is also a long-term one too considering that homeowners will often only realise returns on their investment after five years or more. 
According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, a home’s investment potential and the time it takes to realise a growth in value depend on several aspects , such as market conditions during the period that the property was bought and sold, the home’s location, and the size and type of property. However, homeowners also have a vital part to play in ensuring that the home is well-maintained and kept in a good condition. “Knowing that it is such a large financial investment, it would make sense for homeowners to consistently maintain and improve their home to ensure that the investment is protected and grows in value. However, that said, it is also important that homeowners don’t spend too much on home improvements and upgrades, over-capitalising and eating into the possible equity built up in the property,” he says.
Ideally, home maintenance should be kept up throughout the year, however, time constraints can be an issue for many who are office bound for a large portion of their day. The holiday season is a great time for homeowners to undertake maintenance and improvement projects around the house. “Irrespective of whether people are going away on holiday or staying home, December is usually the time of year when people are less busy and are able to find some extra time to attend to home maintenance projects. Many people also receive bonuses during this time of year, which makes it easier to take on some of the bigger projects that they put aside until now,” says Goslett. 
He provides a few projects that homeowners can do that will spruce up their home and have it looking great:
A fresh coat
Whether on the exterior or interior of the home, a new coat of paint can refresh a home’s look and give it a complete facelift. Changing the colour of a room can give it a completely different look and will revitalise the space. Goslett suggests that sticking to neutral colours, particularly for the exterior of the home is best. While vibrant colour palettes can be visually interesting, they could possible limit the home’s appeal with potential buyers. 
Landscape and add water-wise elements to the garden
A manicured garden is always appealing to the homeowner while they live in the home and potential buyers; however, water restrictions make it difficult to maintain lush lawns and plants. Adding paving or hardscaping elements, such as a stone walkway, will reduce water consumption while adding to the aesthetic appeal of the home’s exterior. The lie of land may influence the placement of hardscaping features, particularly if drainage is affected, and water features should be in shaded areas to reduce evaporation.
Goslett says that when sprucing up the garden, ensure that only indigenous plants are used as they consume very little water and require minimal maintenance.  Certain bedding plants can consume a lot of water; however, by adding mulching to the bed and water retention granules to the soil, the need for water can be substantially reduced. 
Get rid of the clutter
During the festive season, there are a number of non-profit organisations that will be collecting items for the under-privileged. This is a great opportunity for homeowners to clear out some of their clutter while aiding a worthy cause. A de-cluttered home will feel more spacious and will be easier to clean and maintain. 
Areas in the home such as the garage and tool shed usually tend to collect unwanted or unused possessions. While de-cluttering, go through these areas and get rid of items that you know you no longer need. Rather let someone else get the benefit of using them than have them take up potentially valuable storage space. 
Perimeter and security upgrade 
Whether they are motorised or not, the entrance to the property and the security gates on the doors to the home will require some maintenance, even if it is just a coat of paint and oil on the hinges. Other aspects to check would be the intercom system to ensure that it is working correctly. 
Security elements add value to a property and increase buyer appeal. With many people going away for the holiday and leaving their home vulnerable, it is vital to ensure that the home’s security is up to standard and working as it should. The homeowner will need to assess whether their current system is sufficient or if additional security measures are required. 
Depending on the homeowner’s maintenance and improvement requirements, there are several different projects that homeowners could decide to do during these holidays. “When it comes to owning a property, there is always something that requires maintenance or attention. The holiday period is the ideal time to tackle what needs to be done and help improve the value of your asset,” Goslett concludes.
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Do one thingWed 14 Dec 2016

Do one thing
RE/MAX of Southern Africa is proud to be sponsoring Braam Malherbe and Clyde Barendse as they embark on a daunting, world first challenge to row the epic Cape2Rio yacht race. Starting on 1 January 2017, the two men will cover the 6 700km distance completely unassisted in a specially designed two-man rowing vessel – an effort that will require around 2.4 million pulls on the oars. Known as one of the toughest races in the world, the pair aims to complete the journey from Cape Town to Rio in just 90 days, rowing around the clock with one man rowing for two hours while the other rests. 
The purpose
So why would two men decide to attempt a possibly life-threating endeavour such as this? As passionate conservationists, they will be focusing on the vital importance of protecting the Earth, mostly the plight and preservation of the oceans, on which all life depends. Due to the high level of carbon dioxide that is being released into the atmosphere, ocean acidification is escalating at an alarming rate. It is predicted that by the year 2048 there will be very little fish left in the ocean, in fact, by 2050 there will be more plastic floating in the ocean than fish – this is cause for concern and more importantly action.
The professional adventurers, with the support of sponsors like RE/MAX, are using the race as a platform to launch a global movement called Do1Thing. The movement aims to galvanise people all over the world to make a commitment to Do One Thing (or DOT) to save the planet.
Achieving more together
“Regardless of our creed, colour, ethnicity or where we live on this planet, we all share this third rock from the sun that we call home. For us, as a brand, it made sense to get behind an initiative that is focusing on raising awareness around conserving the planet we live on.  Buying a property or land is essentially purchasing a piece of the Earth – our most precious asset. If we a human race don’t do our part to preserve the planet, there will be nothing left to pass on to the future generations,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.   
He adds that core to RE/MAX DNA is the belief that when we work together, striving towards a common goal, we are able to maximise our individual potential and collectively achieve more. The Do1Thing Challenge is based on the premise that, over time, little things can make a big difference; and as individuals, we each have the power to make small changes on a daily basis, that collectively can make our planet healthy, green and sustainable again. RE/MAX shares this belief, which is why we’ve chosen to support Braam Malherbe and Clyde Barendse and help spread the word.
“The DOT movement encourages and challenges you to make simple, achievable planet-saving changes (known as DOTs), which can be implemented immediately, most likely won't cost you anything and, in fact, will probably save you money, all while helping to protect and preserve the environment,” Goslett explains. “For instance if you managed to save one litre of water every day by turning off the tap when brushing your teeth, and you got your family and friends to do the same, and they, in turn, got all of their family and friends to do the same, in a short time, you would have collectively saved thousands of litres of water. It is the collective effort of each person that will make one small thing, a big thing with global impact.”
The #DOT App
As part of the initiative, the #DOT app will also be launching on 1 January. It will encompass four vital categories, namely Water, Waste, Conservation and Energy. Using the app, you can decide whether you want to action one DOT or many – it's entirely up to you how much of an impact you want to make on the world. The lifestyle changes, or DOTs, can be shared across social platforms and you can challenge friends and family to complete the same DOTs. Once you have completed one DOT per category, it will unlock the ability to submit their own DOT, since you might already be doing something that positively impacts the longevity of our planet. This gives everyone else in the world an opportunity to action your DOT. Points are allocated each time somebody acts on one of your DOTs, enabling you to climb the Global Earth Champion Leader Board. See how you compare to your friends, family and neighbours, and even how your suburb, town, city or country compares globally. More importantly, it’s about how many people you can influence to do your DOT, encouraging positive lifestyle changes and having the information at your fingertips on how to go about it. 
To accept the challenge and make a commitment to DO ONE THING to save the planet go to http://dotchallenge.org/ download the DOT App or connect with @remaxsa via Facebook, tagging #DOT #remaxsa
Saving the planet may seem like a daunting task, but if we all start with one small, environmentally-friendly act, we can collectively make a huge difference.
 
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Looking ahead to 2017Tue 13 Dec 2016

Looking ahead to 2017
While house price growth has slowed throughout the country, the Western Cape’s property prices continue to move along an upward trajectory, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “The Western Cape has enjoyed the lion’s share of the positive property price growth, while the rest of the country lags behind. A trend we expect will continue in 2017,” he says.
According to Goslett, the market is likely to experience only marginal property price growth during next year. “Property price growth will slow again in most areas, however, there will be pockets of brilliance, such as Somerset West which is still providing a great return on investment.  Other pockets of excellence such as Lakeside,  provide a lower entry level but will soon shoot up in value due to demand in Cape Town’s Southern Suburbs. Investors may not be as excited about the prospects of capital growth in the short term, but then again property was always designed to be a long-term investment,” says Goslett.
He adds that it is important to bear in mind that house price growth is relative, as the average consumer will continue to buy and sell regardless of the economic climate due to life stage requirements. 
Going forward, Goslett says that investors who are looking for good returns on their investments will have to be more discerning of the areas they invest in and the untapped potential of so-called ‘up and coming’ areas. He also notes that cash will very much become king in the medium term and buyers who have access to the necessary resources will likely benefit at the closing table.
Moving into 2017, Goslett says that all eyes will be on the rating agencies and whether the country’s credit status is downgraded to junk status. Earlier this year Moody’s Investors Service rating agency affirmed the country’s status at two notches above sub-investment or junk status but gave the country a negative outlook. If the country is downgraded to junk status during the course of next year, access to finance will become more expensive and interest rates will soar.  
A downgrade will 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. “Saving will become tougher but will also become more critical in respect of deposit requirements and the ability to negotiate better rates based on less exposure for the bank.”
During this year RE/MAX of Southern Africa has experienced abnormal property sales volume growth in comparison to an industry-wide dip of around 15%. “For most, property sales have declined as buyers adopt a wait-and-see approach to the current market. Challenging economic conditions have had their impact on the property market. More focus will need to be placed on job creation during next year if we have any hope of igniting the economy and increasing the number of qualified buyers in the market,” Goslett concludes.
 
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How to get your landlord to be reasonable when escalating the rentMon 12 Dec 2016

How to get your landlord to be reasonable when escalating the rent
Unfortunately, as with most things in life, rent goes up each year - but does this mean that tenants have no choice but to expect whatever percentage the landlord decides one? 
“As a letting agent with much of my portfolio coming up for renewal over the summer months, it is always interesting dealing with the expectations of both tenants and landlords and helping them meet in the middle,” says Grant Rea, Rental Specialist at RE/MAX Living.  “In Cape Town where rentals are at a premium, the escalation of rent at the anniversary of the lease can seriously impact the tenant’s budget for the next year. This is compounded further by the lack of available long-term rentals during the season.”
Rea adds that as an agent for numerous landlords, he has some criteria for how to decide, firstly whether to agree to a renewal with a tenant and secondly what escalation will apply. According to Rea, it is unlikely that the lease will be renewed with a tenant who has:
Been tardy with rental payments
Has made an unnecessary number of unreasonable demands 
Been regularly uncooperative with access for contractors or inspections
Had complaints regarding their conduct in a Sectional Title Scheme or from neighbours
Been dishonest or disrespectful in reasonably maintaining the property
Rea says that surprisingly there is no real science or guideline in how to establish the percentage of how much the rent will increase. Some misconceptions about this include:
The maximum is 10% 
That it needs to be in line with inflation
An increase in rent obliges the landlord to make upgrades
“For many landlords, escalations should reflect a fair return on their investment and should be market-related. An industry standard seems to be 10% per annum but once again the landlord may at his discretion decide to forego the increase or to increase this in excess of 10% to ensure the rental is market-related. Tenants need to keep in mind that the increase in rentals is influenced by supply and demand more than any other factor,” say Rea. 
Below are ways to ensure less of an escalation or methods to negotiate less of an increase:
1. The most effective way to convey that you are an exceptional tenant is by paying on time and in full. This may mean consistently paying one day before the rent is due. This ensures that all utilities are paid promptly, which may give you leverage to negotiate a lower rental increase.
2. Good communication is key and keeping the agent/landlord informed of any maintenance (necessary maintenance) and being flexible with access for repairs, will make you stand out as a reasonable tenant.
3. Be reasonable and generally understanding that the agent or landlord cannot be obliged to attend to any and every small maintenance item. Sometimes fixing it yourself will aid your cause when negotiating less of an increase.
4. Keeping the property neat, clean and presentable.
5. Keep a record of items you have attended to or improved in the property. Remind the agent or landlord of these without trying to coerce a lower increase. 
“At the time of the anniversary of the lease, you would confidently be able to request a lesser increase if you have been a great tenant,” Rea concludes.
 
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Things to avoid during the home buying processThu 08 Dec 2016

Things to avoid during the home buying process
While the majority of buyers will require a deposit when applying for a home loan, this is not the only financial consideration that they will need to be taken into account. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who points out that there are several other aspects that prospective buyers need to keep in mind when preparing to purchase a property.  
“Being prepared and having money set aside for the costs associated with a property purchase is essential, however, there are also things that buyers should avoid doing during the home buying process, as they could impair the buyer’s chances of obtaining the finance they require,” says Goslett. “Ideally, buyers should avoid these financial missteps to ensure they maximise their potential for bond approval.”
Goslett provides buyers with a few financial faux pas to avoid before they engage in the property purchasing process:
Letting your credit score drop:
A low credit score will impact buyers in two ways – it will negatively affect their chances of bond approval, and if approved, it will have a bearing on the interest rate the bank is willing to provide them on the loan. “Aspects that will have an adverse effect on a buyer’s credit score include missed or late payments, so it is essential to keep all credit lines current. Payments must be made on time and every month,” advises Goslett. “Prospective home buyers should avoid applying for any additional accounts or credit cards, as multiple credit enquiries will impair their credit scoring,” he says.
Too much debt:
Where possible buyers should attempt to get rid of existing debt or at the very least reduce it to below 30% of the credit limit. “Debt weighs heavily on a consumer’s credit scoring, so it is highly advisable for potential buyers to pay off any consumer accounts that are due, before applying for a home loan. Having a high debt-to-income ratio affects buyers’ affordability levels, which will have a bearing on the bond amount they will be approval for - if they are approved at all. Disposable cash is a key element to bond approval success,” says Goslett. 
Spending splurges:
Spending big amounts of money on credit before applying for a bond will severely reduce a buyer's chances of getting a bond. Ideally, it is best to avoid making any large credit-driven retail purchases or buying a big-ticket item such as a car, before applying for a bond. 
When it comes to big-ticket items credit is not the only thing to be weary of, as large cash withdrawals will also raise concern with the lender. Substantial cash withdrawals may require an explanation during the bond approval process.
Changing jobs: 
Lenders take the length that an applicant has been at their current job into account when processing a bond application, so it is best to avoid interrupting stable employment during the home-buying process. “Someone who moves from one job to the next within a reasonably short period of time can be seen as a credit risk. Banks generally like borrowers who have a stable employment record with at least six to twelve months or more in the same job with a regular income,” says Goslett. “While it might be unavoidable due to the buyer’s circumstances, it is best to hold out on changing jobs or hold out on buying property.” 
Maxing out your limit:
Just because the bank is prepared to offer a certain bond amount to the buyer, doesn’t mean that they should buy a home for that amount. It is important to keep in mind that there is more to homeownership than just a bond repayment, such as rate and taxes, maintenance costs and possibly levies. Another consideration is possible interest rate hikes during the term of the bond. Goslett says that buyers should try to stick within the price range where they can comfortably manage the total monthly home expenses and have something left over. By looking at homes below their maximum limit, buyers will also be able to compete with other buyers in a multiple-offer situation.
“Buyers who are financially prepared and avoid making any missteps during the home-buying process are well on their way to becoming homeowners,” Goslett concludes.
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Emotions involved in the home buying processTue 06 Dec 2016

Emotions involved in the home buying process
Although most home buyers will have a checklist of must-have items such as the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, the size of the garden or the possible commute to the office, often home buying decisions are driven by emotion and not necessarily the facts.  For many, it all comes down to how they feel when they first walk into their ideal home.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that buyers should be mindful of purchasing a home purely based on emotion as this could come back to bite them in the long run. “It is natural to have an emotional response during the home buying process, however, it is vital that emotions are not the only reason for buyers making  certain decisions,” he says.
According to Goslett, there are four emotions that buyers are likely to experience as they move through the home buying process. Understanding these emotions and keeping them in check will help buyers to remain level headed and buy the best possible home. 
Exhilaration
Purchasing a new home is a very exciting milestone that many aspire to, so it is only natural that the initial emotion will be one of excitement.  Buyers who are just starting out their home-buying journey will be in the dream phase of the process and will be searching for properties online. It is during these initial stages that buyers will start to figure out what they like and what is available in the current market. 
This is the ideal time for buyers to sit down with an estate agent or bond originator to obtain some advice regarding their budget and affordability. A real estate professional will be able to guide buyers through the steps of purchasing a property, along with what to expect in terms of the costs associated with buying a home, such as attorney fees, transfer costs and bond costs.
Overwhelmed 
For buyers who are new to the process, there is a large amount of information that they will need to ingest during the initial stage of their search. Aside from the many properties that buyers will be looking at, there is also the matter of calculating their finances, and preparing to move to a new home. The large amount of information available and the number of decisions that homebuyers need to consider is overwhelming at times. 
While most people will have an idea of what they are looking for when they start their search, after seeing property after property, it is possible to lose sight of their initial vision. Having a clear defined list will help buyers to stay on track and narrow down their search. There are a few other ways that buyers can keep tabs on the various properties that have been viewed in order to compare them:
Take down notes on each and every property that is viewed. This can be done using a smartphone, tablet or the more traditional pen and notebook. Make a list of the pros and cons of each property. 
Document each home by taking photos - this can be done with the camera on your cell phone. 
Only keep records of properties that you are really interested in.
If in doubt about anything, talk to the agent who showed you the property. They will have a record of the homes that they have shown you and will have a list of each property’s features. 
Anxiety 
Once buyers have decided on a home and are moving forward with the buying process, they are likely to start feeling stressed out. More often than not, buyers will be anxious to get through the process as quickly as possible so that they can move into their new home. During this time is it important for the agent to explain the legal process while providing an estimated time period that each stage of the process will take. 
Satisfaction
Generally, once buyers have made it through the process, they will feel a sense of accomplishment and will be fulfilled. Owning a property can provide buyers with a sense of security, as well as a cornerstone for building wealth, provided the right decisions are made from the start.  
“Understanding the home buying process and the emotions that accompany it will assist buyers to make decisions that are based on the facts and not just their hearts,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Toy and book collection underwayMon 05 Dec 2016

Toy and book collection underway
This month marks the start of the annual RE/MAX Foundation National Toy and Book collection, once again securing its place as a firm fixture on the brand’s calendar. The campaign will run from 1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017, in the hope of building on from the previous year’s success and spreading the festive joy to as many underprivileged children as possible. 
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa and director of the RE/MAX Foundation, says that every year countless numbers of children go without over the festive season, while so many of us take what we have for granted. “As the year comes to an end, it is a great time to reflect, be grateful and give back to those in need. Through the Toy and Book campaign, the RE/MAX Foundation aims to uplift the less fortunate children within the community who may otherwise not receive anything this Christmas. It is vital to us as a brand to have a positive impact in the areas in which we operate and make a difference where is it needed. The goal of the RE/MAX Foundation is helping those who are not always able to help themselves,” says Goslett. 
He adds that when the initiative was first introduced it only ran over the month of December, however, due to the amazing response from the public and wanting to optimise the effectiveness of the campaign, it has now been extended to last for two months. “By running the campaign over a longer period it has enabled us to reach more children and maximise the impact the collection will have on the community.  On 31 January all of the donations that have been collected over the two month period will be handed over to the various charities, crèches and orphanages,” says Goslett.
He notes that while the Foundation is supported by the RE/MAX offices, agents, buyers, sellers and business associates, the success the initiative is largely based on the support of the people in the community who step up to help by providing donations. “Without community involvement a campaign such as this would fall flat, however, over the past few years, the response from the public has been inspiring. We hope that we can continue the success of the previous campaigns and spread joy to far more children.”
RE/MAX Foundation Manager, Sandy Smith, says that all of the RE/MAX offices around the country are encouraged to participate in the drive and will act as drop-off points for the public. “We want it to be as convenient as possible for people to participate in the drive  and help their community. Each RE/MAX office will nominate a charity, crèche or orphanage in their area of operation that will receive all the toys and books to ensure that local community it directly impacted,” says Smith. “We want people to be able to support the communities they live in so that they can see the difference that their contribution has made.”
She adds that those who live in a certain area will have firsthand knowledge of where help is needed and where the donations will have the greatest impact. “This campaign is about giving to something that you have a heart for and making the community a better place in which to live.  A golden thread that runs through the RE/MAX brand ethos is to have a positive impact on the communities in which we operate. The RE/MAX Foundation initiatives have given those within the brand a vehicle through which to do just that,” says Smith. 
The aim of the RE/MAX Foundation is to have an on-going impact on the lives of young people in particular, and empower them to be the best that they can be. Currently, the foundation supports a number of national beneficiaries and over 100 local charities around South Africa through various corporate social investment initiatives. 
“What we do now will have a carry-over effect on generations to come - the RE/MAX Foundation wants to give back to local communities and uplift the next South African generation,” Smith concludes.
 
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Create buyer appeal through home stagingTue 29 Nov 2016

Create buyer appeal through home staging
Although home staging is not new to the real estate market, its popularity among sellers has seen an increase in recent years. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX, more and more sellers understand the importance of creating buyer appeal in today’s challenging market. He adds that momentum in the property market has shifted towards buyers, so sellers need to optimise their chances of standing out from the crowd. 
“Preparing the home for sale can have a positive impact on prospective buyers’ perceptions of the property and home staging is just one tool that sellers can use to accomplish this. The primary goal for most sellers is to sell their home within the shortest time, for the highest possible price. If sellers want to be able to achieve this, they will need to ensure that their home appeals to the highest number of potential buyers in the market. Often real estate professionals will use home staging as a marketing tool to highlight the home’s prime selling features. At its core, home staging is preparing the home to be listed by using methods that improve the property’s appeal by transforming it into an attractive and welcoming space,” Goslett explains.
In a commercial setting, a prime example of staging would be a retail shop’s display window, which uses props and mannequins to market items that they want to sell. The display allows the passer-by to imagine themselves wearing the clothes or using the items in the window, perhaps enticing them to buy. In similar fashion, home staging is used to showcase the home’s best qualities and entice the potential buyer to see themselves living in that home – it creates aspirations.  
“If cost is not a factor, sellers can have their homes professionally staged by a knowledgeable staging specialist. Depending on the budget, professional staging can include the rental of furniture or artwork, buying paint or wallpaper, as well as products that may be required to fix certain defects such as cracks in the wall or sanding wooden floors,” says Goslett.
If a professional specialist is out of the question, sellers can make simple changes to their home on their own. “There are a number of resources available to sellers, such as websites, television shows, and magazines, to name a few,” adds Goslett. “The home must be clean, inviting and exciting for potential buyers to view. The object is for buyers to not only want the home but want it more than any other homes for sale in the neighbourhood.”
According to Goslett, one of the first steps that sellers should take when preparing their home is to declutter and pack away items that are not necessary. “Buyers should be able to focus on the home and what it has to offer, rather than the items inside of it. Rooms that are cluttered with items will feel smaller and overcrowded. Removing unnecessary items and furniture will create more space. While not always practical, it is best to try and reduce the home’s contents by about half – this means being ruthless with the selection. Hiring a storage unit while the home is on the market will help in storing pieces that the seller wants to keep, but don’t want in the house,” advises Goslett. 
Apart from the space element, with fewer items in the home, it will be far easier to keep clean. “Fewer items means that it will be easier to have the carpets professionally cleaned, which will make a big difference to how the home looks and smells. Washing the curtains will also add a pleasant aroma to the home. Fresh or new bedding will go a long way in sprucing up the bedrooms and having them look their best on show day,” adds Goslett.
He notes that it is important to be conscious of the way the home smells because it can have an impact on the sale of the home. Good smells conjure up positive emotions, while bad odours, on the other hand, will put potential buyers off. “Nothing beats the smell of freshly brewed coffee or freshly baked bread on a show day – it is a really inviting smell to most people,” Goslett explains.
Once the property has been de-cluttered, cleaned and smells good, sellers can start looking at other aspects such as painting the walls if required or rearranging the furniture. Each room should be as open and bright as possible. It is best to have the curtains or blinds open to let in as much light as possible and the lights should be turned on. 
“Sometimes subtle, well-planned changes can make the biggest impression, such as a sparkling blue swimming pool or a mowed lawn,” says Goslett. “A nice touch is some fresh flowers on display, a welcome mat or fresh fruit in a bowl in the kitchen – all these little things combined will add to the appeal of the home and impress potential buyers,” he concludes.
 
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Regulations shake up sectional title ownershipMon 28 Nov 2016

Regulations shake up sectional title ownership
New Regulations came into effect on 7 October 2016 under the Community Schemes Ombud Service Act (CSOSA) and the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA), now require sectional title owners and trustees to up their game.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that under the previous system, to a large degree trustees, owners, and sectional title schemes have been able to get away with a lot because the cost of holding them accountable has been too high for the average resident.  “Not many people can afford to pay the arbitration or litigation costs when a dispute arises, however, this will change under the new regulations,” he says. “Through the Community Schemes Ombud Service provided for in the CSOSA, residents within community schemes, such as sectional title schemes or homeowners’ associations, will be able to take their dispute to a statutory dispute-resolution service instead of a private arbitrator or the courts.”
Goslett says that this will provide residents with a far more cost effective solution to resolving their disputes with community schemes, as the service will be partly funded by taxpayers’ money with the schemes paying an annual levy to the service. He notes that those who seek intervention will pay an application fee and possibly an adjudication fee, which provides owners much-needed relief from the time consuming and costly routes provided for in the traditional route through the courts.
Despite the fact that both the CSOSA and STSMA were signed into law as far back as June 2011, both Acts came into operation on 7 October 2016. The Acts work hand in hand with the STSMA assuming that the CSOSA is operational. While the STSMA replaces sections 37 to 48 of the Sectional Titles Act, which governs how a body corporate must manage the scheme and conduct its business, the Sectional Titles Act will continue to prescribe how a scheme must be established. Although many of the provisions covered in the STSMA duplicate those of the Sectional Titles Act, there are some significant differences between the two. 
A reserve fund will be mandatory
At the moment only some sectional title schemes budget for future expenditure by setting aside a percentage of the levies collected in a money market fund. Although the Sectional Titles Act does require bodies corporate to take future expenditure into account, there is currently no minimum amount that needs to be saved.  In the instance where there is not enough money because the scheme has not made provision for future expenditure, under the current system a special levy will be raised when the need arises. 
Under the STSMA, a body corporate has to establish two funds, namely an administrative fund and a reserve fund. Levies must be paid into the administrative fund and only used to fund operating expenses in the current financial year. A percentage of the money collected must also be allocated to the reserve fund, which will be used to pay for future expenditure determined by a maintenance, repair and replacement plan. The body corporate will be required to draw up this plan. 
Although trustees will still be allowed to raise special levies, the reserve fund is intended to cover expenditure that many bodies corporate are funding via special levies. This expenditure includes repairs that could not have been reasonably foreseen when the maintenance plan was drawn up or urgent repairs required to prevent damage to property or to ensure the safety of the scheme’s residents.
The regulations prescribe a formula that the body corporate must use to determine the minimum allocation to the reserve fund. The formula is based on the amount in the reserve fund at the end of a financial year and the total contributions collected during that period.
A comprehensive maintenance plan
Body corporates now need to prepare a plan for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of major capital items on the common property within the next 10 years. Major capital items are defined as electrical systems, plumbing, drainage, heating and cooling systems, lifts, carpeting and furnishings, roofing, painting, waterproofing, communication systems, paving and parking areas, roads, security systems and any recreational facilities. 
The plan must set out the current condition or state of repair of each capital item, as well as when each item will have to be maintained, repaired or replaced. The plan must include costing and the expected lifespan of the items once they have been maintained, repaired or replaced.
Mandatory Fidelity insurance
It is compulsory for all community schemes to take out fidelity insurance against the risk of money being lost as a result of fraud or dishonesty by an “insurable person”, which means anyone who has access to the money that belongs to a scheme. A minimum amount of fidelity insurance is prescribed by the regulations and the policy must pay out without the scheme having to pursue criminal or civil proceedings. 
If an insurable person, such as a managing agent, can prove that they have taken out cover that complies with the regulations, the scheme will be exempt. It is required that the insurer notes the scheme’s interest in the proceeds of the policy and agrees not to cancel it without giving the scheme at least 30 days’ notice.
Penalty interest will be capped
The regulations now cap the interest that body corporates can charge owners who default on their levies. The regulation states that the rate may not exceed the maximum rate of interest a year, compounded monthly in arrears, as it applies in terms of the National Credit Act (Act 34 of 2005). The cap restricts trustees on the amount of penalty interest charged where currently, a body corporate can decide on the rate of interest.
“The changes will have a significant effect on how sectional title schemes will conduct their business. It is advisable for sectional title owners and residents to read up on the regulations and the possible impact it could have going forward,” Goslett concludes. 
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Interest rate reprieve for SAFri 25 Nov 2016

Interest rate reprieve for SA
It was announced today at the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the year that the interest rate would remain unchanged as we move into 2017. The repo rate will stay at 7%, with the prime lending rate currently at 10.5%.
A slow economy and the need for expanded money supply has led to the Reserve Bank pausing their hiking cycle for the time being, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “While consumers are not in the clear quite yet, it seems that there are indications that the hiking cycle has run its course and is coming to an end in the near future. If this is the case, it will be good news for bonded homeowners and prospective buyers who are eager to purchase a property next year,” says Goslett.
Since January 2014 up until March this year, rates have increased by a cumulative 200 basis points, which has added to the financial pressure that has been placed on consumers. While a 200 basis point increase is relatively conservative when compared to the previous hiking cycle where rates went up 400 basis points, it comes amid electricity tariff hikes, petrol price increases and drought-induced escalating food prices. 
“For the majority of 2016, interest rates have remained steady due to weak economic growth, the strengthening of the currency and an improved inflation outlook. However, there is still the chance that at least one more hike could be on the cards in the future, so consumers need to financially prepare where possible,” advises Goslett. “It is likely that the Federal Reserve will hike the US interest rate in December. If this occurs along with a negative assessment from rating agencies, the currency will once again suffer, placing pressure on the MPC to hike interest rates during the first quarter of 2017.”
According to Goslett, consumers should take this interest rate pause as an opportunity to reassess their financial situation before the start of the New Year and cut the fat where possible. He adds that currently, households spend approximately 76% servicing debt. “Even if there are no further rate hikes in the immediate future, poor economic growth, price pressure and job losses will continue to impact on the property market and more importantly consumer’s back pockets. Reducing debt levels and increasing savings will lift consumer confidence as we welcome in another year,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Is there a difference between offers?Fri 18 Nov 2016

Is there a difference between offers?
It is not uncommon for sellers to receive more than one Offer to Purchase (OTP) on their property at a time, especially if the home is situated in a sought-after area, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He adds that while it might be tempting to simply accept the highest offer, this isn’t always the best offer and it is important to look at all offers in their own merits, paying particular attention to the clauses of each contract. 
“The seller’s real estate agent will be able to provide some valuable insight when going through each offer to determine which one is the most beneficial. In terms of the mandate given to the agent, the agent must act in the best interest of the homeowner to ensure that the optimum outcome is achieved during the property transaction,” says Goslett. “The highest value offer might seem as though it is the obvious choice from the outset and achieving the highest possible sales price is ultimately the end goal, however, there are other aspects that need to be considered before making a final decision.” 
Goslett says that before sellers think about accepting an offer, the following should be in place:
Copies of any council-approved plans on the property, as well as checking all other documentation is up-to-date and correct. This will expedite the time it takes for the property to be transferred, ensuring the process goes more smoothly.
Ensure that the contract is easy to understand and covers all aspects that are to be agreed upon by both parties. This should include factors such as which items will be regarded as fixtures and fittings. Having these aspects in a written document will reduce any chance of a misunderstanding or disagreement in the future.
According to Goslett, when a seller is reviewing each OTP there are a few critical elements that they should pay particular attention to, as this will help them to differentiate between the various offers.  He gives sellers a few basic points to consider:
Is the offer conditional?
The majority of offers in today’s market are subject to certain suspensive conditions that need to be satisfied before the transaction can come to fruition. These could include the buyer first having to sell their current home before they can purchase the seller’s property.  While not entirely out of the ordinary for an OTP to be void of any suspensive conditions, it is important for the seller to consider that the property will be off the market while the terms and conditions are waiting to be met, should they choose to accept the offer.
Does the buyer have a deposit? 
Most buyers will be required by the bank to have at least 10% of the purchase price of the property as a deposit, however, in certain instances, a buyer may be asked to provide as much as 30% of the purchase price. The more money the buyer has available to put down as a deposit, the greater the chance the buyer will have of obtained the required finance to purchase the home. Often deposit is also a good indication of the buyer’s financial position and how serious they are about buying the home.
Is it a cash deal or financed?
Ideally, the fewer complications involved in the financing of the purchase, the better, as it means that less can go wrong further down the line. Cash is king, but only a small percentage of transactions are completely cash deals. The majority of buyers will require a bond, but banks are far more willing to approve a bond if the buyer requires less than 80% of the purchase price of the home. Although generally not an issue, it is advisable to be cautious of buyers that require third parties to sign a surety on their behalf. 
The date of occupation
In the perfect scenario the occupational date and the transfer date would coincide. To a large degree, this will mitigate the amount of stress and complications in the event that the deal does not materialise. If the offer contains any suspensive conditions, the seller should not allow occupation of the home until these conditions are met and all documentation has been signed by both the buyer and seller at the conveyancing attorney. 
“Once a seller has perused all aspects of each offer is satisfied, then they can consider the price that the buyer is offering. There are instances where the seller could find that the lower offer is actually the right one for them, depending on their needs and the conditions of the offer,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Start with your best foot forwardFri 11 Nov 2016

Start with your best foot forward
As we approach the end of another year, many students will be thinking about their lives going forward and what the future may hold for them. After graduating many will be entering the job market, starting on their career path and entering a new life stage. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, the financial decisions that these young consumers make early on, will largely dictate their financial well-being in the future. “Starting out in the right manner from the beginning will assist graduates to build a financial nest egg that will help them to achieve their financial goals, such as owning their own property when they decide to get into the market,” he says.
Goslett provides a few crucial steps that graduates can take to ensure they set out on the right path: 
Pay off student debt as quickly as possible
Unfortunately most students will graduate with substantial student debt which will hinder them financially until it is paid off. Ideally, graduates should focus on paying off the debt as quickly as possible, so that they start their new endeavours with a clean slate. “With the interest rate hikes placing further financial pressure on consumers with high debt levels, it is advisable to make every effort to reduce debt at all costs. Once student debt has been cleared, the consumer will be able to start building their saving,” advises Goslett. “The majority of South African consumers are struggling with high debt levels and minimum savings, however, if graduates can take the necessary steps to reduce their debt from the start, they will be paving their way for financial successful in the future.”  
Don’t live above your means
With starting to earn money comes the temptation to indulge and spend on unnecessary luxury items. However, it is best for graduates to try and live within their means and avoid making large purchases when initially starting out.  “Purchasing large-ticket items could leave graduates in further debt which can take years to get out of. This will affect the graduate’s chances of bond approval at a later stage if it is not paid off,” says Goslett.
He adds that a high debt-to-income ratio will impact the graduate's ability to show the necessary affordability levels for bond approval. Therefore it is vital that graduates exercise disciplined spending habits from their first pay cheque. 
Save, save, save
The sooner a graduate starts putting money aside for savings the better. Compared to some of the other emerging markets around the world, South Africa has a very low household savings rate. As a result, many prospective homebuyers do not have the necessary savings in place to meet the bank’s deposit requirements during the bond application process. Goslett says that apart from the deposit, homebuyers are also required to have money for the other expenses involved in a property transaction, such as the transfer duty, attorney fees and registration costs. “If possible any salary increase that the graduate receives should be put towards building up savings instead of splurging on an expensive purchase or holidays,” advises Goslett.
Prepare for an emergency
A portion of the savings should be set aside in a contingency fund. “It is often impossible to predict what will happen in this life, so it is best to always be financially prepared for the unexpected. Financial advisers suggest that an ideal goal to set when saving for an emergency is enough money to cover living expenses for a period of six months. A contingency fund will reduce the need to use credit cards or personal loans when unexpected expenses occur.
Seek professional advice 
A professional financial adviser will be able to assist the graduate with drawing up a budget as well as providing them with a personal financial plan that will help them obtain their future goals. 
“Cultivating healthy financial habits from the start and using the right money management techniques will ensure that young professionals will be able to take full advantage of opportunities that present themselves in the property market.  Implementing a financial plan from the outset will assist graduates in realising their homeownership dreams in the future,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Elements to look for in any neighbourhoodThu 10 Nov 2016

Elements to look for in any neighbourhood
Packing up and relocating to another city, or for that matter another country, is a major undertaking, so it is imperative to do the necessary research and weigh up all the options before making the final decision, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that whether it is as big a decision as immigrating or moving across the country, there are essential aspects that should be assessed in every prospective neighbourhood to ensure that you will feel at home. 
Transport                                 
Most people spend a fair bit of their day commuting to and from work every day, so it is important to consider the distance from the neighbourhood to the office. Other considerations would include whether there is access to public transportation, service hours, route and stops. If you travel often, is the neighbourhood within proximity to an airport? Or is there transport systems linked to the airport for easy commuting? 
Location is of utmost importance in real estate and proximity to reliable public transport can have a positive impact on the appreciation of the home’s value over time. International studies have shown that home values tend to rise faster in areas that are close to bus, train and underground stops. The opening of the Gautrain stations is a prime example of this, with home values around the stations experiencing higher growth than areas that are further away.
Local businesses
Consider the retailers and businesses that you frequent often, such as the bank, pharmacy, and grocery store. Are these shops conveniently located within proximity to your prospective new home? While a gourmet deli and coffee shop is a great place to meet up with friends, being near to a grocery store that stocks your daily staples is far more practical. Ensure that the businesses are reputable and that their prices are reasonable. Much of the legwork can be minimised by reading online reviews. 
Schools
For a family with children or a couple planning to have children in the future, the quality of the schools in the area is an essential element to consider. In fact, even if you don’t plan on having children it is an important consideration because it will have an impact on the home’s potential appreciation in value. Homes that are close to good schools are highly sought-after and will sell for higher prices. So why do schools have the impact they do on housing? It is largely due to the schooling zoning system. If there is space available, parents may register their child for any public school. However, most public schools will have a specific feeder zone. The child’s home address will determine which schools the child is zoned for. The children within the feeder area will be given preference over others outside of that zone.
Amenities
While proximity to amenities is important because it will influence the home’s investment potential, there is another element that relates to the buyer’s personal needs and wants. Someone who rates culture very highly will want to be near to art galleries and theatres, whereas someone who enjoys the nightlife will want to be close to restaurants, pubs, or dance clubs. A sports enthusiast would want to know the distance to the stadiums and athletic arenas in the area. There is also the matter of free entertainment, such as parks, museums and libraries.  
Economy
This doesn’t relate to the country’s economy, but rather more specific factors that are influencing a certain area, such as a high crime rate. There will be telltale signs if an area is experiencing a financial decline, such as houses in need of attention, unkept parks, littered streets, and businesses closing down. Many people will want to move out of the area, so look for a prevalence of ‘for sale’ signs.   
Goslett concludes by saying that using these guidelines will assist you to find the right neighbourhood that will meet all your needs, regardless of whether it is in South Africa or abroad.
 
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Ways to make renovating less stressfulTue 08 Nov 2016

Ways to make renovating less stressful
Renovating is an excellent way to update the look and feel of a home, while possibly adding to its value. however, the process can be just as stressful as moving to a new home, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that while the task can be daunting, there are several methods that can be used by homeowners to reduce the potential stress caused by a renovation project.
“Regardless of whether it is updating the kitchen or adding another room, a renovation project can be disruptive and frustrating to daily family life. Having parts of the home turned into a construction site can be restrictive, added to that there is also often an entire crew of contractors creating congestion. A once peaceful home is turned into a noisy, busy, work site that can no longer be called an oasis,” says Goslett. “Before any renovation project is started is important to get the family prepared by having a solid plan of action so that everyone remains on good terms. When the basic aspects of daily life are not readily available people can get irritable and home life can become difficult. This plan of action should deal with issues such as where everyone will sleep, shower and eat during the renovation if the project affects these areas of the home.”
In cases where the renovation project affects the entire home, if possible, it would be best to make arrangements to stay somewhere else until the project has been completed. Although moving out will mean that the homeowner will not have to deal with the dust and disruption, it comes with its own set of challenges and will also require a fair deal of planning. “While moving out is a good option, people often don’t because it is an additional expense on top of the renovation budget. It is also a great deal of effort to move out of the home on a temporary basis, only to move back in once the renovation is complete. Most homeowners would rather stay in their own home and just deal with the disruption,” says Goslett.
From the outset of the project, the homeowner should set some ground rules that will help everyone to deal with the situation better. An example would be asking the contractor to do a daily clean up after they have finished working. To some degree, this will allow the family to gain normal functionality during the evenings. While not always feasible, ideally at least one room and bathroom should be kept fully functional throughout the process. 
“An extremely difficult room to do without is the kitchen, so if this is the space being worked on it is imperative to have a backup. This is when a camping stove or braai area will come into its own as an alternative way for the family to still enjoy a meal together. Another option is takeout food, which addresses the issue of washing up afterward. If the family has a caravan, it might be worthwhile using this as an alternative until the dust settles,” suggests Goslett.
It is important to remember that the situation is only for a limited time and the result is an improved living space for the family to enjoy. Keeping your eyes on the prize will make it easier to deal will the current state of affairs and will reduce stress levels to some degree.  “While the process of renovating may be uncomfortable at times, it is essential to bear in mind that the renovation project will make the home more comfortable for the whole family when all is complete,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Selling your home - Facts vs fictionMon 07 Nov 2016

Selling your home - Facts vs fiction
A property sales transaction can be a complex process, especially for buyers and sellers who have never been through it before. These days there is a world of information at our fingertips, and of course, the well-intentioned family and friends who are eager to give advice, but receiving from so many sources can lead to more confusion and uncertainty. 
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that while there is a plethora of information available to buyer and sellers, it is not always easy to discern between which information is worth taking note of and which isn’t.  As a result, there is a number of home-selling myths have become commonplace in the property market.
Goslett provides a few truths and facts to expose the fiction and steer sellers in the right direction:
Fiction – The property’s selling price is determined by sellers 
Fact – While it is the seller who will make the final decision as to what their property sells for,  the selling price of the home will largely be determined by several key aspects such as its location, size, condition and the market.  If buyers do not perceive the home to be priced at fair market value they will not be interested in purchasing it. Buyers in the market will have a large influence as to the selling price of a property. If the home is in demand it will fetch a higher price than if it is not. The initial asking price of the home can vary greatly from the actual selling price.
Fiction – Overpricing leaves room to negotiate
Fact – Often overpricing will have the opposite effect to what the seller intended. Instead of leaving room for negotiation, overpricing drives buyers away, especially if they have researched homes prices in the area. Inflating the home’s price will alienate buyers pools, in that buyers who could perhaps afford the home at its true market value will overlook it. Equally, those who can afford the inflated price will soon realise that the home does not compare to others in the same price bracket. As a result, the home could stagnate on the market and sell for far less than what it may have sold for if listed at the correct price from the start. 
Fiction – It is not necessary to make repairs and prepare the home for sale
Fact – There is no doubt that there is a market for buyers who are looking for a property they can renovate themselves; however, most buyers are looking for a home that is ready for them to move into. A home in ill-repair will generally be far less attractive to buyers than a home in pristine condition. While largely dependent on the seller’s budget and time frame, it is recommended that all major repairs are seen to before the home is listed. The property will be viewed as move-in option, and the agent can also mention the repairs as a selling point in the marketing material. 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.
Fiction – All renovations and home improvements pay for themselves
Fact – Although certain renovations and home improvements will increase the home’s value, it is seldom that the seller will receive all the money back that they have invested in the project. Therefore, before deciding on any project is best to get expert opinions on what should be fixed or changed and what kind of return can be expected as a result. 
“Knowing the facts will assist homeowners to get the most out of their property sale. If ever uncertain of any aspects relating to the sale, sellers can seek guidance from a reputable real estate professional who will be able to navigate them through the process,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Millennials changing the real estate marketFri 04 Nov 2016

Millennials changing the real estate market
Consumers under the age of 30 years old or millennials as they are more commonly called, are standing up and making their presence known in the real estate market, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He adds that while it is the Generation X consumers, aged between 31 and 45 years old, who are still the driving force behind the property market, there are several areas around the country where millennials represent the highest percentage of recent buyers.
“There are approximately 18.74 million Generation X consumers in the country, however, Millennials account for around 28.4 million of the population. This up-and-coming generation will have a massive impact on the economy and more specifically the property market going forward. As the future decision makers, Millennials will be able to change the real estate industry as we know it and will largely influence trends that we see unfold. To a large degree, we are already seeing trends develop as more and more Millennials influence the dynamic of the real estate sector,” says Goslett.
He provides a few buying and lifestyle habits of millennials that will shape the economy and real estate industry:  
Millennials would rather rent
There are a number of reasons that these younger generation consumers favour renting over buying. Given the increasing cost of living and challenging economic conditions in South Africa, many millennials are opting to stay in the rental market a while longer. There is also the desire to stay in trendier, often more expensive areas they that would not afford to buy in. Renting offers them the freedom to pick up and go with relative ease. While millennials want their own space, many feel that they are not ready to manage a property and prefer to have a landlord take care of the maintenance issues. 
Most do value homeownership and will invest in a property as they get older, however, rising debt and delayed life events will delay the process. When they do purchase a home it is likely to be an entry-level home that they can rent out if they decide to move away. 
Millennials are tech savvy
Millennials are heavily reliant on technology and are more likely to use online search portals to find a home they like than going through an agency. In order to stay relevant, real estate professionals will need to have a strong online presence to successfully engage with the millennial generation. This includes a website with high-quality images of homes and an engaging social media presence. 
Compact, efficient spaces
A large number of millennials are looking for a minimalist lifestyle which includes fewer possessions and smaller living spaces, as this provides them with both the flexibility and financial stability they want. Generally, millennials don’t want to spend all their time at home but see their living quarters as more of a home base. As a result, they are comfortable in smaller, lock-up-and-go spaces. Many are also looking for homes with energy-efficient appliances and fittings so that they can reduce both their monthly living expenses and carbon footprint.
In order to cater to the wants of millennials, the industry will need to keep increasing its energy-saving home offering. Environmentally-friendly, multi-functional spaces are highly appealing to millennial home buyers.   
“Millennials have already started to impact housing market trends and will grow in influence as their incomes increase and they begin to settle down. As this generation continues to effect change, the real estate industry will need to take their needs into consideration and innovate accordingly,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Excessive water usage will cost moreWed 02 Nov 2016

Excessive water usage will cost more
With level-three water restrictions underway in the Western Cape, households could face higher water bills as the city implements a stepped tariff billing system based on the amount of water each household consumes. 
While the first six kilolitres of water will still be free, thereafter residents will be charged per kilolitre depending on their usage, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “The tariff will start at R16.54 per kilolitre, with households that use between 20 and 35 kilolitres paying as much as R40.96 per kilolitre. The new tariffs will come into effect next month in December. If consumers want to keep their water bills at a minimum, they will need to adhere to the restrictions and find additional ways to reduce their water consumption,” advises Goslett.
He notes that as the temperatures rise it will be ever more important to reduce water usage to ensure that the precious resource is sustained. It will be imperative to keep water consumption consistent to winter levels during the hotter months to ensure that the dam levels do not reach critical measures.  Currently, the major dams that provide Cape Town with water are down by 10% when compared to the same period last year. 
“Water is a vital commodity that we require in order to survive. Without water, the environment we live in could not survive, so it is imperative that the necessary precautions are taken to ensure that this essential resource is not used carelessly,” says Goslett. 
He says that from the start of this month households will be asked to adhere to the following restrictions:
Residents are urged to install water-efficient parts, fittings and appliances to minimise water usage at all water points such as taps, showerheads and other plumbing components. 
Pools can be manually topped up, provided the pool has a cover. Automatic top-up systems will be prohibited. 
The use of portable play pools will not be allowed.
Residents will only be allowed to water their gardens with either a bucket or watering can. The use of hosepipes and sprinkler systems will be prohibited. Watering or irrigation is not allowed 24 hours after saturating rainfall; this includes households making use of boreholes, treated effluent water, spring water or well points. South Africans consume an estimated 30% to 50% of water on watering and maintaining their gardens, so it seems that this is the most significant area for water to be saved. 
Vehicles and boats can only be washed using a bucket.
Hard or paved surfaces cannot be washed or hosed down, other than for health purposes. 
Ornamental water features such as fountains can only be used if the water is recycled or non-potable. 
In addition, Goslett says that there are several other ways that residents can save water in and around the home, which will bring down monthly water bills and more importantly, reduce water usage. He provides a few tips that will assist people in lessening their impact on the water crisis:
Inside:
Taps
Ensure that after use, a tap is closed properly. Although a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drop per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day.  This equates to around 10 000 litres of water wasted over a period of a year, simply from one single dripping tap.
Replace tap washers regularly and fit aerators to restrict and spread the flow. An aerator will reduce water usage creating a no-splashing stream and often delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth. This will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use. 
Bathroom
Showering uses less water than bathing, provided the shower is less than 5 minutes long. If there is only the option of taking a bath, it should be as shallow as possible and the water reused in the garden. 
Ideally when showering the water should be turned off when soaping or shaving. When opting to shave at the basin, it is best to plug the basin rather than rinsing the razor with running water. This will save approximately 45 litres of water a month. 
A leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. A few drops of food colouring in the cistern will help to determine if any water is leaking from the toilet - if the system is leaking it should be fixed without delay. Adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush.  
Kitchen
Only use washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded. Rather than rinsing dishes under running water, opt to rinse items in a basin and then reuse the water in the garden. When waiting for dishwater to heat up, run the tap into bottles to use as drinking water. By keeping bottles of drinking water in the fridge, there is no need to let lukewarm water be wasted when waiting for the tap water to cool. 
Outside:
Choose the right plants
Select indigenous plants as they will generally consume less water and require minimal maintenance.  Adding mulching and water retention granules to the soil to the garden beds will substantially reduce water usage. Watering should only be done either in the morning or the evening. 
Reduce lawn areas
Lawn maintenance requires a lot of water. Consider adding hardscaping features such as a paved or cobblestone footpath, which will reduce watering areas.  
“Becoming water-wise is essential and not just because it will save on monthly household costs. It is important in order to protect and sustain a precious life-giving resource,” Goslett concludes.  
To query water restrictions, residents can contact the City via e-mail to:Water.Restrictions@capetown.gov.za
 
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Tips for packing and moving quicklyMon 31 Oct 2016

Tips for packing and moving quickly
When it comes to moving, ideally you would want some lead time to be able to prepare and get everything in order. However, due to certain circumstances, time is not always a luxury that some people have. After Theresa May took over as Britain’s new prime minister, former prime minister Dave Cameron  had just 48 hours to vacate 10 Downing Street. Unlike most of us, Cameron was fortunate enough to not have to do the packing himself – professional movers arrived with 330 boxes, 30 rolls of tape and three rolls of bubble wrap. Hopefully the next time you move you have as much help, but if not, Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, provides a few tips to help maximise the time you do have.
Create a packing station
A lot of time can be wasted by constantly trying to find items around the home, such as the scissors, boxes or bubble. Pick a place in the home that can be used as a packing station and keep the required items together. Stock the packing station with plenty of tape, boxes in various sizes, bubble wrap, newspapers and markers.
Have a plan of action
Having a strategy and sticking to it will help make the process a lot smoother. Essential items should be packed together in specially marked boxes. Included in these items will be things that you would want on the first day in the new home, such as bed sheets, pet food, electronics chargers, toiletries and a change of clothing. Packing one room at a time and labelling the boxes by room will help ensure that items stay. It is helpful to colour code the rooms and mark the boxes accordingly with markers, stickers or coloured tape. 
Get two different colour rubbish bags
To avoid confusion have rubbish bags in two colours, one for packing and the other for throwing things away. A lot of space can be saved by packing clothing and linens into big plastic bags, as they can be squeezed into tight spaces between boxes. 
Fill drawers
If you are using professional movers to move and have not enlisted the help of friends who may have back issues, pack your dresser drawers with as many items as possible - this will save both time and space. 
Be mindful of weight
It is best to pack heavier items in smaller boxes and fill big boxes with lighter items. This will ensure that the boxes are not too heavy to move and will prevent them from breaking, which will waste time and possibly damage the items that were in the box. 
Don’t get hung up on clothes
Rather than taking clothes off hangers, folding them and packing them in boxes, use wardrobe boxes. This will allow you to simply transfer your clothes on hangers inside the specially designed wardrobe box, saving time and effort.
If you have the money…
If you are not trying to save on costs – make use of professional packers. They will pack your entire home, just a room or a group of time-consuming items, depending on your needs. 
Goslett concludes by saying that while moving within a tight time frame can be a daunting task, if the right methods are used it can be done and will be far less stressful. 
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