Avoid these moving mistakesWed 14 Jun 2017
At least once in their lifetime, the majority of the population will move from one home to another. While some may have a reasonably pleasant experience with few hassles, others may never want to move again after going through it once. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, moving can be a very stressful endeavour, in fact, according to psychological research, it is among the top major life stressors. However, if people avoid a few key mistakes, the process can be less daunting and a far smoother process.
Employing an unreliable moving company
It may require some research and a bit of time, but using a reliable, professional moving company will relief much of the stress. Often the best way to find the right mover is through a referral from a friend or family member who has used them before. “No two moving experiences are alike, but using a mover that has been referred by a trusted source will to some degree ensure that you know they do a good job,” says Goslett. “If no-one can provide a referral, there is a lot of information available on the Internet and other forms of public information. Most companies will have websites that list their services, service history, areas they operate in and a rough estimate as to how much it will cost.”
Online searches are great for compiling information and making a list of possible choices. An additional advantage of looking at websites is that they should provide contact information, which allows you to ask questions and obtain a written response. Beware of any companies who do not provide a local address or information about licensing or insurance.
Goslett says that social media is also an excellent platform to garner information. “Social media gives consumers an avenue in which to share their opinions and knowledge, which goes back to finding a referral from someone who has already used a mover and has been impressed by their service,” he adds.
Not shopping around
Shopping around and getting several quotes will provide you with a better idea of whether or not you are getting good value for money from your moving company. Contact a few different providers and get quotes in writing. “During this process, remember that it is very difficult for a moving company to provide an accurate estimate over the phone without conducting an on-site inventory of the goods. The moving company must be prepared to come to the home to provide a written quote,” advises Goslett. “If they insist on a signed contract or deposit before they are willing to provide a quote - rather look elsewhere.”
Taking too many unnecessary things
Moving is a great time to go through all the items in the home and decide what to keep and what can be thrown away. If an item hasn’t been worn, seen or used during the past year, then you probably don’t need it. If you are not keeping it for sentimental reasons, why not give it to someone who will get some use out of it. Evaluating your possessions before you move, will ensure that only the items you want and need go to your new home.
Failing to schedule your move well in advance
Preparation is a key ingredient to a smooth and hassle-free move – so prepare well in advance, rather than leaving it to the last minute and rushing to get everything done. “If the move is scheduled weeks or even months before it happens, it will give you some breathing room and allow time to get everything packed, organised and ready to go,” says Goslett.
Not packing ahead of time
Starting the packing process well before the move will relieve some of the stress. Start by boxing non-essentials, which can be packed ahead of time and put out of the way. “Anything that is not used on a daily basis or essential up until the move can be packed in a box and ready to go. If the move is in the warmer months, pack away winter clothes and heavy jackets, and duplicate items can be pared down to only the bare essentials,” says Goslett.
Moving will be a far more bearable endeavour if you prepare ahead of time and avoid the avoid mistakes. If you are as organised as possible, it will make the process smoother and something to look forward to.
The benefits of home inspectionsTue 13 Jun 2017
Whether a first-time buyer or seasoned investor, purchasing a property is a substantial commitment that needs to be fully considered, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Because buying a property is such a big decision that can have a massive impact on your financial well-being, it is best to go into each transaction fully aware of what you are getting yourself into. Before putting in an offer on any home, consider having the property inspected by a professional who can provide you with a comprehensive list of all the home’s underlying flaws. While a home might be aesthetically pleasing on the surface, it is important to look past that and check the integrity of the components that make up the property to ensure that the purchase won’t end up costing more in the long run,” warns Goslett.
The Consumer Protection Act will not have an effect on the voetstoots clause used in agreements of sale in an ordinary property transaction, making the need to inspect a property thoroughly ever more important. In certain circumstances, you are protected if severe defects are found after transfer, but it is difficult to determine whether the seller deliberately concealed the defect or genuinely wasn’t aware of them.
While sellers are obliged to provide a list of all the defects they are aware of, what about the defects they aren’t. Common law states sellers are responsible for all defects in the property for three years from the date of discovery of the defect. However, the voetstoots clause protects the seller against all defects – including defects that he does not know about. In the instance that a seller is aware of a defect and conceals it, you will be able to take action against the seller, provided you can prove that the seller deliberately hid it – not an easy task.
It is often very difficult to identify any structural problems the house may have if it is not your area of expertise. Having the home inspected will provide you with an estimated cost of any repair that is necessary before committing to the sale. Knowing whether or not there are any underlying problems with the house will provide you with the opportunity of making a more informed decision.
Home inspections don’t just benefit buyers – they can assist sellers as well. “Having your property inspected by a professional before placing it on the market will provide you with insight into what needs to be done to the home before listing. It also offers potential buyers the peace of mind that there are no major issues with the home. A home in good repair will attract a greater number of buyers when listed and will attain a higher sales price than a home in the same area that is in need of repair,” says Goslett.
He adds that even if you are not selling your home, a professional home inspection can assist you in maintaining your greatest investment to ensure future appreciation. “Inspecting the home at least once a year will ensure that minor issues don’t become major problems. An inspector can check for damage to the foundation of the home, any faulty or outdated wiring and electrical problems, damaged plumbing or water leaks and anything else that, if left unchecked and unrepaired, could lead to a costly repair in the future,” says Goslett.
Having the home inspected is not just about maintaining your investment, but also about the safety of those who live in it. Faulty electrical systems can potentially be extremely dangerous and cause breaker tripping or, in some cases, even fire. Unstable or insecure railings on staircases or balconies are also not safe. If these features of the home are not checked and maintained, accidents could occur,” Goslett concludes.
Tips to save energy during winterMon 12 Jun 2017
As we head into the cold winter months, household energy consumption will start to increase as people turn up the heat to stay warm, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“Keeping warm during winter usually means using more energy and paying higher utility costs each month. Finding ways to reduce household energy usage will assist homeowners to keep warm without electricity bills becoming excessive,” says Goslett.
He provides a few tips that will help save energy this winter:
Regulate the geyser
The most energy-hungry appliance in the home is the geyser, so start there. According to statistical data, geysers account for as much as 40% of the electricity bill on a monthly basis. Goslett says that one solution is to switch off the geyser during the day when no-one is home and then turn it on for a set number of hours in the evening. He notes an alternative solution is to have the geyser automated so that it can be controlled remotely.
“There are several automation products available to homeowners in this country, that allow them to control the geyser’s thermostat remotely. The homeowner has the option of setting the times the geyser will be on and at what temperature – automatically,” says Goslett.
During winter the cold piping also cools the water down as it travels through it, essentially making it necessary to use more hot water to bath or shower which uses more energy. Insulating the pipes leading out of the geyser will reduce the amount of energy needed to maintain the water’s temperature. Ideally, the entire length of all hot water pipes should be insulated to reduce heat loss, however insulating at least three to five metres from the geyser will make a difference.
Also, a geyser blanket can also add further insulation keeping the water inside the geyser hotter for longer. A geyser blanket typically consists of a 50mm layer of glass fibre insulation with reflective foil sheeting on one side. A good geyser blanket will considerably reduce the rate at which the water cools.
Although costly at the outset, installing solar panels can reduce the amount of water that the geyser needs to heat up, which can dramatically reduce electricity costs over the long term.
Energy-efficient light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) and light-emitting diodes (LED) use at least 75% less energy than a traditional incandescent bulb and can last a lot longer. “While it depends on the type of bulb, certain energy efficient bulbs can last between 10 and 35 times longer than a regular bulb, which means that costs are saved on electricity as well as the replacement of bulbs,” says Goslett.
Energy-efficient bulbs use less wattage but are still able to create the same amount of light as a conventional bulb. A 3-watt LED, for example, would be equivalent to a 45-watt incandescent bulb. Using less energy means that they do not get hot when used over long periods of time, and this makes them especially effective in areas where lights are kept on for longer than three hours. Not only do energy efficient bulbs reduce costs, but they also reduce the household pollutant output in the environment by creating less heat.
Frequently used household appliances
The energy output of appliances such as the refrigerator can be reduced by regulating the temperature gauge. Ideally, the temperature should range between three to five degrees Celsius.
“Check other appliances around the house as well, such as the washing machine. Around 40% of the energy used to wash clothing can be reduced by setting the machine to 30 degrees. Also, don’t use the washing machine or dishwasher when they are half full, rather wait for a full load. Keeping the frequency of use to a minimum will reduce energy usage. While these larger items should be full, the kettle should only have the required amount of water in it, as this will reduce the time taken for the water to reach boiling point,” advises Goslett.
Opting to hang clothes on an outside line to dry rather than using a tumble dryer will also use less electricity.
Unplug unnecessary appliances
If left plugged in on stand mode, items such as laptops and other household appliances will continue to use power, so rather turn them off completely or simply unplug them. A computer or laptop, for example, can use around 20% as much power as it would if it was in full use. Unless it is necessary to have an appliance plugged in at all times, it is far more energy efficient to unplug them - this also serves as protection against lightning strikes and power surges.
Insulating the home
Heat can escape through areas in the home that are poorly insulated, such as a window that doesn’t close properly. Around 50% and 80% of the home’s warmth escapes through the ceiling. Goslett says that homeowners can reduce this to around 3% by installing proper ceiling insulation, which will also mean that far less energy is required to heat the home.
“The rising cost of electricity and worldwide depletion of resources has made it all the more vital to find ways kerb costs and reduce carbon emissions. Choosing energy efficient options and investments now will have a massive impact on our energy and resource consumption in the future,” Goslett concludes.
Homeowners' associationsFri 09 Jun 2017
With security a factor that is influencing home-buying decisions in South Africa, many are choosing to purchase homes within boomed off areas or secure lifestyle estates, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. As a homeowner in an estate or boomed off area, the buyer may be required to join a Homeowners’ Association (HOA), which means adhering to numerous rules and regulations stipulated by the HOA.
Unlike a body corporate which manages a sectional title development, in a Homeowners’ Association, each member owns the house and the erf or plot on which the home is situated. Usually established by the residents within a community, an HOA is formed to ensure that the infrastructure of an area is maintained. Another major role of an HOA is ensuring the safety of those who live within the community.
According to Goslett, the rules and regulations laid out by an HOA can address numerous aspects such as the colour that a homeowner is allowed to paint their home or whether pets are allowed on the premises. “The stipulations can be restrictive, which is why those who are wanting to buy a home within a community that is governed by an HOA should ensure that the regulations don’t conflict with their lifestyle,” he says.
Before purchasing such property, buyers need to do their research and delve into the details of the HOA regulations. Goslett provides a few aspects to consider about HOA’s:
Are members required to pay a fee?
It is not uncommon for members of an HOA to pay a monthly premium or levy towards the association. Compare how the monthly fees match up against other similar developments in the surrounding suburbs.
How are the fees allocated?
Is is important for homeowners to know where their money is being used and allocated. Most of the time, HOA fees are allocated to the maintenance of common areas and amenities such as the outdoor landscaping, swimming pool and the gym or clubhouse. Potential buyers should find out what is included in the fee and what is not.
Have rates been hiked recently?
While doing their homework on the HOA, buyers should get the history of how much and how often the rates have increased over the last ten year period. Looking at the past will provide a window into what to expect in the future. Another important aspect to enquire about is whether any additional fees have been charged to homeowners when the HOA lacks the reserves to cover a big project.
What are the community’s priorities?
Reading the minutes of the last few HOA Annual General Meetings will give potential homeowners a clear idea of the community’s priorities and what issues and topics keep rearing their heads.
Pay attention to the fine print
Don’t neglect any aspect of the document and read through all regulations, restrictions and conditions before committing to buying the home. It will take some time to read the documentation in its entirety, but it is better to do it beforehand than move in and find out that you are unable to park a second car outside the property or store a caravan in the garden. Rather know up front, than be caught unaware with little recourse.
What are the consequences if the regulations are not adhered to? It is essential for buyers to be aware of the penalties for non-compliance.
Goslett concludes by saying that before purchasing any property, governed by an HOA or not, it is vital that the buyer understands all aspects of the purchase and knows what they are getting themselves into. Having a clear idea of the regulations and rules an HOA has in place will provide some insight when choosing to buy a home to in a particular estate.
Online search tips: Finding the ideal homeThu 08 Jun 2017
With access to technology becoming increasingly more attainable, it has become easier than ever to start looking for a home online. However, the volume of listings available on property search portals can be rather overwhelming, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
Statistics reveal that nine out of every ten prospective homebuyers will look to the internet before making use of any other type of resource when starting their home buying journey. “Potential buyers are choosing the internet as the resource of choice because of the convenience it provides. Users can access massive volumes of information at the click of a button without leaving the comfort of their home or office. However, while access to the vast amounts of information is why many start their search online, exposure to such high volumes of property listings could make the search harder if you don’t have a way of narrowing down your search criteria,” says Goslett.
He provides a few tips to help filter down search results and make it easier to streamline the list of homes you would like to see in person:
Before looking at any homes online or otherwise, know what you can afford. “It is best to start the home buying journey by assessing your finances and getting pre-approval on home loan finance. Contacting a bank or bond origination company such as BetterLife will assist in determining what you can afford and what price range of homes to start searching in,” advises Goslett. “Bear in mind that it is best to leave a bit of cushioning in the budget. It is important to remain within a price range that doesn’t stretch the budget to the absolute high-end of the scale. When entering search criteria online be sure to choose a price range that fits comfortably into the budget’s limits.”
Searching for homes that fit comfortably within the budget will provide you with some room to negotiate should you find yourself in a multiple offer situation. “It provides the flexibility to be competitive in the market, and submit a counter offer if necessary. You will be able to put in a higher offer on a home without it putting you under too much financial strain.”
Check the map
Don’t get caught up with the images of the property and forget to look at its location. A home might have been newly renovated and is picture perfect, but where it is located will determine its potential for appreciation in value over time. You can change a home, but not its location. “Look at the map to see where the home is situated and how that ties in with your requirements. Before contacting the listing agent, consider the property’s proximity to work, good schools and amenities,” says Goslett.
Narrow down your top neighbourhoods
Each neighbourhood or suburb within a city will have a different sub-culture and feel. “While all part of the same city, different neighbourhoods will cater to different kinds of buyers and lifestyles. While family buyers may want to live in the quieter suburbs that are close to schools, younger buyers may prefer to be in fast-paced hubs. Searching for specific neighbourhoods will greatly filter down the property search,” says Goslett.
Remember to balance character with upkeep
An older home may fit your criteria regarding features, but it could come at the cost of updating or fixing certain elements of the home. “Newer homes are often smaller but will require less maintenance from the start. It is important to find the balance between a home’s character and its upkeep,” says Goslett.
Photos and videos only focus on certain aspects
Even though technology has reached the point where one can take a virtual tour of a home, viewing a property in this way is still restrictive to a degree. “An online search is an ideal method to narrow down a property search, but seeing a home in person will give you a much better feel for the home,” says Goslett. “Walking through a home in person will clear up any uncertainties you may have and will help you to decide whether or not you can see yourself living in the property,” he concludes.
Saving water is essentialThu 01 Jun 2017
With the Western Cape’s water supply at critically low levels, the City of Cape Town has escalated water restrictions to Level 4, which limits residents to 100L of water per day. Effective from 1 June, residents will not be allowed to use municipal water for outside or non-essential use.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, who is a resident of Cape Town, says that if the water crisis continues along its currents path, the city could decide to takes matter even further by implementing Level 4B in the next two months. “While water usage levels have dropped, they are still not aligned with the daily goal of 500 million litres. Households are urged to be vigilant with their water usage, as the resource continues to dwindle to dangerously low levels. Where possible Cape Town residents need to reduce their household water consumption to try to sustain the little water we have,” says Goslett.
He notes that there are several ways that homeowners or tenants can save water in and around the home, which reduces water usage. Goslett provides a few tips that will assist people in lessening their impact on the water crisis:
It is important to make sure that after a tap is used, it is closed properly. While this seems like a relatively small thing to do, a tap dripping at one drop per second will waste as much as thirty litres of water in one day, which equates to around 10 000 litres of water a year. That is a lot of water from one single dripping tap.
Ensure that tap washers are replaced regularly and fit aerators to restrict and spread the flow. An aerator will reduce water usage creating a no-splashing stream delivering a mixture of water and air. Remember to turn off the tap when brushing teeth, as will save around twenty litres of water per month. A mug of water can be used to rinse the toothbrush after use.
Showering will use far less water than bathing, provided that the shower is short. Cut shower time to two minutes or less. If there is only the option of taking a bath, the bath should be as shallow as possible and water reused to water the garden, flush the toilet or wash the car. Installing a water-saving shower head will also aid in reducing water usage. Ideally when showering the water should not be in full force, and it should be turned off when soaping or shaving. When opting to shave at the basin, it is best to plug the basin rather than rinsing the razor with running water. This will save approximately 45 litres of water a month.
Much like a leaking tap, a leaking toilet can waste vast amounts of water. Installing a water-saving toilet is an option, but for those who don’t wish to spend money on the outlay, adding a brick or sealed container of sand to the cistern will reduce the amount of water used during each flush. A few drops of food colouring in the cistern will help to determine if any water is leaking from the toilet. If the colour seeps into the bowl, the system is leaking and should be fixed without delay.
If possible only use washing machines and dishwashers when they are fully loaded to avoid unnecessary water usage. Rather than rinsing dishes under running water, opt to rinse items in a basin of water and then reuse the water elsewhere. When running dishwater to heat up, run the tap into bottles to use as drinking water. By keeping bottles of drinking water in the fridge, there is no need to let lukewarm water be wasted when waiting for the tap water to cool. Move food from the freezer to the fridge to defrost naturally, rather than placing it under running water.
“Water is a vital commodity that we require to survive. Without water, the environment we live in could not survive. With the lack of water in Cape Town becoming water-wise in the household is essential,” Goslett concludes.