Paint and prepare before you move inFri 20 Jan 2017

Paint and prepare before you move in
Every first-time homebuyer wants to add their personal touch to their property and turn their new house into a home. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that a great way to do this at a reasonably low cost is by giving the property a fresh coat of paint. “A new coat of paint will give the home an updated, refreshed look and it is a fun way for the new homeowner to put their personal stamp on the home.  A new coat of paint will make the home seem cleaner, more welcoming and more yours,” he says.
Goslett notes that according to home décor experts, the best time to paint the interior of a home is before moving in for a few reasons: 
It’s easier 
It is far less physically challenging to paint the interior of a home if there is no furniture in it. According to Goslett, if the room is empty, it will be easier to move around in and place the step ladder for those hard to reach sections. He adds that if furniture and boxes have already been moved in, it makes the entire process far more cumbersome, involving heavy manoeuvring to get to certain places in the home.
Time saving
There is far less prep time involved if there is no furniture in the home. “Moving furniture around or covering it takes the time that could be spent on the actual painting,” says Goslett. “A lot of time will also be saved by not having to take down any art or pictures from the walls.”
Saves on costs
If the homeowner decides to paint the home themselves, there won’t be much cost saving, however, if they decide to make use of professional painting contractors or some workers to do the job it can save them in costs. “With no furniture in the home, the painters will be able to move from one room to the next much faster, which will cut down on time spent on the job. Less time spent on the job will mean fewer labour costs,” says Goslett.
It protects the furniture
If there is no furniture in the home, it can’t get ruined. “Even if the new homeowner or a painting contractor is meticulous about ensuring that all furniture is covered – there is still the chance that paint could spill or paint flecks could find their way onto the furniture or into electrical appliances. Depending on where the paint lands, it could be a rather expensive fix,” says Goslett. 
Provides the homeowner with a colour palette
“If the homeowner has not yet bought any of their décor items for their new home, painting the home will give them a specific colour palette to work from, which could make the process of decorating far easier,” says Goslett.
He advises that homeowners who are undecided when selecting their colour palette should test several shades of the colour selections on a wall in the room they are going to be painting. Goslett notes that the painted area should be allowed to dry for 24 hours before viewing it. “View the colour swatches in the morning, noon and evening, as the colours will appear to be different tones depending on the time of day. This will give you the chance to compare the shades to see which one is best for you,” says Goslett.  
“Painting a home is an excellent way to transform it and reflect the new owner’s individual style. It is a way for the homeowner to express their individuality and inject a piece of themselves into their new home,” he concludes.

 

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Safety tips that every child should knowWed 18 Jan 2017

Safety tips that every child should know
Home should be a haven and sanctuary where children can grow up enjoying their informative years. However, there are dangers and elements that children should be aware of to ensure their safety.  Teaching children about home safety is imperative and could potentially be life-saving, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  He adds that educating children about home safety principles at an early age will ensure that they stay safe and carry those lessons with them for the rest of their lives.
According to home safety experts, there are a number of safety tips that parents should teach their children:
How to lock a deadbolt – A deadbolt is an ideal additional security measure on an external door.  Children should know how to lock and unlock a deadbolt and that doors should be locked at all times to keep them safe. It is good for them to get into the habit of locking the door, even when people are home. It is important for them to understand how the lock works so that they can unlock the door in the case of an emergency and they need to get out of the house. 
Operate the security system – If the home does not have a security system, installing one will help keep the family safe and will increase the home’s resale value. Homebuyers will pay a higher premium for a property if it has a state-of-the-art alarm system. The children in the home should be taught how to arm and disarm the security system, as well as what to do should the alarm go off when they are home.  
Know the escape plan – Children will be taught to follow an escape plan at their school in case of an emergency such as a fire – it is important to have an escape plan for home as well. An area of the home should be designated as the central meeting point, and each child should be walked through the safest route out of the home if an emergency should occur. 
Find the emergency contact list – A list of all emergency contact details should be put on an easy-to-access location such as the fridge door. At a minimum, the list ought to include the number of the local police station, fire department, paramedics, the family doctor, each parent’s contact details and a trusted friend or family member.  Ideally, all children in the home, regardless of age, should know how to use a telephone and ask for help. 
Don’t answer the front door – If the doorbell rings, children should alert an adult rather than answering it themselves. 
Bathtub safety – Children under the age of six years old should constantly be supervised while in the bath. To avoid burns children should be taught to test the temperature of the bath water using their hand before the fully submerge their bodies. 
Understand their food allergies – If any children in the home are allergic to any food group, it is important for them to understand the dangers of that type of food and how it can affect them. The child needs to know the difference between foods that are safe for them to eat, and those that are not. If the child is too young to read labels, “unsafe” food can be marked with a certain sticker to alert the child to steer clear. Also, they should know to accept food from a parent, nanny or teacher only. 
Avoid climbing on furniture - It is possible for heavy furniture to tip if a child climbs on it, which could result in a severe injury. Furniture such as bookcases and TV units can be secured to the wall to lower the risk of it tipping over. However, it is still important to teach children that climbing on furniture can be potentially harmful.  
No playing with window coverings – Cords from blinds or other types of window coverings can be a strangulation hazard for young children. Always purchase cordless window coverings if possible and never place cribs or playpens near to windows with corded coverings. 
Locked medicine cabinet – It is best to store all medication in a lockable cabinet that is not within reach of the children. However, if any medicine is left out of the cabinet, then the children need to know never to take anything that has not been given to them by their parent or a trusted adult.
“Often young children copy what they see their parents and older siblings doing, so practising safe household habits as a parent will help to ensure that children learn how to be safe around the home,” Goslett concludes.
 
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A buyer's guide to keeping track of propertiesMon 16 Jan 2017

A buyer's guide to keeping track of properties
While it may sound like a reasonably easy thing to do, finding the ideal home may take a little more time and effort than most expect, especially if the potential buyer doesn’t follow any specific process. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that much of the stress related to finding the perfect property can be reduced with the right methods in place. 
He notes that one of the biggest challenges that most buyers face when starting out on their property buying journey is knowing where to start when sifting through the vast volumes and ample variety of properties available to them. “While not unheard of, it is very rare that buyers purchase the first home that they go and view, and looking at multiple properties with no real plan only adds to the confusion and makes the decision harder. Simply looking at as many show houses as possible can make it difficult for buyers to keep tabs on what they have seen, what they liked about each property and fo what price they were selling. Buyers who have a clear plan set out will be able to simplify the process and ultimately make the buying decision easier,” says Goslett.
Even if a buyer needs to find a property reasonably urgently, it is best for them to have a plan and not rush the decision, Goslett advises. “Buyers who make a rushed decision could pay for it in the long run. It is best rather to work through the process systematically, viewing only a small number of properties at a time. Viewing a manageable number of properties will help buyers to retain as much information about each property as possible,” says Goslett. “To shorten the process buyers may be tempted to utilise a lot of different estate agents and see as many listing as they can in a day. However, while this will provide them with a general overview of the homes available on the market, it will also make it impossible for them to track each of the home’s standout attributes. The logistics of dealing with many different agents could also become an issue.”
According to Goslett, buyers should ideally use one estate agent that they feel comfortable with and view no more than four properties on any given day. A reputable, real estate professional who specialises in the area will be able to narrow down the search and viewings based on the information and criteria that the buyer has provided. Doing this will save buyers a lot of time potentially spent on viewing properties that don’t fit into their criteria.
Goslett says that there are some ways buyers can keep tabs on the various properties that have been viewed to compare them:
• Make notes on each and every property viewed. Records can be made using an iPad, smartphone or the traditional pen and notebook. The pros and cons of each property should be logged, listing likes and dislikes and standout features.
• Take photos - most cell phones will have a camera, so it is reasonably easy to document the homes. Takes photos of the interior and exterior of the property, paying attention to aspects of a home that are especially appealing.
• Only keep records of properties that you like.
• If uncertain of anything, talk to the agent who showed the property. They will have a record of the homes that they have shown and will have a list of each property’s features. Agents will know their listings and will be able to provide guidance through the often complex process of finding the right house.
“Purchasing a new home is both exciting and stressful for buyers. However, handling the process in a calm and logical manner will mitigate much of the stress, allowing buyers to enjoy the process of finding their ideal home,” Goslett concludes.
 
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You got to love the house you buyWed 11 Jan 2017

You got to love the house you buy
Property is a long-term investment, in fact, on average it takes a minimum of approximately five years to see real returns on a property sale, provided there are no other unusual circumstances.  Given the fact that most buyers will end up staying in the home they purchase for some time, it is essential that they choose the right property that meets their lifestyles requirements both now and in the future, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“Buyers should always consider a property purchase as an investment and look at all of the factors that could influence the home’s potential for long-term appreciation in value. However, most buyers are not purchasing a home solely for its investment potential – they need to live in it and ensure it fits in with their lifestyle as well,” says Goslett. “Often buyers may look at the checklist of features that the home has on offer, but don’t necessarily consider the experience of living in the home and how it may impact their daily lives. Investors who are purchasing a property as part of their portfolio will focus all their attention on the home’s possible resale potential. However, the motivation for buying a property will be different for the average homebuyer. In fact, sometimes focusing solely on appreciation potential can be a mistake.”
According to Goslett, an aspect that buyers should consider when looking at a property is how they intend to use and live in the space. Once buyers know this, they will have a good idea as to whether a home will be the right fit for them and suit their needs for the period they intend to stay in it. “Regardless of the size of a home, the property can be a good fit for the buyer if they utilise it in the right way. Buyer should ask themselves questions such as what are the things they like doing on weekends or during the evenings. Where do they like to eat, or is entertaining an important element of their lifestyle? The answers to these questions will assist them to evaluate whether or not a home or the area it's situated in is the right fit. It’s about learning to read the house and knowing what you are looking for,” says Goslett. 
He advises that when considering these things it is important that the buyers try to think long term and see how their plans could develop and change their lifestyle requirements in the future. “While no-one has a crystal ball that will tell them exactly what the future holds, it is important for buyers to consider their future aspirations and how things could change over time. A small home could suit the buyer in the current life stage, but if their plans include growing their family or having their parents come live with them in the next five to ten years, maybe a home with an extra bedroom or the space to expand is a better option in the long run. It is important to be prepared and plan for what is likely to happen and perhaps for a few things that aren’t,” says Goslett. 
He adds that buyers need to consider three main elements when looking at each property they view – functionality, cost and enjoyment. If a home meets all the requirements such as the number of bedrooms and proximity to their place of work or schools - that is function. Cost is the purchase price of the property along with all the other costs involved in the property sales transaction and day-to-day costs of owning the home. Enjoyment would be lifestyle offering and what the buyer would get out of living in the home. Adding this into the equation will help balance out function and cost, assisting the buyer in making the right decision for them.
“Depending on their unique preferences, the enjoyment factor will differ from one buyer to the next. For one it might be that the home is close their favourite hangout, for someone else, it could be the view or back garden. The possibilities are endless, and each buyer will have different aspects that appeal specifically to them. If buyers love the house they buy, they are purchasing more than just bricks and mortar - they are buying a home,” Goslett concludes
 
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Is it worthwhile buying a fixer-upper?Tue 10 Jan 2017

Is it worthwhile buying a fixer-upper?
Purchasing a fixer-upper can be an extremely beneficial financial endeavour. However, only if the buyer has taken the time to do their research and followed the right procedures to ensure they are making a sound investment decision, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
He notes that irrespective of the kind of property the purchaser is interested in buying, it is imperative that certain principles are adhered to, to ensure they are protecting themselves against purchasing a potential money trap. “Doing to groundwork is even more important when the purchaser is considering a home that would be regarded as a fixer-upper because there will be far more expense than just the purchase price,” says Goslett.  “A lot of additional money will be spent on fixing up and renovating the home, so a fixer-upper investor needs to be savvy and know when the purchase is worthwhile and when they should walk away. Discerning between a home with potential and what to steer clear of is a key element to investing in fixer-upper property,” he advises.
Goslett says that while most buyers prefer to purchase property that is well-maintained, there are numerous reasons that draw investors to fixer-upper homes. “A big draw-card is that fixer-upper homes often sell for far less than other homes in the same neighbourhood, which means that if they have the capital to spend on renovating the property, they could secure a higher profit margin when they sell. Obviously, this is dependent on how savvy the investor is with their money when renovating the home,” says Goslett. 
According to Goslett another reason that certain investors opt for these kinds of homes is the fact that there is less competition in the market for fixer-uppers. Lower demand for these homes is one of the reasons that they will seller lower prices than other homes in the same area.
“It is said that an investor makes their money on a property purchase when then buy and not when they sell because the success of the investment is based on the decisions made at the beginning of a transaction. If the right decisions are made, it is more likely that the investor will see a healthy return. The ideal home could be covered under a veil of various essential repairs that would normally chase away potential buyers. However, fixer-upper investors will need to see past the property’s outward appearance and envision the home’s true potential,” says Goslett. 
He provides some tips for those looking for the perfect fixer-upper:
Location is a key factor
The location of a property will have a greater impact on its investment potential than any other factor. “Where a home is situated will firstly determine its current value, as well as its potential for future growth, which is why it should be the primary focus when deciding whether a home is a good investment,” Goslett advises. 
He adds that there are several factors that determine whether a location is considered to be preferable, such as its proximity to a range of amenities. These would include shopping centres, entertainment areas and good schools to name a few.  
The home’s layout
It is far easier and less expensive to renovate a home as it stands than change the layout of the home completely. “Ideally, the shell of the home should be well designed and laid out correctly. If the investor intends to add more rooms, then it is important that the current layout of the property allows for that to ensure that there is not a disconnect in the flow of the design. In certain instances, it is better for a buyer to walk away than try and correct a poorly thought out floorplan. 
Serious defects
It is important for the investor to assess the structural integrity of the home before they purchase it. Although most defects are repairable, structural damage will be very expensive to fix. If the investor is fully aware of all defects the property has, they will be able to make a call as to whether it is worth the time and money to repair. A good fixer-upper is a home that is at least in a liveable condition. “Upgrading or repairing cosmetic issues is one thing, but major repairs to the structure or foundation of the home will severely eat into any potential returns on the investment,” says Goslett. “If investors are not sure of anything, they should seek the advice of a professional contractor who can inspect the home and provide them with a full list of defects. It’s better to go into an investment with both eyes open, than blindly hoping for the best.”
He concludes by saying that much like any other important financial decision, it is advisable to gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision that will pay off in the long run.
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Are you financially prepared to own a home?Fri 06 Jan 2017

Are you financially prepared to own a home?
Since the National Credit Act came into effect, prospective homebuyers have been required to have their financial affairs in order before they apply for a bond. While banks have become slightly less stringent since the act's inception, financial institutions are likely to tighten up their lending criteria in 2017 and bond applicants will be put through their financial paces before being approved for a home loan, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  
“If you have made the resolution of purchasing a home during 2017, you will need to ensure that you have assessed your financial situation and answered a few pertinent questions before approaching your bank for bond approval. Currently, only around 65% of first-time buyer bond applications are approved, which highlights the importance of being financially prepared before applying,” says Goslett.
He provides a few financial questions that you should answer before approaching your bank for finance:
What is my credit score? 
A favourable credit score and clean credit record is a valuable asset when applying for a home loan. Each year consumers can obtain a free credit report from the credit bureaus within the country to assess their finance position. Goslett says that it is advisable for you to know your credit score and check your credit record for any inaccuracies. 
“Any missed or slow payment will have a negative impact on a consumer’s credit score. However, it is also important to be mindful of the less obvious credit infractions such as opening too many accounts, numerous credit enquiries, co-signing for a third party or only paying the minimum required payment. All of these things will impair your records and could scare off lenders,” Goslett explains. 
What is my annual income?
As a potential homebuyer, the maximum bond amount that you can qualify for is based on your annual income, so be sure to include any bonuses or annual investment returns when making this calculation. Your annual tax return documentation will assist in determining your actual yearly income.
How much debt do I have?
Another major consideration that banks take into account when determining the home loan amount they are willing to grant is the applicant’s amount of disposable income. “To increase the disposable income you have available, get rid of or pay down debt as much as possible. Lenders will require you to provide them with all the debt you currently have to work out a debt-to-income ratio, which will be used as a tool to determine your level of affordability,” says Goslett. “Having a lower debt-to-income ratio will be highly beneficial as it will increase the chance of gaining approval for a higher bond amount.”
What is my financial worth?
Banks will want to see the documentation that relates to any assets, such as vehicles, investments and income-generating properties. Goslett says that all of these aspects add to an applicant’s nett worth and will have a bearing on the amount that the bank is willing to grant.
What kind of deposit can I put down?
According to bond origination company, BetterLife, the average cash deposit required by first-time buyers is 12.3% of the purchase price of the property. Based on the average home price paid by first-time buyers of R739 000, that equates to a cash amount of around R90 000 – not to mention the other costs associated with a home purchase such as transfer fees, attorney fees and bond costs.
What can I afford?
In an ideal situation your monthly home payment, which includes the bond, interest, taxes and insurance should not make up more than around 30% of your income before taxes. It is impossible to get an idea of your affordability levels by using an online bond calculator or consulting with a professional financial adviser. “Even if the bank has approved a certain amount, it is not necessary to find a home at the maximum bond amount if you feel you won’t be comfortable with the monthly repayment. Owning a home is a long-term investment that needs to be sustained for the term of the loan, so it is advisable to purchase a property that you can comfortably afford,” says Goslett. “Financial preparation is the key to homeownership readiness and will make the bond application process far smoother,” he concludes.
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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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