Elements to look for in any neighbourhoodThu 10 Nov 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Tips for packing and moving quickly
When it comes to moving, ideally you would want some lead time to be able to prepare and get everything in order. However, due to certain circumstances, time is not always a luxury that some people have. After Theresa May took over as Britain’s new prime minister, former prime minister Dave Cameron  had just 48 hours to vacate 10 Downing Street. Unlike most of us, Cameron was fortunate enough to not have to do the packing himself – professional movers arrived with 330 boxes, 30 rolls of tape and three rolls of bubble wrap. Hopefully the next time you move you have as much help, but if not, Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, provides a few tips to help maximise the time you do have.
Create a packing station
A lot of time can be wasted by constantly trying to find items around the home, such as the scissors, boxes or bubble. Pick a place in the home that can be used as a packing station and keep the required items together. Stock the packing station with plenty of tape, boxes in various sizes, bubble wrap, newspapers and markers.
Have a plan of action
Having a strategy and sticking to it will help make the process a lot smoother. Essential items should be packed together in specially marked boxes. Included in these items will be things that you would want on the first day in the new home, such as bed sheets, pet food, electronics chargers, toiletries and a change of clothing. Packing one room at a time and labelling the boxes by room will help ensure that items stay. It is helpful to colour code the rooms and mark the boxes accordingly with markers, stickers or coloured tape. 
Get two different colour rubbish bags
To avoid confusion have rubbish bags in two colours, one for packing and the other for throwing things away. A lot of space can be saved by packing clothing and linens into big plastic bags, as they can be squeezed into tight spaces between boxes. 
Fill drawers
If you are using professional movers to move and have not enlisted the help of friends who may have back issues, pack your dresser drawers with as many items as possible - this will save both time and space. 
Be mindful of weight
It is best to pack heavier items in smaller boxes and fill big boxes with lighter items. This will ensure that the boxes are not too heavy to move and will prevent them from breaking, which will waste time and possibly damage the items that were in the box. 
Don’t get hung up on clothes
Rather than taking clothes off hangers, folding them and packing them in boxes, use wardrobe boxes. This will allow you to simply transfer your clothes on hangers inside the specially designed wardrobe box, saving time and effort.
If you have the money…
If you are not trying to save on costs – make use of professional packers. They will pack your entire home, just a room or a group of time-consuming items, depending on your needs. 
Goslett concludes by saying that while moving within a tight time frame can be a daunting task, if the right methods are used it can be done and will be far less stressful. 
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How do you know it is time to sellThu 27 Oct 2016

How do you know it is time to sell
Choosing to sell your home can be a big decision, so it is important to know that you are ready to move on, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  He notes that in today’s competitive real estate market, listing a property can be a daunting task as there are so many things to consider, such as the challenging economic conditions surrounding the market, price and what real estate agent to use.  However, selling a home can also be an opportunity to improve your lifestyle and start fresh.
Goslett provides homeowners with five signs that they might be ready to place their home on the market:
Your family has outgrown the space
If the home no longer meets the family’s needs due changing circumstances such as another baby on the way or perhaps an ageing parent moving in, then maybe it's time to find a bigger home. 
Your neighbourhood is booming
Within the larger macro property market are smaller micro-markets that occasionally buck trends. Certain areas might be experiencing a boom in the market due to external factors such as an upgrade in infrastructure or the building of a new amenity.  If homes in your area are selling above their listing price, then it might be an excellent time to take advantage of the situation and sell your home. 
The home is too much maintenance
If a busy schedule keeps you from regularly maintaining the property, it might be better to sell it and purchase a lock-up-and-go unit that requires little to no maintenance. Not everyone’s lifestyle is conducive to owning a home that requires regular upkeep. If the grass is knee-high and the swimming matches the colour of the lawn, perhaps it’s time for a change. 
There is home equity 
Homeowners who purchased their properties before the housing crisis may have had to hold onto their homes until they could build up equity again. Those who purchased their homes in 2008 would have sold at a loss if they had listed their home in the few years that followed, however, the housing market has recovered and in most areas homeowners will now have built up equity making selling an option.
Your criteria have changed
Whether it is the family growing or shrinking, a new job with a long commute, retirement, divorce or any other life altering change could be cause to seriously consider moving on. While the home may have been perfect when you bought it, things change and your needs develop. If the home no longer meets your current criteria, it is probably time to find another one that makes more sense to your life as you now know it. 
“Although making the decision to sell a property can be stressful, it can also provide you with the opportunity to find another home that is more suited to your current needs and life stage. 
Using an experienced real estate professional from a reputable brand will also expedite the process and ensure a quick and seamless sale,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Sign boards still have a place in today's marketWed 26 Oct 2016

Sign boards still have a place in today's market
In the age of technology that we live in, the internet has revolutionised the property industry and how business is concluded. With over 26 million users connected to the internet in South Africa, it has become one of the main marketing and advertising tools used by real estate professionals to effectively reach large masses of people in a short time frame. 
According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, many prospective homebuyers use the internet because they are able to access large volumes of information without much effort. “Rather than spending time and fuel on driving around looking for properties, most buyers would rather use online search portals to browse for property in the comfort of the current home office,” says Goslett. “Conversely sellers would rather have a buyer see their home online and then make an appointment to view it in person, than have their home open to strangers on show days. Both the homeowner and the agent’s safety is a concern, which is why the more modern media platforms have favoured over the more traditional marketing methods.” 
However, even though technological advancement has changed the face of the real estate market, there is still a place for the traditional marketing methods. Goslett says that along with all the online marketing and advertising that a real estate agent will use to sell the property, a sign board outside a home is still an excellent lead-generating tool to attract buyers. “Research reveals that even in today’s internet age, a sign board outside a home is so effective that it can generate as many as ten buyer leads during the length of the listing agreement, provided, of course, it can be used in the area the home is situated in,” says Goslett.  
He notes that in certain areas municipal bylaws, body corporates and homeowner associations restrict the use of sign boards and show day pointer boards. “While there are certain challenges, a ‘for sale’ sign is a simple and effective method of marketing a home and increasing its exposure. Although not leads generated by a sign board will be consumers who qualify to purchase the home, it is still an effective marketing tool that increases the home’s chance of being sold,” says Goslett. 
He says that to ensure that the generated leads are handled in the correct manner, it is imperative that an experienced, knowledgeable agent is on hand to answer the calls from potential buyers and investors who are interested in the home. “Irrespective of the methods used to market the property, be it modern or traditional, it is important to work with the right agent and brand,” advises Goslett.  “The homeowner should ensure that the agency they choose to list their property with has a system in place which forwards all lead calls coming into the office directly to the agent who is working with and marketing the home. The person who knows the property best should be the one who handles the calls from prospective buyers. This is the most effective way to ensure that the marketing strategy serves the goal of finding the right buyer,” Goslett concludes. 
 
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Purchasing a retirement home?Tue 25 Oct 2016

Purchasing a retirement home?
For a homeowner who has reached retirement age and is looking to purchase a retirement home, there are several aspects to consider, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. Not only do they have to consider the location of the property they want to buy, but also the type of property they want to stay in, and the type of sales transaction that meets their criteria. 
Statistics reveal that the majority of South African investors who are in their golden years currently own some kind of property and have sold a property to either downsize and move into a more secure environment that is close to amenities such as hospitals and frail-care facilities.  “Banks are generally reluctant to grant finance to investors who are 60 years old and older, which is why the majority of property purchases are cash buys, particularly those in retirement villages,” says Goslett. “Many investors often decide to purchase a retirement home before they turn 60 years old. Certain developments allow investors to buy a home under the prescribed retirement age, even though they set the age of the residents within the development at 50 years old and above. In some cases, investors will purchase a home within a retirement village and let it out until the reach the minimum age required to live there themselves.”
For investors who are in the position to retire, there are a few investment options to choose from, ranging from entry-level homes to luxury properties and everything in between.  Apart from the various types of properties available to investors, there is also a few ways in which  investors can purchase a home in a retirement scheme. According to Goslett, the different forms of ownership play distinctive roles in what the investor can do with the property, so it vital that they understand what each scheme offers. 
He notes that the three options available when purchasing retirement property are:
A sectional title scheme
Purchasing a sectional title retirement home works the same way as any other sectional title purchase. Goslett says that this option will be the most familiar to property investors, as the purchase process follows the regular channels. 
“Much like any other property purchase, registration of the home is concluded through the Deeds Office by a conveyancer.  All of the regular purchasing costs and fees involved will apply, such as transfer duty and the conveyancing attorney fees,” Goslett explains. “Once the property is transferred into the investor’s name they will automatically become a member of the body corporate which will allow them to have a say as to how the scheme is run.”
Share block scheme
Within a share block scheme, a company will own a building and allocate a number of shares to that building which is divided into share blocks. Company shareholders will have the right of occupation to certain portions of that building. In this instance, the resident owns shares in the company that owns the building and not the building itself. 
Unlike a sectional title scheme where residents have a say as to what happens with the development, in a share block scheme, the management and directors of the company can make decisions without consulting the shareholders within the block. A possible disadvantage of this scheme is that the shares cannot be used to leverage further investments, however, if the investor owns an immovable property is can be used as leverage. 
There is the possibility for a share block scheme to be converted to sectional title scheme provided 30% of the owners in the scheme vote to convert and after conversion, half the owners support the resolution. If this occurs and the investors take transfer of their units, they will become property owners, rather than share owners.
Life rights or occupation rights
In a life rights scheme, the investor is not purchasing a property, but the right to live in the property. Goslett says that life rights do not give the purchaser ownership of the property, but merely the right to occupy that specific property for the rest of their life, under the Housing Development Scheme for Retired Persons Act. 
If the investor is married, the life right will extend to both the primary investor and their spouse. This ensures that in the event that either pass away, the other may continue to remain in occupation of the property. Because the ownership of the property has not been transferred, there are no legal costs, transfer duties or tax payable in this option.
Goslett advises that investors should research each option thoroughly before making a final decision, giving careful consideration to the implications of each option before they commit. “Investors will be able to get all the relevant information from the retirement village or estate they are interested in buying in. If they have queries about anything investors should consult with a financial advisor or real estate professional with extensive retirement property experience. Ideally, investors should have all the documentation checked by an attorney to ensure that everything is in order – errors could be very costly, especially when living on a fixed income,” he says. 
According to Goslett, other aspects to consider include whether the property will be registered in the buyer’s name or in another entity such as a trust. These factors will be determined by the financial situation of the purchaser and will include aspects such as Death Duty and Capital Gains Tax. 
In conclusion, Goslett says that making wise investment decisions from their very first property purchase will provide investors with the best possible chance of being in a position to afford their ideal retirement home later on in life.
 
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Consumers' property needs are evolvingMon 17 Oct 2016

Consumers' property needs are evolving
The property needs in South Africa are evolving as more and more people move into urban areas, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He notes that in 1960 around 46.6% of the population lived in urban areas, however, that figure has changed dramatically with around two-thirds of the South African population now living in metropolitan hubs.
“According to a survey released by the South African Institute of Race Relations, the proportion of people living in urban areas increased from 52% in 1990 to 62% in 2011. The share of those living in rural areas dropped from 48% to 38% over the same period. Urban living surpassed rural living in South Africa in 2009. Currently, South Africa has a higher urbanization rate than the world average and it is expected to continue increasing at a rapid rate. As a result density, scarcity and re-urbanisation will be the key long-term themes in the property market for some time, as the current stock does not support the growing demand for urban property,” says Goslett. 
There are two major causes that have brought about the trend; one being that people in post-apartheid South Africa have more freedom to move around, and the other is that there is higher economic growth within metropolitan areas. “People are drawn to urban areas because there are greater employment opportunities. Urbanisation has created a concentration of economic activity, which is alluring to people who need jobs. The largest percentage of growth in urban areas has been in the smaller cities, this is mostly because of these areas having a small initial population, increasing economic activity and less competition,” says Goslett.
He notes the urbanisation is not a trend that is unique to South Africa.  Globally around 54% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, which is around 3.9 billion people. It is estimated that this will grow to around 66% by 2050, which is in the region of 6.4 billion people. It is expected that as a continent Africa’s rate of urbanisation will overtake Asia’s by the year 2030.
“Currently the property stock in South Africa is mostly full title homes, with this type of property accounting for 82.7% of the current market stock. Sectional title homes represent around 12% of the property stock, while estates make up the remaining 5%. As the population continues to push into urban areas and land becomes more and more scarce, it is likely that there will be far fewer full title homes being built,” says Goslett.
According to statistics from ABSA bank, in the last 20 years, flats and townhouses have made up 26.6% of newly completely buildings. In the last three years, around 36% of all residential development units financed by ABSA, were sectional title units. “Sectional title homes are in great demand due to a few reasons, such as financial pressure on consumers, inadequacy of land and a changing demand for lifestyle. It has been said that full title properties may well become an impractical and outdated luxury for most South Africans,” says Goslett.
He concludes by saying that the changing property needs within the country are no longer merely a trend they are a reality. People are migrating to suburban inner-city areas where they can live, work and play, eat and shop. This not merely because it is the place to be, but rather because of the convenience and lifestyle urban living provides.
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Renting your home - The pros and consThu 13 Oct 2016

Renting your home - The pros and cons
Although it may not have been your original intention to become a landlord and let out your property, there are certain situations in life where the need may arise. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that some homeowners may need to relocate for work or are dealing with financial difficulty that they need to address. If the end goal is to hold onto the property, renting it out could be a feasible option, bearing in mind it does have both advantages and disadvantages.  
Some advantages of letting out your property:
Financial relief or the elimination of a double house payment
A rental income will be generated when the property is let out. This money can be used to pay the bond on the property, as well as other expenses related to the home, provided of course, that the rental income is sufficient to cover these overheads. Even in the instance where the money received is not enough to cover everything, it will provide some financial relief to a homeowner who needs to pay for a bond and possibly a rental on another property as well.    
In certain cases, it is better to have a tenant in the house than have it stand empty
While there is a certain amount of risk to having a tenant in the home, leaving the home unoccupied can come at a greater cost. If the home is vacant it can become a target for thieves, vandals or squatters. This is especially true if the owner has relocated to another city or province and is not able to keep an eye on the property on a regular basis. Having the right tenant in the home provides some protection to the property and they could also assist in maintaining it.  
The tenant could be the future buyer of the property
If the owner decides that they would like to sell the property at a later stage, there is always the possibility that the tenant may decide to purchase it. The tenant may have been renting while they were saving for a deposit or to cover other costs associated with a property transaction and could be the ideal buyer. The rental deposit could also be used as part of the purchase deposit.
Now for the downside to letting out your property:
The owner may require equity to purchase another home
The only way that letting out the property can be a financially viable option is if the owner can afford to rent or buy somewhere else. In the instance where the homeowner has relocated and intends to purchase another home, they may require  the equity from their previous home as a deposit. If this is the case, then letting out the home would not be an option.  
Certain tenants could make it more difficult to sell the home
If the tenant does not want to purchase the home, they may not be very cooperative during the sales process and could make it difficult for buyers to view the property. There is also the risk that the tenant has done little to ensure the upkeep of the property or has caused damage.  If the home is unoccupied, it is far easier to make repairs, clean up and get the property ready for show days.
Dealing with delinquent tenants
Once a tenant has taken occupancy of a property it can be a long and tedious process to evict them, even if they are no longer paying their monthly rental. Landlords always run the risk of having to deal with a delinquent tenant who is costing them money and possibly causing damage to the property. Incurring additional expenses such as lawyer’s fees completely eliminates any benefits of renting the property out. This risk can be mitigated to a degree by proper vetting and background checks of all possible tenants.
Managing the property remotely can be difficult
Managing a rental property could prove to be rather difficult, especially if the homeowner is living in another city. If this is the situation, it would make sense to hire a property management agent who has the expertise to effectively vet tenants, collect rent and ensure the property is well looked after.
“Looking at both the advantages and disadvantages will assist homeowners to determine whether letting out their property is the best decision for them in their current situation. While becoming a landlord can be beneficial, it is definitely not for everyone,” Goslett concludes.
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Is signing a sole mandate the right choice?Tue 11 Oct 2016

Is signing a sole mandate the right choice?
Is it better to work with one estate agent or work with many? Many homeowners feel that if they sign a sole mandate with an agent they are reducing their chances of finding a buyer in the most optimum time frame and for the highest price. However, according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, while homeowners may think they are limiting their chances by signing a sole mandate, the truth is that it will be far more beneficial to them than they think.
“Signing a mandate means that the homeowner is giving the real estate agent an exclusive contract to market and sell a specific property. It is then up to that agent to find the right buyer for the home, ideally achieving the highest possible price within the shortest time frame. The agreement also allows the agent the right to deal with all of the legalities that are involved in the property sales transaction,” explains Goslett. 
According to Goslett sellers have two options when it comes to mandate agreements – an open mandate or a sole mandate. If a seller opts for the open mandate route they are taking the exclusivity out of the deal. This means that multiple agents, often from a variety of agencies, will be working to secure the sale. “As with most options in life, an open mandate has its pros and cons. While there are several agents tapping into their network to find the right buyer for the home, it can bring about complications and there is always the chance of a possible double commission claim. An open mandate allows for a wider net to be cast, however in doing so also opens up the potential for confusion as to which agent was the effective cause of the successful sale,” says Goslett. “One agent may have signed a sales agreement with a buyer, but it could have been the result of another agent’s advertising and marketing.”
Unlike a sole mandate, which is a written agreement, an open mandate can simply be a verbal agreement between the parties. If there is no written agreement in place, certain aspects could be misinterpreted, which could cause conflict.  A clear, written contract protects both the seller and agent, reducing the risk of any misunderstandings. “A written contract will also ensure that the agent puts maximum effort into fulfilling the goals that have been set. If an agent is working on an open mandate they may be less inclined to spend as much time and money marketing the property, which will reduce the home’s chances of selling,” says Goslett.  
Conversely, a sole mandate is a legally-binding document that must be reduced to writing. Within the agreement, an agent is given the exclusive right to sell the property for a period of time. During the allotted time frame, the seller may not appoint another agent to market the property. In the event that the seller is not satisfied with the service they receive from the selected agent they can appoint another agent once the sole mandate period has elapsed. If a homeowner has signed a sole mandate they will still be entitled to market and sell the property themselves, but only if it has been confirmed in writing with the estate agency that has been awarded the mandate. In an instance where the homeowner does sell their property, they may still be required to pay a fee to the sole mandated agent. 
“Homeowners can opt to give an agent an exclusive sole mandate, which is the same as a sole mandate but slightly more restrictive in that the homeowner is not allowed to sell the property themselves. An optional term of an exclusive sole mandate is that the seller may authorise the agent to accept or reject an offer on their behalf,” Goslett explains. 
He notes that the reason for a sole mandate is to ensure that the transaction is handled in the most efficient way  possible and all parties are protected. “It is highly beneficial for sellers to have a sole mandate in place, which is why most financial institutions and estate agencies recommend that sellers have one in place. Having a sole mandate will ensure more effective marketing of the property and an orderly conclusion to the sale,” says Goslett. 
From a logistical standpoint, a sole mandate makes more sense because the seller only has to liaise and deal with one agent, not several. This simplifies the process with far less time spent coordinating the seller’s schedule with the various agents. It is also better from a safety perspective, as only one agent will have access to the property. 
Goslett says that before sellers sign any mandate, they must know that they are working with the right agent for their needs. “It is imperative that sellers select a qualified agent with a valid Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC).The agent should also provide the seller with a marketing plan for the property. If at any stage during the process the agent is not following the marketing plan they have provided, the seller will have the right to cancel the mandate,” he says. At all times the agent should work according to what is in sellers best interest, giving sound professional advice and assisting them to make the right decisions - especially when multiple offers have been presented.
“While sellers might be inclined to think that signing a sole mandate is restricting their options, it is actually an opportunity to simplify the property sales process by working with one reputable, experienced estate agent. It will ensure that an entire team within a real estate network is cooperating to sell the property within a reasonable time frame at the best possible price,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Highlight your home's finest featuresMon 10 Oct 2016

Highlight your home's finest features
As the market transitions to favour buyers, it is becoming ever more important for sellers to stand out from the crowd - especially if they want to achieve the optimum results when putting their home on the market. This is according to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO Of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who says that while there are buyers in the market, competition among sellers has started to heat up.
“Due to the current difficult economic conditions that many South Africans are facing, the market has slowed with many buyers adopting a wait-and-see approach to the housing sector. With a smaller pool of buyers in the market, sellers will need to focus on showcasing their home’s best features in order to gain a competitive edge over other homes on offer. This is the only way that they will be able to realise the property’s true sales potential,” says Goslett. “To sell a home at the best possible price within the best possible time frame requires two crucial elements -  the right real estate professional and some effort on the seller’s part.”
Goslett says that there is no need for sellers to completely change their existing home or embark on a costly renovation project – it is simply about sellers looking at ways to highlight their home’s key selling points. “If done in the right way, subtle changes can make a big difference. Well-chosen, contemporary updates can revamp the entire home giving it a modern and fresh look and feel, without breaking the bank. A new coat of paint and tidying up is already a great start to ensuring that the home is in show-day condition,” he advises. 
Goslett offers sellers a few additional pointers to have the property in top form on show day:
Kitchen
Often considered to be the heart of the home, the kitchen is possibly one of the most important areas. For many buyers, the kitchen can be the deciding factor as to whether or not they decide to purchase the home. An updated kitchen will increase the perceived value of the home and leave a lasting impression with potential buyers. 
The kitchen will be completely reinvented and modernised by refurbishing the countertops and cupboards. Updating large appliances will also breathe new life into the space. Adding an island is also a functional way to add to the room’s aesthetic appeal, while entirely changing the area’s dynamic with additional counter space.
Bathrooms
Another area in the home that draws buyers in or has them heading for the door. Not much needs to be done in a bathroom for it to feel completely different. Just by changing the taps to a more contemporary style or adding a mirror can freshen up the look and alter the space. Modern lighting can also change the feel of the room and breathe fresh life into an outdated area.
Storage and organisation
While dependent on the space and layout of the home, installing additional cupboards or storage space will be a practical way to create a selling feature. Buyers are often looking for homes with ample storage capacity, so an extra cupboard, expanding existing cupboards or a walk-in pantry can become an extra selling point. Built–in shelves or a wall unit in areas with a lot of open wall space can also be a unique and interesting feature. These are generally relatively easy to install and will be a functional addition that could give the home added interest.     
Flooring
If the home is carpeted, the carpets should be in good repair and professionally cleaned. This will make them look good and leave the whole house smelling great. If the carpets are not in a good state of repair, depending on what’s underneath it might be worthwhile to have them lifted. Many older homes will have wooden flooring underneath the carpeting, which can be sanded and revarnished. Wooden floors have always been a timeless feature that has once again come into fashion. In the instance where the home does not already have wooden floors underneath the carpeting, synthetic alternatives are available that look similar but cost far less. The right flooring option can make a room appear larger and will completely revamp its look and feel.
Outside areas and garden
The outside areas of a property will be the basis on which buyers will form their first impression of the home. Features such as decks and patios can impress, however, they aren’t always in the budget and are not necessarily needed to make the garden look good. A garden that is neat and well-kept will make an outstanding impression with buyers. 
“Making sure that the home is in its best condition before it is listed will improve sellers’ chances of standing out from the crowd and achieving their highest possible selling price,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Property, is it a true asset?Fri 07 Oct 2016

Property, is it a true asset?
The large majority of South Africans aspire to own a home because they want to have a piece of land that they can call theirs and an asset that will appreciate and provide them with a cornerstone to financial security. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, while owning a property is considered as possessing an asset, not every home is considered a true asset.
He notes that in order to determine whether a home is a true asset, one needs to first define what exactly a true asset is.  The dictionary defines the word ‘asset’ as any item of economic value that is owned by either an individual or corporation, which can be converted to cash. “This definition provides an explanation of the word but does not give a clear definition of a true asset. Is it merely a figure that appears on the bottom line of a balance sheet, or is there more to it?” asks Goslett. “The defining factor that separates an asset from a true asset, is that a true asset is something that generates an income which is more than the expenses that it takes to retain it. While it is possible for property to be that asset, a vital element is for the property investor to make their money when they purchase the property and not when they sell it.”
According to Goslett much of the potential return on investment is determined when the buyer purchases the home. “It is imperative to always purchase a property that represents good value,” he advises. “While this may entail a great deal of time and research, the end result is worth the effort. If a buyer is able to purchase a home that offers good value for money, they will already be ahead of the curve and won’t have to wait for a boom in the market to see real appreciation on their property’s value.”
He adds that for a buyer to evaluate whether their home is a true asset, they will need to determine if the costs to maintain the property and the monthly expenses are less than the income that the property could generate.  Generally, the only way in which a property can generate an income would be through letting it out. In this instance, the operational income would be the rental amount less tax. For the property to be a true asset, this amount should be more than the monthly total cost of owning the property.  Goslett says that if managed correctly, the profit made from owning a true asset can be used to save up and purchase the next true asset. A true asset can be the foundation of building wealth. 
What happens if the home is purchased as a primary residence and not an investment property? Can a primary residence be classified as a true asset?
A primary residence will not generate an income and there are maintenance costs and running expenses to keep it, however, it can be a good asset that benefits from capital appreciation over the long term.  “While a home’s value may not see substantial growth over the short to medium term, over the long term it should outstrip most other investment classes. Again, however, it is important to apply the same principle as an investment property and purchase a home at fair-market value. There is also the crucial element of purchasing within a good location that is close to amenities and good schools,” says Goslett. 
“Purchasing the right property can provide the owner with more than just an asset. The right property can be a true asset that outperforms other financial vehicles and provides a solid return on investment,” he concludes. 
 
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Why using an agent is better than selling soloThu 06 Oct 2016

Why using an agent is better than selling solo
In an attempt to cut down on costs some sellers might be contemplating listing their homes without the services of a real estate professional. Although it may seem like a great way to reduce costs and avoid paying an agent’s commission, it also means that seller will have to do all the work themselves, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
“At first glance selling a property privately may appear to be an easy process of just listing the home online and waiting for a potential buyer to come calling, but there is a reason that only 5% of South African homeowners decide to take this route. Apart from the convenience of leaving it to a professional, an estate agent brings several other crucial values to the table. As an expert working within the property market on a daily basis, an agent will be able to assist the seller to correctly price their home, marketing  and advertising the house, be available for show days and negotiate the sale,” says Goslett.
He adds that because of their expertise in the field, an agent is far more equipped to handle the sale process, taking much of the responsibility off the seller’s shoulders. If an estate agent does not sell the property, they do not get paid, so it is in their best interest to ensure that they make every effort to successfully find the right calibre of prospective buyers. 
Goslett provides four other reasons why using an agent will help sellers to make the most money in the shortest time when selling their homes:
An agent can increase your potential profit
While many people think they will make more money by avoiding paying an agent’s commission and handling the sale themselves, statistics reveal otherwise. In most cases selling the property will bring about a higher profit, often enough to cover the agent’s commission and more. Why is this? Well, for one thing, the estate agent has the experience and resources to price the home appropriately. According to studies, homes that are priced correctly when they are first listed on the market will sell faster, and for a better price than  those that list at inflated prices and linger on the market for longer than they should. Homes priced above market value will be ignored by buyers and the longer the home stays on the market, the more the price tag will decrease. 
Agents save sellers time
It won’t take long to list the property online, but that is not where it ends. There is also the matter of handling potential buyers, not to mention home inspectors and appraisers. All of this can be extremely time-consuming. An agent will also be able to screen buyers, help sellers to prepare for home inspections and ensure that the whole sales process is handled in an efficient manner. 
The agent has the negotiation skills
Agents negotiate and make deals for a living, so there is a good chance that an agent will get a better deal for the seller than they would themselves. Considering that a home sale is probably one of the biggest deals that a seller will make in the lives, wouldn’t they want the negotiating skills of a seasoned professional helping them along? Listing the home with an agent also means that the seller will get the agent’s marketing power, access to their network and connections. 
Working with an agent will lower the seller’s risk
If a homeowner sells the property themselves they run the risk of making mistakes and dealing with the possible legal consequences. The process can be completed and there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be completed in the correct manner. An agent will know the ins and outs of what it required and how it needs to be filled out. 
“Due to the nature of property sales and the huge financial impact these transactions have on people’s lives, the right estate agent can add value and be a helpful professional guide for homeowners to rely on,” Goslett concludes.
 
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A few hurdles before closing the dealTue 04 Oct 2016

A few hurdles before closing the deal
Putting in an offer to purchase (OTP) and having it accepted by the seller is a great feeling, but this doesn’t mean that the deal is complete and the house is yours. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, there are still a few more hurdles that need to be dealt with between the time that the offer to accepted, and the keys to the front door are handed over. Not being able to overcome any one of them, could result in the deal falling through and the buyer having to start the house search over again. 
“Knowing what the possible hurdles are and how to prepare for them will put buyers in good stead when going through the home buying procedure,” says Goslett. “Understanding what problems could arise during the process will allow buyers to either prevent the issue or mitigate it to some extent.” 
Hurdle 1 – Mortgage loan not granted 
Ideally a buyer should always get preapproval from the bank, with a written loan commitment letter from the bank that they can show the seller. Likewise, sellers should preferably deal with buyers who have preapproval. However, even if the buyer was preapproved, it is not an absolute given that the buyer will obtain a loan. Certain factors could change causing the finances to fall through, such as a sharp increase in the interest rate affecting affordability of the loan, a change of employment or job loss. 
Hurdle 2 – the property appraisal isn’t high enough
In order to protect their interest in the property, the mortgage bank will send an appraiser to the home to have it valued. This is to ensure that the home is worth at least as much as the buyer is willing to pay for it or that the mortgage loan amount is at an acceptable ratio to the value to the bank. If at any stage in future the buyer defaults on repaying the mortgage loan with the bank, the bank wants to be in the best possible position to recoup its losses.  In the case where the bank’s appraisal is lower than the purchase price on the offer to purchase, a price reduction may be negotiated with the seller or the buyer will need to pay the difference in cash. If the buyer does not have the extra cash and the seller is not willing to compromise on the selling price, it may be a deal breaker. 
Hurdle 3 – You decide to back out of the deal
The OTP should contain a cooling-off period where the buyer will be able to step away from the transaction if the purchase price is below R250 000. All other property transactions above this mark are exempt from the cooling-off period and the agreement becomes legally binding as soon as it is signed.
In terms of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), a right is created in favour of a buyer to rescind an Offer to Purchase. However, this right is only applicable if the sale resulted as a result of direct marketing. The CPA is furthermore only applicable to transactions where the seller deals with property in the normal course of his business. The fact that an estate agent is involved in the transaction also does not make the CPA automatically applicable to a transaction.
Cancellation of the OTP could be negotiated with the seller and the estate agents involved. If unsuccessful and a purchaser does not comply with the obligations created in the OTP, he will be in breach of contract and if legal action is instituted by the seller and/or the estate agent, the purchaser could be held liable for payment of damages to the seller and estate agent’s commission.
Hurdle 4 – Home inspection exposes a major defect
All sale of property transactions are still according to our legal system subject to the “voetstoots” clause if such a clause in contained in the OTP. Note that the word “voetstoots” need not appear and the clause could be termed “Property sold “as it now lies” or something sililar. This means that sellers are protected against any claims arising from patent (openly visible) defects or even latent (hidden) defects in the property. However, should the seller have known about the latent defect and willfully or fraudulently withheld this from a purchaser, voetstoots does not protect him. However, that said, proving prior knowledge of latent defects are in most instances very difficult.
Nowadays, the effect of voetstoots is often qualified by a disclosure annexure which often forms part of the offer to purchase. Within the annexure, the seller declares in detail what the condition of various aspect of property is.
A buyer whose offer has just been accepted is in a fortunate position in that he can bring the defect under the attention of the mortgage bank. If the defect is serious enough, a bank will not grant a bond. If the issue is not that serious, the buyer should engage the services of an independent attorney (not the transferring conveyancer – as he acts on behalf of the seller) who could negotiate or litigate for a price reduction. 
 “The transfer process can be a stressful situation for buyers and sellers, especially considering the number of things that need to be organised and dealt with, not to mention the ramifications of not overcoming a certain hurdle. Ideally buyers should take their time and familiarise themselves with the process and its possible pitfalls to ensure that they are ready for any situation,” Goslett concludes.
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Welcomed relief as rate remains unchangedThu 22 Sep 2016

Welcomed relief as rate remains unchanged
Consumers throughout the country welcomed the decision made by the South African Reserve Bank to keep the interest rates unchanged, with the repo rate staying at 7% and the prime lending rate at 10.5%. 
“There are approximately18 million credit users in South Africa. Around 50% of those credit users have an impaired credit rating due to high levels of debt. An increase in the interest rate would only place further financial pressure on consumers who are already strapped for cash,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Hopefully the Reserve Bank’s hiking cycle has come to an end for the time being and consumers can use this window to sort out their financial affairs.”
Over the last few years the prime lending rate has increased by 2%, which has had a marked impact on homeowners and prospective buyers seeking to get into the door. A homeowner, who purchased a property for R1 million at the end of 2014 with a bond linked to prime, will currently be paying R1 306 more for their home.  According to household and property sector strategist at FNB, John Loos, from the end of 2013 up until June this year, the cumulative increase in the bond instalment on the average priced home has increased by 42.1%.  
According to Goslett, the Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to keep the rates unchanged is the right decision for both the property market and the greater economy. “An interest rate hike would only dampen consumer sentiment and further slowdown the property market.  This year has been tough for consumers who have already had to absorb two interest rate hikes, along with an increased cost of living. While the housing market still reflects an ongoing demand, the effects of the slower economy and higher financial demands on consumers has been felt in the property sector,” says Goslett. 
He notes that affordability will continue to be a driving force behind the property market and a rate hike would negatively impact that.  “Consumers who are able to reduce their household debt-to-income levels have an increased chance of showing the necessary affordability levels to purchase a home. While it may be difficult to adjust to a more restrictive financial plan at first, it will bring them a step closer to owning a home,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Buy or build?Tue 20 Sep 2016

Buy or build?
The idea of having a home built to their exact specifications is an exciting notion for many prospective homeowners. “However,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, “although building a home does have numerous benefits, there are also several vital aspects that should be considered before the project is started such as cost, time and personal preference.”
Goslett says that perhaps one of the biggest reasons that certain owners opt to build their own home is the fact that they can customise it to suit their individual preferences. He adds that a new home is also more energy efficient, especially with more energy-saving elements being introduced to the market in recent years. Opting for a new home can also be a health benefit, as purchasing an older home the owner runs the risk of being exposed to certain toxic materials, such as asbestos, lead paint and mould. 
Despite the perks, there is also a downside to building a home, such as the fact that often the estimated costs are rarely accurate and the project can cost substantially more than initially expected. There is also the task of finding the right contractor for the job. According to Goslett one of the first aspects that need to be considered and researched thoroughly is the competency of the builder. “The success of a building project will largely be based on how competent the contractor is to complete the endeavour in a professional manner and within the allotted time period.  Regardless of whether it is building a home from the ground up or merely taking on a renovation project – using the right contractor is essential,” Goslett advises. “Perhaps the riskiest part of building a home is the construction, which is why it is so important to scrutinise the builder’s credentials and track record.  Below standard workmanship will cause issues down the road and will be costly to rectify at a later stage – not to mention the fact that the home will be unsafe for its occupants.”
Goslett says that if an owner has decided to build their home, they should ensure that the builder they chose to work with is certified with the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC).  “The aim of the NHBRC is to reduce the risk of subpar workmanship as much as possible and ensure that only qualified and experienced contractors are used to build homes. For their own protection homeowners should only use building contractors who are affiliated to the organisation. To a large degree this will ensure that the standard of workmanship is up to standard and provide some protection against defects occurring from substandard building,” says Goslett. “In the instance where the build has been financed, the bank will insist that the builder is a registered member of the NHBRC before releasing the necessary money.”
Timing is another aspect that requires careful consideration. If the property has not been completed within the expected time frame, it can have some harsh financial implications. “During the time that the home is being built, the owner will require accommodation until the property is habitable. Either the owner needs to stay with friends or family, which is cost effective but sometimes inconvenient, or the owner will have to incur the additional cost of renting a home while they wait - bearing in mind that the owner will also be paying for the land and building costs of their new property. A delay in the project can cause a financial setback if the owner is not prepared, as they will be liable for the additional expenses over a longer time period than what they originally anticipated,” Goslett explains.
He notes that if a bank is financing a building project, the owner is required to provide several documents such as the building plans, which should include a schedule of finishes to determine the property’s market-related value once it is complete. Goslett says that these documents will be used to determine the size of the loan granted within the parameters of the bank’s credit policy. “Irrespective of whether buyers decide to purchase an existing home or build one, in most cases they will be required to have a deposit. However, due to the higher risk involved with building a home, the deposit required in order to finance the build of a home will be higher,” says Goslett.
Along with the risk involved in building, there is also the chance that the cost of the project will be greater than what the buyer would pay if they had to purchase an existing property with similar features. Numerous factors can have an influence on the cost of the project and need to be taken into account before any decision is made. However, despite the risk and possible complexities of building a home, many owners would still prefer to have the creative freedom to design their own home, even if the financial cost is higher. 
Both building a home and buying an existing home have their pros and cons. The answer to what would be a better option will be based on the owner’s personal preference, individual requirements and financial situation. “Regardless of the option that the owner chooses, property should always be viewed as a long term investment and the necessary research should be done in order to make an informed decision,” Goslett concludes.
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How to keep track of your property optionsFri 16 Sep 2016

How to keep track of your property options
Finding the right home may sound like an easy process, but many buyers don’t realise that it can take more time and effort than they initially expected – especially if it’s not handled in the correct manner. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that fortunately for buyers there are methods that can ease the stress of finding the ideal home that meets their criteria.  
“With the sheer volume and wide variety of properties available on the market, perhaps the largest challenge that buyers face is deciding where to start. Statistically only a small percentage of buyers will purchase the first home that they view, and viewing a great number of random show homes will only create confusion and make the decision more difficult,” says Goslett. “Not having a clear plan of action and looking at numerous show houses in a short space of time will make it difficult to keep track of what each home has to offer, what you liked about each property and what it is selling for. Preparing beforehand by creating a concise plan will simplify the process and ultimately make the home buying decision far easier.”
Irrespective of how urgently you need to find a home, the decision should never be rushed. Rather than trying to get through as many properties as possible in the shortest amount of time, it is best to take your time and work methodically, viewing small numbers of properties at a time. “By working through only a few properties at a time you will be able to retain as much information about each home as possible. Buyers who are looking for a property urgently may be inclined to want to speed the process up by using multiple agents and cramming in as many show homes as possible in one day. However, while this may give you a broad view of the homes available on the market, it will make it next to impossible to keep track of which homes appeal to you the most, who showed you the home and why it was so appealing in the first instance,” says Goslett.
According to Goslett it is advisable to use only one real estate professional who has extensive knowledge of the area you are interested in and you are comfortable with. He adds that ideally prospective buyers should view no more than four homes on any given day. “A good, reputable agent will have a wide variety of listings on their books, but will be able to narrow down the search and viewings based on the information and criteria that you provide to them. Doing this will save massive amounts of time that would have been spent on viewing properties that don’t fit into your criteria,” says Goslett. 
He provides a few ways that can be used to keep tabs on the various properties that have been viewed in order to compare them. These include:
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, incorporating likes and dislikes and stand-out features. 
Document each home by taking photos - this can be done with the camera on your cell phone. Take photos of the interior and exterior of the home focusing on aspects that are particularly important to you.
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 showed you 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.
“Buying a home can be both exciting and stressful. However, adopting a calm and logical approach and working through the process systematically will reduce the stress and allow you to fully enjoy the experience,” Goslett concludes.
 
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Inexpensive home updates that pack a punchTue 13 Sep 2016

Inexpensive home updates that pack a punch
In the current competitive real estate market sellers need all the help they can get to make their home shine and stand out from the crowd; however this doesn’t mean that they need to break the bank with expensive updates. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, there are a number of cost-effective ways that sellers can make their home more appealing and increase their chances of selling for the best possible price in the shortest possible time frame.   
“Sellers don’t always have to go to extreme measures to create a big impact. Often just subtle, reasonably inexpensive updates can go a long way to increasing the property’s appeal and give the seller the competitive edge. The updates will add to the seller’s confidence when putting their home on the market, with the added benefit of possibly pushing up the sale price,” says Goslett.
He provides some low-cost updates the sellers could do before listing their home:  
Do a walk-through
The initial step is to visit each room and make a checklist of items that need to be either repaired or replaced. During this part of the process it is best to be as objective as possible, so it might be helpful to have a friend or family member provide a second opinion. Look for outdated styles, bold patterns and colours, dated fixtures, unfinished projects and over-cluttered cupboards and countertops. When looking at these features consider what elements showcase the home in its best possible light and what doesn’t. Once the checklist has been established, the next step is to develop a budget and diarise a date on the calendar to complete the tasks at hand. 
Incorporate contemporary styles 
Each home and style will be as individual as the owner. While you may love a certain look, be it ultramodern, the majority of buyers may not. Ideally it is best incorporating modern elements into the home, but going for a transitional style that hits the sweet spot between traditional elegance and contemporary cool. The idea is to tick the ‘just right’ box – not too cold or formal and not too fussy. A transitional style blends the comfort and warmth of traditional design with the clean lines and muted tones of the modern look. 
First impressions count
According to research it takes just 15 seconds for a buyer to decide whether they like a house or not. First impressions count, so ensure it leaves the right mark. An impression of the home is not only formed by what buyers see inside the home, but starts from outside the property walls. Buyers driving past will judge whether they want to have a look at the property by the way it looks from the street. Curb-appeal is vitally important and vastly contributes to the success of attracting buyers to the home. Start maintenance from the pavement outside the property and work your way inwards. Basic improvements such as exterior painting, cutting the grass and planting some flowers can tremendously improve the look of a home from the outside. Special attention should also be given to the driveway, ensuring that it is weeded and in good repair.
Pay attention the kitchen and bathrooms 
As some of the most frequently used areas in any home, the kitchen and bathrooms will be a focal point for buyers. Extra effort should be made to ensure that these areas are fresh and looking great. Things such as stained shower stalls and toilets, broken or missing grout, leaky taps or dated cabinet hardware are easily replaced at minimum cost. If replacement is not an option, have shower stalls or bathtubs professionally resprayed for a fresh look. 
A new coat
A fresh coat of paint is a great way to revitalise the home with a reasonably minimal investment, especially if you have the skills to do the job yourself. Paint can drastically transform a space and can be used in a variety of applications on walls, doors, cabinets, fixtures and even tiles. When selecting a colour palette, neutral muted tones will be the most universally pleasing. 
“By making these small updates before listing a property, sellers are giving themselves the best possible chance of setting their home apart and achieving their asking price. While these updates may not cost a lot, they will have a big impact on the overall appeal of the property in the eyes of buyers,” Goslett concludes.
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