REMAX agent wins BetterLife Dream LotteryThu 21 Jul 2016

REMAX agent wins BetterLife Dream Lottery
What would you do if you won R1 million?  Would you spend it, invest it or give it to charity? For many the answers to these questions are only in their dreams, but for RE/MAX Infoglobe Sales Associate, Bertus Myburgh, the dream became reality by winning the BetterLife Dream Lottery and walking away with a cheque for R1 million.
Through the BetterLife, BetterRewards programme, real estate agents received a scratch card for every qualifying Offer to Purchase they submitted to the bond originator, giving them a chance to enter the draw. A group of 471 agents secured places in the nine regional draws which were held to narrow down the field and increase the agents’ chances of winning the grand prise. Approximately ten agents from each province got into the final draw, with Myburgh the second last to make it in. The finalists’ names were printed onto the Dream Machine Wheel of Fortune which was spun by BetterLife Group CEO, Rudi Botha at a gala event held at the Protea Fire & Ice at Melrose Arch in Johannesburg. 
“This could not have happened at a more perfect time. My wife and I were in a financial crisis when we first started with RE/MAX; however we have slowly been able to get back onto our feet to some degree. We have two children and are currently in the process of building a modest two-bedroom family home, but we were not in a position to be able to complete the home in the way we wanted. Adjustments had to be made to scale down, which meant the kids sharing a room, as well as foregoing some other features. My wife and I have been praying for a solution since the first BetterLife draw and now God has answered those prayers. Winning the money means being able to change the layout of the home to make it a bit bigger, adding an extra room so the children and each have their own space and we are able to finish off the garden, driveway and other elements which we wouldn’t have been able to do,” says an elated Myburgh, standing on the site of his soon-to-be-upgraded family home.
Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says a big congratulations to Myburgh. “It is amazing to see a life changed in a moment. As real estate professionals we often have a front row seat and the privilege of seeing people’s lives change for the better as they realise their homeownership dreams. Through the BetterRewards programme, not only are clients lives changed, but agents too,” says Goslett.  
Myburgh adds that apart from upgrading his home, he will be giving 10% of his winnings to the church, as well as sponsoring part of Jenny Venter (BetterLife consultant) and her son’s trip to the USA because he remembers her saying once before that she couldn’t afford the total cost.  “It was through prayer that we received this money. It is God’s money and I want to honour Him by giving back and helping out where I can,” he concludes.
Read more

Select the right attorney for transferWed 20 Jul 2016

Select the right attorney for transfer
Working with the right attorney during a property sales transaction can make all the difference to how long and cumbersome the process can be, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
He explains that during the property transfer and registration process, there are usually three different conveyancers involved – a bond attorney, bond cancellation attorney and the transferring attorney. Goslett says that the bond attorney represents the bank or financial institution that is issuing the finance to the purchaser. Their role would be to handle the registration of the bond in favour of the mortgagee over the specified property, which occurs at the same time as transfer. 
“In the instance where the seller of the property currently has an outstanding bond, the bank holding the bond would instruct a bond cancellation attorney to attend to its termination. This occurs once guarantees have been provided for the outstanding bond amount on the property and all the necessary documentation has been completed by the bank,” says Goslett.
He adds that although it is generally the appropriate bank that will appoint both of these attorneys, in most cases it is the seller who gets to appoint the transferring attorney. The attorney who is appointed will be tasked with handling the transfer of the property from the seller’s name into the new buyer’s name. They will also be responsible for co-ordinating the registration process with the other two attorneys to ensure that all processes register at the same time with the deeds office. “It is important that sellers choose the right attorney to act as the transferring attorney, as they play a vital role in protecting the seller’s interests and ensuring the process runs smoothly,” says Goslett.
He notes that while there are real estate companies that want the seller to use a certain attorney, it is entirely up to the seller as to who they decide to use. “There have been cases where agencies have forced their clients to make use of attorneys that are situated more than 100km away from both the buyer and seller’s physical address. As per the Estate Agents Affairs Board code of conduct, an agent is not permitted to force a seller to use a specific attorney firm.  The other issue is that the buyer and seller are required to sign documentation at the attorney’s office, so it would be unfair to appoint an attorney that is hundreds of kilometres away from where they are staying.  When an out-of-town attorney is appointed, they then have to appoint a local attorney for the signing of the documentation. This logistical issue and cost can be avoided by appointing a local attorney firm,” advises Goslett. 
He adds that due to the fact that conveyancing is a complex series of tasks that requires specific conveyancing knowledge; it is advisable to select an attorney who is well-versed with the property transfer process. “It is best to appoint an attorney from a conveyancing firm that handles property transfers on a daily basis. The legal fees charged by the transfer attorney are based on the value of the property, not their experience with regard to conveyancing - therefore it makes sense to use an attorney that specialises in property transfers,” says Goslett.  
If everything goes as it should, the transfer process should take between two and three months to be finalised. The process can be delayed if there are certain conditions of the sale that still need to be fulfilled or if documentation and certificates are not in order. Legislation requires the transferring attorney to acquire a rates clearance certificate from the local council. “Sellers are often required to pay a few months rates in advance in order to obtain their clearance certificate. Once the transfer is complete, any money that has been overpaid will be refunded to the seller,” says Goslett.
Selecting the right attorney is a crucial element to the property transfer process. It is imperative that the seller is comfortable with their choice and trusts their attorney. “Working with an experienced, local attorney will ensure that the process is as quick and easy as possible,” Goslett concludes. 
Read more

Ensure your home's valueTue 19 Jul 2016

Ensure your home's value
According to research the majority of homebuyers only take a few minutes to make the decision as to whether or not they like a property. Often there are certain factors that influence buyers’ decisions of a home before they have even walked through the front door, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“Most experts within the property sector would agree that generally the reason a home would not be viewed favourably is its location. Aspects such as the property’s proximity to amenities like shopping malls, good schools and recreation areas, all have an impact on how the property is perceived to be valued by potential buyers. Ideally the property needs to be within an easily accessible range to these elements,” says Goslett. 
He adds that adversely if the property is located within proximity to power lines or unsightly mobile phone masts, this will have a negative effect on the home’s perceived value. “Apart from the fact that they don’t look great, many people don’t want to live near mobile phone masts because they are concerned about the possible negative health implications. As a result, the marketability of homes around mobile phone masts can suffer when it comes time to resale,” advises Goslett. “Basically anything that could be seen by buyers as an annoyance or eyesore will harmfully impact their opinion of a property. Examples of these things could be a noisy highway or airport in the nearby vicinity.”
According to Goslett, there are also a considerable number of buyers who take into account the condition of the neighbourhood in which the property is located. An area with subpar service delivery that is rundown and poorly maintained will push buyers away, even if the property itself is well looked after. If the neighbourhood has deteriorated over time, the home’s value and marketability will also decrease.
Goslett says that regardless of the external factors that could the home’s marketability; it is still vital for homeowners to ensure that their particular home has curb appeal and stands out from the competition.  “If a buyer has the choice between two homes in the same area, that both offer the same or similar features, they are more likely to purchase the one that well-maintained and more aesthetically appealing. If the home’s curb appeal becomes the determining factor, a fresh coat of paint and a mowed, weeded and de-cluttered lawn could make all the difference,” he says.
According to Goslett, another factor that many buyers are considering is the availability of parking. Garages and off-street parking are particularly popular among buyers. In heavily populated metros such as Cape Town CBD, off-street parking or lack thereof can seriously influence the property’s perceived value with buyers. While most properties will have some kind of allocated parking space for residents, some buyers also want additional available parking for visitors.
Although most renovations will increase the marketability of a home, certain unorthodox renovations will negatively impact a property’s value. Renovations that are specific to the current owner’s tastes or interests, such as a gym or greenhouse, may not appeal to buyers viewing the home. Unfinished renovations or poor workmanship can also devalue the property. There is no reasonable explanation for below standard DIY renovations that could be expensive to rectify. It is also important that if any major renovations have been undertaken, all documentation and permission has been granted by the necessary governing bodies.
“If possible homeowners should try at all costs to avoid the pitfalls that could devalue their property. Likewise, buyers should do the necessary research to avoid purchasing a property that could become a financial burden in the future. Knowledge is an essential key for buyers looking to invest in a property that will appreciate in value over the long term,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Avoid buyer's remorseThu 14 Jul 2016

Avoid buyer's remorse
Purchasing a home is an exciting time in one’s life; it is a milestone that many aspire to and a symbol of success. However, according to studies, nearly 80% of homebuyers have at least one significant regret regarding their property purchase decision. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that so many homebuyers get caught up in the emotional journey of purchasing a property and sometimes overlook certain important elements. It is only once they have moved into their new home and everything has settled that the reality of the situation sets in and they start to see the things they previously didn’t. 
“Buying a home is a massive financial commitment, yet many buyers base their home buying decision on only a few minutes of viewing the property. If buyers are not fully prepared and do not have an idea of exactly what they are looking for, it could be easy for them to miss something or make an incorrect decision,” says Goslett.
He notes that there are a few tips the homebuyers can use to avoid buyer’s regretting their purchase:
Stay focused 
Ideally before a buyer starts to look for a home, they should have made a list of their needs and wants, prioritising the must-haves and noting the elements that they are willing to compromise on. “It is important to not get distracted by the wants and remain focused on the must-haves. If the house has many of the buyer’s wants, but does not meet their main objectives – it is not the right house. Considering the fact that purchasing a property is a long-term commitment, buyers will have to deal with their compromises for a long period. For this reason, it is essential that they make the right decision upfront,” advises Goslett. “Working with an experienced, reputable real estate professional will assist the buyer to keep on track and find a home that meets all their criteria.”
Check the finances, and then check them again
One of the main reasons that buyers regret their home purchase is unexpected costs. It is vital for buyers to calculate how much they can afford, taking into account all the associated costs that go along with homeownership such as homeowner’s insurance and maintenance. A bond origination company such as BetterLife or a professional financial adviser will be able to provide potential buyers with a list of costs that they can expect to pay when purchasing a home. 
Goslett says that having the home inspected will also give buyers an idea of the type of repairs that they can expect so that they can budget for this beforehand.   
Don’t get caught up in a bidding war
With inventory stock still an issue in many sectors of the market, it may be possible to get sucked into a bidding war and lose some perspective.  “A competitive offer from another prospective purchaser could make a home seem more attractive than it really is and lead the buyer to push up their offer. However, it is important to stay objective and keep in mind that you are trying to buy the right home – not win an auction. It is best to walk away from a home, than overpay as a result of a bidding battle. Paying more for a property will mean larger deposit requirements, higher transfer costs and thousands of rand of additional interest on a larger bond. Another down side is that it will take much longer to build up any equity,” says Goslett. 
He concludes by saying that purchasing a home is one of the largest financial investments most people will make in their lives. While finding the right home can be an emotional rollercoaster, it is important to keep things in perspective and focus on what really matters to avoid any remorse.
Read more

Affordability impacts the marketWed 13 Jul 2016

Affordability impacts the market
The South African Savings Institute (SASI) revealed that at the end of March this year the country’s official savings rate was 15%, household savings was 1.1% and the average household’s debt as a percentage of disposable income was 76.6%. These sobering figures point to the fact that as a country we have one of the worst savings rates globally. 
“South Africa generally has a very poor savings culture, which impacts on many sectors of the economy. One would be tempted to think that the poor saving rate is due to low salaries and an inflationary cost of living, however, while these are contributing factors there are nations such as China and India that typically earn less, but are able to put away a higher percentage of their income,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  
According to the SASI other factors that have impacted on the country’s saving rate have been low disposable income growth, low employment growth, a rising tax burden and a lack of confidence in the future. 
Goslett says that the implications of a low saving culture at household level is that there is generally not enough funds to meet the necessary financial requirements of the household, whether it be for consumption or investment purposes. As a result, consumers are forced to borrow money, creating an endless cycle. The more that consumers borrow, the smaller their percentage of disposable income and the poorer their creditworthiness. According to SA government statistics, South African consumers are now borrowing more money than they are saving. Countrywide household debt has reached around 80% of total household income. This percentage includes aspects such as personal loans, overdrafts, credit cards, accounts and home loans. “Financial institutions will view consumers with low disposable income levels as risky, resulting in them either granting finance at a higher interest rate or not granting finance at all,” says Goslett.
He adds that if consumers want to get into the property market in the future, they will have to start changing their financial strategy and begin a savings plan of some kind.  “The market is slowly shifting to favour buyers, however if they have not financially prepared, they won’t be able to make the most of the opportunities that will present themselves. In order to obtain the necessary finance to get into the property market, buyers will need to work on increasing their affordability levels by reducing debt and putting money aside. Buyers will need to have a personal financial plan in place to do this and achieve their homeownership goals,” says Goslett. 
The reality is that in today’s market, prospective buyers will be required to have a deposit, along with enough savings to cover the associated costs of purchasing a home. “According to BetterLife statistics, from January to June this year, the average deposit amount required was between 19% and 23% of the property’s purchase price. Considering the fact that the average home purchased during this period was around R1.2 million, buyers needed to have at least R228 000 saved up, just to cover the deposit,” says Goslett.
Pre-recession approximately two thirds of bond applicants were approved for finance; however that number drastically decreased in 2008, with only around 28% of home loan applications received being granted. Today the number of approvals through bond origination companies has improved to around 51%, which indicates that finance institutions have an appetite for lending, but still adhere to a stringent approval process.
“An individual’s finances are closely scrutinised before credit is issued. Banks require a holistic view of the client’s credit history, the total amount of credit outstanding, as well as the applicant’s ability to pay debt off. This has made it vital for consumers to manage their debt responsibly and show the require affordability ratios,” says Goslett. 
He adds that there are several ways in which consumers can cut back on living expenses and show higher levels of affordability: 
Consult with a professional financial adviser and planner, who can assist in formulating a personal finance plan
Create a budget which includes a savings plan and stick to it
Cut down on or cut out luxury and unnecessary expenses
Compare prices – this will help you find the best value for items and services
Whenever possible pay cash rather than charging on credit
Review insurance policies and medical aids regularly to ensure you are getting the best deal available
Go green - save on electricity and water costs by cutting down consumption
“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.
Read more

The do's and don'ts of home equityTue 12 Jul 2016

The do's and don'ts of home equity
Is there ever a good time to use your home equity? Homeowners who have equity available in the bond accounts might be tempted to withdraw some of the money and use it for more immediate needs or wants. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that while it is not always a wise decision to take equity out of the bond, there are a few circumstances where is can actually benefit the homeowner.
He notes that if a homeowner does decide to use their home equity, it should be utilised in a way that will put the homeowner in a better financial position than they were in previously. “The crux of the matter is that the homeowner needs to be responsible with their borrowing and determine whether taking the equity will advance them or impede them financially,” advises Goslett. 
According to Goslett there are a few common situations in which homeowner choose to use their home equity. While some reasons for using the equity make good financial sense, others don’t – the decision will largely be based on the homeowner’s circumstances and future plans.
Renovating the home
Yes – One of the most common reasons that homeowners withdraw equity is to renovate and improve their property. Goslett says that there are a number of benefits to using home equity for renovation. Apart from the fact that it will add to the home’s marketability when it comes time to sell, it gives the homeowner the opportunity to change aspects about the home that they may not have liked when they initially moved in. “The homeowner can update areas of the home such as the kitchen and bathrooms to give the home a more contemporary look and feel or they could build on a much needed extra bedroom. This will add to the occupants living experience in the home and improve the home’s value,” says Goslett. “When deciding to renovate it is important not to overcapitalise and to ensure that the planned project will in fact add to the perceived value of the home.”
Renovation is a very attractive option if the property has appreciated in value a lot and the homeowner has substantial equity built up. “It is a good reason to use the equity, provided the homeowner is able to make use of it without severely increasing their monthly overheads or pushing themselves out of their affordability levels. Careful consideration needs to be given to the fact that interest rates are in a hiking cycle,” advises Goslett.  
For investment purposes
It depends – With investment there is always an element of risk so using home equity to fund an investment depends on whether the homeowner has done their research and is confident that the degree of risk is worth the potential return. Part of the research a homeowner should do is whether the return on the investment is going to be greater than the interest charged on the borrowed money. “The current prime interest rate is 10.50%. In order for the investment to make financial sense, the return on the said investment will need to exceed that percentage, bearing in mind that interest rates are expected to continue to rise,” explains Goslett. 
He adds that another popular use for home equity is for the homeowner to start their own business or further their education. In scenarios such as these it would be advisable to consult with an objective financial advisor who can provide guidance and advice regarding these options.  
Pay for children’s education 
Possibly – Interest rates on student loans start at prime and go upwards depending on credit profile and level of affordability. In some cases the interest charged on the home equity would be lower and the loan amount could be higher. While using home equity to finance your children’s education is a tempting option, it does have its risks.
“The feasibility of this option largely depends on the parent’s age and financial well-being,” says Goslett. “Taking equity out of the bond could delay the homeowner’s retirement, or worse put them in a financial position where they could risk losing their property. In these instances it is best not to take the money from the home equity. According to studies, children are generally better off with financially secure parents than being financially secure themselves and having to look after their parents.”
An emergency fund 
Perhaps – If the homeowner is in dire need, home equity can be used in an emergency, however it is important to remember that at some stage it will need to be paid back. Goslett says that home equity should only be used as an emergency fund if the homeowner has no other available options. “Ideally homeowners should put aside money each month to build up a contingency fund, so they do not find themselves in a situation where they have to use their equity for an emergency,” advises Goslett. 
Consolidating debt 
No – Many homeowners opt to use their home equity to pay off credit cards, car loans and other forms of personal debt. This option will provide the homeowner with additional disposable cash initially, but if they obtain new debt they will be far more worse off in the future.  “Interest rates on credit card debt and personal loans are generally higher than bond interest rates, so it will make financial sense from that perspective. However, if the homeowner does do this, they will have to ensure that they don’t continue to use credit cards and take out further debt,” advises Goslett.
He notes that homeowners who are thinking of using their home equity should consult with a financial adviser if they have any doubts or would like an objective opinion. “Regardless of the reason a homeowner uses their equity, the most important aspect is that the decision should be beneficial and does not hinder them financially in the future,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Protecting your propertyTue 12 Jul 2016

Protecting your property
There is little doubt that South Africa is among the most beautiful countries in the world, with an array of incredible things to offer such as great weather, oceans, mountains, forests and many interesting people and cultures. “We as South Africans are privileged to be able to call this unique and diverse country our home,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. “Unfortunately there is one negative aspect that plagues so many living in this country and that is the crime.”
He adds that the reality is that many people living in South Africa have either been affected by crime directly or at least know of someone who has. “With the high levels of crime experienced in this country, South African home buyers are some of the most security conscious in the world,” says Goslett. “In fact, security has become a major determining factor in where people choose to purchase their homes. As a result properties with top-end security features or those located in security estates are highly sought-after and often fetch a higher price than other types of properties.”
According to Goslett, while homes within security estates generally provide a greater return on investment over the long term, these kinds of homes are not affordable to everyone. However this does not mean that home owners have to compromise on their safety and become soft targets. He notes that there are a number of ways in which homeowners can increase their home’s security and deter criminals:
Make it as hard as possible to break in
Intruders will generally target homes that they perceive as being easy and quick to get into. The more time it will take to break into a property, the less likely it will happen.  “It is best not to leave anything lying around that could assist someone to break into the home, such as ladders or gardening tools. Ideally it is also a good idea to keep foliage and shrubs cut back to reduce the number of areas where intruders can hide. If there are no lights near the entrance areas of the property, putting up lights will make these area more visible and aid in deterring intruders,” advises Goslett. 
He adds that entry points such as garage doors should be locked at all times, even if the car is not parked inside. The garage is an area of the home where intruders know they can find items that will help them gain entrance to the home.  “While not all homeowners will have the facilities, a trained guard-dog is an excellent deterrent and household companion. It is vital that homeowners tell their children and domestic workers to identify people before allowing them to gain access to the home,” says Goslett. 
Visible and physical protection is best
Security experts say that the best form of deterrent is a visible, physical barrier, such as palisading or a good quality electric fence around the perimeter of the property. As a precautionary measure, Goslett says that homeowners can use motion sensors and beams to provide a back-up to the primary physical barrier. Ideally all security barriers and entry points should be connected to an alarm system as an early detection device to alert the necessary people.
Don’t let people know you are away
Most intruders would prefer to avoid confrontation, so would rather break into a property while the occupants are not home. “Homeowners who are going away for a holiday should avoid leaving any tell-tale signs that no-one is home, such as uncollected post or newspapers.  An unoccupied home will be more vulnerable to possible intrusion,” says Goslett. “Timers on the lighting inside and outside the home will give the appearance that people are there. Provided it is safe to do so, a car can be parked in the property where it is visible, which will also give the impression that someone is home.”     
If homeowners are at home, that should ensure that they always answer their intercom or buzzer. On occasion criminals will check to see if the occupants of a property are there by ringing the intercom – so never ignore it, irrespective of the time of day or night. An unanswered intercom could be seen as an invitation to an unwelcome home invasion. If the intercom does not work, remove or repair it as soon as possible. 
Don’t leave the keys in the usual places
According to crime reports, often criminals will take the vehicles along with the household contents. In order to avoid this from happening, any vehicle keys or spare keys should be hidden or kept in an unusual place – especially if the home’s occupants are away on holiday. “Although it is convenient, it is best to not have keys on key hooks or counters where they are easily seen, but rather put them out of sight and in a safe place,” advises Goslett. 
Community involvement
A great way to get to know the neighbours and assist in keeping the community safer is by joining the local community policing forum or neighbourhood watch. In these organisations time and responsibility is shared among residents to make the community a safer place to stay. 
“It is better to prevent criminal activity from affecting your home, than having to deal with the aftermath.  While it may be difficult to completely ensure that a home is never broken into, taking the necessary precautions is the right step toward making the home and its occupants safer,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Value and marketability - Is there a difference?Fri 08 Jul 2016

Value and marketability - Is there a difference?
Those who have decided to list their property on the market will all have the common goal of maximising their home’s potential selling price. Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that the first distinction that sellers need to make when listing their property is the difference between the actual value of their home and its current marketability.  He adds that there are a number of elements that determine a home value, just as there are aspects that impact a home’s marketability in the current economic environment and phase of the market.
“While the value of a property is determined by looking at things such as its type, size and features and configuration, marketability is more about the readiness of the property to be sold. This relates to aspects such as the home’s condition and aesthetic appeal,” Goslett explains. 
According to Goslett the value of a property is largely determined by the supply and demand in the market, along with buyer’s personal preferences. “For example, when demand for property is greater than the supply of available properties on the market, the perceived value increases. The opposite is also true, in that when there are a lot of homes for sale, but not many buyers – home values can stagnate,” says Goslett. “There is a distinct link between property prices and demand and the value of a home is not established by the seller, but rather the prospective buyer. Essentially what this means is that value is largely determined by what buyers are prepared to pay in the current market.”
It is important to note that while renovations or alterations to a property will change the price level to some degree, it does not always mean that the value of the property will increase. Why is this? Goslett says that homeowners who are renovating with the view of selling the property need to be aware of the current trends in the market and what buyers are willing to pay more for. “A new kitchen or bathroom upgrade will make the home more attractive to buyers, but that does mean that they will be willing to pay an increased amount to the equivalent cost of the renovation,” says Goslett.
Another consideration is when renovated is over-capitalising. If the improvements to the home are beyond what the value that area dictates, it will have a negative influence on the property’s saleability. “Why would a buyer want to pay more for the home, when they can get a similar one in the same area for less?” asks Goslett. 
Considering that the marketability of a home is largely determined by how ready it is to sell, preparing the home before it is listed will increase its marketability and ensure that it attracts a greater number of potential buyers. Essentially increased marketability can result in the seller achieving a higher price for the property. “It goes without saying that a home that is clean, neat and well-maintained will be far more appealing to prospective buyers. The marketability of the home is increased by ensuring that it is in its best condition prior to being placed on the market. Although adding a coat of paint and having the garden landscaped won’t necessarily increase the home’s value, it will increase its marketability and make it appealing to larger number of potential buyers - even through the actual features of the home have not been changed,” says Goslett.
He adds that staging the property will also have an impact on its saleability. It is advisable to de-clutter and remove unnecessary items from the home, but still keep it furnished. It can often be more difficult to sell an empty home because it can look bare and it will be potentially difficult for buyers to see themselves living there. An experienced real estate agent will be able to provide valuable advice regarding staging the home and making it more appealing during viewings.
“While there is a distinction between value and marketability, both aspects should be considered and are important for homeowners to ensure that they maximise their potential selling price and stand apart from the crowd in this competitive market,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Property buying golden principlesThu 07 Jul 2016

Property buying golden principles
The simple truth is that not all property purchases are equal. While one property investment could become the cornerstone to wealth creation, another could lead to financial ruin. What is the difference between the two? 
According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, in order to ensure success and make the most out of their property purchase, buyers need to be well-informed, savvy and make the correct buying decisions from the start. He notes that decisions made during the purchasing process will have a massive bearing on the potential return on the buyer’s investment.
Goslett says that merely purchasing a home at fair market value doesn’t guarantee that the buyer will see healthy returns over the long term. He points out that there are certain golden principles for any property acquisition that buyers would be wise to follow:
Research and ask questions
Before making any decisions a buyer needs to establish whether they are purchasing the property as a home to live in or merely for investment purposes, as this will change the way the buyer approaches the purchase.  “If the home is bought with the intention of being the buyer’s primary residence, the decision making process will be far more emotionally guided. The buyer will look at aspects of the property and the surrounding area that appeal to them personally. However, if the property is for investment purposes it will be more important to research what will appeal to possible tenants in the area and who the tenants might be,” advises Goslett.
He notes that while a buyer will be able to find a great deal of information online regarding the area, the estate or complex, nothing can replace checking out the location in person. “Take the time to drive around the area and walk the streets. Consider what the traffic is like and who your potential neighbours could be, as well as the facilities and amenities in the area. A real estate professional with working experience of the area will be able to provide a comparative market analysis, which will reflect recent stats and figures of sales in the area,” says Goslett.
Simplify and stick to the basics
Regardless of the phase of the property market or external influences – sound property buying principles never go out of fashion. Goslett advises that there are fundamentals that successful property buyers keep in mind at all times. These include aspects such as the property’s location, the value per square metre and the potential rental yield - these will always be the key criteria on which an investor makes a decision.
Subtle differences can have a big impact
It is vital not to underestimate the importance of location and just how much a small variant between two areas can impact property pricing. Even if two separate homes offer the same features, their values can differ greatly depending on where they are situated. “It is possible for property prices to vary substantially from one suburb to the next. In fact, it is even possible for homes to have different values based on which side of the street they are on. From an investment perspective, purchasing the worst home in a sought-after area is far better than purchasing the best home in an area with less appeal,” advises Goslett. 
According Goslett, buyers who are purchasing a property with the intention of letting it out need to consider the fact that various aspects will be attractive to a variety of people - so discovering their niche market is essential. Investment buyers should also look at how much rental stock is available in an area before purchasing a buy-to-let property. The rental property sector is largely driven by demand, and an investment could fall flat if there is an oversupply of properties available for rent in the area.
Have a plan in place
Both property buyers and investors need to have a plan in place when buying a home. “As a property investor, it is important to think about what you would like to achieve with your property portfolio and what needs to be done to get there,” says Goslett. “As a property buyer, it is essential to think about where you would like to settle for the next five to ten years.”
He adds that having goals in place will assist buyers to remain focused and will give them something to work towards. Buyers should never limit their thinking to what they can afford right now, but rather what will be possible for them in the future.
Drop the debt
One of the key elements to any property transaction is access to the necessary finance and affordability. Cash buyers only represent a very small portion of the market, while most buyers will require a bond to purchase a home. According to Goslett, buyers can ensure that their application for finance has more chance of success by reducing their debt-to-income ratio and keeping a clean credit record.  
It is also vital in today’s market to have a deposit of between 10% and 20% of the purchase price of the property. A deposit will increase a buyer’s chances of bond approval and reduce their monthly repayment.
It is more than just bricks and mortar
While the return on investment is often a driving factor in property buying decisions, it shouldn’t be the only factor that is considered. According to Goslett, the basic principle of purchasing a property is that if you wouldn’t want to live in it, it’s not likely many others would either. The property has to appeal to the buyer and they have to want to own it.
“Purchasing a property that provides a healthy return is not just about luck and timing, it’s about much more than that. The most important aspect is to research as much as possible, and only buy a property once all options have been carefully considered,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Selling? Here's what you need to knowThu 30 Jun 2016

Selling? Here's what you need to know
As the market transitions and more inventory becomes available to buyers, sellers will find themselves in a far more competitive environment, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 
“For some time conditions have favoured sellers, with high demand and a low supply of inventory, however the market is slowing shifting as buyers are adopting a wait-and-see approach to the market. As a result sellers now have to be aware of the competition they face in their own neighbourhood, before they decide to list their property,” says Goslett. 
He provides a few aspects that sellers should consider about their neighbours before they list their home:
Who is renovating?
If possible, it would be advantageous to tap into the neighbourhood grapevine and see who is renovating their kitchen and upgrading their bathroom fixtures. These upgrades generally add value to a property and attract buyer’s attention. Goslett says that a real estate professional who specialises in the neighbourhood will be able look up the listing and sale prices of those homes to find out if the updates made a difference to the bottom line. 
How long are homes sitting on the market?
Before listing, sellers should keep an eye on how long it takes for a home to be sold in the neighbourhood. This will give some important insight into how they can expect their home to be sitting on the market and plan accordingly. The FNB Price Index indicates that on average a home is on the market for around 12 weeks before it is sold. “Depending on the neighbourhood, properties available and buyer demand in the area, it could take less time or in some cases a bit more. It all depends on the specific circumstances that surround that particular trading environment. Other factors can also come into play such as pricing the home correctly at what is perceived to be fair market value for the area,” says Goslett. 
Take stock of the available inventory
Goslett says that it can be difficult to obtain a competitive price when inventory is high and buyers are few. “All the sellers in a particular neighbourhood will be competing against one another for the same pool of buyers. If there are several homes for sale within a relatively small radius, it might be worthwhile to wait for a while before listing the property,” advises Goslett. “An experienced agent will be able to provide vital information with regard to the current market trends and the best time to list the property.”
Stay up-to-date on any area planning and zoning news
While buyers want to purchase a property that is within proximity to amenities, they won’t want to stay there while major construction is underway.  Sellers should keep au fait with any upcoming public projects that could impact their property listing timing. If there are any potential projects, the seller can discuss a selling strategy with their agent to work around possible issues.
“A real estate agent with extensive working knowledge of the local market will be able to put all aspects into perspective when considering selling. Sellers will benefit from using an agent that has an understanding of the unique dynamics surrounding their specific neighbourhood,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

How millennials can save for a depositWed 29 Jun 2016

How millennials can save for a deposit
While Generation X consumers, who are between 31 and 45 years old, are still driving the property market in most sectors, it is the up-and-coming Millennials who are the future home buying force. However, this younger generation, who are 30 years old and under, have some challenges to face in the current market.
Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett, says that many Millennials are in the process of starting their careers and have large student debt that they need to pay off. As a result, it may take some time for them to get on their feet and build up the necessary savings to purchase their first property. “For some the idea of saving for a home while paying rent and making student loan payments is daunting to say the least. Although it might be impossible for some at this stage, for others it could be a matter of having the discipline to make certain sacrifices and set aside money rather than spend it,” says Goslett.
He adds that for the majority of Millennials, as with most first-time buyers, the biggest hurdle to overcome is getting together the money for the deposit, especially considering that banks are asking applicants for between 10% and 30% of the property’s asking price to qualify for finance. 
According to Betterlife bond application statistics, the average deposit percentage required by first-time buyers during the month of June was 21.17%. Considering that the average purchase price was approximately R860 000, that equates to a deposit amount required of around R182 000 – not a small feat. 
Goslett says that the best way to accomplish big goals is by starting small and remaining consistent. “Mountains are climbed by taking one step after another. While the thought of saving an amount as large as R182 000 may seem like a massive deed for a younger buyer, it can be achieved by breaking the amount down into smaller, more manageable goals. Even if it is a matter of starting out setting aside small initial amounts – just get started,” advises Goslett, “the sooner, the better.”
He adds that the amount can be increased at a later stage, but it is important to get started and remain consistent, putting money aside every month.  
A good way to save
Ideally, the best way to set a monthly savings goal is to find the difference between your current rental payment and the estimated bond repayment, which should include other monthly costs such as bond insurance, homeowner insurance, rates and levies. If possible, the difference should be set aside as savings. “The benefits of this strategy are twofold,” says Goslett, “firstly it will build up your savings, and secondly it will help you to adjust to the anticipated cost of owning a property.”
According to Goslett, this method of savings will provide the buyer with some insight into whether they are actually financially ready to own a property and what they can afford. If they are able to meet their savings goal consistently, then they will know that they are in a positon to purchase a property within their budget. Buyers, who are struggling to meet their monthly savings goals, might need to adjust their housing budget and bring it in line with what they can realistically afford. 
A visual dream board with a picture of the type of house that the buyer wants to purchase will help to keep them motivated and on track. “It is important to be reminded of why you are doing without certain things, and putting away savings. A visual image will be a daily reminder of the end goal,” Goslett advises.
Finding the savings
The first place to look for savings is the property you are renting. Goslett says that if the rental is more than 30% of your monthly income, then it is too much. “While it might mean scaling back, consider moving to a more affordable rental property. It doesn’t make sense to spend more money on a rental home, if it is holding you back from owning your own property,” he says. 
Finding more savings will require the potential buyer to assess their current spending and scrutinize their every expense. “Money can be saved by making a packed lunch every day, instead of eating out. Other ways of saving include cancelling that gym contract and finding ways to exercise for free or travelling to and from work in a lift club. There are a number of ways to cut back on spending, it just takes some creativity,” says Goslett.  
The right time
There is the concern that while Millennials are building their savings, rising home prices and interest rates will make it more and more difficult for them to get onto the property ladder. While there is merit to the concern, it is best not to rush into buying property until you are completely ready. “Even if it means paying a slightly higher price at a higher rate, it is best to have a solid financial foundation and be confident that you can make the commitment that homeownership requires,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Brexit - Will it impact the SA property market?Fri 24 Jun 2016

Brexit - Will it impact the SA property market?
Last night Britain shocked the world by voting to leave the European Union. Many nations, including South Africa, are now asking how this decision will impact their economies and markets going forward.  With the UK a trading partner to a great number of nations, there is likely to be some effect, even if it is only marginal.
“In my opinion,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, “it will be interesting to see how Brexit impacts the South African economy and more particularly the housing market. At the moment everything is merely speculation as we are entering unchartered territory with no nation state ever leaving the EU. Since last night there has already been an impact on foreign currency, which has been behaving extremely erratically.”
So how does this impact South Africa?  Goslett says that due to the fact that South Africa is highly reliant on importation of goods, the effect on foreign currency could bring about further inflation pressure as the rand weakenings. “In short, with a depreciating currency, importation will cost more and inflation will increase in South Africa, creating a repetitive cycle. We will essentially be importing inflation,” says Goslett. “A sustained weakened rand will also place further pressure on the Reserve Bank in increase interest rates. There is no doubt that interest rates will continue to climb, which will also reduce potential homebuyer’s affordability ratios. Homebuyers will have to factor in the rising interest rates and ensure they have some financial cushioning.”
Goslett adds that the property market could see many first-time buyers holding back and adopting a wait-and-see approach until the full effects of Brexit on the South African economy are revealed. This is usually the case during perceived instability in the market. “Another that we could see is a rise in the cost of credit. Usually during periods of global economic uncertainty, banks become risk averse, tightening their lending criteria. As a result, access to finance becomes increasing more difficult, as more stringent global lending criteria are placed on the banks themselves. Not only will it be harder to get credit from a bank, it will more than likely be more expensive, which will impact on consumer’s affordability levels,” says Goslett.  
Head of Home Loans at Standard Bank, Steven Barker, says that while it is too early to confidently predict the impact of the Brexit outcome, it has added further uncertainty to the South African property market. “The consumer is expected to continue to face pressure on household finances in a rising interest rate cycle. Negative moves in the currency market could lead to higher inflation which could put interest rates under further pressure,” he says. “We will have to wait to see how this unfolds, but consumer confidence remains low and the property market is starting to see a slow-down in activity. Lending activities by the mortgage providers is reflective of the interest rate cycle and the deteriorating economic outlook.”
Goslett believes that Brexit will have no impact on property prices; however the market is currently in a transition period with momentum shifting towards the buyer. “This is more a result of domestic conditions, than any external foreign factors.  The shift will cause property prices to stagnant for the time being. However, that said, opportunities often reveal themselves in times of change. Those who can identify the changing dynamic early on will be able to reap the benefits and take advantage of what the market has to offer,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

What an agent will know, that the internet won'tFri 24 Jun 2016

What an agent will know, that the internet won't
Statistically nine out of ten homebuyers will make use of the internet during their home search process. This is because technology has made the process far more streamlined and buyers are able to wade through masses of information with relative ease. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, online property search portals are an excellent place for homebuyers to start looking for a home, but there are certain aspects regarding the buying and selling process that a real estate professional will know that can’t be found online. 
Pricing a home according to the market
While it is possible to get a general idea of the property prices in an area, setting a fair market-related price requires in-depth, working knowledge of the area and current market conditions. A real estate professional will consider several factors when setting an asking price, such as local and national market trends, suburb demand, neighbourhood development activity and the latest buyer preferences, to name a few. Although there will be an average price per square metre in a certain area, each and every home is unique and will need to be priced accordingly based on its distinctive offering.
According to Goslett, another aspect that agents can assist with is comparison shopping. He adds that while a homebuyer may be able to compare certain elements online, there will be factors that an agent will be able to help with and provide some guidance. A consultation with a real estate agent can be an invaluable tool, as they will be able to point out elements and make suggestions about things that the buyer may have otherwise missed. “A professional, objective opinion will help the buyer to make the right investment decision,” advises Goslett.  
Offline marketing
Even though online marketing and social media have become an intricate and valuable part of the property marketing process, there is still a place for the more traditional marketing methods in today’s trading environment. A reputable, professional real estate agent will have a network of contacts, experience and market knowledge to successfully round out their marketing plan to ensure the property is exposed to the right target market.
“On the other side of the coin,” says Goslett, “buyers will benefit from using an agent because they will be able to tap into their network and find out about suitable properties before they are even listed online.” 
Key pointers during the process
Finding the right home is only one step in the process to becoming a homeowner.  Goslett says that it is possible for a buyer to find a home that they love while searching online, but what happens after that?  “An agent will be able to guide the buyer through the process of applying for a bond, dealing with conveyancing attorneys, finding a home inspector or providing advice on what to do should the inspector find any issues with the property,” says Goslett.
Real estate agents are skilled, experienced negotiators, which is valuable when trying to reach a fair price for a property that is either being bought or sold. While a website will be able to provide an estimate of how much a home should cost, it won’t be able to evaluate whether that is indeed a good deal or not. 
“An experienced real estate professional from a reputable brand will be able to provide the buyer and seller with a wealth of knowledge that they will not be able to get elsewhere. While there is a great deal of information online, there are still some things that require a more personal touch,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Things to think about when using moversMon 13 Jun 2016

Things to think about when using movers
Be it purchasing or renting a new home, everyone will experience moving at some stage of their lives. Packing up boxes and doing all the heavy lifting yourself can be a physically draining task, not to mention the stress of all. Deciding to make use of a professional moving service can eliminate a lot of the hassle and make the process much smoother, provided of course you choose the right company, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  
“As with most services it is best to use a mover that has been referred to you by a trusted friend or family member. However, in the instance where there is no-one who can provide the contact details of a reputable moving service, there are aspects to consider that will assist you in making the right decision,” says Goslett. 
He provides a few points for those looking to use a professional mover to consider:
Search portals and public information
Most consumers will have access to a wealth of information via some kind of smart device. There is little that cannot be found on the internet with the majority of companies having an online presence. Most service providers will have a website where they list their services, service history, area they operate in, a rough estimate as to how much it will cost and contact details. From the information gathered, it will be possible to compile a list of possible choices. Is it best to be weary of companies that do not provide their address or information about licensing and insurance. 
Aside from general online search, social media networks are also a good source of information and testimonials. “Social media has given the consumer a voice and platform where information can be freely shared. While a website gives the organisation a chance to say what they want about themselves, social media has given their clients a chance to share their opinions about the organisation,” says Goslett.
Ask for a quote 
To be able to provide an accurate quote, the moving company will need to come to the house and get a clear understanding of the volume of boxes and furniture that will be transported. Goslett says it is very difficult for a mover to provide a precise quote over the phone – they should do an onsite inspection and provide a written quotation.
“Do not choose to work with a mover that wants a contract signed or deposit paid before they are willing to provide a quote – the quote should be free. 
Ask questions and get information upfront
It is important is get as much information as possible upfront. Ask the mover questions such as their hourly rate, how many people will be there to move your goods and if there are any additional costs such as fuel or packing materials.
Is the mover insured?
There is always an element of risk when goods are being transported, especially if the move is a far distance. Goslett says that the mover should be able to provide some kind of insurance during the move. “Generally a mover will not cover everything in its entirety, but they should be able to give a certain level of insurance or guarantee in case of breakage or items going missing. Taking photos of all pieces of furniture will help to prove liability on the part of the mover if any items are damaged in transit,” he advises.
In addition, it is also advisable to contact your insurance company before the move to check what they will cover during the transportation of the household goods. Goslett notes that homeowners should find out what is required in case of loss, as some insurance companies may need receipts, appraisals or photos of valuable items. 
Check the paperwork 
The mover should provide an inventory list of all the household contents that they will be transporting, along with the pickup address and the final destination of the goods. Goslett says that it is important to check the list to make sure it is correct and everything has been listed. Homeowners should also read any other fine print in the paperwork as well as any other documents provided by the mover. It is advisable to keep a copy of all documentation on file for later reference if required.
“Although moving can be a stressful exercise, with the right moving company, it can be a far less daunting task. Selecting a reliable service provider will ensure that the move is as smooth as possible, making it something that everyone can look forward to,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

Are the housing market scales tipping?Fri 10 Jun 2016

Are the housing market scales tipping?
Is the market slowing or merely shifting into another phase? Recent property sales figures suggest that the market is currently in a transition phase with demand for property seeing a decrease during the first half of this year. According to Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, while the market has favoured sellers for some time, the dynamics are changing and scales are tipping the scales in homebuyers’ favour.
He adds the property market follows a cyclical predictable pattern where there are periods of growth, following by a slowdown before recovering. Understanding the dynamics of the ebb and flow of the market will be a distinct advantage to buyers when looking to get their foot in the door.  
“For a while there has been high buyer demand and low levels of inventory available on the market. This situation has favoured sellers and driven the price of property up over the last few years. Although there is no shortage of buyers in the market, many have decided to sit out for the time being due to factors such as the possible downgrade, rising interest rates, the country’s political situation and inflated prices set by sellers in the current market,” says Goslett. “If demand for housing continues to wane, property inventory will increase and the market will become far more competitive among sellers. In a more buyer-slanted market, sellers will need to ensure that they price their homes correctly in order to sell faster than the neighbour they will be competing with.”
According to the FNB Property Barometer published on 3 June this year, while there is currently a good supply and demand balance in the property market, which resulted in positive house price growth in real terms, there are perceived signs of weakening. According to the report there has been an increase of residential supply on the market on a monthly basis. Although the number of properties on the market remains constrained, there has recently been a noticeable rise, with supply seeing positive growth for the last five months consecutively.  
“With more homes entering the market and the pool of potential buyers decreasing, sellers will have to ensure that their homes are priced correctly. Over-inflated prices will only serve to chase away buyers, with the property remaining on the market for longer than necessary. This especially true if there are other homes in the same area offering similar features, but at market related prices. The fact is that an asking price that is market related will appeal to a far larger range of buyers, than one that isn’t,” advices Goslett.
He adds that a property that is inflated by around 10% above its market related value is much less likely to sell within 30 days of it being on the market, compared to one that is priced within 5% of its market value.  The reason it is important to sell a home within a certain time frame is because potential buyers start to question why is hasn’t sold yet. “There is often a negative association with a property that has been on the market for longer than the average time, which can lead to it eventually selling for below its actual value,” says Goslett.
He notes that a reputable real estate agent with specific area knowledge is a good resource that sellers can use to determine what buyers have recently paid for properties within an area. “Estate agents will have records of how much properties with similar offering to the seller’s home have recently sold for in the last three to six months. While the asking price of the home is still ultimately the seller’s decision, an agent will be able to provide guidance in correctly pricing the home for the current market conditions,” says Goslett. 
He concludes by saying that working with a reputable, experienced real estate agent and making sure the asking price is correct from the outset, will ultimately make all the difference in achieving the seller’s goal in a challenging market.
Read more

Ensure your home meets your future needsWed 08 Jun 2016

Ensure your home meets your future needs
Making the decision to purchase a property is very exciting, but it is important to understand that it is a major financial commitment that should not be entered into without the proper consideration, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.  He notes that given the long-term nature of a property investment, there are a number of essential elements that should be carefully measured beforehand, to ensure the buyer is making the right decision and is purchasing a property that meets their needs both now and in the future. 
“Purchasing a property is a decision that will have an impact on the buyer’s financial well-being both now and in the future. This is why it is vital that the buyer makes an informed decision that is based on their life plans, looking at both their criteria now and how their needs could evolve over the next five to ten years. Rushing into the decision without considering your long-term plans and goals could end up costing a lot more money in the long run. It is essential make a property buying decision with future plans in sight,” advises Goslett. 
Before a buyer even looks at properties, Goslett says that they should sit down and determine what features they will currently need in a home, as well as the feature they may require in the future. A few elements to consider would be the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the need for a garden or the number or type of parking facilities.  There may also be special criteria such as energy-efficient features, a swimming pool and fireplace or wheel-chair accessibility. 
These are some examples of questions buyers might ask when looking for a home that will meet their future requirements:
Do I need a home office?
Do I plan to have children?
Do I have children who will be moving out soon?
Am I close to retirement?
Will I need a home that can accommodate different life stages?
Do I have an older relative who might come to live with me?
Each and every buyer will have their own unique criteria that will be specific to their life stage and future plans. If a buyer is at the stage in their life where they are planning to have children, proximity to good schools would be a priority, whereas a buyer who is nearing retirement would want a home in a quieter suburb. 
“The biggest restriction that buyers face when looking to purchase a home that will fit in with their future plans is affordability. Financial restrictions could mean that buyers will need to compromise on certain aspects, even if only for the time being. If a newly married couple who want to start a family need a third bedroom, but can only afford a two-bedroom home, they could find a home that they can add onto when they are financially ready. This way the home will meet their current needs, while having the potential to grow into their future plans,” says Goslett. 
He notes that regardless of the type of home the buyer decides on purchasing, sustainability is a key issue to homeownership. “Again due to the long term nature of homeownership, the most important aspect to any property purchase is to ensure that purchaser can afford and sustain the financial obligation before entering into the agreement. In order to assess this, the can make use of the resources available to them such as financial advisers, banks and bond origination companies such as BetterLife,” says Goslett. 
He adds that bond repayments are not the only financial consideration when it comes to affording a property, as there are other costs involved in both the property transaction and homeownership. It is vital to take these additional costs into consideration when assessing affordability as they can add up to a relatively large amount. 
According to Goslett, another essential aspect to consider in every property purchase is location. “Even if the property meets the buyer’s needs, if it is situated in a bad area it is probably not going to be the right property to purchase. Location is a key influencer when it comes to a home’s future investment potential. It is far better to compromise on the features of the home than on where it is located,” advises Goslett. “Buyers who purchase a property in the right location that meet both their short and long-term needs will be able to enjoy the benefits of an accommodating home that grows in value over time,” he concludes.
Read more

Check the body corporate rulesTue 07 Jun 2016

Check the body corporate rules
Due to the lifestyle and security benefits they offer, sectional title units are a very popular choice among South Africa buyers, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. He adds that another drawcard to these types of properties is that they are often more affordable than freehold homes, making them the ideal purchase for first-time buyers.  
“There are several benefits to purchasing a sectional title unit such as the fact that they offer a more communal lifestyle and generally require less maintenance on the owner’s part. This type of property has proven to be a highly sought after since its introduction and often outsells other types of properties in many regions throughout the country.  Those who purchase sectional title homes can enjoy living in a secure, communal development, without having to pay premium prices,” says Goslett. 
He notes that another aspect that has attracted buyers to sectional title units is the fact that the costs of basic services such as water and electricity are shared. Goslett says that because the costs are shared, residents in sectional title homes will pay less for these services than their counterparts living in freehold homes. 
According to Goslett, another significant aspect that allures buyers to sectional title homes is the lower maintenance costs because of the fact that the owner only has to maintain their unit’s interior, while exterior maintenance is carried out by the complex’s body corporate. “Additionally, any levies paid by the owners should cover any upkeep and upgrades that the complex will require in the future. This will assist to ensure that the properties within the development appreciate in value over time,” says Goslett. 
There are many advantages that purchasing a sectional title unit affords the buyer, such as a secure yet reasonably-priced home purchasing option. However, challenges can arise and benefits dampened, if the homeowner is not fully aware of the rules and regulations stipulated by the body corporate before they purchase. “It is imperative that a buyer first obtain a copy of and carefully read through the rules that govern the scheme before they buy a sectional title home. This is because the body corporate rules specify what the current homeowners within the scheme deem as acceptable,” says Goslett.
He notes that the rules establish what homeowners are allowed to do or are prohibited from doing within the confines of the complex. They provide existing homeowners as well as new homeowners with guidelines and ground rules with regard to homeownership within the complex. 
“While rules stipulated by other homeowners may not seem too serious, the body corporate rules are actually registered with the deeds office to guarantee that they are enforceable. This is why it is vital that buyers fully understand all the rules that they are agreeing to by purchasing the property. If there is anything that the buyer is unclear of, they should contact the trustees to get a more detailed explanation,” advises Goslett. 
He notes that an issue that often comes up is around the body corporate rules regarding pet ownership. “It is generally best to get written permission from the trustees allowing your pets in the complex to avoid any backlash at a later stage,” advises Goslett.  
Another important aspect that sectional scheme buyers should pay attention to is the financial state of the scheme.  Goslett advises that potential homebuyers are within their rights to request to view the financial statements of the body corporate to ensure that the scheme is not running at a loss. “By looking at the financial statements a buyer can determine whether there is enough money to cover the operational costs of the complex, as well as any future expenses that could arise,” says Goslett. “Apart from the financial statements, the minutes of the last annual general meeting will also provide some insight regarding any proposed special levies or possible issues that the trustees have dealt with over the last year.”
Goslett advises that potential buyers also review the plans of the complex to ensure that all buildings on the premise have been approved by the required organisations and the municipality. He warns that the reason why this is important is because all current homeowners within the scheme will be liable for any cost incurred to correct the issue and re-register the scheme with the Deeds office. 
“There is little doubt that sectional title properties will remain a sought-after purchasing option among buyers both young and old. This is largely due to the numerous benefits that these types of homes offer. Those who opt to buy a sectional title unit, as with all property purchases, should take the time to do their research to ensure they are making an informed decision. Reading the body corporate rules of a complex is an ideal way for purchasers to know what they are buying before they sign an offer to purchase,” Goslett concludes.
Read more

How do you know you are ready to buy?Mon 06 Jun 2016

How do you know you are ready to buy?
Buying a home is a milestone and step towards owning an asset that could impact the purchaser’s financial situation for the rest of their lives. While it is an incredibly exciting time, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, it is important that the buyer only takes the step towards homeownership when they are completely ready to do so. This is because owning a property requires desire, sustainability and a long term financial commitment. 
“Apart from finding the perfect home and dealing with the often complex process of a property sales transaction, there are a few other aspects that first-time homebuyers need to contend with, such as learning to become a responsible homeowner,” says Goslett. “Browsing through properties online or visiting a show house or two doesn’t necessarily mean that a person is ready for what being a homeowner entails. There are numerous factors that need to be considered from both a financial perspective and from an emotional standpoint beforehand the buyer makes the decision as to whether purchasing a home is right for them at that time.”
Goslett provides potential home buyers with a few pointers to mull over before making their final decision:
Are you planning on staying in one place for some time?
Considering that purchasing a property often requires a deposit, bond costs, attorney fees, insurance premiums and maintenance costs, it rarely makes financial sense to purchase a home for a short period. Goslett says that it normally takes between five and seven years before a homeowner will see any kind of financial return on their property investment, so buying only makes sense if the buyer is planning to stay in the house for at least that period. 
“Property should ideally be seen as a long-term investment, so a buyer should consider their future plans and where they see themselves over the next five to possibly ten years. These plans will depend on the buyer’s family circumstances and their employment situation. If the buyer is ready and able to settle in one place for a reasonably lengthy time frame, they may be ready to purchase a property,” says Goslett. 
Are finances in order?
While there are buyers who are able to purchase a property in cash, most of the general population will require a loan from a financial institution to buy a home. According to Goslett, a potential buyer’s bond approval is highly dependent on their ability to show the necessary levels of affordability.  “Before applying for a bond, buyers need to focus on minimising their expenses to create as much expendable income as possible. It is also not advisable to take on any other big ticket debt, such as a new car repayment. This will have a negative impact on the buyer’s ability to obtain the finance,” says Goslett.
He adds that obtaining pre-approval through a bond originator such as BetterLife is a great way for prospective buyers to gauge how ready they are financially to own a property, as well as what they may need to do to get there. 
Is the saving in place?
It is impossible to separate homeowner readiness and saving. Apart from the fact that most homeowners will be required to put down a deposit of around 20% the purchase price of the property, there are the maintenance costs, a contingency fund and of course, moving expenses.
“Transitioning from a tenant to a homeowner means taking on the full responsibility for the property. If anything in the home requires repairs or maintenance, the buck stops with the owner. For this reason, it is a good idea to be financially prepared by having a contingency fund in place to be able to deal with any repairs as and when required,” says Goslett.
Is the timing right?
Timing is a vital element to homeowner readiness. The best case scenario would be for the buyer to be ready to buy, but also be able to wait if required. If a buyer is currently renting, they don’t want to be stuck with another six months on their lease and lose out on their right home, but they also don’t want rush with only a month to find a home. 
“Buying a home is a big decision - it is never good to rush into it without giving it the necessary consideration. That said, it is also not ideal to hold back too long and let an opportunity pass by because of not being prepared,” advises Goslett.
Be realistic
One sign that shows you are ready to own a home is understanding that it is not always going to be easy. In reality being a homeowner takes time, effort and of course money. “However,” says Goslett, “even though there are likely to be a few challenges that homeowners face along the way, the end result is a home that they can call their own,” he concludes.
Read more

Grow with UsTue 31 May 2016

Grow with Us

When you become a RE/MAX estate agent, you’re joining a family that’s been together for more than 43 years. Over the years, we’ve established ourselves as industry leaders in property sales to be regarded as one of the best agencies in the world.

Associate with the Best

When you become one of our real estate agents, your name immediately becomes synonymous with excellence, meaning you can easily earn more money and expand your skill set.

How do we help you do this? By offering you the opportunity to grow and learn through:

·         Exposure to excellence - We employ exemplary agents at all of our branches, so you can learn from them and their experience while you’re on the job. Many of our agents have taken advantage of the education opportunities provided by RE/MAX, so they really do have the edge when it comes to selling houses.

·         Global Learning Centre - By using this online portal to your advantage, you can study a range of topics to expand your real estate knowledge. Courses are frequently updated and are reliable sources of information that you can access anytime and from anywhere – all you need is an internet connection.

One of Us

Partnering with us as an estate agent means more than just education opportunities. We also provide our agents with over 4000 leads daily, so you don’t have to worry about being short on work. And with branches in more than 90 countries across the globe, there is employment potential on an international scale.  

Contact your nearest RE/MAX branch to find out more about becoming an estate agent.

Read more

Fostering Growth Tue 31 May 2016

Fostering Growth

There is a wealth of benefits to starting a RE/MAX franchise in South Africa. Aside from joining what’s more like a family than a business, you’re set up for astronomical growth while reaping the rewards of the established RE/MAX brand.   

Empowering You

We want you to take yourself and your franchise to new heights, and we will do all we can to help you make it a success. We believe in opening doors for our estate agents and franchise owners, all in the pursuit of helping you achieve your dreams.

Some of the ways RE/MAX inspires growth in our franchisees include:

  • Daily leads - We use a revolutionary lead generation system to provide your agents with high-quality sales opportunities. With more than 4000 leads coming your way every day, it’s hard not to turn them into profits.
  • Multi-platform marketing - We help spread the word of your business so you don’t have to. We advertise across multiple mediums, including television, radio and digital spaces, so our message reaches a huge audience. This means that, by default, your RE/MAX franchise is advertised without costing you a cent.

Join Our Family

When you partner with RE/MAX by starting a franchise in South Africa or by becoming an estate agent, we’ll take care of you. You’ll be joining the ranks of a company that’s worked for over 40 years to build and maintain a solid and positive reputation, ensuring your name becomes synonymous with success.

Contact your nearest RE/MAX branch today to find out more about starting your own franchise. 


Read more