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21 February 2013

Joburg property: check your valuation!
The Johannesburg property valuation roll is now open for public inspection and objections can be submitted between 20 February to 3 May 2013.The roll consists of 812 769 properties which have a total value of R912 billion and properties are valued at a market rate to ensure fairness, says the City.

Property owners can check their valuation by visiting the Joburg City's website or any of the inspection locations and must be sure to submit objections within the required time period.

Member of the Mayoral Committee for Finance, Geoffrey Makhubo, said the City would not entertain late objections as property owners would have been given 73 days to submit these.
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Flooding & building on common property
A Property24 reader asks

A reader has two questions relating to building on common property and flooding and drainage in their complex. 

Leigh Maingard, Managing Director of Diamond Property Management, a property management business based in Cape Town, advises:

Q 1. Building on common property

Please advise whether if an owner of a sectional title unit increases his or her property onto common property, they will be obliged to pay for the portion of the common property. If so how do you determine the value? 
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Alternative home building technologies
The year 2013 will mark the coming of age of alternative building technologies (ABTs) on the Southern African construction landscape – and the urgent need for housing and associated infrastructure delivery will be its main driver. This is the view of Brent Harris, a civil engineer and one of the pioneers and innovators behind the development of modern-day ABTs in South Africa as a cost, time and skills efficient alternative to conventional building materials and methods.

“All the fundamentals are in place for a watershed year for ABTs which, I believe, is set to become one of the growth industries of the decade,” says Harris.

Harris is also the founder and chief executive officer of Gauteng based Vela Building Solutions, Africa’s leading manufacturer and supplier of ABTs products and systems.
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A look at the financials of complexes
There is an increasing new threat rearing its head in residential property investment, specifically complex properties - the liquidity of the complexes financials. Complex ownership requires all owners to contribute to the running costs of the complex and common area costs as well as the municipal costs of electricity, water, sewerage and refuse removal.

The last five years have been difficult for consumers: the cost of living has gone up, more people are out of work, and the recent Credit Bureau Monitor points to nearly one in every two consumers having impaired credit.

Not surprising, levy collection has also deteriorated. There are an increasing number of complex owners who are simply not contributing towards their levy.
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Value in residential property in 2013
While there is a great deal of mixed sentiment in the property market at the moment, according to Aucor Property there are still opportunities for investors in 2013, if they know where to look.

“Listed property funds continue to yield record returns and the record low interest rate environment, which has seen the repo rate remain unchanged since November 2010, means that there is still a positive amount of activity in the residential property market,” says Bradley Stephens, director at Aucor Property.

Stephens says despite economists and some banks painting a picture of a somewhat difficult property market over the short to medium term, there are still a number of positive indicators being released.

For instance, year-on-year growth in middle segment house prices increased to 9.1 percent in January, up from a revised 7.4 percent in December 2012, according to Absa.
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The benefits of a home inspection
A large percentage of home buyers are new to the property market and novices when it comes to assessing the condition of their house. Therefore a mandatory home inspection by an independent, qualified professional could be beneficial, and a simple consumer protection measure. 

Such an inspection, not to be confused with the  evaluation or appraisal made by the representative of a bank to assess whether the property has sufficient value to secure the mortgage, would have many advantages, says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group. 

He says these include giving home buyers peace of mind that someone who knows what they are doing is checking the property from top to bottom, so that they are not going to end up having to make expensive repairs to correct hidden defects. 

This, he says, would be especially useful for first-time buyers on a tight budget. 
According to Everitt, a compulsory home inspection would also give home sellers the knowledge that they wouldn’t have to deal with any accusations of non-disclosure. 
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Right time to buy for first-timers
Although the real estate market has seen many changes over the recent years, one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that first-time buyers are an intricate part of the housing market globally.  This is according to Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, who points out that First National Bank’s property figures show the number of first-time buyers has increased and now accounts for nine out of 10 buyers in the affordable housing sector.

Goslett says because they are such an important part of the market, it is vital to know what they are looking for in a property. While affordability is a key factor for most, many are looking for homes close to their workplace and amenities, as well as to major transport routes. Some first-time buyers also want homes that are large enough for them to be able to expand their family at a later stage.

More first-time buyers are gaining confidence in property as an investment and are eager to get their foot on the first rung of the ladder, Goslett says, adding that sentiment seems to be improving and consumers are excited about the housing market again. He says many have realised that housing prices are going to increase and they understand how low the current interest rates are. "Homeownership over the long term is viewed as an excellent way to provide stability, build up equity and formulate a solid financial plan for the future."
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