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12 August 2010

Tantalising black décor
The dark look popularised by the likes of the Twilight series has brought black hues to the décor forefront once again. Previously popularized by the Gothic movement in the '80s, black is once again taking a very dominant role in the latest interior design trends, in all spaces from bathrooms, living areas, kitchens, bedrooms and even outdoor spaces.

Scientifically speaking, the colour black is actually not a colour at all. Black absorbs all the colours of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them. So, in actual fact black can be defined as the absence of colour or a non-colour. However with regards to design, black is regarded as a colour, a striking and bold colour. Be it a colour or not there is no mistaking the kind of dramatic and stylish impact black can have on interior spaces and its décor.
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Create a work space at home
In the past, when many houses were larger than those built today, the fortunate occupants had space to set aside as a study or a sewing room. Nowadays, with space at a premium, few people can spare a whole room in this way; however, it is possible to find an unused corner in a large living room, an uneven shaped space in a hall, or even part of a bedroom that can be turned into a work area with comparative ease, given some thought and ingenuity.

The essential aim is to establish a separate area, where all your equipment can be stored and used without having to clear it away when the area is wanted for some other purpose. After all, there is nothing more irritating than having to move dozens of pieces of paper and reference books from the dining room table just because it is time for dinner.
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Rental demand high in new growth nodes
For developers and investors prepared to look beyond the big cities and popular tourist spots, there are some excellent opportunities available in residential rental property.

That's the word from the RealNet property group, whose franchisees report strong demand for rental property in many smaller centres, especially where there is new mining activity or infrastructure development going on.

In Bronkhorstspruit, for example, rentals have risen on the back of strong demand from contract workers at Eskom's new Kusile power station - and could go up even more if plans for another power station in the area are confirmed.
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Sanlam, Absa conclude home loans deal
Financial services groups Sanlam (SLM) and Absa (ASA) on Wednesday announced the conclusion of a transaction in terms of which Absa will acquire a 100% shareholding in Sanlam Home Loans.

Sanlam Home Loans was initially established as a joint venture between Sanlam Life and Absa with each partner having a 50% shareholding.

Absa will become the sole owner of Sanlam Home Loans. The name of Sanlam Home Loans will be gradually phased out.

Anton Gildenhuys, Chief Executive: Sanlam Personal Finance Actuarial, said this decision by Sanlam was prompted by the global financial crisis in 2008 and 2009, which resulted in funding becoming more expensive and more difficult to attract.
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R1bn guarantee fund 'only a theory'
The R1bn guarantee fund for affordable homes which was announced by President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation address earlier this year, "only exists in theory".

This despite the growing shortage of affordable homes as municipalities struggle to meet demand.

So says Cas Coovadia, CE of the Banking Association of South Africa (Basa).

He yesterday told MP's of the Standing Committee on Finances that meetings have not been held with Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale about the fund.
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Coastal properties: A market overview
Everybody wants a huisie by die see that they can tootle off to in December or even over long weekends and regard as an investment that will save and make them money in the long-run.

But with the after-effects of the recession still lingering and household debt burdens stubbornly high, this prospect seems like a distant hope to most middle class folk and even to a lot of high-income earners.

But is it really? And how viable is a coastal property from an investment point of view?

Property24 investigated some of the hotspots along the coast of SA to find out exactly what these properties cost, how the property markets in the areas are faring, if they really are out of reach and what market dynamics are at play in these areas.
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Energy efficiency: Fluorescent magic
It has been a bitterly cold winter.

The temperatures have regularly been on the wrong side of freezing, and the sun has generally set by the time I leave the office. The result is that when I get home in the evenings, the first thing I do is switch on every light and heater available, switch on the electric blanket, and start cooking a nice warm meal on the stove.

With all these appliances and lights burning, it got me thinking about the importance of using energy efficient appliances and lighting. I hope to unpack the latter in this article.
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Industrial investors shouldn't panic
A look at industrial vacancy trends shows that there is, as yet, no need for industrial property investors to panic and make friends with their bankers, according to Bellville-based Rode & Associates.

Vacancies have been showing a strong northward trend over the past few quarters - on the back of severe weaknesses in the industrial property market's two support pillars, namely retail sales and manufacturing activity. Nevertheless, current vacancy levels are still more or less on a par with their 19-year averages.
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