Adding value to your kitchen when selling you property

Mar 12, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Kitchens are widely touted as a room of a house that can add value when it comes to selling your property. But not all kitchens are created equal. What can you do to yours to catch a potential buyer’s eye and persuade them to make a good offer?

As with any pre-sale renovation or spruce up, keep a tight rein on budget. Talk to your agent about what your asking price should be before and after a kitchen makeover. Then set your budget at a portion of that difference that you’re comfortable with. You don’t want any makeover plan to eat too far into that financial gain or there is no point at all in doing it. Your agent will also be able to give you a good idea of some quick changes to your kitchen that may help. You may find very little financial outlay can make a huge difference; avoiding anything that involves changes to plumbing and electrical wiring is another way to keep costs down.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Freshen up cabinetry, and walls with a coat of paint and new cupboard or drawer handles. Chat with paint retailers for advice on trending colors. As a rule, if you want to create the illusion of a bright, airy, spacious kitchen opt for light neutrals. You also want to keep the palette fairly neutral so potential buyers feel they can stamp their own personality on it. Don’t get too hung up on decorating to your own personal taste.
  • Decluttering and cleaning is another cost-effective way to spruce up a kitchen. Keep open shelves, cupboards, and pantries looking orderly and functional instead of crammed full of your own belongings. Make sure all surfaces are clean and unmarked. If benchtops are looking old and marked, consider replacing them if you can afford it. There are a huge range of different options available these days for benches, in a range of prices. You don’t have to choose the most expensive. A new, unmarked cheaper option will still be better than older, stained or chipped surfaces.
  • The same is true for flooring and wall tiles. If you can, replace or at least repair old, stained, worn flooring or cracked tiles, and make sure tile grouting is looking clean and fresh.
  • Look up. Don’t forget about ceilings and lighting. Kitchens should be well lit to be at their most functional – but good lighting can also make them seem bigger and brighter. Don’t forget to at least clean the ceilings, or preferably paint them.
  • Think about flow. Can the way you move around the kitchen be improved by shifting the dishwasher, fridge or oven? Do doors clash? Is the fridge in the wrong place? If there’s something about the way you use your kitchen that has always irritated you, it may well irritate buyers as well. If you can change it within your budget, it is worth doing.
  • Sinks are not as sexy as some kitchen essentials to replace but can make a big difference. A good size sink makes a big difference to kitchen functionality – particularly if you currently have an older kitchen which often have small sinks. Tapware should also be well-maintained and clean.
  • Replacing ovens should probably be a last resort, simply because of the cost. A cutting edge new oven in an old, tired kitchen will be far less likely to add value than an older oven in a sleek, tidy, light kitchen.
  • Before you start make sure you know exactly what you want to do to your kitchen and why, and stick to it. It’s very easy for a kitchen makeover to turn into a personal project – a chance for you to do add all the things you’ve ever wanted in a kitchen and suddenly you find your budget is blown. Thinking about what you’d like in a kitchen is a good place to start, but don’t fall into the trap of making it too personal to you. Thinking about big picture, general improvements such as space, storage, functionality and whether the design matches the rest of the home. Make your plan around achieving these as cost effectively as possible and stick to it.

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Topics: DIY, Selling your Home, Tips on selling your home, Home Renovations

A career with flexibility, autonomy and self dictated income

Mar 5, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Have you considered a career in real estate?

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Topics: Careers, Harcourts Academy, Real Estate Agents, Choose Harcourts, Career Change

Enjoy the darker side of your rooms

Feb 26, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

It's all too easy to associate dark colours with negative connotations and a general sense of doom, but don't be too hasty!

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Topics: Agent Life, Property Tips, DIY, Home Renovations, family home

Harcourts South Africa 2018 Budget Reaction

Feb 22, 2018 11:03:09 PM Share this:

Overall it was a far more balanced budget speech than initially expected, with a focus on rebuilding, which is in line with the newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa's messaging. However, Finance Minister Gigaba's announcement that there will be an increase in VAT from 14% to 15%, the first time VAT has been increased since 1993, will undoubtedly have a direct impact on the property market. VAT is payable on the transaction of a home purchase and in some cases included in the price of the home. Although one percent seems like a very slight increase, transactions like high value commercial properties or development investments might feel the increase far more than that of the middle to lower end of the market.

There is no doubt Government is experiencing shortfalls in their budget and lending might tighten up, therefore accumulation of funds has to originate from taxes. South Africans experiencing a price pinch with rising food costs, fuel costs and tax hikes might continue to be under financial pressure as more increases can be expected. This was noted in the speech as a 22c/litre increase in the general fuel levy, and a 30c/litre rise in the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy was announced. South Africans will also be paying 52 cents more per litre for fuel from April 4. The effect of these tax hikes impacts the man on the street in a direct manner, and this might have an effect on the rental market on the lower end.

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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, 2018 budget, Cyril Ramaphosa, economical news

Green' homes demand set to increase in 2018

Feb 22, 2018 6:37:49 PM Share this:

There has been a significant appreciation for sustainable living in South Africa over the past few months as a major global city faces serious water challenges. The support by the private sector and residents has shown the dedication we as people have to the sustainability of our communities and families. The dire situation in Cape Town, which now has all hands on deck to avoid 'Day Zero' has showcased the demand for homes that are geared toward environmental preservation.

The global shift toward building green economies will continue to be a hot topic in 2018 and years to come. As we as societies start embracing the need for change in other aspects of our lives the importance of ensuring our foundation, our homes, are aligned with these practices will become more frequent. We see the evolution of new developments, residential and commercial building as well as home renovations changing the landscape of these industries. One such example was last year's Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (NCIB) first disbursement from an innovative R120 million Sustainable Affordable Housing finance facility that was put in place through the collaborative efforts of Nedbank’s Affordable Housing Development Finance division, and South Africa’s Green Fund.

In the affordable and low-cost housing segments we've already seen a major push by government to incorporate solar installations to homes. This obviously also is an attempt to reduce demand from the electricity grid which we've known has experienced difficulty in recent years.

There has certainly been an increase in demand for 'green' homes by first-time buyers. Our understanding implies that our younger audience have a greater desire to live sustainable lives and that paired with this innate need is affordability.  In a country where consumers often experience a price pinch between increased rates, input costs and expenses versus income, saving on home expenses can relieve a lot of pressure.

For South African property owners, the experience of power outages, environmental threats and escalating electricity tariffs make green solutions such as solar power a practical consideration. Although greening a building – whether building new or renovating – can be expensive, the savings in future operational costs invariably make the initial investment worthwhile.

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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Enviromental Concerns, Green Buildings, Solar Power, economical news

The emotional side of the property market

Feb 19, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

The property market is often overshadowed by the investment intentions of sellers and buyers, forgetting the emotional aspect of purchasing a home for you and your family. The nostalgia many of us carry with us about our childhood home is often a major factor when buyers gravitate toward a suburb or particular home.

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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Tips for Agents, Property Markets

Zuma resignation will have a definite positive effect on the property market

Feb 16, 2018 5:50:22 PM Share this:

Former President Jacob Zuma's resignation yesterday evening propelled investor confidence back into positive territory. The Rand has already gained a lot of ground in the past few weeks and as it continues to strengthen it might relieve some of the price pressure the South African consumer has been experiencing.

There is no doubt that the political climate in South Africa and Government related activities have influenced our economy. Local investors as well as foreign investors, both buyers and sellers, have been gun shy in certain markets and at times apprehensive to invest, especially in the residential rental market.

Traditionally property defies a lot of the immediate reactions due to its long term nature, however the commercial and rental markets might react more sharply to these changes. There is also a good chance we'll see increased activity in flat markets and a renewed interest from buyers and sellers alike. When a stable and growing economy has the ability to set a tone that puts the activity in the market at ease opportunities are created from areas of the economy previously dampened by rhetoric and legislation amendments that threatened property ownership .

These shifts in Government have been received positively to a large extent by international markets, as we saw Emerging Market experts from Wall Street in the U.S. predict positive changes for South Africa. This will do wonders for our foreign investment market as perceptions and media opinions certainly influence the external view of local trading.

It is important to note though that there are still many political and fiscal challenges and by no means are we immediately saved by the former President's resignation. However, it is the optimism of a renewed commitment to growth and stability that South Africans so desperately need.

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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Property Markets, Jacob Zuma, Zuma Resignation

Economic stability facilitates growth

Feb 12, 2018 9:10:03 PM Share this:

The political climate in South Africa has been under the microscope in recent times as Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa took over the reigns as leader of the ruling party. The Rand immediately gained traction in the days following his appointment and has remained positive since.

There appears to be a shift in political messaging with the intention hopefully being to restore confidence in our markets for foreign and local investors.

It is essential that Government avoid volatile political decisions that affect our economy and influence public economic perception. Despite Harcourts recording an incredibly successful 2017, many sectors of the property  market experienced stagnation and a decline in activity

There are many factors that influence buyers and sellers willingness to engage in real estate transactions, however, to a large extent buyers and sellers gauge potential success on general reports and opinions of the market, especially in an emerging market.

Real estate is an investment, and for most it will be the single largest investment of our lives, so it is understandable that we consider all the external elements before committing. This ideology spills over into other forms of investment too, especially commercial real estate, which assists greatly in business growth and entrepreneurship. When the private sector remains a little apprehensive to invest in real estate - business growth and employment are directly affected.

It is with this in mind that Government needs to aim for stability over the short term. Ensuring our markets remain steady enough to avoid fluctuations that either put our consumers under pressure with rising costs or deter extensive capital investment.

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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Economy

Job creation and not increased taxes

Feb 5, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

The news that President Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, to trim expenses and increase revenue in order to find a solution to the R40 billion gap identified in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement is of major concern.

The statement released by the Presidency on Monday identifying the steps being taken to address economic problems after Standard & Poor lowered South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings by one notch each to ‘BB’ and ‘BB+’ on Friday, might put cash strapped consumers under even more pressure.

Reports explain that the split will equate to cuts in expenditure amounting to about R25 billion and "revenue-enhancing" measures of about R15 billion.

Despite the obvious concerns of less money being spent in crucial areas like RDP housing, social assistance and other key economic and social focuses, I don't believe South Africans can be squeezed for more taxes. We are in a price pinch as it is, with rising costs, increased taxes, heightened unemployment and economic instability. To further aggravate the situation by trying to recover the shortfall by extracting more taxes from citizens, Government is counteracting growth.

Instead, Government should be developing plans that combat economic stagnation. They should be tougher on corruption and mismanaged funds, so that the money that is available in the fiscal reaches its intended target.

An environment not conducive to job creation and economic growth is what is propelling our economic vulnerability. Businesses, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens should have access to funding models, advisory boards, mentors, technology etc. that boost commercial activity in the areas where we need it most. There should be a push to gain access to markets through programmes that aim to transfer skills and development.

Hasty plans with concrete solutions are desperately needed to penetrate problem areas, and a fresh approach to accessing funds needs to occur instead of looking to citizens for money they don't have.

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Topics: economic problems, Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, key economic and social focuses

What does 2018 hold for the property market?

Jan 29, 2018 11:54:48 PM Share this:

Many of us closed off the year anxiously monitoring the ruling party's executive committee election. For the large part it's important for us to show an active interest in the direction our country is moving in, in the other sense we desire a Government that is transparent and has the best interests of its people at heart. The economy certainly experienced quite a number of dramatic shifts during 2017 and some markets were effected, be it positively or negatively. Harcourts for one experienced defiant growth, showing that many South Africans remain active in an uncertain economy.

What does 2018 hold? It is always difficult making predictions, as there are an enormous amount of factors to take into consideration. With both external and internal elements influencing the markets, forecasting cycles is purely based on interpretation of data.

Taking the trends we're already moving toward into consideration - digital and technological evolution is a major focus point of the property market. We've seen the portals incorporate virtual reality, video functionality and drone capabilities to ensure more detailed data for clients, at Harcourts we're equally dedicated to the advancement of more accurate visual representation of homes. We've also monitored how digital marketing has majorly influenced client and agent interaction, and this is certainly going to intensify during this year. Another technological point being incorporated into the property market internationally and locally is digital funding models - like cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding real estate. This will surely be hot topics throughout the year.

Another point to take note of are the knock on affects of the political climate in South Africa. Often the negative reactions to short term economic changes are only felt the following year. On this point I am very hopeful that there will be more stability in the political messaging from Government, as well as less major ministerial suprises, however this is difficult to predict. Consumers might be in a price pinch for a little while longer, but the market already seems to be gaining momentum. Property outweighs a lot of the immediate reactions due to its long term nature, however the commercial and rental markets might react more sharply to any more surprises.

An element of change in markets across the board which Harcourts is very excited by and spent a lot of time developing and improving is the corporate shift of focus back to client service. The internet has spun the wheel of change into the favour of the client, where it should be, and the prominence of consumer ratings platforms has forced corporate entities to be held accountable for their actions. It is shift that has had to happen. When services are dedicated to impeccable client experiences the bar gets raised and the dynamic in the relationship is strengthened. This is where Harcourts lives.

These are only a few interests I touched on, and there are many other market elements going to progress throughout the year. All in all, we're focused on continuing our incredible growth cycle and maintaining our rapid evolution and client focus.

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Topics: Property Markets