5 reasons why downsizing is on trend

Sep 9, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

The international trend of purchasing smaller homes continues unabated and downsizing isn’t necessarily only a symptom of tough economic times. Many well-heeled homeowners are choosing to downsize to smaller properties that are easier to manage. In South Africa, this trend has been confirmed by the latest FNB Estate Agents Survey. As sellers, the choice to downsize rather than upscale is mainly due to these five factors:

1. Location
With the price of fuel and traffic congestion on the increase, people are choosing to downscale the size of their homes to upsize their lifestyle. “Many people are opting to rather purchase a smaller home or an apartment closer to the city instead of a larger home in the suburbs so they can spend less time in traffic, spend less on fuel and spend more time with friends and family. It’s definitely a lifestyle choice that is driving sales,” says Glenda Luitingh, Branch Manager of Jawitz Properties Cape Town CBD & Atlantic Seaboard.

Read more: 10 reasons to downsize your home

2. Financial
The most recent data reflects a decline in household wealth since last year. With pressures on disposable income, buyers are more interested in smaller, easier to maintain properties. The cost of general maintenance and the upkeep of gardens and pools has meant a shift away from larger homes to those that are easier to maintain.

3. Retirement
As our population continues to age, many homeowners are looking to downscale from larger family homes to easy-to-manage, more compact properties. “Generally, once couples retire, they’ve been empty-nesters for some time and are looking to clear out their homes and live an easier, simpler life,” says Luitingh. A popular property choice for retirees is purchasing within a secure lifestyle estate, where smaller homes don’t mean a smaller life. Lifestyle estates oftentimes offer the necessary healthcare and support needed by older residents but also offer a wide variety of lifestyle and sports amenities, activities and wellness facilities.

Read more: Choosing the right retirement home

4. Security
Security remains one of the main factors for people choosing to downscale. Larger properties need fencing, beams, alarms and cameras to maintain a sense of security which is costly to install and maintain. Instead, buyers are more interested in smaller homes within a security estate or apartment complex that offers all the security as part of the purchasing price. Lock-up-and-go homes have and will continue to gain in popularity.

5. Family Dynamics
As family dynamics shift according to natural and unexpected lifecycles, so the need for upscaling and downsizing is impacted. Many family events that occur, such as divorce, death, debt or becoming empty nesters, make the decision to downscale common sense. “As with any situation, you need to adapt your living environment to the family’s current lifestyle needs,” says Luitingh.

See more: Small homes are the next big thing

The trend towards downscaling and downsizing property is also echoing a larger, more philosophical need for us to simplify our lives. More practically though, Luitingh concludes, “The high cost of living and the need for security will see the trend of downsizing and empty nesting continue”.


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Topics: Advice, downsizing your home, Harcourts Real Estate

How to find the perfect roommate

Sep 2, 2019 10:38:00 PM Share this:
Renting a property can be an expensive business, particularly if you’re single. One of the best way to offset some of the costs is to find a roommate (or two). On paper it sounds great - you’ll have someone to help pay the bills, you’ll have company and the idea of having like-minded people sharing your living space is often exciting. Unfortunately there are downsides too, and there are important questions that need to be asked before you allow a relative stranger to move into your home.


All potential roommates should be thoroughly vetted before they are allowed to lug their suitcases across the threshold. Questions that need to be answered include:

What do you do for a living, and how secure is your employment? Evicting a roommate is awkward and often painful. Try to ascertain that the person can not only afford their share of the rent, but will also be able to consistently contribute towards the usual monthly expenses.

Are you willing to pay a deposit? This is an important consideration as you will need to have cash in hand to repair any damages which may become apparent when the roommate leaves.

How fastidious are you? There’s nothing worse than living with a slob and there is going to be conflict if you find yourself constantly cleaning up after your roommate. Honesty is key in these situations and it’s a good idea to bring up any personal bugbears at the initial interview. If you start frothing at the mouth when dirty dishes are left in the sink, say something. Likewise, if a dirty bathroom makes you twitch, mention it. This will help both you and the prospective roommate determine whether you are suited before the move takes place and irritation sets in.

Do you smoke? There’s nothing more irritating for a non-smoker than having someone smoking in their home. Make it clear from start if there’s a strict no smoking policy, and make sure you explain clearly that this extends not only to the housemate, but also to their visitors.

How much do you drink? Most youngsters drink to a certain degree, but some go totally overboard and this can cause problems, particularly if friends with similar habits start staying over regularly.

How often do you like to throw parties? Having the odd party is fun, but if you find yourself stepping over heaps of drunken bodies or your sleep is being disturbed by noisy revellers every weekend, it may be time to look for a new roommate.

Are you still on friendly terms with your previous roommates? Be wary of those who have tale after tale to tell of bad roommates. The problem may lie with them, and not with the prior housemates.

Do you have pets? This can be a deal breaker, particularly if the roommate doesn’t take proper care of the animal or expects you to clean up after the pet.

Are you in a relationship and if so, how often would your boyfriend/girlfriend want to stay over? Again, this can be hugely problematic if you find yourself shouldering the living costs for the object of your roommate’s affection.

How long would you like to stay? If you’ve signed a year’s lease for a property, you’ll probably want a long-term roommate. Make it perfectly clear if you are looking for someone who is in it for the long haul as opposed to someone who is looking for a temporary house or flat share.

What are you looking for in a roommate? While you need to get along with the person you are sharing a home with, this doesn’t mean you have to be best friends. However, you do have to share similar ideas as to what makes the ideal roommate. If you’re a clean freak, try and find someone who shares this trait. Likewise, if you’re a party animal, find someone who also enjoys letting their hair down.

Start off as you mean to go on. Have firm rules in place and address any issues as they arise. Remember there are bound to be arguments when people are living cheek by jowl, but these don’t have to escalate in to a full-scale war. Talk about your concerns and grievances and if necessary ask the person to leave if you can’t agree on how best to resolve the problems.


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Topics: Renting, Advice, Harcourts Real Estate

6 golden rules for buying South African property revealed

Aug 26, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:
There are some rules that every property buyer should follow in order to get the most out of their property purchase.


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Topics: Advice, Tips for buying, Harcourts Real Estate

Tenant vs landlord - who fixes what?

Aug 19, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

One of the more contentious issues between a landlord and the tenant is almost always the general state of repair and ongoing maintenance and repair issues that crop up within a tenancy. Often, confusion reigns regarding who may be liable for the cost of various elements that can occur within a residential rental. Sadly, more often than not, landlords unfairly assume much liability is the responsibility of the tenant, when it is in actual fact their responsibility as the property owner, says Grant Rea, Certified Residential Rental Specialist with RE/MAX Living.


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Topics: Landlords, Tenants, Harcourts Real Estate, Tips for Homeowners

5 things first-time home buyers should know

Aug 12, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Buying your own home can be a daunting prospect. Many of us have spent our lives renting, so when we decide to take the step up to owning property we often aren’t quite as prepared as we should be.

With this in mind, we sat down with Meyer de Waal, owner of My Bond Fitness and a property conveyancing attorney and also an exhibitor at the upcoming Property Buyer Show in April, to figure out exactly what a first time home buyer should know before signing on the dotted line.


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Topics: Advice, first home buyer, Tips for buying, Harcourts Real Estate

Can’t get a home loan? You can Rent2buy

Aug 5, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

When selling your property, one of the biggest hurdles is to find a buyer with an approved home loan. The same applies for a buyer - finding a bank that is willing to provide a mortgage loan.

De Waal says property buyers in Johannesburg and Cape Town can now search for any home priced from R400 000 to R1.8 million in any one of the two cities, contact Rent2buy, and move into their soon-to-be home within six to eight weeks.

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Topics: Buyers and Sellers, Harcourts Real Estate, Rent to Buy

Is WhatsApp changing real estate?

Jul 31, 2019 9:32:11 PM Share this:

As new technologies and improved systems are perpetually introduced into our modern business environments, innovations in client communication is undoubtedly at the forefront of this rapid evolution. The real estate industry has experienced a flurry of new concepts and advancements in the past year especially with regards to agents having to incorporate real time communication tools into their daily practices.


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Topics: Technology, Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Real Estate

2019 is the year for first time home buyers

Jul 30, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

2018 was a challenging year for the South African property market, but so far 2019 is looking more positive.

Rhys Dyer, CEO of ooba, says: "Property market activity and resultant price growth continue to be hampered by political uncertainty and economic constraints. Uncertainty around impending land reforms as well as an increase in the prime lending rate to 10.25% in November probably contributed to the slowing property growth in the last quarter of 2018."


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Real Estate Agents, Ooba, First time homeowner

Interest rate cut: The break SA consumers need

Jul 22, 2019 5:34:14 PM Share this:

Harcourts South Africa welcomes the announcement by the South African Reserve Bank that interest rates will be cut by 25 basis points. This is the first easing in policy in over a year and in a time when many South Africans are feeling the pressure this comes as welcomed relief. Especially considering that many economists are predicting another cut later in the year.


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Interest Rates, South African Markets

Single women are now the biggest group of property buyers in South Africa – larger than couples and single men

Jul 22, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:
  • Almost 72,000 single women bought residential properties in South Africa last year, according to the research group Lightstone.

  • This makes them the largest single group of property buyers in South Africa - bigger than married couples or single men.

  • However, single women are still buying cheaper homes compared to the other groups.

  • Women now also represent 48% of new car sales, Lightstone reports.


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Topics: Real Estate Agents, South African Markets, Harcourts Real Estate, Property Statistics in South Africa