Insurance Worth the Cost with the right Company

Jan 1, 2018 8:00:00 AM Share this:

A home represents year of work to build up precious possessions and investment in the future. It makes sense to take some precautions in the event of losing such valuable assets. Home and contents insurance can buy peace of mind. Fire, earthquake and flood are the big events which can take everything from us, but there are smaller events which insurance can also cover – burglary, broken windows, accidental kitchen, bathroom and laundry overflows. Some insurance policies also cover your outdoor furniture, the loss of valuable jewellery while out, or golf clubs taken from a car. There is plenty of choice amongst insurance companies and affordable insurance options to suit any requirement.

When deciding what insurance company to buy from, it pays to first look at its credit rating. Ask the representative what their company’s rating is and compare it with other companies. This is an important factor to consider because the rating will tell you whether the company is likely to be able to pay out readily if you have a claim.

The second step is to look at the representation the company has. Does the company have representatives in your residential area, or close to it, so that you can have easy access if you want to make a claim? Is it possible to make a claim with the company over the phone or internet?

Price is a major factor when buying any product and insurance is no different. The saying ‘you get what you pay for’ applies. Check the policies you are offered given the coverage you require. Sometimes, a cheap product offers less coverage, or the price could reflect a lack of access to representation or the company’s credit rating. When selecting cover, ensure you fully understand all the policy’s exclusions.

Affordability is also important. Often, insurance companies will offer flexible payment options such as monthly or quarterly payments. Another way to reduce premiums is to ask if the company gives a ‘multiple’ discount if you put all your insurance, including motor vehicle and/or business insurance, with the one company.

At this time of the year, it is likely that you have acquired new possessions, such as jewellery and other Christmas presents. Make sure you have updated your existing policy to include these new items. Often these items will only be covered up to a certain amount unless they are individually recorded. Make it a habit to get regular valuations with a photo attached to file away with your policy.

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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Add Value To Your Property, Insurance

Make your Garden Good Enough to Eat

Oct 23, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:

These days few people have the time or space for a separate vegetable garden or orchard, yet there is no reason why you can’t incorporate food-bearing plants into your garden, creating an easy, edible landscape.

There are hundreds of different plants that can fulfil any landscape need, and at the same time add something that can be eaten. You can savour luscious berries and sun-ripened tomatoes as well as exotic vegetables with many species nowadays just as abundant in attractive pots as in the garden.

Some of the easiest and most valued home-grown edibles include flavoursome herbs. Start with one of two of your favourites, then build up your collection as they need very little space and most can be found in very hardy varieties. Fresh herbs add a fantastic zing to meals and are easy to grow year-round.

Most modern fruit and vegetable species offer ornamental value. Their stalks, leaves, blossoms and fruit can work well in many situations, either set apart or mixed amongst borders and beds, or on a deck if you live in a central city apartment with no garden. Some act dramatically alongside their neighbours; others as understudies to more flamboyant characters in the garden.

Edible planting is not only practical and functional but can add to the colour, texture and form to your landscape design. Besides supplying you with fresh produce at a reasonable cost, it makes your property more attractive and inviting.

There are attractive edibles to suit all landscape levels, starting with tall trees, then smaller trees, followed by a shrub layer, and finally the low shrubs and ground cover.

Some trees with edible fruits or nuts, such as walnut or mulberry, will provide welcome shade. Smaller trees and larger shrubs act well as single specimen or as focal points.

You could substitute roses with fruit bushes such as blueberry, raspberry, currants and gooseberries in attractive colour-coordinated pots. As an alternative to wisteria, jasmine or clematis, you can train grapes to clamber along walls or fences, or over a pergola. Strawberries can be planted at ground level or as a substitute for annuals producing fragrant delights year after year.

Edible planting should reflect the needs of the house and its residents. For example, a tree that drops fruit would be inappropriate planted near a parking space or front entrance. One of the great things about vegetables and herbs is that you can also experiment all year round with a range of varieties until you find your favourites. Exotic vegetables are great to have a go at growing, and it can become a well-enjoyed hobby for the whole family at very little cost.

For their immediate bounty as well as long term enjoyment of form and beauty, it’s well worth growing edibles in your garden or whatever corner of outdoors you can find.

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Topics: Agent Life, Gardening, Add Value To Your Property, Garden

Luxury kitchen design trends this year

Oct 16, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:

This year is all about going one step further with the trends we’ve grown to love in our kitchens in the recent past. As we find new ways to use popular materials, and designers start to look at kitchens in a whole new way when it comes to both form and function.

Here are some of the stand-out trends we’re starting to see in our luxury listings.

Neutral tones and colour palettes

One design trend that has been gaining popularity in high-end apartment kitchens this year is a pared-back colour palette.

Keeping the cabinetry, benchtops and appliances in light, neutral shades allows the rest of your home to shine, and helps to integrate your kitchen into any number of different types of styled spaces, which also ensures longevity.

Bold colours splashed onto cabinetry, or unusual tapware can look amazing if done well, but it’s also generally part of a fleeting design trend that could date quickly, and will be harder to integrate with the existing design aesthetic in adjoining rooms such as dining and living spaces.

Neutral doesn’t mean bland either, you can add statement pieces with lighting, unusual materials in your benchtops or splashbacks and by making use of the existing stand-out features in your space like exposed brick, beams or well-placed windows.

Concrete features and benchtops

Concrete benchtops look amazing, and gained popularity last year. This year we’re seeing the trend migrate to other parts of the kitchen, like splashbacks, flooring, tables and even in lighting.

Concrete is surprisingly versatile, being able to be set in a range of sizes, shapes, colours and even finishes. It’s a fully customisable building material.

Raw materials

Raw materials are having a real moment throughout interiors this year, but this back to basics trend looks particularly effective in the kitchen.  

Think, stone, marble or sanded, wooden benchtops, exposed wooden beams and quartz splashbacks.

Feature lighting

If sticking to a fairly neutral theme in the kitchen one way to bring personality and interest into the space is through statement, feature lighting. From brass finishes, to exposed bulbs, ultra-modern fittings, to industrial replicas, there are a plethora of ways to use statement lighting in a captivating way.

Light fittings are also easy to update and switch out, giving you the creative freedom to play around with bolder choices of colour and style.

Clean aesthetic and minimalist/integrated appliances

More and more we’re seeing designers turn to clever ways of easily disguising the areas of the kitchen prone to clutter and mess, but this year we’ll this trend taken even further with common appliances and utility spaces integrated right into the cabinetry.

Think workspaces which can be rolled away or closed off from view when not in use, or fridges and microwaves which are integrated into the main cabinetry without an exposed door.

Extra touches include built-in wine racks which can be accessed easily and then slid away or walk-in and butler’s pantries discreetly hidden behind roller doors. This trend also allows you to be generous with space in these areas without dominating the kitchen visually.

Think about the existing style and period of your home when considering some of these trends for your kitchen. However, the beauty of these particular trends, is that they’re not really ‘trends’ at all, but design principles and materials that have all the makings of looks that will stand the test of time.

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Topics: Add Value To Your Property, luxury features, Home Trends

Mordernize your bathroom

Aug 28, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:
Bathrooms are one of the rooms in your home that can add value for buyers. The team at Resene have some great ideas for bring out the best in your bathroom.

While it’s often one of the smallest rooms in your home, that doesn’t mean bathrooms need to be bland and boring.  Use the right colours together, add the right materials and that poky little bathroom space can easily become an oasis of calm.

Look to nature
Nature has always had a strong influence on choices and never more so than now.  Natural, botanical schemes are trending throughout the home right now, including bathrooms.

“Think crisp whites, creams, forest greens and natural, organic materials,” says Resene colour consultant Rebecca Long. “Earthy greens such as Resene Paddock and Resene Rivergum would look very sophisticated in an earthy bathroom. For a daring look, try a navy such as Resene Coast.”

Open up the space with glass
Back-painted glass splashbacks have become an extremely popular kitchen feature in recent years, and now they’re starting to make an appearance in bathrooms as well, particularly in soft blues and greens.  Try restful pastels such as Resene Half Escape or Resene Breathless teamed with crisp white trims for an instantly soothing palette. This pairs well with the chalky pale mineral blue and green tiles that are a popular pick for their soothing properties.

Embrace technology
Traditionally technology isn’t something that has been associated with bathrooms, but built-in televisions and speakers are the perfect accompaniment for long luxurious soaks in the bath.  New, mirrored flat TV technology can be installed anywhere – on the wall, on the ceiling, behind artwork, or embedded in a bathroom mirror. You need a waterproof version, of course, where the electronic compartments are completely sealed off from any moisture.

Keep it simple
The move towards minimalism and simplicity is becoming more popular and brings with it sophisticated concrete finishes. Walk-in showers are popular.

Banish the clutter by allowing for plenty of storage.  Clean vanity tops and surfaces will make your bathroom seem more spacious.

Add colour
“Paint is such an affordable way to update your space,” says Rebecca Lord, Resene Colour Expert.  You only need a few litres to completely transform the space.

Watery blues and greens are always popular choices for a bathroom as they feel clean and fresh and help to make a small space feel larger.  Recent trends have seen more soft greys and blue greys, such as Resene Silver Chalice and Resene Duck Egg Blue, coming into the bathroom space also teamed with off white.

If you’re stuck with existing tiles that limit your options for decorating but you can’t afford to replace them, consider painting over them.  Many tiles have a glossy surface so use Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer first to give the topcoats something to grip on to.

“While a well-ventilated bathroom has a lower risk of damage, it's still important to use the correct paint,” says Rebecca. “I recommend Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom, which is a waterborne enamel for a hard wearing and washable finish. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Kitchen & Bathroom also has a mould inhibitor, which reduces the risk of mould growth

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Topics: DIY, House of Inspiration, Add Value To Your Property

Can a veggie garden add value to your home?

Aug 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM Share this:

The green revolution has become widely popular, and for good reason, with retail outlets offering organically grown food, businesses installing solar panels for residential purposes and a major surge to reduce wastage by on natural resources, it will continue to become a part of our everyday lives.

This has influenced many of us to examine our own carbon footprint. Especially from a food perspective and its role in this cycle. The knock on effects of this has caused a trend whereby families produce their own food, therefore investing in fresh produce gardens.

But can this addition add value to your home and increase demand when selling?

An aesthetically appealing garden undoubtedly adds value to your home. In the UK it is estimated that a well maintained garden can add as much as 20% to your property’s value. Taking this into consideration the added benefit of producing highly nutritious food in a garden that looks appealing to the eye will definitely add a sparkle to many buyers.

As consumers continue to educate themselves on the benefits of this lifestyle the demand for these features will continue to rise. We’ve already noticed a trend by millennial buyers for homes with improved energy efficient systems and grey water installations.

This being said, a few guidelines that might be taken into consideration so your fresh produce garden is more appealing.

  • Installing a grey water system to replenish your garden is fantastic way to ensure responsible use of water and the sustainability of the garden.
  • Aesthetic appeal has a major influence. A neat well maintained, variant identified garden has higher demand.
  • Plant varieties that will most likely form part of a family’s regular eating diet.
  • Cordoning off the area widens the scope of the buyer, as they might have children or animals that will damage the garden.

As with most upgrades to your property ensure you are able to calculate the return on investment accurately. If you’re going to spend a large amount of money expecting an unrealistic value add, you might be left disappointed.

Statement by
Richard Gray

Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

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Topics: Add Value To Your Property, buying and selling

When not to renovate your property

Nov 15, 2016 10:44:36 PM Share this:

When not to renovate
If your property needs repair or you’re considering a few renovation projects to get it ready for sale, there are a few things you need to consider first.

Although well-planned, cost-effective renovations can add value to a home, there is always the risk of over-capitalising. That’s why it pays to consider the types of renovations that add value and appeal to potential buyers. So, when you’re looking to sell, when shouldn’t you renovate?

Remember, renovating for your own personal use and renovating to attract a wide range of potential buyers are two different things. It all comes down to your return on investment or ROI. Basically, you’ll want to ensure the amount you invest in the renovation is less than the value you’re adding to the property, and the sale price you’re likely to achieve.

Here we explore some of the situations where we wouldn’t recommend renovating if you’re looking to maximise your sale price.

Check your margins
If your property isn’t in desperate need of repair and you’re confident you have a decent amount of equity existing in your property, renovations may not be necessary. Especially if after crunching the numbers, you’re not confident you would be increasing the sale price by that much, and remember a return on investment can never be guaranteed.

A general rule of thumb when it comes to renovating a property for profit, is to spend no more than 10% of the property’s value on the alterations. So, the first step would be to ensure you have an up-to-date valuation of your property, undertaken by a professional.

The next step would be to work out a budget, and ensure you add a buffer in case of unforeseen additional expenses. Using the 10% rule, this means a home valued at R500,000 would have a total renovation budget of R50,000. Any more than this, and you risk

Do you need a quick sale?
Most renovations take time, to plan and budget for as well as to be completed. So, if you’re looking to sell soon, renovations may not be possible. Remember too, that renovations often go over budget and can take longer than anticipated so factor all these considerations into your decision.

Who are you renovating for?
Some renovations appeal to most buyers, such as a kitchen or bathroom upgrade, but others are personal to you and your needs, taste and style and therefore won’t appeal to the largest number of potential buyers.

This can include adding extensions such as granny flats, converting bedrooms into specific-purpose rooms like a media room or library, and separating rooms by adding additional internal walls.

Who are you selling to?
This is where research is key. What is the demographic of your property’s neighbourhood? Mostly singles and couples? Mostly retirees or mostly families? Finding out who the neighbourhood is likely to attract will help you determine suitable renovations and not so suitable ones.

For instance, if your local market is likely to attract families, think carefully before adding stylish but potentially hazardous staircases, or ornate glass features. Or if your potential buyer is most likely an investor, keep renovations to a minimum as they will almost certainly have their own plans and your changes may add no value to them at all.

Ask if you’re unsure
When planning a renovation, don’t shy away from asking your local real estate sales consultant their opinion on the condition of the property, the type of buyer the home is likely to attract, what similar homes in similar condition are selling for and any renovations they would recommend. You may be surprised, if your home isn’t in need of massive renovations your sales consultant will tell you and you may save yourself a lot of hassle, time and money.


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Topics: Add Value To Your Property, Selling your Home, Renovations