News - ALL

3 mistakes empty nesters make when downsizing their home

Jun 3, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Real estate professionals will tell you that the average family will move once every five to ten years. This is usually to accommodate a family’s changing needs as their family grows. Often one of the last moves a family makes is from their large family home with multiple bedrooms down to a two- or one-bedroom home that houses the last two that remain: the parents. 

It can be difficult for buyers to adjust their thinking when viewing new homes and empty nesters often make the mistake of buying 'too small' or 'too big', or feeling they should by near their children.

“Relocating after your last child leaves the nest can be an emotional experience – especially if you are tightly-knit family,” says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa Goslett. “It can be difficult for buyers to adjust their thinking when viewing new homes, as they now need to consider only their own wants and needs and not those of their children.”

According to Goslett, below are the three mistakes empty nesters most often make when downsizing after their children move out of home:
1. The difference between too large, too small and just right 

Many empty nesters make the mistake of purchasing a new home that is either too small or too large to suit their new family dynamic.

“Purchasing a property that is too small will make it feel as though you are living on top of each other, while purchasing a property that is too large will only emphasise the fact that your children are no longer around to fill the vacant rooms,” says Goslett.  

2. Hitting the location sweet spot

Goslett says empty nesters tend towards one of two extremes: either purchasing property as nearby to their children’s homes as possible, or as far away as possible so that they can start afresh and live out the lives they’ve always hoped to live.

While it is better not to buy a home purely to be close to your children (keeping in mind that they can relocate at any point in time), it might also be difficult to move too far away if you are a close family who are used to getting together regularly, he says.

Find retirement property for sale around South Africa 

“Buyers should purchase based predominantly on where they would like to live out their years together, perhaps only secondarily factoring in where their children stay.” 

3. Moving before you’re ready

Empty nesters should also avoid rushing the process of relocating, Goslett cautions, as it can be difficult to deal with the loss both of your family and the home in which they grew up.

“What’s more, there is always the possibility that one of your children may need to move back in with you after having attempted living on their own and consequently realising that they aren’t quite as ready to leave the comfort of your home as they initially thought they were.”

Work with a find a 'compassionate' agent

Lastly, Goslett advises that empty nesters find a compassionate and experienced real estate professional when selling their family home.

“Homeowners are often far too subjectively attached to these sorts of properties to do a good job of selling them. There might be things that need to be updated or remodelled in order to make the house more sellable. Homeowners need to trust their agent enough to make these calls on their behalf,” he says.


Read more

Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Tips for Agents, downsizing your home

Tax benefits of investing in buy-to-let property

May 27, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

There is an age-old saying that in life there are two things you can’t escape -death and taxes. While scientific development hasn’t yet found the secret to living forever, there are ways of investing your money so that your tax returns work in your favour.

Proper accounting records need to be kept in order to provide SARS with supporting documents for the deductions claimed. Furthermore, the rental income should be added to any other taxable income the owner may have received.

While taxes can’t be escaped entirely, the money owed to the South African Revenue Service (SARS) can be decreased through wise investment and managed expenditure. Buying a property to rent out is the type of investment that can generate income, grow capital and potentially decrease your dues paid to SARS, says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

The benefit of owning an investment property, whether it be in an individual capacity, as a company or in a trust, is that all expenses are deductible from the rental income before tax is calculated. These costs typically include property management fees, municipal rates, levies charged by bodies corporate, repairs and maintenance, insurance premiums and municipal service costs that are paid by the property owner.

Proper accounting records therefore need to be kept in order to provide SARS with supporting documents for the deductions claimed, if you're required to do so. Furthermore, the rental income should be added to any other taxable income the owner may have received. Any amount paid to you in addition to the monthly rental is also subject to income tax. A refundable deposit paid by a tenant is not taxable, provided it is kept separately in a trust account and is not used by you. If it is forfeited by the tenant, says Hutchison, then it is taxable.

Investing in property in a good area where there is a high demand for rental homes will go a long way in making tax returns work in your favour, he says. "Whether investing in property for long-term leasing or if you’re wanting to let out a holiday flat short-term in a high tourist area, do your research and capitalise on something that fits your financial capacity.” 

In terms of a residential property that is buy-to-let, the following expenses are deductible:
- Rental agent’s commission or fees for securing a tenant.

- Advertising costs of marketing the property.

- Levies, municipal rates, insurance fees, water and electricity.

- Interest paid on the home loan, if applicable.

- Cleaning costs, garden services and security.

- Repairs and maintenance costs (excluding improvements to the property, as this would be deducted from capital gains tax).

“As a landlord, deducting the non-capital expenses from your tax return will reduce your taxable income. However, before embarking on your landlord journey, it is advisable to chat to a professional real estate company, your accountant, a financial advisor or a tax specialist, so that you fully understand both the financial implications and tax benefits,” says Hutchison.

“The start of the new financial year is akin to spring - a time to clean up, make new plans, new investments and sharpen your financial acumen for the year ahead. It is also a good time to find that perfect buy-to-rent property.”


Read more

Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Tax Benefits, Property and Investments

18 tips to stay safe during heavy rain and floods

May 20, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

With parts of South Africa being ravaged by heavy rain and floods, leading to loss of life and significant damage to properties and vehicles, Auto & General Insurance is urging South Africans to be vigilant and adopt a proactive mindset to avoid disaster.

With parts of South Africa being ravaged by heavy rain and floods, leading to loss of life and significant damage to properties and vehicles, South Africans need to be vigilant and adopt a proactive mindset to avoid disaster.

“What starts out as a couple of drops of rain can very rapidly develop into a very serious and life-threatening situation. South Africans are urged to take practical steps to better protect themselves and to have proper emergency plans in place,” says Ricardo Coetzee, Head of Auto & General Insurance.

Auto & General offers the following tips:
General rules to remember

1. General and regular home maintenance, like checking structures around your house for weak spots, clearing debris from gutters, cutting away dead trees and branches and ensuring adequate drainage of water, is essential and will significantly reduce your risk. Reinforcing vital structures if you live in a rain/flood-prone area is also a good idea.

2. Good vehicle maintenance - make sure your vehicle is in tip-top shape and won’t let you down, even when the proverbial ‘high water’ comes.

3. If you notice that there’s insufficient drainage, or a possible safety hazard due to cracking structures and roads, landslides, rock falls, etc., in a public area, alert the authorities immediately.

4. Always keep an eye on the weather forecast, look out for warnings of heavy rains and avoid danger areas - like roads where drainage is poor - wherever possible.

5. Make sure to have all emergency numbers, including that if your insurer, saved on your phone, or memorised. Make sure that your whole family is thoroughly briefed on what to do and who to call in the event of an emergency.

Heavy rain
6. Make sure that your outdoor furniture and accessories are safely stored or firmly secured and that all gates and doors that need to be locked, are.

7. Heavy rains are often associated with lightning. The power surge of a lightning strike can easily overload most appliances and devices. It’s best to unplug these before the storm arrives.

8. Where possible, park your car under cover and delay travelling until the storm has subsided.

9. If you are caught in a heavy storm and you feel it’s not safe to drive, look for cover, pull over or seek shelter. This could include a covered car park, a petrol station or under a bridge. However, take extreme care when pulling over - put on your hazard lights, and don’t risk your safety or the safety of others by dashing madly for cover. Stay in your car and only leave the safety of your sheltered spot when the storm has passed.

10. Don’t park under trees as there is a danger of falling branches and debris.

Floods
11. It is sensible to purchase your own supply of sandbags, especially if you’re in a flood-prone area, like one close to a river or on a hillside. These can be placed against doorways and low-level vents in times of flooding to help minimise the amount of water that enters your home.

12. Move high-value items to the highest possible floor or shelf if a flood threatens.

13. Turn off electricity and gas supplies if flooding occurs to limit the risk of electrical shock or a fire.

14. If you see warning signs like water seeping through the door or water eating away at your home’s walls and foundations, it’s best to head for higher ground immediately. Do not wait for it to become a life-threatening crisis.

15. Motorists should not attempt to drive in flood conditions. Remember that just 15cm of moving water can knock you off your feet and water just 60cm deep can sweep a vehicle away. You also run the risk of flooding your vehicle’s air intake, which will stall the engine. Generally, if the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, it is not advisable to drive through it.

16. Flash flooding often occurs when rivers flow over low-lying bridges. Avoid crossing bridges or roads next to rivers during heavy rains. If you do get stuck on a flooded road, it’s best to switch to the lowest possible gear and proceed slowly.

17. If you approach a flooded spot at speed, it is advisable to take your foot off the accelerator and let your speed drop gradually. Never use the brakes suddenly because this may cause the car to skid or aquaplane.

18. If your vehicle gets stuck during flooding, or starts to get washed away, rather abandon the vehicle and climb to higher ground. It is dangerous to try and drive out of the water to safety.

“It’s wise to remember that your life and that of your loved ones is worth more than any house or car, so don’t risk it at any cost,” says Coetzee.

“Also ensure that, in the event that disaster does strike, you have adequate insurance in place to cover the complete repair or replacement cost of your house, vehicle and other possessions.”


Read more

Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Safety, Harcourts Real Estate, Rain and Floods

11 smart ways to save electricity (and money) in the winter months

May 13, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Eskom has issued steps consumers can take to save electricity as the colder weather grips South Africa.

A thermostat-controlled oil heater no bigger than 2 000W (watt) is the best choice to heat a room of 3 x 3 x 2.5 metres for three hours.

“During the colder months, space heating can be responsible for up to 8% of an average household’s electricity usage. The current constrained electricity network calls for smart electricity usage to help keep the warmth inside and the cold outside,” said the power utility last Wednesday.

Last week the power utility started implementing its ‘Use electricity smartly’ campaign, which aims to reduce electricity the shortage so as to minimise the risk of load shedding.

The power utility said insulated and draught-proofed rooms require 51% less energy to heat.

Eskom has the following tips for the winter period:

1. Use foam tape to seal windows and doors if they do not close properly - in winter, draughts can account for up to 25% of heat loss.

2. Hang curtains to reduce heat transfer.

3. Lay 'door snakes' to stop cold air from entering - aluminium skirts with rubber seals on the outside of doors are also highly effective.

4. Seal cavities in and between bricks with a polyurethane sealant.

5. Seal the chimney if you have one – the best way is to have a damper installed when the chimney is not in use; if not utilised at all, seal it at the top and bottom.

6. Install fire-retardant ceiling insulation – with approximately 40% of heat lost through the roof, ceiling insulation makes your home up to 5% warmer in winter.

7. Only heat the room you are occupying, and use the correct type of heater when you feel the need for extra warmth.

8. A thermostat-controlled fan heater is ideal to quickly heat a room of 3 x 3 x 2.5 metres for one hour.

9. A thermostat-controlled oil heater no bigger than 2 000W (watt) is the best choice to heat the same room for three hours.

10. A thermostat-controlled heater no bigger than 1 000W (watt) is the most energy efficient option to heat it for eight hours.

11. Most gas heaters generate a great amount of heat and do not require electricity at all.

Use 'door snakes' to stop cold air from entering.

The power utility has in recent weeks implemented load shedding as a result of generation capacity.

“Eskom is currently faced with challenges at its power stations, which has led to the need for load shedding over the past few months.

“If consumers can assist us by using electricity smartly, it would help to reduce the need for load shedding, which is a measure used to balance the supply and demand of electricity,” says Eskom acting Group Executive for generation, Andrew Etzinger. – SAnews.gov.za


Read more

Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Advice, Electricity Tariffs, Winter Blues, Harcourts Real Estate

5 things you need to know about prepaid water

May 6, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

You already know that we live in a water-stressed country, receiving an annual rainfall of 492mm, while the rest of the earth receives 985mm.

With a prepaid water system consumers can track usage, load credit remotely, and decrease the possibility of bill shock due to leakages or incorrect monitoring.

This is according to Marcus Thulsidas, Director: Business Development, Utility Systems, who says in addition, the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) cautions that 98% of South Africa’s water has already been allocated to users, leaving little surplus water to cater for a growing population and increasing demand.

In this context, could it be that prepaid water - like prepaid electricity - is the answer to more sustainable water consumption and management?

“Well, we at Utility Systems believe it is,” says Thulsidas says, and there are five important things that South Africans need to know about installing prepaid water meters:

1. What is ‘prepaid water’?
Prepaid water means that the consumer purchases water credit in the form of a prepaid water token. When entered into the user interface unit (located in the consumer’s home), the token instructs the water management device to allow a certain amount of water through the meter before closing.

Consumers can track usage, load credit remotely, and decrease the possibility of bill shock due to leakages or incorrect monitoring.

A prepaid water meter can also be used to limit water flowing to a particular area. This helps municipalities and property owners to control the amount of water used at certain outputs and prevents wastage in low-income households that can’t afford to pay for excess use of this basic need.

They can make payment in smaller, frequent increments. This prevents their falling into debt, which can compound in a post-paid arrangement.

2. Who can access it?
This is completely dependent on the municipality. So, even if you’re feeling inspired to install a smart water management device to enable prepaid water, you may not be able to - based on where you live or work.

That being said, most municipalities are beginning to embrace prepaid water management technology, so it may just be a waiting game. To find out your eligibility for prepaid water, it’s wise to approach your municipality and ask.

If you have a garden cottage, however, you can add an additional meter and smart water management device to the building to ensure that your tenants don’t rack up huge bills in your name - and then refuse to pay, or leave.

3. How does it affect rental properties and bodies corporate?
The implications for rental properties and bodies corporate are significant.

Prepaid metering reduces admin to a minimum, while removing the risk and frustration of late or non-payment of water bills. This is why housing estates are swiftly moving to prepaid water, as they did with prepaid electricity.

Gone are the days of splitting the entire estate’s water bill by the number of units. Prepaid metering means that users pay for their consumption only.

4. What’s in it for municipalities?
Prepaid systems are cost-effective solutions to sustainable water management in that they have a low cost of acquisition and, by curbing water usage, capital recovery is possible within months.

The systems are also able to distribute water equally, based on free water quotas, water balancing and fluctuating demand.

Aside from their ability to alert municipalities to leaks, prepaid water meters also drastically reduce government’s admin costs. This is because municipalities don’t need to chase bad debts or budget for legal fees on unpaid accounts. Public sector cash flow is immediately improved.

Collecting data from prepaid meters is also more efficient than the manual collection required for post-paid meters. A radio link receiver can be fixed, vehicle-mounted, or carried by municipality personnel.

5. Is prepaid water cheaper?
No - this is a myth. Prepaid and post-paid water cost exactly the same. It is illegal to sell municipal water above the municipal tariff rate declared. That being said, prepaid water gives consumers the opportunity to monitor their consumption and react immediately to possible leaks.

Finally
“The bottom line? Even the simplest smart water management device can provide the tools to track and control water usage. Prepaid water meters are smart tools with the potential to revolutionise water conservation efforts and revenue management worldwide. But it’ll be a while before every South African household is able to benefit from this enormous potential,” says Thulsidas.


Read more

Topics: Advice, Harcourts Real Estate, Prepaid Water

Why people sold property in 2019’s first quarter

Apr 30, 2019 10:23:26 PM Share this:

Downscaling, whether for financial reasons or due to life stage, is still why most people sell their homes and they will sell if ‘priced right’ as it is still very much a buyer’s market – but emigration and dual living are also trends to watch in 2019.


Read more

Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Property Markets, buying and selling, South African Elections 2019

Will property prices go up after the election?

Apr 30, 2019 7:55:20 PM Share this:

While many may be apprehensive about venturing into South Africa’s property market, the prevailing ‘buyer’s market’ may be the perfect opportunity for you to stake your claim on your dream home. The difference between ‘buying the perfect home’ and ‘buying the perfect home at the perfect price’ may just come down to perfect timing.


Read more

Topics: Harcourts South Africa, South African Markets, South African Elections 2019

I got a home loan, but it’s too expensive - can I cancel my OTP?

Apr 29, 2019 9:20:32 PM Share this:

In most cases when a person buys a property, he or she will have to apply for a home loan, and this would be written into the offer to purchase (OTP) as a suspensive condition, giving a certain timeframe for the bond to be obtained by the bank and accepted by the buyer.


Read more

Topics: Agent Life, Home Loan Advice, Harcourts Real Estate

Selling property via auction set to rise in Midrand

Apr 24, 2019 7:57:58 PM Share this:

From a global perspective auctions have for long been synonymous with the property market, however the local property industry has only really embraced this activity in the past few years. And now it is one of the fastest growing sections in our industry.

Auction 24 April 2019 at 18h30 on site: A new five bedroom en-suite home in Waterfall Country Estate, Midrand, with top quality fittings, lap pool and landscaped garden will go under the hammer next week - click here to view.

“The modern business environment has certainly played a major part in perpetuating the increased demand for auctions. We’re finding many consumers are becoming more accustomed to that style of purchase behaviour due to the rapid rise of local and international auction-based retail sites,” explains Harcourts South Africa CEO Richard Gray. 

Rudo Kirsten, Auctioneer at Harcourts Midrand, admits that they’ve experienced an increase in queries from sellers regarding their auction options. “We are seeing quite a lot of new interested sellers and buyers entering the ever-expanding Midrand market.”

The advantage for many sellers and buyers is that auctions provide them with an opportunity to attain value, and that is often the priority, he says.

Midrand offers buyers a wide variety of property options, from beautiful first-time buyer apartments to large family homes, farms on the outskirts and great ROI commercial properties.

The other advantage of Midrand, he says, is that it is centrally located and very close to the Gautrain line which makes it convenient for anyone traveling in and around Gauteng.

Kirsten says convenience and time can often be a factor for a seller and a property auction, when implemented effectively and professionally, can be a great method to achieve a fair market value within an allocated time.

By restricting the time for the sale of a property, as is the case with auctions, there is a sense of urgency among interested buyers and often the agency will prioritise your auction property for the same reason.

“At Harcourts, we have developed world-class auction solutions that have been implemented by our global and local offices for many years. We have auction marketing down to a fine art and consider ourselves specialists in this field,” says Gray.

Gray adds that the trend will continue to increase and Harcourts predicts that auctions is going to be one of the primary selling and buying methods of property in Midrand in the coming years.


Read more

Topics: Auctions, Harcourts South Africa, Harcourts Real Estate, Harcourts Midrand

Harcourts South Africa growth defies market decline

Apr 18, 2019 9:24:48 PM Share this:

Despite the industry experiencing a decline in year on year sales, March 2019 was Harcourts South Africa's best month since Harcourts started in South Africa in 2009. Boasting 10% growth on the same month last year. In addition, Harcourts South Africa's first quarter was up 11% on the same period in 2018.


Read more

Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Harcourts International, Real Estate Agents, Harcourts Growth