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Is WhatsApp changing real estate?

Jul 31, 2019 9:35:16 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

Interest rate cut: The break SA consumers need

Jul 22, 2019 5:37:54 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

Why people thrive in co-working spaces

Jul 15, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Studies show that people who work in co-working spaces are on balance more satisfied, better performers and find more meaning in their work than those working in traditional offices.

Unlike a traditional office, co-working spaces consist of members who work for a range of different companies, ventures, and projects.

So what’s so special about co-working?

“Co-working spaces attract diverse groups of people such as entrepreneurs, remote workers, independent professionals and people from large companies who work together in a communal setting,” says Linda Trim, Director at FutureSpace, a high-end workspace joint venture between Investec Property and workplace specialists Giant Leap with two offices in Sandton


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, diversity, Co-Workers

President's SONA inspires but lacks detail

Jul 12, 2019 11:27:46 PM Share this:

President Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address in Parliament yesterday and outlined seven priorities and five goals whilst acknowledging that due to financial constraints government would not be able to deliver “everything at one time”. In the real estate sector, the economy has played a major role in activity and commitment and we're excited that the President is prioritising economic growth and hope for strategic and continued implementation.

Overall there was a positive sentiment in the President's remarks and we applaud his vision of modern, high tech cities with world-leading public transport and believe we should all get behind the vision to make it happen. The President said that he wants to reduce data costs and that to be internationally competitive, the high cost of doing business and complicated and lengthy regulatory processes must be addressed in South Africa and that new companies should be able to be registered within a day.

It is crucial South Africa leads the way on the continent for innovation in business and technology in order for us to improve growth and long term sustainability. The President implored everyone to buy local products to boost local production. The President said that within the next year, the government hopes to conclude agreements with retailers to stock more South African goods on their shelves to actively promote South African products.

The attention the President paid to the economy and our crisis among youth unemployment, which is now at 50%, was a breath of fresh air as acknowledging our problems is imperative when trying to alleviate them.

There were certainly pertinent issues we wanted the President to detail but he failed to do so, especially on the land issue. It seemed that state-owned land would be targeted first.  Ramaphosa explained that the state will accelerate efforts to identify and release public land that is suitable for smart, urban settlements and farming. Explaining that the panel’s recommendations will inform the finalisation of a comprehensive, far-reaching and transformative land reform programme.

We expect more clarity on the recent report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, which will now be presented to Cabinet for consideration.

It is interesting that he was clear that it is not just farmland, but the need to ensure that land in urban areas is also made available. The President believes while the government have made great progress in providing housing, many South Africans still need land to build homes and earn livelihoods. In the next five years, he plans to accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans. 

The President's plans cannot be faulted and his plans are inspiring, we just hope he is able to implement these strategies effectively and take our country forward. Statement by


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, Real Estate, SONA Speech

How to design a lawn-free landscape

Jun 24, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

With climate change affecting weather around the world, many homeowners are replacing turf with low-maintenance landscape ideas.


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, DIY, Landscaping

Get your garden ready for winter and spring

Jun 17, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

Around the country the cooler mornings and evenings herald the beginning of autumn, and an indication that it's time for some maintenance in the garden to prepare for winter.


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Gardening, Winter, Spring

Estate agents must embrace ongoing training and development

Jun 10, 2019 8:00:00 AM Share this:

With the EAAB (Estate Agency Affairs Board) clamping down on agents trading in the real estate industry who have not renewed or ever applied for their Fidelity Fund Certificates (FFC), as well as disqualifying agents for noncompliance with their Continuing Professional Development, it is now more important than ever to insist on continuous training as an essential part of operating within this industry.

With the Estate Agency Affairs Board clamping down on rogue agents, it is now more important than ever to insist on continuous training as an essential part of operating in the real estate industry.

This is the word from Cornel Haskins, sales manager at property company SAProperty.com, who notes that the new Property Practitioners Bill was passed by the National Assembly on 4 December 2018 and has now been sent to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence, and this will change a) the governing body for the real estate industry and b) the way this industry is run - what is important is continued work at upskilling all agents.

There is too high a rate of interns dropping out of the sector because of the lack of training and mentoring, as they often find it daunting to complete either the NQF4 requirements or the log book that the EAAB requires, she says. “Having a good training provider and a company that mentors and supports as well as assists agents with their log books and NQF4, in order to complete and write the PDE exam, is vital.”

Haskins says many do not realise that agencies can partner up with attorneys, who could assist with some of the contractual training or guidance on completing the log book. “In this way, agents get the chance to ask all of their relevant questions, learn of current and changing issues, and can also become re-inspired to be a specialist in their field.”

To become an estate agent there are three major steps: 

- Completing a log book;

- Completing the NQF4 training; and

- Writing the Professional Designation Exam.

Keeping agents’ skills up to date and increasing interns’ knowledge of the industry is a necessity as the real estate sector is forever changing,” says Haskins. “Continuous training helps agents stay motivated and it provides better understanding of the happenings in the sector, as well creating an urge to provide a better service to the clients.”

Rogue agents have given the industry a bad reputation and it is up to the EAAB and estate agencies to employ and empower their agents to be better equipped in order to give the best service possible, she says.

How buyers and sellers can protect themselves

The public can, however, protect themselves and only use registered, qualified agents when buying or selling property, and the first thing to check is whether the agent they intend dealing with has a valid FFC.  All agents should have a Privyseal signature on their emails, websites or social media, which shows a real time validation of their FFC and status (whether principal, full agent, or intern) with the EAAB.

In addition, professional and qualified agents will be able provide references from previous clients if asked as well as a sales track record, to ascertain whether they have been successfully dealing in property and for how long. It is also advisable to check whether the agent specialises in a specific type of property and how long he or she has worked in this industry.

“Buying or selling a home demands a lot of trust in the person dealing with the transaction, as it is possibly the largest asset anyone will ever own,” says Haskins. “Ensure that you vet the agent you deal with properly and not just go to someone you know or a friend of a friend.”


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Real Estate Agents, Estate Agent, Estate agent training

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.


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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.”


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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.”


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