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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


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

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.


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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.


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

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.


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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.


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

Budget 2019: What it means for the property industry

Mar 5, 2019 6:16:36 PM Share this:

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni made his debut National Budget speech in Parliament yesterday. Here’s what the property experts have to say about what this means for real estate, South Africa and you.

Adrian Goslett - Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa

"There were enough positive outcomes within the speech to instil a hopeful confidence in the years ahead. As Minister Tito Mboweni himself stated, this is a budget for the future – one in which a seed for renewal and growth has only just been planted"

“That being said, more could have been done in order to stimulate the property market. There were no mentions of any changes in transfer duty rates and capital gains tax – a drop in these figures would have translated into higher returns for property investors which could have stimulated the market and encouraged economic growth.”

All things considered, Goslett believes that the National Budget Speech sets us up for a year exactly as the Minister of Finance framed it: a resilient, drought-resistant aloe that will survive harsh external factors.


Rudi Botha - CEO of SA’s leading bond originator BetterBond

“The most exciting aspect of today’s Budget announcement for us was the clear indication from Finance Minister Tito Mboweni that the government is in favour of private property ownership – despite the ongoing concerns around a constitutional change that would more easily enable land expropriation without compensation.

"Indeed, in support of private ownership, the Budget specifically allocates R3,7bn over the next three years to assist emerging farmers who wish to purchase land – and introduces the new Help-to-Buy subsidy for first-time homebuyers, which has been allocated R950m."

"As a whole, he says, the Budget should be rated a success in that it at least addressed all the other major issues that have been weighing on the minds of both SA and foreign investors as well as local consumers, the biggest of these being Eskom’s R400bn debt and it’s deteriorating capacity to provide the power that SA needs to grow."


Richard Gray - CEO of Harcourts Africa

"We know that in order for South Africa to achieve positive economic growth Government is going to have to be tougher on state-owned enterprises. This was a central theme for the Minster and he was very clear about the effect these SOE's have on our economy."

"What was reassuring was the Minister's clear focus on rebuilding a stagnating economy. "It is all of our duty to tend the seed and see that it grows strong, tall and fruitful. It is a budget for the future,” he explained."

"If we can see the Minster and the Department stand strong on its desire to clamp down on SOE lending as well as aim to reduce pressure on the consumer, the economy will undoubtedly start to gain ground and we will be able to restore both consumer and investor confidence which in turn translates into increased economic activity."


Berry Everitt - CEO of the Chas Everitt International property group

“Given the current state of SA’s economy, we are not surprised that there was no specific relief for property buyers in today’s Budget in the form of a Transfer Duty reduction or even an increase in the threshold. But we believe consumers will breathe a sigh of relief at the news that there will be no VAT or personal income tax increases this year, especially since they are facing another increase in the fuel levy and higher electricity costs.

“In addition, we applaud Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan for coming up with a creative solution to ensure that SA taxpayers don’t have to pay off Eskom’s entire R400bn debt. As the public, we will hopefully only have to foot the bill of R23bn a year for the next three years to ensure that Eskom reconfigures itself - under tight supervision – and is then able to pay off its own debt."

"Such issues may not seem relevant to real estate, but they are very much so, in the sense that the real estate market can only thrive in a climate of growing confidence among investors, rising economic growth and increasing employment."


Gerhard Kotzé - MD of the RealNet estate agency group

“According to today’s Budget announcement, SA can look forward to a lot more high-rise housing developments in and around its major metros as part of government’s integrated strategy to prepare for the future and provide affordable accommodation for a rapidly urbanizing population.

“This is exciting news as it has the potential to bring thousands of people within easier reach of the jobs and amenities that urban centres offer, while saving on transport and making better use of existing infrastructure and services. It will also be much easier and more cost effective for government and its private sector partners to upgrade and densify existing water, power, communications and public transport networks than to lay miles of new pipelines, roads and cables."

"Even though this was a relatively sombre Budget, we would say that it is likely to prove positive for the real estate sector in the longer-term. In the interim, the good news is that lower inflation means that there is less likelihood of an interest increase next month.”


Herschel Jawitz - CEO of Jawitz Properties

"From a property point of view, there have been no changes to transfer duty or capital gains tax, however, the introduction of a pilot subsidy programme for first time buyers is very encouraging. While consumers will continue to face financial pressures as a result of the lack of tax relief, there should be no impact on an already subdued residential market."

"The real key to any meaningful improvement in the residential market will be consumer confidence. In terms of the Budget, this will be determined by the government’s ability to deliver on keeping the lights on, reducing corruption and focusing on the key components needed to create a growing economy for the benefit of all South Africans. Consumer confidence can turn quickly if the public sees positive signs of improvement. We should be encouraged by what we have heard today."


Samuel Seeff, chairman of the Seeff Property Group

Seeff views the budget as measured and in the best interest of the country right now. While disappointed that there has been no relief for the property sector or for consumers, the budget was largely as expected by the market, he says.

"What does this mean for the property market? While there are many positives, Seeff says the reality remains a fairly weak outlook for the economy with the finance minister adjusting the GDP growth outlook for the year to 1,5%. On the back of this, the property market will remain flat, characterised largely by sideways movement."

"That means that those that “need to buy or sell”, largely below R1.5 million (up to R3 million in some areas) will continue to transact in line with their needs. The favourable interest and bank lending climate means you can sell within a reasonable timeframe in this sector."

"Above this, you find the discretionary market, i.e. those who do not necessarily have to transact. They are subject to the higher transfer duty instituted in 2016 as well as Capital Gains Tax (CGT) and rather than paying over millions that add no value, are simply sitting on the fence waiting and watching how things unfold."

The subdued price growth and positive lending landscape mean that if you are looking to find a good buying opportunity, then you may well find it in this market. Although it may be riskier now, you could ultimately see greater return.


Dr Andrew Golding - chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group

"A clear thread running through the Budget Speech was a need to focus on improving education and boosting skills development and training, which is a solid foundation on which to build a stronger economy while fostering job creation, as well as a welcome move to meaningfully involve the private sector in various initiatives."

"Consumers will be relieved that personal income tax rates have not been increased. However, minor increases in tax thresholds and tax rebates for individuals will not fully offset fiscal drag, thereby keeping household finances under pressure. With various measures being implemented to revive SARS capabilities it is hoped that this will ultimately help generate more revenue than further tax increases would."

"From a housing perspective, while the land expropriation issue is yet to be finalised and clarified, funding for the upgrading of informal settlements and the Our Help to Buy subsidy, a pilot project with R950 million over three years to help first-time home buyers acquire a home are welcome news. Also noteworthy is the support for private sector investment in agriculture via support for emerging farmers."

"Overall, the Budget was more or less as expected; what we need now is to see South Africa embarking on a recovery path which will promote confidence and investment, which will have spin-offs for the economy and the housing market across all sectors."


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Economy, Budget, Estate Agent, Harcourts Real Estate, Municipal Rates

Budget speech delivers on expectations

Feb 21, 2019 7:44:04 PM Share this:

South Africa's Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivered his maiden budget yesterday. It was expected to be a tough budget by many pundits and it certainly delivered on that sentiment. We know that in order for South Africa to achieve positive economic growth Government is going to have to be tougher on state-owned enterprises. This was a central theme for the Minster and he was very clear about the effect these SOE's have on our economy.

What was reassuring was the Minister's clear focus on rebuilding a stagnating economy.  "It is all of our duty to tend the seed and see that it grows strong, tall and fruitful. It is a budget for the future,” he explained.

The past few months consumers have experienced serious financial pressures as costs continue to rise and bleak economic trends affect the activity in most major sectors. Property was one of those markets that certainly felt the knock-on effects.

The budget, although far more balanced and focused on renewal and growth, it was disappointing that no pressures were relieved on consumers in the property market. The property market is incredibly susceptible to the message and plans in the Budget and how they are instituted.

As predicted VAT remained unchanged at 15% and there was no an increase in personal and corporate income tax. However, the Minister revealed that there would be an increase in fuel levies. Petrol: 29c per litre and Diesel: 30c per litre. In addition, it is expected that real GDP growth in 2019 will rise to 1.5% and then strengthen to 2.1% in 2021.

If we can see the Minster and the Department stand strong on its desire to clamp down on SOE lending as well as aim to reduce pressure on the consumer, the economy will undoubtedly start to gain ground and we will be able to restore both consumer and investor confidence which in turn translates into increased economic activity.

Statement by
Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, Budget speech, Harcourts Real Estate

WESTERN CAPE: BUY HERE: Our insider’s guide to Brackenfell

Feb 20, 2019 7:52:48 PM Share this:

Offering many property options, this large suburb close to the Winelands has a nature reserve on its doorstep

If you’re looking for value, consider the northern suburbs. Brackenfell is a short drive to the city on the N1, offers a range of property types, has good schools
close by and a number of attractions on its doorstep.

“We’ve seen steady growth in the sale price of properties in the area,” says Denis Dunn, principal at Harcourts Dunn.

“The advantage of Brackenfell is that it is a very large region with an array of property options. The average price for an apartment starts at R900000, and a townhouse ranges from R1.1 million to R1.8m. Full-title homes are priced on average from R1.7m to R2.8m, and a larger home can cost anywhere from R4.5m and higher. The rental market is booming. For any investor who wants a high-demand property, Brackenfell is a great place to start.

“The other obvious allure of the ever-growing Brackenfell region is the developments. At Harcourts Dunn we have a specialist developments team that assists clients with all their requirements. “Brackenfell has a selection of nice developments, catering for professionals, young families and investors.


The advantage of Brackenfell is that it is a large region with an array of property options. –
Denis Dunn, principal and owner Harcourts Dunn Picture: Supplied


“We’ve had a lot of interest in Burgundy Estate and the development is showing good rental returns. Some of the other developments in Brackenfell are Protea Heights, Morgenster, Kleinbron, Protea Village and Sonkring.

“The Cape Town property market was certainly under pressure during 2018. External economic factors, water shortages and overall political instability undoubtedly influenced the market.

However, the affordable and high-demand regions continued to defy the trends.” Dunn maintains that Brackenfell is one of those areas that continue to show great positive returns.


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Topics: Harcourts South Africa, buying and selling, Tips for buying, Harcourts Dunn

Price your property to sell in the current market

Jan 23, 2019 7:09:19 PM Share this:

Whether it is a buyers or seller's market accurate valuation and pricing of your home is imperative if you aim to have a successful transaction. Realistic pricing is relevant to accurate market value and often buyers will compare your home to the properties in the area so they can gauge an insight into the true market value.

Market fluctuations and economic pressures undoubtedly influence the price of property and we've seen some homeowners having to drop expected prices due to the external economic factors affecting the market from a holistic perspective.

Therefore, If your property is over-valuated it not only wastes valuable marketing time but it can very often gain a stigma that negatively affects the perception of the home going forward. In the end, you may end up getting far less for your property than could have been initially obtained. No matter how well your property is marketed, if the price isn't right, it won't sell.

When a property is accurately valuated and the agent commences marketing of the listing this creates immediate demand. The first 6 to 12 weeks are the most important when marketing a property.

The first step is to contact an agent with an extensive target market presence. Browse digital property platforms, forums, portals as well as published newspapers and magazines to best see which agents have a true understanding and footprint in the region you wish to sell. Then, similarly, use that research time to assess where your property's value is located in the market and try and scale it correctly. Not just comparing the size and location but added features also.

Agents use many accurate tools that take an array of factors into account when valuating your home. Pair this data with expert insights into the current climate of the market and trends of buyers and sellers and an agent is able to present your property to a diverse network exposing it to the right buyers.


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Topics: Richard Gray, Harcourts South Africa, buying and selling, Property Valuation, Harcourts Real Estate