People & Property: Interview with Rashree Maharaj – Marketing Director for AECOM Africa

Rashree Maharaj, Marketing and Communications Director for AECOM Africa

Rashree Maharaj is a mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and a go-getter career woman. She is a mother of 3 and has been happily married for the past 30 years. She is currently the Marketing and Communications Director for AECOM Africa, a multi-disciplinary engineering firm.

 

Do you own any property?

[box] We recently sold our family home of 15 years, as well as a holiday apartment in Durban, to purchase land and build our dream home in the beautiful Copperleaf Estate.[/box]

 

What is the most important room in your home and why?

[box] Undoubtedly, the most important room is my bedroom. It is my sanctuary, and where I am able to leave the busy, hectic life behind, and just be me. For this reason, my bedroom in our new home has been designed to include a fireplace, a soon-to-be favourite spot where I can read a good book, warm up the room during cold winter nights, or simply enjoy a glass of wine with my husband. I have also included an outdoor shower (this despite having my bedroom on the first floor). There is something incredibly special in experiencing the sensations of having a cool breeze on your bare skin, together with hot water rolling off it. This outdoor shower provides full privacy, as well as a stunning view of the golf course. I can see them, but they can’t see me![/box]

 

What is your outlook on investing in property?

[box] Property is one of the most important assets a person can have. We bought our first home when my husband and I were in our mid-20s. The interest rate at the time was a whopping 25%, and I remember that there were times when we barely managed to scrape together our bond repayment. The profits earned from the sale of that home was what allowed us to invest in a better home in a better area. We have owned three homes since our marriage. We lived in our last home – which we renovated from a single to a double storey in order to accommodate our expanding family and growing kids – for 15 years. It was a huge investment that, when sold, together with the sale of a property we had purchased in Umhlanga, allowed us to buy land, where we are currently building our dream home in a beautiful golf estate. I believe investing in good property, in a good area, is the best thing you can do.[/box]

 

Could you tell us a bit about your own home?

[box] It is our dream home – a place we can happily retire – but which is large enough to accommodate our three children and future grandchildren (I hope). The house has been designed with lots of light and glass. It is an open-concept living area with an indoor patio and gorgeous views over the golf course. The entrance is through a path flanked by water. I love the elements of water and fire, and have incorporated as much of these into the design as possible. The home is well thought-out and spacious, and blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living.[/box]

 

Where would your dream home be located?

[box] My dream home would be located in the Tuscan hillside, surrounded by olive trees and a vineyard, with a long dirt road leading up to it. I have, however, had to settle for a gorgeous dream home in a beautiful estate – not a bad compromise! A home that is not too far from work or the airport, but in an estate with lots of green space, streams, and lakes in-between the homes. Driving into the estate feels like driving into one of the many resorts in Florida in the US. It is warm, welcoming, open and fresh, and feels like being in the countryside, despite it being so close to shopping centres and other modern conveniences. I always tell my husband that the sun shines a little stronger in Copperleaf. One thing is for certain, they experience some of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen.[/box]

 

Do you have any interior style tips you can share with our readers?

[box] Yes. Create spaces that make you happy. Whether it’s that little chair near the fireplace, or a swing in the sun, give careful consideration of what goes where. The kitchen is the heart of the home – my second favourite place in the house. It must be a space that is aesthetically-appealing but functional, and it must almost draw people in, inviting them to sit, chat, and linger for a while longer. I favour a neutral canvas (walls and floors), brightened by beautiful paintings, cushions, throws, accessories, and other objects d’art. Try to blend the old with the new, and the elegant with a more industrial/rustic look. Use textures and colours to soften/warm up a space, and use carpets to ground/define a space. I’ve never favoured the idea of having couches/sofas against a wall – better to bring it forward and place a beautiful table behind it with a beautiful lamp, family photos, etc.[/box]

 

How big of an impact do you believe has the woman’s right to vote had on South African history?

[box] We are no longer second-class citizens, we are no longer disadvantaged – we are empowered beings. The right to vote has given South Africa many strong and determined women who many around the world today can aspire to, and be inspired by. Furthermore, the right to vote is also essential in the fight for gender equality.[/box]

 

What advice would you give to other women who wish to have a successful business career?

[box] Do what you love, and you will succeed naturally. Without arrogance or ego, do not shy away from voicing your opinion and being firm in your beliefs. Also, help other women to succeed – stand by them and laud their successes, and you in turn will be amazed by the abundance of positivity you will create for yourself and others.[/box]

 

Do you have a role model? Who and why?

[box] My mom is my role model. She was a beautiful woman with a wonderful heart. She only completed two years of primary school education before she was forced to leave to support her siblings. She taught herself dress-designing and sewing at a very young age, and became incredibly good at it, without any formal training at all. She made dresses for debutante’s balls, school proms and weddings and, even though she could not read/write, she was able to remember different styles/dresses for several people at a time, and never got confused. My mum also took care of our family financially during periods when my dad could not work. She looked after my three siblings and I, as well as her aging father (my grandfather), until he passed away. She was a great cook, a compassionate person who loved to entertain family and friends, and a very hard-working woman. I learnt a lot from her, and owe everything I am to her.[/box]

 

What is your ultimate goal in life?

[box] I would like to be a full-time advocate for women’s rights in Africa – to inspire/uplift and guide women to achieve their full potential. I would also love to work with troubled teenagers to encourage and motivate them to believe in themselves, and not let their background and circumstances prevent them from living healthy and successful lives.[/box]

 

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?

[box] I visited a local mall and as I walked towards my car after I was done with my shopping, a couple asked if they could follow me and use my parking. I agreed and pressed the alarm from afar so that I did not keep them waiting. As I reached my car and attempted to open the car door, it would not open. And when I looked up, I realised I was trying to open the wrong car and of course, the couple were right there, trying not to laugh.[/box]

 

What is your motto in life? / What is your favourite famous quote?

[box] My motto in life is to live beautifully, with a smile and a good heart, and to always endeavour to be better than your best. My favourite quote: ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.’ – Steve Jobs[/box]

 

How do you conquer fears?

[box] To quote Nike – Just do it! I don’t believe in spending too much time thinking about something, or over-analysing it. I have learnt over the years to trust my instincts, make myself vulnerable, and do that which scares me. I ask myself what is the worst that could happen, and often the answer is not as bad as one imagines. As I like to consider both sides of the coin, I also ask myself what is the best that could happen and, surprisingly, when you look at the positive side of the challenge, you go ahead and do it, with wonderful outcomes like increased confidence. I conquered my fear of heights by sky-diving and hot-air ballooning, and my fear of water by scuba-diving and walking on the bed of the ocean.[/box]

 

You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

[box] Actually, elephants are my favourite animals. I admire their sense of family, their wisdom, strength, and memory. I would make this elephant my friend and let him (or her) transport me, ground me, and protect me.[/box]

 

A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

[box] Never do tequila shooters with a polar bear! On a serious note, I think he would say: “Live life and step out of your comfort zone!” And as for the sombrero, you always have to be prepared for new environments.[/box]

 

About Rashree Maharaj

Her previous work experience included 7 years spent with Hatch, a global engineering company, as its Head of Marketing and Communications, as well as seven years prior to that with PricewaterhouseCoopers as its Global Marketing Manager for the Mining Industry. Before that she worked in the legal and financial sectors for various law firms and banks.

She has a Marketing Diploma (with distinction), and an IMM (International Marketing Management) qualification. She is a public speaker, and has given motivational talks at various women’s groups, business groups, and schools. She enjoys travelling and experiencing new things. She is a published author, and have helped write/compile many annual reports and other business publications over the years.

 

People & Property: Interview with Xoliswa Daku – CEO of Daku Group

Xoliswa  Daku, CEO  of  Daku  Group

 Xoliswa  Daku  is the  CEO  of  Daku  Group  of  Companies  which  focuses on property development, investments and facilities management and she has an outstanding portfolio range that showcases some of her greatest achievements. Her main goal is to turn small towns into cities, having come from the small town of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape.

 

What is your outlook on investing in property?

[box] Global challenges are currently making property attractive investments, leading to good returns and investments. A number of trends are there and for me a number of mixed use development trends in cities are a great opportunity. This leads to integrated developments along transport nodes, people want to be close to transport, shopping and work. [/box]

 

Which room in your home is most important and why?

[box] My bedroom where ideas are generated in the middle of the night[/box]

 

Do you have any interior style tips you can share with our readers?

[box] Keep it simple and earthy to allow yourself space to relax[/box]

 

What advice would you give to other women who wish to have a successful business career?

[box] The key thing is hard work does pay off, be involved in the running of your business as you grow it. Forge and build sustainable relationships. Commit to your business and brand, always research and learn about your products/services and lastly never be afraid to ask for help when in need. [/box]

 

Do you have a role model? Who and why?

[box] On a personal level, my grandmother is my inspiration, she had 2 jobs and could not do anything less than that in a day, she was a hard working individual and I watched and learned from her. I tend to have the same adrenaline. At leadership level previous Deputy President Phumizile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s hard work , leadership style, empowerment and lifting of others whilst you climb resonates well with me as I tend to apply the same.[/box]

 

What inspires you?

[box] I am inspired by Places and spaces, I always dream of what could be done to beautify them and that starts my unending thinking and creativity flow/process. [/box]

 

Professional:

What is the best advice you have ever been given in business and who gave it to you?

[box] Protect your brand by providing a quality service – by a client[/box]

 

Which two organizations outside your own, do you know the most people at and why?

[box] NHBRC and SENTECH as I am the member of the board.[/box]

 

What is your motto in life? / What is your favourite famous quote? 

[box] Never compromise your Brand![/box]

 

What has been the biggest risk you have ever taken?

[learn_more] Starting a property business without a loan[/learn_more]

 

Any exciting new future plans on the horizon?

[box] Yes! Setting a Girl Power Leadership Academy, ensuring that there are more women like me in the future![/box]

 

What are your top three secrets to success?

[box] Direct Involvement in each development, building required resources for the business and creating strong and lasting relationships in the industry![/box]

 

How would you convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do?

[box] Start with their reasons. I would listen and share my ideas as to why something should be done truthfully and sincerely. It’s all about influence if its work related! [/box]

 

Describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.

[box] Yellow is about uplifting, hope, fun and happiness.[/box]

 

About Xoliswa Daku

Xoliswa has worked on several projects in King Williamstown, Ngcobo and Mtata to name of few to make her dream attainable.  One of her biggest projects to date that has put her on the map has been the One and Only hotel in Cape Town. Who would have thought a successful career in law could lead to an even more fruitful path in property? Xoliswa certainly did, and it is her wit and charisma that has landed her amongst the biggest projects to date: Khayelitsha Hospital and Mall, Engcobo CBD, Cradock Spa, Intersite Stations and the Koeberg Interchange to name a few.

In her time as a leading female property developer, Xoliswa has shown admirable leadership skills. After leaving a career in law, she became the head of Local and International Investment Trade Promotion for the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotion Agency (WESGRO). It was her passion on infrastructure, development  and  investments  that  inspired  her  to  institute  Daku  Group  of Companies 20 years ago based on the needs of investors and opportunities in this sector.

Xoliswa also holds various academic acumens; she holds an Executive MBA from UCT graduate School of Business, LLM Degree from UWC, Advanced and postgraduate diploma in Project Management at Cranefield University to name a few.

Xoliswa is well respected in the industry, she was nominated as a finalist in the Property Sector of 2012’s “Most Influential Women in Business Awards”, identified by CEO magazine attest. In 2013 she has won the “BBQ Outstanding Women in Business  Award”,  for  her  admirable  work  as  a  business  woman.  Xoliswa  has strategic goals of entering the international property markets and starting her own CSI project to assist women in business. She has since started a woman empowerment programme as the chairperson of the social transformation committee where they train and mentor 100 women in property and construction through Gibbs to ensure that opportunities are availed to them. Xoliswa is currently working on property development projects in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Durban and Johannesburg. She is playing a big role in sharing her great insights in business in various media platforms to inspire every young child with dreams, that with determination and drive, anything is possible.

Neighbourly love

Love thy neighbour is a theory most of us grew up with. When spaces are small, boundaries are shared and neighbours are diverse, it can sometimes become a challenge. It takes time and effort to get to know your neighbours, and if you don’t make the effort, don’t expect one in exchange.

 

If you have nice neighbours you are very lucky, however in reality some are not very pleasant and can make your life miserable at times. It is worth making the time getting to know those who live next to you, as neighbours can play an important role in our lives and our community, and it’s always a good thing to keep in mind that you are a neighbour too.

 

“Since the beginning of time we have seen countless dramas unfold due to neighbourly disputes and as many estate agents will testify, small problems between neighbouring properties can at times cause larger issues when it comes to the selling or the buying of one of the properties in question”, states Craig Hutchison, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

 

With the increasing trend to fit as many houses into developments and gated areas as possible, we are also seeing more instances of larger stands being subdivided and homes being built closer together. The problem however that arises with this is the increasing conflict that may occur between neighbours. “If you are a property owner you are entitled to the free use and enjoyment of your home. You may convert or alter your property provided that in doing so, you stay within the limits of local authority regulations and that you do not interfere with the legal rights of your neighbours”, says Craig.

 

In our modern society disputes between neighbours can arise over a number of issues. The most common disputes that arise are usually over:

Encroachment:

Encroachment is where you have erected a structure on your property and part of the structure is on a neighbouring property. This is trespassing and the encroaching land owner is legally responsible. Structures referred to include any building, driveway, path, retaining wall, fence, trees or any other improvements.

 

Buildings:

When views are blocked by new building plans, neighbours do have some rights. In the case of over-coverage, unsightly buildings, inappropriate use of buildings and loss of views, plans can still be challenged and demolition ordered, even after the building has been erected.

 

Boundary walls and Fences:

With boundary walls and fences, the generally accepted rule is that it is the joint property of the neighbours who are both equally liable for the walls/fences maintenance and repairs. However neither can make any changes to it without the consent of the other. Boundary encroachment is seen as the most common dispute, this can cover anything from tree trunks and branches encroaching on a neighbour’s property, roots uplifting neighbours pavement or at times walls or leaves falling into the neighbour’s pool. If your neighbour is not prepared to do anything and you don’t want to live with overhanging branches from your neighbour’s trees, you should ask him or her to cut them away, and to remove the cuttings from your side of the fence. If he or she refuses to do this, you can cut the branches back to the property line – however you’re not allowed to keep the cuttings unless your neighbour refuses to take them. If he or she refuses to take them you’d be within your rights to dispose of them, and to recover the costs of the disposal from the neighbour. Should none of these work, you could apply for an interdict to compel the neighbour to remove the branches.

 

Noise:

Having to deal with noisy neighbours is a common and most popular complaint. The disturbances can range from a variety of sources including barking dogs, loud music, arguing and shouting, banging doors or drilling. South African law makes a distinction between ‘Disturbing Noise’ – which is “objective and is defined as a scientifically measurable noise level,” and ‘Noise Nuisance,’ which is “a subjective measure and is defined as any noise that disturbs or impairs or may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person.”

 

What are the rules?

Disturbing Noise in the urban environment is usually governed by municipal by-laws. An example of this kind of noise would be loud music. Music is generally tolerated until 10pm on a Friday and/or Saturday evening before you can take steps. The urban myth says you can make noise until 10pm on a week night and 12pm on a weekend but, in actual fact most municipalities have by-laws in place that focus on the number of decibels rendered rather than the actual time frame in which noise is made.

 

Noise Nuisance is more subjective and usually happens over a longer period of time. It’s defined as noise that “disturbs or impairs or may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person,” this could include any of the following:

  • dogs that bark incessantly;
  • playing a musical instrument or operating a television set loudly;
  • operating machinery or power tools;
  • shouting and talking loudly;
  • operating a vehicle that causes a noise;
  • driving a vehicle on a public road in a manner that causes a noise nuisance;
  • the discharge of fireworks in a residential area causing noise nuisance.

Noise Nuisance is illegal at all times and is enforceable at any time of the day.

Dealing with the problem:

The most practical and cost effective way to deal with a noise nuisance would be to approach your neighbour directly and politely and tell them of the problem. If you are unable to reach an amicable solution, you should consider appointing a mediator to achieve resolution to the dispute. As with most legal matters it is sensible to try all avenues to resolve a matter before a court is approached. Should you have exhausted all of the above methods to no avail then you are able to take the following legal steps:

  • The first option is to lay a complaint with your local authority by way of a written statement. Law enforcement officials will investigate the problem to see how serious the situation is. If necessary, they can instruct the reduction of the noise and if the offenders don’t comply, they can issue a fine, and in extreme cases even confiscate the equipment causing the noise nuisance
  • If the above fails and the offender persist it is then possible to approach the court.

The affected party has two options in this regard:

  • Apply for an interdict to prevent your neighbour from causing the specific noise.
  • Sue your neighbour for damages suffered as a result of excessive noise caused by him/her.

Legal issues:

An interdict can be granted if the neighbour’s conduct is unlawful / threatens to be unlawful. Be very specific about what type of noise is being complained of. The courts generally take the following factors into account when determining if the actions are unlawful, the type of noise; the degree of persistence; where the noise occurs; the times when the noise is heard; all efforts made to resolve the matter.

 

The following will have to be proven:

  • The noise has negatively affected your quality of life
  • your health
  • your comfort
  • your general well-being

 

If an interdict is issued and the neighbour still persists with the unlawful actions, the neighbour may be found guilty of contempt of court, in which case the court may impose a fine or alternatively imprisonment in serious cases. It doesn’t matter what the type of nuisance, for it to be subject to interference and relief by courts or a local authority, it must be substantial and continuous and one must bear in mind that your neighbour enjoys the same rights as you do to enjoy the use of his property.

 

The legal principal is that “a man is allowed to have free use and enjoyment of his property, provided that in doing so, he does not infringe on the rights of his neighbour.” Our judges have adopted the view that “some discomfort, inconvenience or annoyance from the use of neighbouring property needs be endured”.

 

Peaceful neighbour, peaceful life

There are many types of neighbours and different kinds of disputes, but one thing we all agree on is that a polite but direct discussion about any issue can often and will most likely resolve the problem. Having neighbours has its own advantage and disadvantage however you will find that the advantages of having neighbours are more than the disadvantages. Such as having someone with an extra pair of eyes on your property when you are away, the famous ‘cup of sugar’ in case of in emergency – whether it be a quick jumpstart to a flat battery or a trip to the hospital in the case of bigger emergencies.

 

“Even if it is merely a friend to enjoy a rugby game and braai with on a Saturday – neighbours could potentially become your best friends. After all, your home is your most valuable asset and it is important to ensure that you get along with your neighbours and that you can return home to a harmonious environment with no conflict at the end of each day, so always be considerate and lodging a complaint, take a moment to reflect on situations where you might also have been or could be on the other side of the fence” Craig concluded.

 

 

 

 

Our House: Kitchen – The heart and soul of your home

As the hub of your home, you want your kitchen to always look its best, you can say it is the heart and soul of the home. There is an expression ‘Kitchens sell houses’ and this is very much show to be true as it is the room with the most financial value and one of the biggest factors that could potentially influence the sale of a property.

 

“Homeowners have agreed that should wish to take on a re-modelling project, the kitchen is the best place to start. Statistics show that almost 50% of the buyers are influenced and impressed by a new kitchen, and 28% of would-be buyers are prepared to pay more if the kitchen was of a higher standard’, notes Lara Machado, Head of the Training Academy at Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.

 

However, a new kitchen is not a project to consider lightly, as it is a costly and long-term investment as a new kitchen may make your home more marketable, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get more money in your pocket. Lara cautions that renovations could improve a home’s value, however if your home is considered “over improved” compared with other properties in your area, it can actually be detrimental to your property’s value. It is advisable, and well worth seeking some expert advice from your local estate agent. You can ask them to prepare a feasibility analysis that will help you determine the impact of kitchen renovations on your home’s value. This is also true to fact in for any renovation you considering undertaking before putting your property on the market.

 

A good rule of thumb is not to spend money on something that has a great deal of personal taste attached to it. People like to see modern conveniences and styles in the kitchen, even if you aren’t in the market for a total re-do, one or two basic updates will make your kitchen look as if it had a complete overhaul. Simple upgrades include installing new, modern appliances, a splash of new paint, changing cabinet faces, or simply just the handles, replacing old electric cooktops with gas, installing floating shelves or adding a kitchen island / butcher block.

 

Consider the future of your home, and the changing demands it will need to adapt to. If after all things considered, you decide this is a project worth taking on, now would be the ideal time to take the project on as Summer will soon be here, which means you will likely be entertaining again after the winter hibernation, and what better way to do so than in a revamped kitchen with a new up-graded look with modern appliances. We have some great, low cost and easy to implement ideas which would go a long way to making your kitchen a hot topic at the next braai:

 

Ten ideas to upgrade your kitchen without floor to ceiling remodeling

  1.  Add an island/ butcher block table to the centre of your kitchen. This will give you more work space and storage space. For a smaller kitchen purchase a rolling island — the wheels allow you to move it out of the kitchen or to the side if you need more space.
  2. A chalkboard wall is a versatile decorative feature, but is also a practical addition as it allows the family to maintain to do lists, menus or shopping lists in a common location and a space for the budding artists in the family to express themselves. A can of black chalkboard paint is inexpensive and a great way to dress up a wall for the perfect backdrop. If you’re out of wall space, a door or cabinet surface will also work.
  3. Turn one of your flat drawers into a spice drawer. Ideally, this is a drawer next to the stove. Spice drawers are better than the more common spice rack since it frees up wall space for other items that get used more often.
  4. Add an induction cooktop or replace your electric stove with a gas stove. Induction cooktops are energy-efficient and generate heat directly into compatible pots or pans, making it even more efficient than gas.
  5. Why not give your upper kitchen cabinets a new look. Convert them to open shelving/ floating shelves – very convenient for storing essentials like cups and pans or condiments/spices all at a hand’s reach.
  6. Add a creative planter to your windowsill for edible herbs to spruce up your new kitchen decor with green colours and wonderful aromas.
  7. Stone sinks and counter tops is where the trend is heading. Change your old bland stainless steel sinks to beautiful stone sinks available in various colors and styles, or replace melamine counter tops with granite or Ceasar stone – this is sure to add value to your home’s resale price.
  8. Add in automation – The kitchen of the future is here today. From sensor-activated lights that illuminate the kitchen only when it’s in use, meat thermometers that alert your smartphone or tablet when your dinner is done to smart kettles and coffee machines that get turned on from your smartphone.
  9. A kitchen cart can add a bit more storage space and free up your counter tops from your cooking books, gadgets, and other non-cooking supplies.
  10. Should you have a large kitchen, adding a table and assorted chairs is a great way to make the kitchen cosy and create an environment for the family to be together while preparing meals.

People in Real Estate: Carl Venter – Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom

“Special occasions are made to be celebrated, and March sees us celebrating two of our Licence’s Birthdays. We had a chat to the Licence Partners of each of the shops to gain some insight into their businesses and reflect back on where it all started. We would also like to thank them for their years of dedication and hard work, and wish them the best of success for the many years ahead” shared  Craig Hutchison, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa, CEO

 

Carl Venter  |  Licence Partner Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom  |  Celebrating 12 Years

 

Why did you join Engel & Völkers?

In 2005 I was invited to attend a presentation of the Engel & Völkers concept. Being active in the property industry for a while and an experienced estate agent at the time, it was clear that the Engel & Völkers business model is totally different from the competition. This model was developed in Germany since 1977 and was totally unique and very professional. What impressed me most was the fact that the E&V model had been developed and improved to such a high standard in the industry.

 

Do you have any new/exciting developments or projects on the horizon?

Our project division for new developments has been established for 12 years now. We are constantly doing market research to identify new opportunities in the market. Our market research some years ago indicated a clear demand for retirement housing in the city. We found that a more secure lifestyle and estate living will be the obvious next development in the residential sector of the city. With the ALS Group as the developer we launched “de Land Estate” which consists of a prime 30Ha security estate. Within the Estate we cater for developers looking to develop townhouse complexes, private buyers wanting to design and build their own home and a village for the 55+ age group, including a care centre which will be run by the Potchefstroom Service Centre of the aged.

Another one of our very successful projects is “Winfield” offering new housing with spacious stands at prices representing the best value for money in Potchefstroom, at a mere R1,25 million for a new 3 bedroom house.

We have also been granted the exclusive marketing to the new development “Lekwena Wildlife Estate” which is 2400 Ha consisting of 1800 head of game, 3 villages with approximately 175 stands, including; an air strip, lodge,  restaurant and horse stables.

What does your current team look like and what are your plans for expanding?

We currently have 40 of the most well trained and efficient property specialists in our team. We recently acquired another shop in order to grow our staff component and will also be adding new divisions. We have trained specialists in 9 different divisions in our office. Our well established back office including an in house trainer, as well as excellent stock makes it very attractive for agents to join our team. We are currently on an expansion and recruitment drive, experienced or un-experienced agents are welcome to contact us.

What do you think E&V offers your market?

The E&V business model is a performance driven model, which means that we are prepared to spend money and resources for the successful marketing of our client’s properties.  The fact that Engel & Völkers is operating in 32 countries on 4 continents is proof of the efficiency of the company. Add to this a very successful network that also includes yachting and aviation it is a clear differentiator of our competition. With this expertise and 40 years’ experience we are well equipped to sell property in the Potchefstroom market whether it is a property of R500 000 or R50 million –  We do this with the same flair.

 

What accolades do you have so far?    

With our efficient team as mentioned we’ve been very successful in the property industry over the past 12 years in Potchefstroom. Some of the highlights include; our international award of the Best Branding and Marketing in the world amongst 550 offices worldwide, the top preforming office nationally for 7 years, and most recently the best marketing award in South Africa.

Ask the experts: Personal Insurance

If you are looking to buy a house or building the bank requires you to have insurance in place for in case something happen to the building. However not everyone is quite aware of what the requirements are and we decided to have a chat with a licenced financial provider, Juslan Financial Solutions to gain some insights into the do’s and dont’s when it comes to insuring your property.

“The building and contents must be situated at the risk address that is named on the policy schedule. Most insurance companies have different meanings, excesses, exclusions and clauses for these sections. We only use this article as an example what to look for in choosing the correct type of cover” advised Bianca Kaempffer, advisor at Juslan Financial Solutions.

 

The property:

Building means the main building and outbuildings on the premises of the address stated on the policy schedule and this includes the following (please note that some companies may exclude these):

  • Garages and fixed carports, home offices, tool sheds, domestic workers living quarters, wendy houses (but not those used as living quarters), walls, metal palisades, gates and fences (but not hedges), water features and garden ornaments, tennis and squash courts
  • The structure or fabric of swimming pools, including safety nets and covers, but not portable swimming pools or automatic swimming pool cleaners, Spa baths, Jacuzzi and saunas, including safety nets and covers, electric gates and fencing, garage doors, water pumps, geysers, solar panels, etc.

 

The type of cover:

The building cover is the building and all items attached to the building. Contents are all items inside the building. An easy way to understand the difference between these two covers is as follows:

  • Building cover: when you turn the building upside down, everything that does not fall out is part of the building.
  • Contents cover: when you turn the building upside down, everything that falls out is part of the contents.

 

The Cost:

It is important to look at the following information as this will have a big influence on the premium that you will pay:

  • Construction of building (standard or non-standard)
  • Security (burglar bars, security gates, linked alarm, secure complex)
  • Type of dwelling (plot, private dwelling in residential area, farm, townhouse)

Most companies cover the following:

Loss or damage caused by: fire, lightning or explosion, storm, wind, water, flood, hail or snow, earthquake, impact by trees, impact by vehicles, theft and attempted theft (but when home is unoccupied there must be visible and forcible entry, malicious damage, geysers etc.

Mostly limited subsidence and landslip cover is included as the banks require this. But the following extra cover can also be added under the contents and building section for an additional premium. Accidental damage, breakdown of fixed machinery, and power surge.

Some extras to note:

  • Property should be covered for replacement value at all times.
  • It is the responsibility of the client to make sure that the building is covered correctly.
  • Replacement value is the amount needed for the cost to repair or rebuild the home with similar new materials. Most companies automatically increase the value of the contents and buildings with 10% per year with renewal of policy to cater for inflation.

Household contents:

Examples of contents is: Clothing, fridges, all furniture,

To help you to calculate the value of you contents it is advisable to complete an inventory form. Items with high value that is taken outside of the building, needs to be specified under the all risk section.

There are a lot of extensions that is automatically included under this section but not all of the companies include this. For example, Household contents in the open, contents in transit, Items belonging to guests in the home, Damage to gardens, trauma counseling, deterioration of food, medical expenses etc.

Jewellery is also limited under the contents section if they are not kept in a save; also most companies require a valuation certificate for jewellery above a certain value. This certificate can also be used as proof of ownership.

 

It is always a good idea to ask your insurance broker for assistance in this regard as some insurance brokers visit their clients to do a survey and also give advice about the correct cover. So let’s leave the experts to do what they are good at and rest assured that you can sleep soundly at night knowing that you are properly insured.

Making the most out of time: Cooking vs Family time – you can do both

Some years ago, family dinners were a tremendous part of home life. It was considered a must – no matter what. It was insisted upon that everyone sits at the dinner table together, to discuss the day’s events. However, as with all things, this too has changed to adapt to the rapid pace of today’s lifestyle.

These days family time is more valuable than ever, and trying to fit a good, wholesome family meal in between work, school and other activities may seem almost impossible.  Balancing your work and family is a must, and one simply has to find a way to make it work. “This has become a challenge in many families lives, shared Craig Hutchison, CEO of the real estate agency, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. “Between all the activities the schools offer these days and the increasing pace and hours to which the business world has extended, it is so easy to lose that personal touch between each other. Technology, which was meant to make our lives easier, in some cases can be the cause for the lack of personal communication” Craig added.

“It is therefore important to make a point of dedicating time for the family to get together. One way to ensure this could be to have ‘family cooking time’. It allows the opportunity to plan a meal together whilst catching up on the day’s activities”. Although the thought of having the kids in the kitchen may be horrifying to some, this does not need to be the case. The kitchen is a perfect place for bonding. You will find yourself being more creative with meals, sharing stories, laughing and learning new things about one another. It can be fun too, do not worry too much about the mess, the laughter will make it all worthwhile.

To save you even more time, there are also now convenient services which delivers all the ingredients needed to prepare a healthy meal, right to your door. This helps keep meals interesting with new items, whilst also saving on shopping time and eliminating waste as they provide you with the exact ingredients you need to prepare the menu. One such an example is www.daytoday.co.za. You order your menu, and receive a box filled with recipes’ and ingredients. Items are marked to show exactly which items go into which meal. This could make it even more exciting for the entire family, as the end result will be a surprise and new for everyone, instead of the same-old meal which we are used to.

Although even with the traditional meals we know and are used to, you might also be surprised to find yourself less tired and more relaxed after a cooking session with the kids. Involving your children in this, by them assisting in preparing some of the meals for the family, is engaging and it reinforces responsibilities. It will help to boost their confidence in trying new foods, especially for the picky eaters and it is a great way to teach them cooking skills, whilst getting some well-deserved help at the same time.

The pride that a child feels after helping to prepare the meal to which they are sitting down with is undeniable. Meals should be a social activity, not only a means of fuelling ourselves, but also as a medium to interact and engage with one another. Be patient, allocate specific tasks of a meal to different family members and involve everyone in the process, as this encourages an appreciation for the effort required to create a wonderful meal. Trying new things and allowing your kids to pick new recipes will help keep them interested. It is thus important to make time for family cooking as there are plenty of benefits for you and your children, and it does not have to be a daily activity to see the all the benefits.

 

5 Real Estate Agent Myths exposed

Years ago, selling property was considered a hobby or part-time job. Anyone was able to register and start selling. In 2008 the industry underwent rapid change, and being an agent is now a fully-fledged profession.

Although from a general public perspective, the exact process is not quite clear and there is still a perception that being an estate agent is very much a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. It is common practice for clients to negotiate commission, which is why we look at the common miss-conceptions people have about estate agents.

 1. Anyone may sell property for a living

False > A Real Estate Qualification is required by anyone who sells property as a profession and you must be in possession of a valid FFC issued by the EAAB (Estates Agency Affairs Board). The applicant needs to first complete a 12 month internship (no exemptions allowed) whilst being mentored by a professional and experienced estate agent where after they can then proceed to complete the FETC (the Further Education and Training Certificate) in Real Estate at level NQF4. Lastly candidates must also write and pass the Professional Designate Exam (PDE) after they have been found competent by Services SETA in their NQF Level 4 portfolio of evidence. For a new agent, it will take between 2-3 years to complete the whole process and be a full status real estate agent.

 

2.  Agents only earn commission

True > Agents do not earn a fixed income and work only for commission (there are rare exceptions in the development sectors). Agents work at their own risk; if they do not succeed in a sale they will not be earning an income. Professional agents are constantly investing money and time into the marketing of their properties and their business, to ensure they have the clients to match the buyer and seller up quickly. This is done with no certainty of an income whatsoever, the commission is only earned by the agent whose marketing actions were the real cause for the property to actually sell. The percentage commissions also vary between estate agencies and one would not expect to pay a standard percentage across the board.

 

3. Being an agent is easy money

False > The average time which a property is on the market, is 3 months. This means that for every property an agent sells, they had to put in 3 month’s worth of work. The end result might be that a property is listed and sold, however prior to the property coming to the market, the agent was already busy canvassing their area and shortlisting their clients and all of these activities take marketing material, phone calls, car payments, fuel costs and more.

When it comes to the actual commission, the figure which a seller pays is also not money in the bank. Agents have a commission split with the company they work for which covers part of their costs and for the support and network they have access to, as well as royalty fees if they are part of a network and then of course income tax as everyone else.

All of the funds they spend on marketing, promoting and showing a property can only be regained if the property sells, however if the property doesn’t sell all these expenses fall to them and not to the seller. Hence there is no easy money to be made without constant, dedicated hard work.

 

4. Agents commission can easily be cut

False > An agent that offers a low commission fee may not be able to provide as wide a range of services and exposure that a larger agency with a higher rate may be able to provide. Sellers often do not understand what exactly an agent will do for the sale of a property and why going the agent route will result in a more efficient sale process and ultimately what the seller will get in return.

In return for the commission, the seller should get an extensive marketing plan specifying exactly how the property will be marketed and which services will be provided (Professional photos, posted on their website; adverts placed on property websites/advertising in magazines). All these costs will be carried by the agent and the agency.

To acquire the best possible agent is therefore much more important than trying to undercut the sales commission, in most cases this is your most valuable asset and you would want the right expertise working on it. Sellers should be very cautious of agents who promise them a higher price based on a lower commission. Often you will still find the listing, 5 months later with a reduced price and an uninspired marketing plan.

The best example to see this practically – will you go to a GP for a specialist consult? Or a friend instead of a qualified attorney? The rate for the specialist is higher, however you know that you are in good, well trained hands.

Agents who easily lower their commission might not value their skills or service provided high enough. Alternatively if you can easily negotiate their commission down – how much faith will you have in their capability to negotiate the best possible price on your home? Just as you would not immediately fall foot-in-door with a bargaining strategy with your doctor, attorney or even your auditor, you should consider the same when dealing with an estate agent as they are professionals in their own field. If we turn the table around, what if everyone wanted to negotiate your salary on a daily basis?

 

5.   Selling real estate can be a part-time job

False > Working as a part-time agent may seem like an excellent idea but it is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of hard work to become an agent, if you work elsewhere during this time period getting things done might become quite strenuous. To be a successful as an agent, it takes ongoing training and full focus on daily activities and client service, doing this part time would not be beneficial for the agent or the seller.

Agents must devote large amounts of their time at first to finding future clients and building a reputation and in order to do this they must always be available. Agents must drive to appointments, accept calls from clients at all hours to answer questions and prove themselves on an on-going basis to the prospective clients who might have other options.

Real estate is an all-hours job, you may not have to work 40 hours per week, but you will have to work all hours of the day and weekends. Agents must always be in the pursuit of other potential clients and impress them with their superior and professional skills to maintain a solid reputation and relationship. It is a very competitive market, and there are other agents who are also willing to work just as hard.

Many people have dreams of making it big as a real estate agent, but they want to start slow. People want the freedom, income, and the other benefits that come with being a real estate agent, and this would be ideal, but unfortunately in the real world – we can never have it all.