Buying your first home can be a thrilling experience, although it can also come with its own unique challenges. It is quite common to be anxious when you’re house hunting – especially if it is your first property. A small amount of preparation can go a long way to ensuring you end up with the perfect home.
“Buying a property is both exciting and terrifying at the same time, even though it is seen as business transaction it is an emotional affair too. Try your best to try and keep your emotions under control before you make a hard-pressed and foolish decision about a home which is financially out of your reach, or alternatively settling for something within your budget, yet not what you wanted” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
In order to avoid finding yourself drowning in “house” possibilities, set priorities and organize the house hunting process early on, you can then rest assured that you have armed yourself with as much knowledge as possible.
To help you stay focused on the important details during your house hunt, here are some tips and important decisions to think about before rushing to the property market.
Know Your Budget
Determining what you can afford is the first step in narrowing down the home search. Buyers need to know what they will be able to afford on a monthly basis, and decide ahead of time what amount they are comfortable with paying per month for their mortgage. Remember to include the other costs associated with homeownership, such as home insurance, property taxes, maintenance and utilities.
Check Your Score
The higher your credit score, the better. Good credit is like gold when obtaining a mortgage and securing the best interest rate possible. If your credit score falls short, get busy repairing it -correct any errors that might be on your report, start paying all your bills on time, and get your credit limit raised.
Pre-Approved Home Loan
Most people will need to take out a bond to purchase their first home. Applying for pre-approval with the assistance of a Bond Originator puts you in a much stronger position to buy, and you’ll feel more confident of your limitations when making an offer. You’ll be able to show sellers that you are a serious buyer and have the required finances to purchase the property. Once you know how much home you can afford, you can perform your home search based on your pre-approval amount or less.
It is crucial to determine how long you think you will be living in the property you are about to buy. It is pointless to buy a studio flat knowing you wish to start a family soon. Similarly, if your job or your financial circumstances are in any way to become unstable in the near future, make sure you will be covered financially.
Find a Diligent Agent
Once you know how much you can spend, and what your planned future holds, you are ready to begin your search for an agent. Some buyers choose to first select their agent before doing any of the above. This might be a wise choice in many cases, as if you have the right agent by your side, you are covered in all areas.
Your agent can help guide you through the financing part of buying a home and will have a better handle on the market. They will represent your interests and keep a constant eye out for newly listed homes you might love. Look for an agent who is educated and who has lived in the area for a long time, knows the market, and who is knowledgeable about problems with potential homes and who’s invested in educating you about how to buy a home.
Where You Would Like to Live
If you aren’t sure about your specific location, spend some time in the areas you’re interested in at different times of the day to get a feel for the area, for instance visit during rush hour and at night time. Consider what you would prefer: an older, more established area, or a newer one? Do you like communities with plenty of activity or a secluded cul-de-sac with more privacy? Would you like to live in a gated community or are you prepared to trade some security for your independence?
To some extent, the answers to these questions will help you decide where you should start looking, but you also need to consider whether these neighbourhoods are within easy reach of work, schools, public transport, medical services, shopping and entertainment facilities.
The statement “Knowledge is power” applies multiple times to the process of buying property. A level-headed understanding of the property market, will give you an advantage.
Once you have chosen your suburbs to buy in, take your time to learn more about that area. What is the price of homes there? Does this fall within your range? Is there potential for solid capital growth? Browse the online listings in and around your budget, go to open houses, and depending on what’s important to you get to know the neighbourhoods, find out about schools, crime/safety and traffic.
Your Current Housing
It might seem very unappealing to a seller if your offer is dependent on you selling your current house, as they have no idea how quickly or easily it will be to sell. It is advisable to sell your current home before you seriously start looking to buy a new one. That would mean possibly needing to rent a storage unit for your belongings and find provisional housing.
What Features Do You Require?
You will need to decide on the features which are required in order to meet your family and lifestyle needs. Make a careful list of the things they would regard as essential and non-negotiable, for both your current circumstances, as well as your future plans.
How many bedrooms or bathrooms do you need? Make decisions around a home office or a granny flat, how much parking is required, and whether or not you need a large garden for their children and pets. This will make it easier for the real estate agent working in your chosen area to help you find your ideal home, and not waste anyone’s time showing you unsuitable properties.
Sectional Title or Full Title?
Sectional title units are less maintenance intensive for homeowners. All exterior maintenance of the property and the complex are taken care of by the body corporate, however, this will require the homeowner to pay a levy or monthly association fee to cover services and repairs within the development. On the other hand, full title homes come with more privacy and the freedom to add on or renovate without requiring permission from the body corporate. Along with the freedom comes the full financial responsibility for all maintenance.
House hunting is a learning experience and buyers need to take into account that there is no such thing as the perfect house. Ultimately you want to find that home that incorporates the things that are most important to you.
Gardens are an enormous contributor towards a home’s curb appeal, a term which has been around for centuries. One could imagine that as real estate trends change, this might have as well, but it is still very much a huge determining factor when buying a home.
The busier we are, the less time we have, the more our attention span decreases, leaving visual aspects a primary element in today’s busy lifestyle. Just look at your social platforms or how general marketing & communication has changed – photos are key, and that is true in property as well. A well-established and maintained garden is always considered an asset, unfortunately not everyone has the time to tend to a garden, and with recent water restrictions it’s not always possible.
Statistics show that the demand for water wise properties equipped with boreholes, smaller lawn areas or with small gardens has escalated. Online searches for “borehole water” and “eco estates”’ have also increased steadily. “The prolonged drought, especially in the Cape, has home buyers thinking twice about the choices they make when buying property. Homeowners that have an alternative water source or low water consumption on their property definitely have an excellent selling point, not only do buyers hope to conserve water, they are also hoping to reduce their bills” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
Buyers have become more informed when making property purchases and are ensuring they have some sustainability in their homes; it is not only in the sales sector but in rentals as well. Landlords are starting to invest in implementing rainwater-harvesting systems and adding water wise indigenous plants, considering artificial lawns, and water and electricity saving mechanisms. This ensures that they offer tenants the opportunity to live in a place where the utilities are more controlled and properties equipped with these elements are more marketable.
Water wise gardening
In the past having a lush green garden was no problem, this is not the case anymore and we need to ensure we can adapt to still deliver a pretty picture but while saving water. We look at garden trends we can expect to see this year, to help create a water efficient garden.
- Lawns guzzle plenty of water, so some consideration should be given to if you really need one. Reduce its size or remove the lawn completely and replace it with paving, decorative stones, ground cover, gravel, pebble paths, succulents or a mix of all, which will provide inexpensive and low maintenance solutions. If you keep some lawn, don’t mow it too short, as this lets the roots dry out quicker. For smaller areas artificial grass can be used.
- Replace all plants that need plenty of water with low water users. Look for plants that store water such as succulents and aloes. Plant a xeriscape succulent garden – xeriscaping is a landscaping style and method that was developed in arid areas that uses a lot of stone and a succulent plants. A xeriscape is very low maintenance garden and will actually die from over watering. Remember to go indigenous, planting what occurs naturally in your area – exotic plants often need more water.
- Use mulch to stop moisture escaping, preferably organic, such as pine needles, bark, and straw or wood chips. Apply a 5cm-thick layer to soil that’s already moist. Check that water is able to penetrate; simply loosening the mulch can improve its porosity, reapply periodically.
- Build a water conserving rock garden, which can take many different forms and can be a great way to showcase different and unique plants. Rock gardens can be designed with shade or sun tolerant plants. When selecting plants consider choosing plants with the same sun, water, and soil requirements. Ground covers can create a cascading or trailing effect; succulents thrive in hot, dry sites and high elevation wildflowers can create a beautiful bloom effect.
- Check whether your garden has bore water and whether a simple spore and pump can be installed to access it.
- Install a grey water system to capture and recycle water from baths, showers and washing machines. Make sure you use cleaning products that are safe for garden use. You’ll also need a booster pump to operate the irrigation system and have your grey water connected and filtered in to the irrigation system.
- Don’t waste rainwater; harvest it from the roof, the driveway and patios. Direct it into water tanks or reservoirs which can be hidden underground.
- Install a water wise irrigation system preferably fitted with a controller, soil moisture sensor and rain sensor. This ensures that plants will only get water when they need it.
- Resurface driveways, yards and paths with porous surfaces or paving blocks and plastic grid systems filled with plants.
- To save water, change your swimming pool into a wetland pool which can be used to water the garden during periods of drought.
Even with the blessing of the needed rain, it is still going to take the country some time to restore itself, and even if we were to reach this point, being water wise will always remain a positive point. In the long-term, small changes could save you money and ensure your property is always market -ready and appealing to buyers.
One of the biggest decisions for a parent is deciding which school their children will one day attend. Some start researching their children’s education institutions from birth – or even before. The competition for space in good schools is increasing every year, so much so that some parents are on the waiting list before they even fall pregnant.
“There is a tremendous demand for homes close to good schools or universities, as properties in these zones tend to hold their value much better in tough economic times. Buyers that have kids will often migrate and be drawn to these areas and are likely prepared to pay a premium for these properties” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
Education zones have also become a popular consideration for many people who don’t have kids as they will purchase property as a buy-to-let investment option. Investing in a school / varsity district will mean that the properties are easy to rent out. This high demand yields a higher rental income, and the rental periods are usually longer as the families will most likely wish for their child to complete their schooling career before relocating. “Interest in student housing has become increasingly popular over the years with the demand growing more and more as urban areas extend to, what used to be, outlying areas and travelling becomes ever more difficult with relation to fuel prices and transport costs” Craig notes.
Buying a house is usually for the long haul, so having an education institution in your neighborhood can boost your property’s value. However it is important that you understand with the many benefits, there come some nuisances that cannot be avoided. We take a look at some of the benefits as well as the possible negatives of owning property in an education zone:
- Future planning – you will not have to worry about moving closer to a school when your children reach school-going age.
- Higher property values – if the home is in a good school zone, the higher your resale value will be when the time comes to sell your house.
- Easy to sell or rent -homes close to schools tend to have a constant demand, so if you choose to sell or rent your home down the line, finding a buyer or tenant will be much easier.
- Safe neighbourhood – areas with schools generally tend to be safer to live in as they are well monitored and inhabited by people that are as concerned with safety /security as you are.
- Child friendly environment – kids will have more time and opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities. Being able to walk to these areas is a plus, especially for working parents with multiple children.
- Time saving – eliminates wasted time and sitting in traffic.
- Cost saving – the expense of driving to and from school ads up, living close to school decreases extra fuel costs.
Take into consideration:
- Traffic – expect increased traffic and noise of idling cars when parents drop kids off and collect them again at the end of the day.
- Parking – parents might park in front of your house while waiting for their kids at pick-up or drop-off time as well as when there are school events occurring.
- Noise – you might hear kids practicing their sport on a weekly basis after school and on weekends. Depending on the proximity, you might even hear the school bell ringing between classes and kids during playing break times.
- Loitering – if your house is extremely close to the school, scholars might loiter around your house while waiting to be picked up. They might wreak havoc with graffiti, noise, and other teenage up-to-no-good activities.
- Degrading of the school – there is no guarantee that a school will remain a good school down the line, it may decline or even close. This is more of a concern if you plan to stay in the home a long time.
“It is always worthwhile exploring ones options. Speak to an area specialist, who will be able to advise you on past area trends and statistics, as well as assist with predicting what the market could be doing in the next few years” Craig advised. Remember that this is your largest asset, and you need to ensure you make the right choice.
By Chantalle Bell
The start of the New Year saw fresh new horizons for Engel & Völkers Southern Africa with the sale of the KZN Dolphin Coast licence. This territory which was acquired by husband and wife team, Karien and Stephen Hunter covers the Dolphin Coast area, stretching from the Ohlange (Umhlanga) River to Zinkwazi, north of Ballito.
Karien has over 30 years’ experience as a property attorney, and has been in the Ballito area for the last 12 years. Needless to say, she is the perfect candidate for the new licence and we are assured that she will make a great success with this new venture.
The firm, AMC Hunter Inc. was founded in 1987 by Karien, who still heads up the practice today. In 2017 Hunter Inc. celebrated their 30th anniversary, firmly established as one of the leading law firms in KwaZulu-Natal, specialising in property and commercial law. Karien has invested innumerable hours in the training of real estate agents in the property industry, over the years. She now looks forward to training and developing her own Area Partners on the North Coast.
Karien Hunter holds many accolades, she was the co-winner of the Business Woman of the Year Awards in KwaZulu-Natal in 2007, and was one of three finalists for the Women in Property Awards (WPN Awards) in South Africa in 2008, amongst a few, and is well connected on the KZN North Coast.
Although she has been involved with many real estate agencies she has always been drawn to the E&V brand. She was an avid reader of the weekly newsletters and the brand really appealed to her. She was approached by Craig Hutchison CEO, Engel & Völkers Southern Africa with the opportunity to get involved in the brand, and it was a perfect match from the get-go.
She believes in quality Area Partners, selling quality property, big or small. Karien trusts the key to success is to employ character and the rest will follow. She has a great love for people, their growth and development.
“I always hear estate agencies boasting about their systems which are all very good, but after my intro to the E&V system I am convinced more than ever that E&V does have the best available on the market, even from an attorney perspective – it makes the transactions interlink so well” Karien shared.
“Looking ahead, the KZN residential market looks set to be the most vibrant this year, at least in terms of potential house price growth and return on investment” says Craig Hutchison CEO of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa. “The North Coast of KwaZulu-Natal is the new ‘Cape Town’ when it comes to property. It’s about a preferred location because of the many opportunities for business and local economic growth. We wish Karien and her team the best of luck and all the success in their new venture going forward” Craig concluded.
If you are looking to invest in a second home, relocate or to retire at the coast, we are able to offer our exceptional service. Our culture has become the trademark of the Engel & Völkers and the access to international customers and clients through our global market network offers an extended reach with European flair.
The licence area runs from Umhlanga river northwards suburbs include:
Umdloti Beach, Newsel Beach (Umdloti), Selection Beach (Umdloti), La Mercy, Westbrook, Tongaat Beach, Tongaat Central, Zimbali, Ballito, Deepdene, Deepdale, Compensation Beach, Seaward Estate, Beverley Hills Estate, Salt Rock, Shakas Rock, Sheffield Estate, Willard Beach, Brettenwood Estate, Dunkirk, Mount Richmore Village, Blythedale Beach, Palm Lakes, Princes Grant Golf Estate, Tinley Manor, Zinkwazi, Manor Estates, Umhlali Golf Estate, Wakenshaw Estate, Stanger Central, Stanger Heights, Stanger Manor, Belvedere (Tongaat), Desainager (Tongaat), Mount Moreland, Sandfield (Tongaat).
You can contact Karien on 083 449 2969 or email Karien.Hunter@engelvoelkers.com.
About the Area:
KwaZulu-Natal’s north coast, also known as the Dolphin Coast, it is a desirable strip of coastline. A beautiful playground of warm waters, incredible waves, and glorious beaches set alongside fields of sugarcane in a part of the world endowed with humid and warm weather almost throughout the year – this why the Dolphin Coast is one of the province’s main attractions.
No longer just a family holiday hotspot, the lifestyle of relaxation and tranquillity, along with excellent schools and stylish shopping centres just minutes away, the North Coast represents one of the most desirable parts of KZN in which to live. The North Coast is renowned for the Golden Mile, natural indigenous forests, mangrove swamps and the promenade walked by locals at sundown. Residence and visitors are attracted to the friendly village atmosphere, family experiences such as beach days, animal farms, mountain bike trails through the sugar cane fields or a few rounds of golf at one of many excellent North Coast golf courses. The North Coast is primarily recognised by two holiday towns named Ballito and uMhlanga. Ballito is where you will find Sibaya Casino, King Shaka International Airport and the beautiful Zimbali estate, while the upmarket uMhlanga has plenty to offer, from luxury estates such as Hawaan Forest Estate to the uShaka marine theme park.
Area Trends and Activity:
The North Coast has become the hub of property development and is rapidly growing, particularly gated estates. The infrastructure upgrades and various blue chip investments such as the Oceans and Dube Port is attracting a number of residential developers, corporates and retirees seeking a relaxed lifestyle in a seaside location that is also conveniently close to offices, shops, medical facilities and entertainment venues.
Average Property Value:
In the North Coast area, homes currently range in a price from R 2.8 million in greater Ballito to as high as R 70 million in lifestyle estates. The average price for a full title, mid-level home is about R 3, 15 million. According to Lightstone, full title properties and sectional title units have increased in value, although sectional title properties more so by approximately 6% in the Ballito area. People are prepared to pay a premium for the estate lifestyle with the benefits of this relaxation and beach.
Typical Property Type:
The North Coast offers a number of gated communities and luxury estates with sensual architecture, whilst it is also a place with family homes, secure complexes, sought-after retail and office space.
Is sustainable living the future of Real Estate?
By Chantalle Bell
Sustainability is currently a hot topic in the home and construction sector. In light of the progressing climate change and shrinking resources worldwide, it’s one of the most important issues to consider. Sustainable living is the practice of reducing your demand on natural resources by making sure that you replace what you use to the best of your ability.
“Often the thought of being more energy efficient makes one think of expensive contraptions, modern interiors or fittings, and a lot of extra work to make the home more eco-friendly, however this does not need to be the case. A green home is attainable with a few simple adjustments, while the results may not be physically visible all the time, doing your bit in your home on a daily basis is not as difficult or expensive as you may think, and can even save you money in the long run” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
We all know that climate change, global warming, depletion of ozone layer and resource depletion are real and their impact on human and animal lives can be devastating. By altering our lifestyle, it gives us an opportunity to adopt actions for sustainable living that can help to reduce the environmental impact.
Eco-friendly housing is the future of real estate
The key to encouraging more green building is to educate homeowners. If they decide to go green, they can have a more durable, more energy- and water-efficient and healthier home for about the same cost as a conventional home and can benefit greatly by gradually starting to implement green features. As the cost of living increases, and our society becomes more environmentally conscious, eco-friendly homes will see an increase in demand.
Johann du Toit, Area Partner from Engel & Völkers Stellenbosch, has already had first-hand experience with the advantages of green homes with clients from Sweden who had had a selection of properties available to them. In light of the current water shortage in Cape Town, they opted for a particular property in Stellenbosch, after being presented with a number of alternatives, as it had its own supply of tested and approved water for human consumption, a swimming pool running from borehole water and a solar system supplying the hot water. “It shows that having more eco-friendly sustainable homes have become strengths in effecting the choices made by tourists as well as for buyers. We believe that this will add a handsome premium to the price of accommodation and real estate” says Craig.
An increasing number of people are deciding to purchase green homes; as everyone enjoys the savings on utility bills, making green homes a wise investment and also providing better durability, energy savings and water savings. If you’re selling your house, highlighting your eco-friendly features can be a major selling point to potential buyers.
Kobus Taljaard, Engel & Völkers, Licence Partner from the Winelands region says that developers and management of two estates Val de Vie and Pearl Valley have been very pro-active and have turned the negative water issue into a positive. Both these estates have disconnected municipal water and have become totally self-sufficient from underground water supplies on the banks of the Berg River and grey water purification. The switch over took place just before Christmas when the newly installed purification plant took effect – there will not be a day zero in these two estates – at least not in the very near future. “Water restrictions still apply as enforced elsewhere in the province, but the fact that the taps will not run dry is used as a marketing positive. New development phases will continue as planned and property prices will not be affected” concluded Kobus.
Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom also has quite a few estates implementing green features, one such estate is de Land Estate, which has dedicated herb gardens & fruit orchards. Carl Venter, Licence Partner of Engel & Völkers Potchefstroom has been researching green and energy efficient living since 2010. “This year, our Engel & Völkers Green Projects division will be building the first energy efficient home on Lekwena Wildlife Estate. Keep an eye out for the process as the house will be monitored to calculate the efficiency rate, providing valuable information for clients looking to make their own homes more energy efficient-definitely an industry first in Potchefstroom” Carl added.
Properties which are green and have water saving systems and boreholes will be more desirable going forward and will be priced accordingly.
Turn your own home into a green zone
Replace your shower heads: The simplest, cheapest and quickest way of saving water is by switching your regular shower head to a low flow, water efficient shower head, this will half your shower water consumption. Shortening your showers, and turning the taps off while washing yourself can save a considerable amount. By placing a bucket in the shower you can catch your grey water, which allows you to save and recycle water by reusing it in your garden.
Upgrade your toilet cistern: Older cisterns can use between 9-12 litres per flush, while newer cisterns use about 6 litres. Installing a cistern with dual-flush, that provides a button for a long flush and a button for a short flush, will save on water. Alternatively, place a plastic bottle or brick into the cistern to displace the water this will allow less water to flush out whenever the handle is pulled.
Install a timer on your geysers: Heating water is one of an average household’s biggest electricity spends. Install a digital timer on your geyser, so you can program in exactly what times you want it to turn on and off. Alternatively run in tandem with your regular geyser a system to pre-warm the water that goes into the main geyser, so that it’s not constantly heating up the water intake from cold. This could be done through an actual solar geyser, or just through a home-rigged system of black pipes coiled on the roof, warmed by the sun.
Solar panels: Use the sun’s energy to power your home. Solar power can be used to heat water and provide electricity for lighting and appliances. This works best when the panels are exposed to as much light as possible on a daily basis. It is a once-off expense that keeps producing results for years.
Use energy saving lighting: LED light bulbs are becoming more affordable now, but not everybody can afford to switch over the whole house to LED lighting in one go, even though the energy saving makes it worthwhile in the long – term. Start by replacing bulbs in the most used areas, the kitchen, the hall light that you leave on all night, and gradually work up to converting the whole house.
Start to recycle all grey water: Grey water is the water that has already been used around the home used to irrigate the garden. When using grey water, be careful not to store it for too long as it is particularly susceptible to bacteria and gas production, rather, let it run directly from the bath or washing machine into the garden or collect it in a bucket and use it immediately. The reuse of grey water may take a little preparation and forethought, however, the economic benefits as well as the enormous advantages to your immediate environment, it is certainly worth the preparation.
Green your walls and roof: Having plants growing on your walls and roof has so many beneficial effects. They insulate the building, prevent noise pollution, emit healthful oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide.
Deciding to paint your home is a huge decision. Not knowing where to start and the thought of turning your household into, what may seem like a construction site for a period of time, may put you off. However, whether it is painting the exterior or interior to freshen up a room, the rewards of a newly painted home are endless.
“Your home is the biggest and most important investment you’ll make; hence homeowners are taking no chances when it comes to maximizing the value of their property. When the time comes to sell, a beautiful, well-maintained home can offer many benefits that resonate with buyers” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
Should you be thinking of undertaking a paint project we have made it a little easier to get you started with some helpful tips from Dulux.
- Remove furniture to avoid ruining wood and upholstery with spilled or splattered paint. Consider renting a temporary storage unit or putting items away in the garage while you work. Alternatively put all items in the center of the room, and cover them with plastic.
- Protect your flooring with professional-style drop cloths throughout the room. Plastic sheeting is cheaper, but it’s easily punctured and can shift under your feet while you work, exposing areas of flooring. A heavy canvas drop cloth or a professional grade butyl-backed cloth protect against spills and also help keep paint from being tracked through the rest of your house.
- Remove wall hangings, it is the perfect time to give the entire room a face-lift. If there is any chance that you might want to reconfigure your pictures and clocks when you re-hang them, remove nails and picture hangers and fill in the holes with crack filler before you paint. Be sure to let the crack filler dry before covering.
- Clean the walls to be painted to assure you of a smooth, professional-looking result. Dark smudges can show through a coat of paint, and oil or other substances on the wall can change the consistency of the paint being applied. Clean all walls with a solution of water and mild detergent. For tough stains or smudges, like kitchen grease or grime stains, professionals rely on trisodium phosphate. Mixed with bleach, trisodium phosphate can also remove mildew and mildew stains before you paint. Be sure to rinse the walls thoroughly when you’re finished and leave them plenty of time to dry before you get to work.
– Exterior – to remove flaking paint, chalkiness, as well as dirt and debris, clean exterior walls by high-pressure water blast, using a rotating nozzle at a pressure of 150 to 180 Bar. Remove any remaining loose, flaking paint from the surface with a sharp paint scraper and firm hand pressure. It is not necessary to remove well-bonded layers of paint.
– Interior – wash interior wall surfaces with a solution of pre-paint sugar soap powder. This will ensure that any dirt and grease on the surface, as well as chalked paint, has been removed. Rinse thoroughly with clean water.
- Don’t paint over problem walls. If your walls have holes or cracks, fix them before you start with the paint. Geo-paint advises that wide cracks and large holes can be “bridged” with fiberglass tape, spackle will fill small holes and cracks, and texturizing products are available to match your existing wall finish.
– Dampness and moisture in walls – the most damage to paint systems, and eventually to the substrate and the structure, is caused by excessive moisture in the walls. Prior to painting, the building needs to be inspected for all signs of dampness. Tell-tale signs of dampness are the deposition of salts on the surface, flaking paint, water staining and discoloration. Repair and seal any area of water ingress from roofs, balconies, horizontal or sloping wall tops, joints between windows and plaster reveals with Dulux Rainshield.
– Cracking – cracking in walls can have numerous causes, but one of the main causes is the settlement of the building in combination with inferior plaster mix, and the presence of moisture and dampness. It is important to assess the cracking and ensure that it is not interfering with the structure of the building.
- Remove outlet covers and switch plates. Childproof plastic outlet covers can help protect wall sockets from paint while you work. If you’re going to paint the ceiling of the room, don’t forget to remove light fixtures and ceiling medallions whenever possible.
- Tape off all your baseboards and windowsills before you start. invest in professional painter’s tape, available at most hardware stores and paint suppliers. Taping is simple, but time consuming. Doing it right, though, makes for truly professional-looking results. Be sure that none of your tape is on the wall to be painted, or your old wall color will be playing peek-a-boo around the perimeter of your room. You can also use painters tape to tape out patterns or color blocks on your wall.
- Set up a staging area in the center of the room or just outside it for pouring paint, storing open paint cans, and cleaning brushes and rollers. This will cut down on spills and accidents, or at least keep them contained to one designated area.
Best paints to use for the longest lifespan
The type of paint will make a difference and so will the manufacturer. When you use higher quality paint, you’ll notice that you use less paint to get a great result. Paint coatings are composed of different chemicals, which combine synergistically to provide the paint with its properties. In order to derive the optimum paint properties and maximize the longevity of the coatings, it is of paramount importance that the paint coating is applied using best painting practices and according to the manufacturer’s specifications. It is essential that the substrate to which the paint coating is applied is free of defects that will affect the adhesion of the coating system. Adhesion to the substrate is the key to coating longevity. The secret of a perfect, long-lasting paint finish is a sound, clean and dry substrate, and the correct use of products.
Painting tools needed:
- Step ladders and extension ladders – to help you reach elevated areas
- Paint scraper – to remove loose or peeling paint from wood, plaster, and
- Triangular-load scraper – to remove paint in small or tight areas
- Steel wool – to remove corrosion from metal surfaces
- Wire brush – to remove efflorescence and loose material from masonry, or to remove loose, flaking paint
- Putty knife – to scrape away loose paint, or to apply filler
- Glazing compound – to replace cracked, broken, or missing panes of glass
- Spackling paste – to fill nail holes and small imperfections in walls
- Sandpaper (various grits) – to smooth and feather previously painted surfaces, or to roughen glossy surfaces so paint will adhere better
- Sanding block – to hold sandpaper and help you sand surfaces to an even finish
- Caulking gun and tubes of caulk – to apply caulk to cracks in walls, gaps, and seams in woodwork
- Masking tape – to protect window panes and trim from paint
- Paint guide – to protect carpets and walls when painting baseboards and other trim
- Roller tray and grid – to load rollers with paint
- Brush comb – to clean paint brushes
- Paint pail – to mix paint and carry it to the worksite
- Drop cloths – to protect furniture, floors, and shrubbery from paint
Step 1 – Choose a colour
Choosing a colour is the hardest part:
- If you really don’t have any idea about what colour to paint try pulling a colour out of a piece of art or area rug that’s in the room. It’s a guaranteed way to find a complimentary colour.
- Take home several paint chips and see how they look in the room. Hold them up to the furniture, floors, artwork, cabinets, and anything else that’s already in the room. Try to narrow it down to three or four choices.
- Get a small sample pot of each colour and paint a large square on the wall.
- Also try using the Dulux visualizer app which is a tool that allows you to test colour on the wall without having to waste any paint.
- Almost all of the brands now have testers available. It is well worth spending the money to buy a few to test in your space before purchasing litres of the colour. Plus the leftover samples are great for other small painting projects.
- Leave the test areas up for about a week so that you can see what the colour will look at different times of day and in different light.
Step 2 – Choose a finish
Once you’ve chosen a paint colour and design, you’ll need to decide on a finish.
- Flat (matte): No shine at all. Perfect for low traffic areas like living rooms and bedrooms, as well as ceilings.
- Flat enamel: Has almost no shine but is a bit easier to clean than flat paint. This is also perfect for low traffic areas but may be a better choice if you have kids or pets.
- Eggshell enamel: Has a tiny bit of shine and is a good choice for moderate traffic areas such as living rooms and most scuffs can be wiped off of this surface with a damp cloth.
- Satin enamel: Has a bit more shine and works well in high traffic areas or areas that have moisture. It is also super wipe able which is why it is perfect for kitchens and bathrooms.
- Semi-Gloss enamel: Shiny but not glass-like. This is what you should use on cabinets and trim, or in really high moisture areas.
- Hi-Gloss enamel: Shiny! This gives an almost glass-like finish and is perfect for high use surfaces (like a railing) or furniture.
Step 3 – Determine the amount of paint needed
Many of the larger brands have paint calculators on their websites to help you with this sum, but if you wish to do it manually, here is how:
- First, assess the size of the area that you’re painting. Measure the width and height of walls with a metal tape measure and multiply these together to calculate the overall square metre measurement.
- Subtract the space used by windows and doors using the same calculation method as above, and remove these from your overall square metre measurement.
- Multiply your new total square metre measurement by the number of coats you’ll need – its recommend factoring in at least two coats. It’s also worth including a little extra paint for touch ups.
- Finally, divide this total figure by the m²/l number on your paint tin. This will give you the total litres of paint you need for your project.
Step 4 – Get painting
Always start painting from the highest area to the lowest. Start with the ceiling or top of the walls and work your way down. This way you can catch any drips and it won’t ruin a freshly painted wall. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to put too much paint on the brush or roller. It’s far more effective to put a small amount on and use even strokes to apply thin coats. It’s tempting to slather on a lot of paint in the hopes of not having to do another coat, but the end result won’t be what you wanted.
“Even if you are not putting your home on the market yet, a fresh coat of paint will allow you to enjoy that new look whilst ensuring your home is market-ready for when you do decide to sell” Craig noted. “So why not explore your options and do a few calculations, you might be surprised how far this low-cost renovation might take you.”
An excellent credit score is one of the most priceless assets a potential home buyer can have. This tool has the power to secure favorable mortgage and refinancing rate, influencing everything from the size of the loan repayment to the interest rate on the home loan.
“It is advisable that potential home buyers check their credit score before even starting to look for homes or applying for a home loan, as the banks will look into your financial history and the application will be declined if you have a low credit score. The important thing is that your accounts are up to date and that you have the ability to afford the bond” advises Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
South Africans are entitled to a free copy of their credit record every year. “Many South Africans are surprisingly unaware of the importance of a good credit profile, many do not know what a credit profile even is, and even if they do, they seldom check their own personal credit profile. Today many potential employers look at credit profile reports as a way to judge a person’s character and level of responsibility” says Mellony Ramalho, Group Executive African Bank.
Your credit score is typically a number from 0 to 999 and is calculated by using all the details on your credit profile. “It reflects a ‘score’ summary of all your financial decisions, it is often used by lenders, such as home loan and personal loan companies, to make accurate decisions on whether they should lend to you or not” says Michael Bowren, CEO and founder Fincheck. Overall, a credit score measures the amount of potential risk the consumer is to the creditor.
We take a look at what the experts have to say about credit scores and what should and shouldn’t be done.
How does a credit score work?
The higher your score the better your credit health will be, which will be an advantage when applying for a home loan, making it easier for you to borrow money at lower interest rates. “The lower the score, the higher the risk which then influences the outcome of the credit application” advises Andile Fulane, CEO, Seed of Prosperity.
By managing your credit profile effectively, you can ensure your image and profile is viewed favorably by lenders or other organizations. A bad credit score would mean the exact opposite of this and result in almost no financial institution willing to offer you a home loan.
Credit score guideline:
|Credit Score Range
|767 – 999 (Excellent)
||Consumer has an high probability of collection
|681 – 766 (Good)
||Consumer has an average probability of collection
|614 – 680 (Favorable)
||Consumer has an low probability of collection
|583 – 613 (Average)
||Consumer has an low probability of collection
|527 – 582 (Below Average)
||Consumer has an low probability of collection
|487 – 526 (Unfavorable)
||Consumer has an low probability of collection
|0 – 486 (Poor)
||Consumer has an low probability of collection
How do they calculate your credit score?
Your credit score is calculated by a credit bureau based on your credit report. They consider how you pay your bills, how much debt you have and more importantly, how all of that compares to other credit active consumers. Each bureau has a different way of calculating your score and take into account different forms of information, including information their organization already holds on you, or your employment circumstances.
Your credit score is only one part of your credit report although it is almost the single most important item on your credit report; the full report gives you some handy information. Your credit report is a combined summary of your financial background with an overview of your credit score, financial accounts, profile, and rating.
What influences your credit score?
As you start transacting with various banks, retailers and other financial institutions like lenders, you start building a financial history. Your credit history will be determined by the amount of money you have borrowed in your life and how much of it you have diligently paid back on time.
Credit score is affected by the following:
- Missing payments or not paying on time, even if you make double payment the following month the score will affect your credit history. “While adverse legal information is cleared as soon as the account is settled, the negative repayment history however remains for a couple years,” explains Ramalho.
- Too much debt – how much you owe and how much of your available credit you’re using – it is advisable to try to keep the use of your current credit facilities to less than 35% of your limit.
- Negative information like a court judgment taken against a consumer’s name (commonly known as blacklisting).
- Length of credit history.
- Account application and enquiry activity – within a short period of time, how many account applications the consumer submitted and how many new accounts you opened.
My credit score is lower than I expected. Why is this?
Fincheck provide us with some reasons:
- A credit history of fewer than 6 years, which is the time frame used to calculate your total credit score.
- Missed or late payments over the last 6 years.
- Holding very few credit accounts means there will be less credit history available on your profile.
- Court judgments or record of insolvency.
- Having a lot of unused credit available could lead to a large balance of debt if you decided to use it all at once.
- Balances on your accounts that are very close to the credit limit indicate that you rely on credit to get through each month.
Why improve your credit score?
Credit providers measure their risk in taking you on as a client before they approve or decline your application for credit, so improving your credit score increases the chances of being granted credit on favorable terms.
How to improve your credit score
- Regularly checking your credit report to confirm all the details are correct.
- Making sure you make payments on any outstanding credit accounts on the due date. (Should you have difficulty in making your payments, you should contact your credit provider to agree on a payment plan, or to reduce your regular payments to an amount that you can afford to pay).
- Consider setting up regular automated payments rather than doing manual payments.
- If you have too many old, unused credit accounts, consider closing them.
- If you are almost reaching your credit limit on one or more accounts, try and reduce your balance. Outstanding balances mean you have a lot of outstanding debt in your name.
How long does it take to improve your credit score?
It depends on how long it will take to improve areas that need attention and maintain them, real improvement will start showing after three months of consistency, as you show progress your credit score will automatically get updated.
If you have had a couple bad experiences with your credit health, it is helpful to know that, credit inquiries stay on your credit report for up to two years, whereas more serious activities that incur namely late payments, lawsuits, bankruptcy and tax liens will stay on your credit record for up to ten years.
How to build up a credit score if you don’t have debt
Unfortunately you won’t have a credit score if you don’t have any debt because your credit score is calculated and based on your credit habits. This doesn’t mean your financial health is bad, there’s just simply not enough data to give you a credit score. This can be bad news if you’re looking for a home loan though, so your first steps will be to apply for financial products where you can start building a credit record.
These can include:
- Credit card
- Vehicle finance
- Phone contract
- Clothing accounts
Consequences of a bad credit score
- Not paying your account on time or at all which can result in you not getting further or desired credit when needed.
- Lenders will see you as a high risk meaning that should they decide to take on that risk, they will charge high interest rates compared to someone with a good credit score.
- Depending on what industry you are in – some industries such as banking – check a potential employee’s credit report and score. They consider a bad credit score as someone who is not trustworthy to work in a banking environment.
Consequences of not checking one’s credit score
It is advisable for a consumer to check their credit report every 3 to 6 months. Statistics show that only 3% of the 24 million credit active South Africans have seen and understood their credit report. This comes as a threat of potential identity theft where someone can use a consumer’s ID to clone their profile and open lines of credit. A credit report contains so much personal information including addresses, phone numbers and employment that the leak of such information poses a big risk of fraud to the individual.
How a credit score affects you when applying for a home loan
When it comes to taking out forms of credit like a home loan, your credit score plays a vital role in your eligibility for a home loan, however it’s not the only factor to affect your application, your debt-to-income ratio will also play a big role.
What score do you need to qualify for a home loan?
There’s no specific score which will qualify you, if you follow the step to build a healthy credit score and maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio, lenders will see you as eligible for things like home loans. Most lenders prefer to lend to an individual whose debt is less than 36% of their gross income. This, along with healthy credit habits that keep your score in the ranges above 650 will put you in a good position to secure a home loan.
If you are declined for a home loan, what should you do and when do you apply again?
It’s important to know that if you apply for any hard forms of credit like a personal loan, credit card or home loan, you will get a hard inquiry against your credit report, too many of these are a red flag to lenders.
If you have had an unsuccessful home loan application, take a step back and start improving your credit health. There’s no fixed time frame for this, it will take as long as you take to form healthier credit habits, pay back debt and wait for that very happy green indicator on your credit report.
How can you get your credit score?
- Fincheck aims to help people make better financial decisions. They have spent a lot of time and effort in building a tool to help you do all of the above. You can sign up for the MyFincheck Credit Score Tool and get your FREE score directly.
- For more information about your credit score and assistance in improving it, you can download the Moneyac app available on the Google Play Store alternatively go to the website www.moneyac.club where you can access your credit report and experts that can help with anything related to financial health.
- TransUnion – 086 148 2482
- Experian – 086 110 5665
- Xpert Decision Systems (XDS) – 086 112 7334
- Compuscan – 086 151 4131
“It is never too late to begin working towards an improved credit profile. After all, it could be the difference between you being able to purchase your dream house, finance a vehicle, pay emergency medical expenses or further your studies one day” Craig concludes.
In this current turbulent economy, creating and sticking to a personal budget is a fundamental step towards really managing your money effectively and avoiding debt. This requires time and discipline – you will need to honestly examine your income, spending habits, and debts, and make some key decisions about how you will spend your money going forward.
The word budget might bring on negative feelings in some; they associate it with restrictions and a lot of hassles. “With a budget, you can begin to prioritize your spending and better manage your money and financial future. Instead of viewing a budget as a negative, view it as a tool for achieving your financial goals, and a step closer to owning your new home or even a second home” says Craig Hutchison, CEO Engel & Völkers Southern Africa.
You may perhaps feel like you do not have any funds to budget with, and that each rand already has its allocation. However, keeping a budget might highlight areas where you would never have suspected an over spend. Budgeting is simply the process of creating a plan of how and where to spend your money that you receive, by balancing your expenses with your income.
Benefits of having a budget and sticking to it
A budget is there to enable you to get a hold on your spending and save where you can, and it will also keep you out of debt or help you work your way out of debt.
It gives you control: If you feel like you are not in control of your money and you are constantly wondering where it went and what happened to it, budgeting can put you in control. When you budget wisely and understand where your money is going, you will feel more in control and at ease with your financial situation.
Puts the brakes on spending what you don’t have: It forces you to work with the money you have – you’ll know exactly how much is coming in this month, how much you need to spend and save and how much you have left over. It will discourage you from relying on credit cards to make unnecessary purchases and end up with major debt problems.
Work towards your dreams: It teaches you to save first and to decide what to save for. This will help you to map out your life goals and you can focus your money on the things that are most important to you. You will find it easier to turn down impulse buys and to put your money where you really need it. This may be getting out of debt, saving up for a home or working on starting your own business.
Prepare for emergencies: An emergency fund should cover 3 – 6 months of your living expenses so that you can survive until you are back on your feet. Don’t try to save this fund all at once. Rather, build a payment plan into your budget and start growing the fund as soon as possible.
Keeps your credit score healthy: 35% of your credit score is based on your payment history, while 30% is based on your debt-to-credit ratio. By paying your bills on time and paying down your debt, you’ll boost your credit score considerably, which means that you’ll have an easier time qualifying for loans with lower interest rates when you need them.
Tips for starting a budget
- Gather every financial statement you can. This includes bank statements, investment accounts, recent utility bills, and any information regarding a source of income or expense.
- Record all of your sources of income.If you are self-employed or have any outside sources of income, be sure to record these as well.
- Create a list of monthly expenses.Write down a list of all the expected expenses you plan on incurring over the course of a month. This includes a mortgage payment, car payments, auto insurance, groceries, utilities and entertainment – essentially everything you spend money on.
- Break expenses into two categories: fixed and variable.Fixed expenses are those that stay relatively the same each month. Variable expenses are the type that will change from month to month.
- Total your monthly income and monthly expenses.If your end result shows more income than expenses, you are off to a good start. This means you can prioritize this excess to areas of your budget or pay more on credit card balances to eliminate that debt faster. If you are showing a higher expense column than income, it means some changes will have to be made.
- Make adjustments to expenses.If you have accurately identified and listed all of your expenses, the ultimate goal would be to have your income and expense columns to be equal. This means all of your income is accounted for and budgeted for a specific expense or savings goal. If you are in a situation where expenses are higher than income, you should look at your variable expenses to find areas to cut. Since these expenses are typically non-essential, it should be easy to shave a few Rands in a few areas to bring you closer to your income.
- Review your budget monthly. After the first month take a minute to sit down and compare the actual expenses versus what you had created in the budget. This will show you where you did well and where you may need to improve.
Budgeting to buy a home
A good budget plan begins one or two years before the buyer makes an offer. Having a monthly budget has more advantages than simply making sure you have enough in the bank to cover your bills – it can also help you determine how much house you can afford.
Here are four tips for renters who plan to become homeowners:
- Build strong credit and raise your credit score – The most important focus for all potential buyers should be improving their credit score. A low score can prevent someone from buying a home or at least from qualifying for an affordable mortgage rate. To improve credit scores, buyers should pay off past-due bills, pay every bill on time and reduce their balances to less than 30% of the credit limit on every account. It is best to have three to five credit accounts, such as a car loan, student loan or credit card, for one year or longer.
- Reduce debt – while buyers increase their savings, they should also reduce their debt. Paying off debt tops saving in terms of priorities because of the interest payments on the debt, which exceeds the amount of interest they can earn on their savings. Lenders want to see that you are managing your debt and keeping your credit card balances low.
- Practice making house payments – future homebuyers are encouraged to make “virtual” mortgage payments as a way to build up savings and learn to budget for actual mortgage payments down the road.
Keep an eye on DTI – debt-to-income ratios are an important element in a loan approval. This ratio compares minimum monthly payments on all debt to gross monthly income. If your debt-to-income ratio is over 50%, you need to pay off your debt before even thinking of buying a home.
What should you budget for?
Hollard lists some of the major expenses, to help you prepare for the other costs associated with your new dream home:
Banks typically require a 10% deposit on the purchase price of your home, but this can be as much as 30% depending on your credit rating. If you are in the market to buy, you’ll need to have a deposit in hard cash. It is paid upfront and once-off to the transferring attorneys.
- Initiation fee
This fee is charged by the bank at the start of the loan (if you take out a bond). It can be paid upfront and as a once-off fee, or capitalised to your loan amount.
- Transfer duty
After your deposit, the transfer duty is one of the biggest upfront and once-off costs to consider when buying a property. Transfer duty is a tax levied by the government and no property can be transferred to a new owner if this is not paid. The only time transfer duty is not payable in a normal sale of property is when you are buying from a registered VAT vendor (developers as an example), in which case VAT is included in the price. The higher the value of the property you buy, the higher the percentage of duty payable. Property transactions below R900 000 are exempt from transfer duty.
Tip: See SARS website for transfer duty rates based on property price categories.
- Transfer costs
Transfer cost is the professional fee that the conveyancing or transferring attorney charges in a property transaction to register your ownership of the property with the Deeds Office, protecting your legal title to the property. This is paid once-off before registration and is not to be confused with transfer duty.
- Bond registration costs
For the bank to make sure that they have some form of security over the property you have taken a loan on, they will register a mortgage bond that confers certain rights on them. This bond is registered at the same time as the transfer of the property and is done by the bond registration attorney, an attorney on the bank’s panel. Similar to transfer costs, this attorney will also charge his professional fee for registering the bond, which the buyer has to pay.
- Occupational rent
This is a fee that is payable only if you take occupation of the property before the transfer of the property into your name has been registered. The rate is usually stipulated in your Offer to Purchase.
- Moving costs
Shop around for the best rates and service, and remember that typically month-end is busiest and more expensive. Some removal companies offer special pricing during off-peak times, so don’t be afraid to ask.
- Protect your finances with a Home Warranty
Research shows that most defaults on home loans occur within the first 18 months from when the loan is taken, because this is likely to be the time you’re most financially stretched and can least afford costs associated with hidden defects. Hollards Home Warranty addresses the issues around defects, with a professional property inspection that is coupled with an insurance policy. This protects you as the buyer against the financial ramifications of any hidden defects that may emerge in the property for two years after taking transfer. The cost of the warranty is covered by the seller – all you have to do is ask for it in your Offer to Purchase.
- Homeowners and life insurance
The bank will require protection to ensure that the value of their security on your loan, the house, remains intact. To achieve this, the bank will require that you take out two types of insurance which need to stay in place for as long as you have the loan with the bank. The first is homeowners’ insurance which protects the bricks and mortar of the property against an insured peril such as fire, flood and so on. The second is life cover which in the event of the death of the property owner or bond holder, the insurance will settle the outstanding bond amount so that your family is not lumbered with the debt you owe to the bank. In both instances, you have the option to take this insurance through the offering via your bond provider, or through your current preferred broker or insurer. It is often worth comparing and shopping around to see where you get the best offer. Where you do not use the bank’s offering you will need to provide proof of external insurance.
- Contents insurance
Although not obligatory, it’s highly recommended that you insure the contents of your home against loss or damage as a result of theft or burglary and other perils such as fire, flood and extreme weather conditions. This insurance is often combined with homeowners insurance, and if you have car insurance, with one insurer, this usually results in a much cheaper combined premium.
- Rates and taxes
Once the transfer is completed, you will need to register for rates and taxes as well as your water and electricity services. The municipality will require a deposit – the amount varies from municipality to municipality and is linked to the municipal value of the home.
- Total cost of ownership
Owning a home comes with on-going costs such as electricity, water and refuse removal (on your municipal account), garden and cleaning services, maintenance, painting and so on, which all need to be budgeted for.
If you need help, there are various tools to help you get started on the road to financial freedom, and if you are planning on buying a property a real estate agent might be one of your best. They can precisely give you the breakdown of what you need and eliminate any hidden costs along the road which could cause your new home bliss to quickly turn into a nightmare. Prevention is always better than cure.
This January Engel & Völkers Pretoria New East celebrated their 6th Birthday as well as their 2nd year under the helm of the new Licence Partner, James Verwey. Chantalle Bell, Feature Writer of Engel & Völkers Southern Africa had a chat with him to gain some insight into his life, his interests, his outlook on the business and industry, and what plans he and his Team Leader, Mariëtte Schoeman, have for the future.
The professional side of James
James spent his childhood in Stellenbosch and later matriculated from Menlo Park High School Pretoria, where-after he returned to Stellenbosch to study Law at the University of Stellenbosch. He never practiced Law and opted to take up a unique career opportunity with Toyota South Africa as one of their first Graduate Management Trainees. His career grew rapidly over the 10 year period he spent with them and received great exposure and experience in the corporate business world.
Wanting to revisit his plans for the future, the next year was spent on a sabbatical traveling all over Europe and Southeast Asia, also opening his eyes for international opportunities. During these travels, he got exposed to Dubai and when a great opportunity there presented itself; he decided to join the Toyota and Lexus group of companies in Dubai as Marketing Manager. After another 10 years, he decided to semi-retire back to South Africa and purchased a guest house in Paarl, which he still owns today.
Whilst operating the guest house, another major automotive group in the Middle East approached him to head up a new company in Abu Dhabi, Premier Motors. Premier Motors is the sole agents for premium brands like Ferrari, Maserati, Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford. James filled this position for 9 years and it grew into one of the largest and most profitable motor companies in the United Arab Emirates. After almost 20 years in Dubai, James decided to return permanently to South Africa at the end of 2014.
James at home
James is married to Irina, who is originally from Siberia in Russia, and whom he met in Dubai 9 years ago. Irina is very fond of South Africa, particularly Pretoria, which is where they decided to call home upon their return from Dubai. Irina has a passion for gardening and loves to experiment with various flowers and plants, in addition to her freelance career as a Fashion Designer. They visit France annually, where Irina also sells most of her designs. They love traveling, both local holidays as well as exploring unique places. James has a son of 32 (James Junior) who resides in Namibia, which is also one of their favourite destinations.
As for hobbies and in addition to his passion for the real estate business, James enjoys playing golf and to spend time with his family and friends.
James & Property
As we have now gathered, James does not let an opportunity pass by, and clearly he is not one to sit and simply enjoy a quiet life. James kept in touch with a friend, Debbie Stevenson, Licence Partner of E&V Broadacres. Not too long into his “retirement”, he phoned her up to gain some insight into the property industry, what E&V was all about and what the business model entailed.
From here on things moved rather quickly. James met with Craig Hutchison, the CEO of Engel & Völkers and as fate would have it, the Pretoria New East territory was available. Within a month the deal was sealed and he took over the Silver Lakes Licence in January 2016. Since then James has acquired 2 further licences for the adjacent areas to have a diverse and large footprint in Pretoria New East, stretching from Moreletta Park down to Silver Lakes.
The property industry seems to run in James’ blood. His Mom (88) and his “best friend” owned real estate company called Gem Properties in partnership with two friends. So it comes as no surprise that when James registered his business, he named it GemProp Real Estate (Pty) Ltd t/a E&V Pretoria New East.
Outlook on the industry
James believes that even with the current economic climate, investing in property often presents unique opportunities for investors and buyers alike, whether residential or commercial. James started investing in property at a young age, with help from his parents. He convinced his parents to purchase a townhouse in Stellenbosch; at that stage it was purchased at R 18,000 and today it is worth R 3 million – proof that there is just no investment that grows as much as property does. Over the years, he has built a diverse property portfolio, reflecting his belief and confidence in property investments.
When asked about his outlook on the real estate industry James says it’s a very exciting industry, challenging but rewarding in the sense that knowing you and your team are fulfilling people’s expectations and dreams. It is very rewarding when you exceed clients expectations in finding their perfect property, whether a rental, a first property or their dream home.
What happens behind the doors at E&V New East?
About 7 months ago James’ team was joined by Team Leader, Mariëtte Schoeman. James says since Mariëtte joined, a new energy has been evident in the office, professional sales and marketing activities have increased dramatically and there are structured planning processes in place. James’ role is more strategic and supportive by nature and he leaves the day to day operational running of the business in Mariëtte’s capable hands. Mariëtte is also supported by Lyle Landsman, who has been with the operation since inception.
Mariëtte joined the team as she saw the opportunity for growth. Her connection to real estate stems from a historical interest in property as she comes from a commercial property management, residential sales and rental background. She has a keen business sense as she had her own successful landscaping business for 20 years, which she later sold to join the real estate industry.
Within the real estate sector she worked for a renowned estate agency for 8 years and completed her NQF4. Once this was mastered she was ready for a new challenge and she went into Commercial Property Management where she started her studies towards NQF5 & 6 in Commercial Property Management.
Mariëtte joined E&V as Team Leader at the Waterkloof Office where she spent 2 years before joining James’ team as their Team Leader, where she is currently busy with her NQF5 Residential Real Estate.
We asked her why she originally joined E&V and she said “because it’s an international brand and she liked the way the business plan is executed”. As the Pretoria New East office incorporates 3 licence areas, Mariëtte feels the challenge has great development capacity, both from a career as well as an investment perspective. Mariëtte has been given the opportunity and is working towards becoming an equity partner in Gemprop.
Mariëtte states the one thing she has learnt from the industry is that buying and selling property is a very personal and emotional experience and should not just be seen as solely a business transaction.
“The most enjoyable part about the industry is that no two days are the same; however as with anything else in life, it also comes with its challenges as every client is different and presents her and her team with their own unique challenges. Meeting monthly targets and continuously keeping the team motivated under pressure at all times are definitely challenging, but also very rewarding at the same time” she added.
What makes a winning team?
Both James and Mariëtte agree that in order to have the ideal and perfect team, the team must have good core values, which are well defined. These core values are also a critical component in the recruitment process – “A Team goes as the Leaders go”.
This, together with a good team spirit and support culture, forms the basis of their operations in striving for excellence. The management team developed an integrated business plan for the next 5 years, all encompassing, from strategic goals, corporate values and SWOT analysis, to budgeting and detailed action plans to execute the finer details of each business activity. The core values are shared with all the staff regularly to ensure all are aligned and positive in achieving their goals.
When asked what would her advice be to someone who is not in the industry and wants to join Mariëtte says, “Join a company that shares and offers you the required knowledge, tools and support to be able to be successful agent”. With all that in place there is a slim chance that an agent will be unsuccessful and then the potential to earn a very good income becomes a reality.
Tell us about the area
Pretoria New East is a very diverse area ranging from first time homeowners, developments and plots, to exclusive estates (e.g. Woodhill, Mooikloof and Silver Lakes) in both price and lifestyles. The long-term plan is to have the correct outlets, agents and infrastructure to support the activities with satellite shops. The end goal is to dominate the Pretoria New East in terms of sales, awareness and reputation. This will remain the main focus, backed up by a profitable and premium rental division to compliment the core business.
Exciting times lay ahead for the Pretoria New East area in the next 10-15 years. In anticipation of this, investors and developers are buying plots and rezoning them for residential housing. Major metro plans for the east is on the cards including a second highway which will be accessed from the N4 through a new R90 million road – the PWV17 – which will link the N4 and the R21, as well as the planned road upgrade for the N4 to link to Graham road directly.
What does the future hold?
Even although their team has doubled over the last 7 months, the focus and priority for the year ahead remains on recruitment of agents for all 3 of their licence areas, both qualified agents and intern agents.
James is of the opinion the business is still in a growth phase and requires further exposure to dominate their licence areas. To achieve this, they again need to double the current team – property sales and rental agents, as well as support staff. This is an integral part of the business plan to dominate their market.
If you are looking for a new challenge to take on this year, why not call Mariëtte for a confidential interview on 079 874 5572 and explore the options they have available.
The Southern Suburbs make up some of the most popular residential areas in Cape Town, comprising charming groups of suburbs which lie to the south-east of the slopes of Table Mountain. It is seen as the city’s most expensive residential neighbourhoods with a choice of various private schools, upmarket eateries, wine estates, beautiful homes and trendy apartments.
“The Southern Suburbs area is large and varied, and is predominantly residential. It is identified as being the more affluent of the Cape Town Metropolis with incredible family neighbourhoods. The properties vary from large plots of land, to a variety of older-style homes that range from cottage-style semis in Mowbray, Claremont and Wynberg, to more ornate and certainly far larger homes in Constantia, Newlands and Bishopscourt” says Delia Walters, Office Manager Engel & Völkers Southern Suburbs.
It boasts the ever popular University of Cape Town which lies on the mountain above Rosebank, Rondebosh, Mowbray and Observatory. When visiting the area there is always something to do to for young and old with a diverse mix of amenities and shopping areas like Cavendish Street, and depending on the time of year, you can even catch a game of rugby or cricket – in Newlands at the side-by-side rugby and cricket grounds, which are the home of the Stomers and Cape Cobras teams respectively. Tourists are attracted by the wine estates, the beautiful botanical gardens, various museums, hiking and walking trails and horse riding trails found throughout the suburb.
One can see why the Southern Suburbs will always be in demand and why it commands some of the highest property prices in Cape Town.
Average property value
There is no average, but there is certainly something for every buyer. Property values range from R1.2 million for a flat in Plumstead to R55 million for a house in Constantia.
Typical property type
As varied as the property prices are so are the homes. From R5 million for a trendy apartment in Upper Claremont to the beautiful palatial homes in Bishops Court and Constantia Upper. There is a combination of lock-up-and-go family homes with large gardens, beautiful cottages dating back to the late 1800’s early 1900’s and ample student accommodation in modern and affordable apartment blocks.
Trends and tips when buying property in the Southern Suburbs
Prices in the area will always be on the increase, so try not to be too set on an area or type of house. Delia advises that you consider your budget and then be realistic about what you can afford, you might have to compromise and buy an older home which needs some work in order to be able to afford to live in certain parts.
When moving from other parts of the country to the Southern Suburbs it can be quite a shock when you find that R2 million doesn’t really go very far. However, if you are on a limited budget, you do your research, and are prepared to downscale – anything is possible. If you are specifically moving into the Southern Suburbs for the schools, be sure to check the zoning for the school’s first. Real estate agents could be of great help here, so do not be too shy to ask.
What does the current market look like?
Buying a home in the Southern Suburbs will always be an investment. High rental returns make it a first choice for investment buyers wanting to grow a rental portfolio. Areas such as Rondebosch and Newlands have an ever increasing demand for student accommodation due to their close proximity to the University of Cape Town.
A large percentage are cash buyers due to the high price brackets of the properties, while first time buyers might find it harder to find their dream home at an affordable price. Don’t despair though, there is a property to suit almost everyone.
The Southern Suburbs as an investment option
- Consistent upward trajectory in house prices
- High rental return
- High rental demand for students and young professionals
- Excellent private girls and boys schools
- Close proximity to the city centre
- Scenic walks, hikes, equestrian trails and parks focused around a family lifestyle
- An abundance of restaurants, coffee shops, upmarket deli’s, art galleries and boutique shops
- A vast choice of modern homes, townhouses, mansions, heritage homes and apartments
Events to consider if you are in the area:
- Kirstenbosch Summer festival – every Sunday from the middle of November until the end of March. Live music performances by Prime Circle, The Parlatones, Mango Groove, Lira and Freshly Ground are some of the main acts which can be seen. Bring a picnic blanket and basket and enjoy an evening concert with a glass of wine.
- Cape Town Cycle Tour 2018 – Sunday 11th March 2018. Where thirty-five thousand cyclists embark on arguably the most scenic cycling race in the world.
- Two Oceans Marathon 2018 – 31 March 2018. This is by far the most scenic ultra-marathon in the world. It’s also one of the toughest, with the route taking runners over the gruelling Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek.
Delia’s recommendation of the top 10 things to do in the Southern Suburbs:
- Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world; few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of this setting against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.
- Rhodes Memorial situated on the Northern slope of Table Mountain, this vantage point not only allows a panoramic view but is one of the few vantage points where both the Atlantic and Indian oceans can be seen.
- Garden Tour at Cellars Hohenort – the exquisite gardens of The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, nestled in the verdant winelands of Constantia, Cape Town, is nothing less than breath-taking to see. Colours erupt as Clivias and roses bloom; and countless shades of green blanket the landscape thanks to ferns, delicious monsters, herbs and camphor trees.
- Relax at the Liesbeek River – The Liesbeek River Project is a community project that has transformed an overgrown wasteland into an area where people can now go to read a book, meet the friends for tea or entertain the children with a spontaneous picnic lunch. Situated on the banks of the Liesbeek, the river is deep enough for children and dogs to have a paddle!
- Baxter Theatre – as both stage venue and producer the Baxter has received national awards for outstanding local performers and home productions. Classical music, opera, comedy, dance and dramatic theatre is presented throughout the year on a daily basis mornings, afternoons and evenings for all ages and tastes. Seasonal festivals run annually.
- Constantia Nek Farm – Gordon and Anne Kling own and produce Kling wines on Constantia Nek Farm. Constantia is the oldest winemaking region in the Southern Hemisphere and originated in 1685. Some of the finest wines are produced in this region and regularly received international and local acclaim.
- Purple Wine Tour – is a free extension of the Cape Town Blue Mini Peninsula City Sightseeing bus (more commonly known as the hop-on-hop-off bus). It explores a few of the wine estates in the Constantia Valley, which form part of the Constantia Valley wine route.
- Newlands Brewery – nestled at the foot of Devil’s Peak and neighbour to the historic rugby and cricket grounds, is the oldest operating brewery in South Africa and the home of great South African beer.
- Groote Schuur Estate – Groote Schuur big barn used to be the home of Cecil John Rhodes. The house sits in Rondebosch and was refurbished by Herbert Baker many years ago. This fascinating house is steeped in history, filled with original colonial furniture and is now a museum.
- South African Astronomical Observatory – up on what passes for a hill, just across the Liesbeeck River from the Southern Suburb of Observatory, is SAAO (South African Astronomical Observatory). It lies wedged between the River Club and Valkenburg, its grounds home to a number of domes, one of which houses the Victoria telescope, built back in 1897.
A list of ultimate favourite restaurants
Spoilt for choice, whether it is fine dining, pub food or the best burgers and chips, there is something for every palate and pocket.
- Harbour House in Constantia offers beautifully presented dishes and an array of seafood.
- Bistro Sixteen82 in Steenberg Tokai boasts their signature wines and tasty dishes served with a view.
- The Square at the Vineyard Hotel in Upper Claremont serves delicious meals for anytime of the day.
- Rock Sushi Thai – in Meadowridge serves the best sushi; noodle and Thai curry dishes in the Southern Suburbs.
- Starlings in Claremont, perfect for brunch and quick catch up with friends.
- Four & Twenty in Chelsea Village Upper Wynberg, a firm favourite for breakfast.
- Cafeen in Claremont Village, a gem of a coffee shop serving light meals and great coffee.
- Hudsons in Upper Claremont is a popular spot with students with great burgers and cocktails.
Places to stay in the Southern Suburbs
Catering for families on holiday or short business trips, there is a large variety of accommodation.
Whether planning a visit or relocating – if you are not familiar with the Southern Suburbs yet, make sure to add it to your list of places to visit this new year.