Residential Property Purchase : How-to for Foreign Investors

The immensely low value of the rand compared to most major foreign currencies is making residential property in South Africa an increasingly attractive investment option, with the appeal further driven by the fact that SA is home to several internationally acclaimed and award-winning destinations.

This is according to Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International realty, who says: “Residential property, especially in the Western Cape, is a very attractive investment proposition because of the value factor and location, but we continually field queries from foreign buyers concerned about the legal aspects of buying property, and how easy it’ll be for them to visit their local homes once they have them.

“It’s a relatively simple process and if you’re working with reputable, professional realtors, any obstacles encountered are easy enough to navigate with the assistance of their legal partners.”

Specialist conveyancing attorney Elana Hopkins of Dykes Van Heerden Inc says: “SA has one of the best deeds registry systems in the world, offering certainty and security in respect of property ownership and tenure.

“Non-residents are subject to the same well-established laws and regulations as South Africans when buying property, and they are assured of guidance throughout the process as estate agents are involved from the start – from property selection through to the conclusion of the deed of sale.”

According to Hopkins the procedure is relatively straightforward, but she says it is essential to work through a reputable company and with experienced and accredited agents to avoid potential pitfalls.

“Once you have decided on a property, the agent will prepare an offer to purchase, which is open to acceptance by the seller for an agreed period of time during which the offer is irrevocable and, once accepted by the seller, it becomes a binding contract.”

Hopkins cautions buyers to always take additional costs into account when determining their budgets so that the pleasure of purchase is not marred by hefty additional payments due after they have signed on the dotted line.

The most costly expenses are the various taxes which property owners in SA must pay:

The transfer duty, which is calculated according to the purchase price, is paid by the buyer before the registration.

Property rates and taxes are payable annually or monthly and are calculated on the municipal value of the property. A portion has to be paid in advance so that rates clearance certificate can be obtained for the registration.

Capital gains tax, calculated on the profit, is due once the property is sold. For a natural person the rate is between 0 and16.4 percent of the capital gain.

The conveyancer is liable to pay withholding tax of 5 percent of the proceeds of the sale for property transactions of more than R2 million. This is an advance payment on capital gains tax for non-resident sellers.

Hopkins says that due to SA’s high interest rates, most foreign investors who require finance will source it abroad, but non-residents can apply for home loans from SA financial Institutions.

“However, due to the Reserve Bank’s exchange control requirements, they may only obtain a loan for 50 percent of the purchase price and the sale will then be subject to a suspensive condition which will render the contract null and void if the loan application is unsuccessful.”

Hopkins says it’s essential that buyers retain the source document as proof of the transference of the cash portion from abroad, as they will need it to repatriate the funds once the property is sold.

“Without it, foreign sellers have to apply to the Reserve Bank for approval before the funds can be transferred out of the country.

“It is also advisable that foreign buyers open a local bank account to deal with any funds earned from their properties and regular payments required to deal with the property before leaving the country.”

Although foreign investors can buy property over the internet from the comfort of their homes abroad with relative ease, they need to ensure that they obtain the correct visa to enable them to spend time in their new acquisition.

Stefanie de Saude, SA immigration and nationality law specialist and director of De Saude Attorneys Inc, says: “The permit for which they apply will largely depend on their country of origin, how long they plan to stay in SA and the purpose of their visit.

“There is a fairly long list of countries whose citizens are exempt from visas to visit SA for a stay of 90 days or less, which is ideal for investment buyers who plan to come out for their annual holidays or regular short visits.

“Foreign buyers from visa restricted countries will have to apply for a visa from the SA representative in that country or place of long term residence. Although a short term visa application is usually relatively simple and quick, it can prove to be complicated with certain missions, so if the buyer is planning on making regular short trips it is advisable to apply for a long term visa to avoid the stress and inconvenience of regular applications.”

SA is also very appealing as a retirement destination as it offers a quality lifestyle and favourable exchange rate, and is especially popular with wealthy UK citizens who now account for the largest foreign share of this market.

According to de Saude, retired people have a choice of two visa options; a permit for retired persons which can be made on a temporary basis – valid for four years at a time – or permanent residency, and an independent financial persons’ permit which is for permanent residency only.

“Applicants for temporary and permanent residence permits based on retirement must be able to offer proof of an income of at least R37 000 a month, although it’s also acceptable at various missions for temporary permit applicants to prove that they have at least R1.776m in an account anywhere in the world.

“Financially independent retired people may apply for permanent residence on the basis of net worth if they can demonstrate a net worth of at least R12m and, upon approval, an amount of R120 000 is payable to the Department of Home Affairs before the permit is issued to the applicant.”

Foreign buyers who will experience the most difficulty are families with no ties to SA, who want to relocate permanently.

De Saude says: “Unless the applicants are independently wealthy, their success will depend upon the skills and qualifications they offer and whether or not there is scarcity of people with their field of expertise in SA.”

Geffen says: “Cape Town’s Deeds Office records clearly demonstrate the city’s continued appeal, especially in areas like the Atlantic seaboard where records reveal that between 2010 and 2015, foreign investment in Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Clifton and Fresnaye accounted for 17 percent of all residential sales and 22 percent of the total rand value achieved during this period.

“Investors from Europe and the UK grabbed the lion’s share of this market at 42 percent and 36 percent but, in many parts of Cape Town it’s encouraging to note that there is increased interest from buyers from other African countries.”

 

http://www.sapropertynews.com/residential-property-purchase-how-to-for-foreign-investors/

City Buzz and High Return puts Oranjezicht in Demand

Astute investors who want to be close to but not right in the middle of the downtown buzz, are opting for property in leafy Oranjezicht.

Set high up enough against Table Mountain to offer a feeling of suburban tranquillity, the area also offers phenomenal return on investment, says Tina Katz of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Oranjezicht’s increasing desirability is clearly demonstrated by the growth of average sale prices in the past six years. Measured between 2010 and 2015, average house prices experienced a nominal year-on-year growth of 8 percent, increasing from R5.2 million to R5.7m during this period.

“However, when measured from 2013 to 2015 property values spiked, with average house prices increasing from R3.9m to R5.7m, translating to an impressive nominal year-on-year growth of 15 percent.”

However, what is notable is that the most active price band since 2010 has increasingly been houses in the R10m to R20m bracket.

Says Katz: “In 2010, only nine homes were sold in this price band, increasing by 100 percent to 18 sales in 2015, with total rand values for the same period growing by a whopping 188 percent from R125m to R361m – and this just over a period of five years.

“Comparatively, the price band below R10m improved by 35 percent in total rand value, from R618m in 2010 to R836m in 2015 and by 19 percent in the number of sales which rose from 177 to 223.”

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says apartments in Oranjezicht also fared well, with average sale prices increasing by a nominal 7 percent year-on-year between 2010 and 2015 when prices rose from an average of R1.162m to R1.646m.

“During this period, the most popular and accessible price band for apartments was below R2.5m with 356 apartments sold for a combined value of R364m. The second highest active price band was R2.5m to R5m which achieved 25 sales to the combined value of R74m during the same period.”

Grant Bailey, partner to Katz, says the suburb’s excellent return on investment is a strong appeal factor for prospective investors.

“Oranjezicht achieved the highest average nominal percentage returns on investment for houses in the City Bowl with a nominal year-on-year increase of 21 percent measured over the past six years. The average  percent ROI for City Bowl houses is 17 percent measured over seven years.

“Apartments also rewarded property owners, achieving an inflation-beating nominal average ROI of 15 percent a year over eight years, with Oranjezicht in joint first place with Tamboerskloof.”

Katz says that buyers are also attracted by the broad selection of properties options available, from quaint two-bedroom cottages and restored Victorian homes to cosy apartments and well-appointed multi-storey mansions.

“Equally appealing are the amenities and facilities which are virtually on the doorstep for Oranjezicht residents, or just a short stroll away. Families are especially drawn by the choice of excellent schools, including St Cyprians, Herzlia, the German International School, Cape Town French School and Montessori.

“Top class retail offerings like Gardens Centre and Lifestyle Centre on Kloof are only a five-minute drive away and residents are spoilt for choice by the eclectic restaurants and boutiques in the area. Kloof Street, where the Lifestyle Centre is located, is considered to be one of the top foodie locations in South Africa.”

Oranjezicht also has numerous green spaces and parks which are very popular with residents and usually alive with activity on weekends and warm evenings, and the suburb is well serviced by the MyCiTi rapid transit bus network.

http://www.sapropertynews.com/city-buzz-and-high-returns-put-oranjezicht-in-demand/

Highlands North Renovations Add Value to Existing Stock

“The current crop of renovations is mainly being undertaken by a new breed of renovator; they are well-financed, fast-moving young builders who buy cheap, dilapidated old homes and spare no cost in bringing them onto the market with the latest trends and finishes,” he said. “This has resulted in notable growth at the top end of the market where you can buy a spacious, fully renovated modern family home with four to five bedrooms and three reception rooms for between R3m and R3,7m.”

Despite the recent surge in development, this has mostly been confined to renovation and there are very few sectional title properties in the area. Very few properties in Highlands North are demolished, as people prefer to buy and renovate to suit their requirements, said Hoff.

http://hometimes.co.za/2016/05/highlands-north-renovations-add-value-to-existing-stock/

Boost your Homes Value with Energy Saving Features

As South Africans dust off their heaters ahead of winter, with the knowledge that Eskom has inflicted yet another above-inflation price hike (9.4%), cash-strapped consumers will increasingly be looking at ways to lower household running costs.

With the implementation of simple design principals, homeowners can reduce their lighting, heating and cooling needs, which can make a big difference to their monthly energy bill.

This is according to Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Atlantic Seaboard CEO, Brendan Miller, who says properties already fitted with energy-saving devices are increasingly becoming attractive to prospective buyers.

Miller says at the turn of the century, barring the odd ardent environmentalist, things like solar energy didn’t even register on buyers’ radars, but they’re most definitely there now.

He says municipal services have become prohibitively expensive, and as the country’s infrastructure deteriorates, the cost to consumers will increase. It therefore makes sense to become as green-powered and self-sufficient as possible – not only from an environmental perspective, but from a financial one as well, he says.

Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Director, Sandy Geffen says it is scandalous that last year the government, through the Department of Energy, chose to end the programme of rebates to incentivise homeowners to install solar geysers. The programme was previously administered by Eskom, but was shut down almost immediately after being transferred to the Department of Energy in March 2015.

Geffen says an average family comprises three to four members, each bathing or showering once a day. Considering that heating a geyser accounts for 40% or more of a household’s monthly electricity usage, just getting everybody clean can rack up a large bill before you even start adding other power guzzlers like stoves.

“I believe it’s morally wrong on numerous levels, not least of global climate change. But closer to home, with the rebates gone, installing solar geysers is now out of the question for most South African families who are already battling interest rate hikes, fuel price increases and surging food costs as a result of the drought and other factors.”

He says the only way the majority of homeowners manage to fund the approximately R15 000 to R30 000 required for the parts and installation, depending on the size of the geyser, is to dip into their mortgages or fall further into financial difficulty by taking out bank loans. Both scenarios are bad news for debt-ridden consumers, and in some cases, their efforts to do the right thing ultimately see them go belly-up, he says.

According to Geffen, the only correct way to fund an installation is for homeowners to save until they have enough in the bank to pay cash for the solar geyser.

“You’ll recoup the initial investment in less than four years, after which it’s just pure electricity bill savings, and if you choose to sell your house, you’ve added significantly to the value of the property if it already has a medium to large solar water heater installed.”

Miller says particularly in relation to larger properties, buyers are increasingly asking realtors to source homes that have existing solar water heaters, solar panels, grey water irrigation systems, rain water tanks, comprehensive insulation or double-glazing, which helps with climate control and dampening external noise.

He says there’s no question that energy-saving home alterations and additions raise both the value and desirability of homes that are put on the market, because buyers are increasingly asking questions like whether a property has one or two geysers, and whether irrigation systems are grey water or mains water.

Miller says fitting these systems will reward homeowners with a significant return on investment in the short term, in the form of savings on household running costs, as well as adding value to their properties in the long term.

According to Geffen, it’s possible to reduce a household’s energy expenditure by up to 70% using passive solar design.

With the implementation of simple design principles, homeowners can reduce their lighting, heating and cooling needs, which can make a big difference to their monthly energy bill.

1. Replace a tin roof if you can, but if the budget is tight, simply insulate it and paint it white.

2. Natural materials such as stone, timber, thatch and clay are better at regulating temperature than most man-made substances.

3. Rooftop solar panels provide electricity to run low-consumption appliances such as TVs, radios and lights. A big enough spread of solar panels will even see your electricity meter running backwards for much of the day when it’s sunny, feeding power into the grid. You don’t get paid for this, but your electricity bill plummets.

4. Although not a cheap initial investment, solar geysers will more than pay for themselves.

5. Homeowners with gardens can reduce water usage by as much as 50% with a grey water irrigation system.

6. Install energy efficient light bulbs (CFLs), which have a much longer lifespan and use far less electricity.

7. Install window shutters, awnings or screens. These will cool rooms by keeping direct sunlight out of the home in summer.

http://www.property24.com/articles/boost-your-homes-value-with-energy-saving-features/24087

Fourways One of Joburg’s Top Property Investment Spots

Rapid residential, commercial and infrastructure development in Fourways in recent years has not only seen the suburb emerge as a significant and vibrant hub of Johannesburg, it has also significantly boosted the residential property market to its current highly sought-after and “demand-driven” state.

This is according to James Christelis, Northern Suburbs Director and Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who says residential property in Fourways has always been popular as it has generally offered great value compared to most of its upmarket neighbours, but the dramatic expansion and growth of the past decade has notably strengthened the market, with buyers increasingly confident of a solid long-term return on investment.

“The sectional title market in Fourways has also grown considerably and, with prices ranging between an affordable R700 000 and around R2.5 million, the suburb has become very popular with first-time buyers looking to get their foot in the northern suburbs market and live in close proximity to good schools,” says Christelis.

“With security now foremost on people’s minds, secure cluster developments and gated estates have also mushroomed in the area and are generally well-priced, ranging between R1.3 million and R4 million, depending on location, unit size and the facilities offered.”

An emergent trend in the area is the appearance of modern mixed-use developments such as the new Steyn City Parkland Residence, which offers a choice of accommodation from clusters and townhouses to compact apartments and retirement homes set on over 800ha with designated green spaces and parks for families.

However, Christelis says one feature on the property landscape which hasn’t changed is the generous plot size of the original freestanding homes in Fourways – most of which were built on stands of up to 1 500sqm.

“The zoning laws in Fourways prohibit subdivision in most pre-existing residential areas and, with houses priced between R1.8 million and R4 million – depending on condition, size and location, investors get a lot more house for their money than in neighbouring suburbs like Rivonia and Bryanston where freestanding homes start at around R4 million.”

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says the burgeoning demand for residential property in Fourways is also being driven by several other key factors.

“In addition to accessible prices and a wide variety of property options, Fourways also affords residents the luxury of living, working and playing within one area, which is extremely desirable in a city known for its traffic congestion and long daily commutes,” says Geffen.

“There are now a number of thriving office parks in the area with more commercial projects in the pipeline in addition to the ongoing retail development. Fourways is also home to two top-class medical centres and boasts a myriad of entertainment facilities, which means that residents have virtually everything they need on their doorsteps.”

He says the suburb’s conveniently central positioning is another reason for its popularity, as residents can hop onto three major thoroughfares and enjoy easy access to Pretoria, the city centre and neighbouring nodes like Sandton City, as well as nearby Lanseria Airport.

According to Christelis, the most buoyant market segment is the mid-level price band of R2 million to R2.5 million, with growing demand now resulting in stock shortages.

“Sectional title properties and homes in secure developments are especially sought after for a number of reasons, the primary one obviously being security,” he says.

“However, an increasing number of buyers are opting for the convenience of a lock-up and go lifestyle where Sundays aren’t spent mowing the lawn or fixing gutters. Maintenance costs are also usually significantly lower than for freestanding homes.”

Geffen says the sectional title sector also has a more active rental market and attributes this to three main reasons.

“Young professionals are drawn by the convenience of sectional title properties, and security is an important factor across all demographics. However, availability also plays a role as many of the investors who buy freestanding family homes usually do so to accommodate their growing families and raise their children near their school of choice,” he says.

“The subdued economy, further dampened by interest rate hikes, a spike in the cost of living and banks’ reluctance to lend money, is also driving the rental market.”

Geffen says this is attracting an increasing number of savvy investment buyers who are realising the potential short- and long-term returns of sectional title properties in Fourways.

“The ongoing investment and development in the area, along with the anticipated growth that this will generate have inspired investor confidence and Fourways is now considered to be one of the most promising areas for buying property in Johannesburg,” he says.

http://www.property24.com/articles/fourways-one-of-joburgs-top-property-investment-spots/24082

Waterfront’s Residential Market in a League of it’s Own

MARINA LIFESTYLE: The view from a luxurious three-bedroom apartment with a wraparound glass balcony at the V&A Marina.

Since the launch of the V&A Waterfront’s residential component in December 1999, the precinct has enjoyed solid year-on-year growth and a steadily increasing demand, firmly establishing it as a glowing jewel in the crown of the prestigious Atlantic seaboard market.

With 1 051 transactions to date with a combined value of R6.6 billion, the Waterfront residential market has, for the most part, bucked national market trends since inception, achieving an impressive combined year-on-year price escalation of 361 percent since the beginning of 2000.

That’s according to Ross Levin, Atlantic seaboard and city operations and development manager for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

He says: “Comprising the canals and the front yacht basin, in 2014 the V&A Waterfront achieved its highest rand values since 2007 with 64 sales realising a combined value of R622 million. However, despite the national economic slump, this sought-after market’s buoyancy has continued with the V&A Waterfront achieving the highest rand value in sales on the Atlantic seaboard from the beginning of 2015 to date with 44 sales realising R454m during this short period.

“This is followed by Mouille Point at R431m (72 sales), Clifton at R273m (27 sales) and Bantry Bay where 38 sales fetched R231m.”

Lynn Pinn  of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International realty says: “Traditionally more units were sold on the canals than the front yacht basin with a total of 785 sales (75 percent) worth R4.1bn since 2000, compared to 266 sales (25 percent) for a combined value of R2.49bn in the front yacht basin.

“However, both sectors have consistently offered excellent returns on investment with original investors who have hung onto their properties realising a solid nominal average year-on-year increase of 11 percent and 10 percent for the canals and front yacht basin during this time.

“More recently, measured between 2010 and 2015, a purchase in either the canals or front yacht basin will have yielded a nominal year-on-year growth of 9 percent.”

Pinn says that in 2000 the average sale value on the canals was R1.6m at R13 900/m² and R2.6m at R13 725/m² in the front yacht basin. By 2015, the average sale prices had risen to R9.3m at R64 000/m² and R14m at R76 000/m².

Levin says that although sales were lower during the first quarter of 2016 than the same period last year, market activity spiked in April and has continued into May.

“Despite the relative decline, demand is still very strong and sellers of realistically priced properties are achieving their full listing prices, with most properties spending very little time on the market.

“Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty recently sold a three-bedroom front yacht basin apartment in under a day of listing for the full price of R34.143m, which is the highest average square metre rate ever achieved in  the Waterfront, at R132 337/m².

“We also sold an apartment in Kylemore for R12.995m before it was even released to the market.”

Levin says that during the first quarter of 2016, Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty has sold more than R100m worth of property in this precinct.

Lew Geffen, chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says: “South African investors still dominate this market, with increasing demand from buyers from other parts of the country, especially Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. There is still constant foreign buyer interest, but they are by far in the minority.

“We have also had increasing inquiries from investment buyers as the marina enjoys a very strong short term rental market with excellent rental returns, especially due to its proximity to the convention centre and the CBD, which are serviced by the red shuttle boats on the canal that depart from the One & Only Hotel every half hour.

“However,” says Geffen, “over the years there has been a marked shift towards buyers acquiring accommodation for permanent residence as the development offers a desirable combination of security, lifestyle and convenience.”

Geffen says the Waterfront precinct is also increasingly regarded as an ideal location for retirement, with 33 percent of all recent buyers being over the age of 65 and 52 percent of owners having acquired their properties in the past five years.

http://www.sapropertynews.com/waterfront-residential-market-in-a-league-of-its-own/

Fairmont’s Property Remains in Demand

The enclave of Fairmount in the north east of Johannesburg is one of the few suburbs which has barely changed over the years, not losing its closely-knit suburban atmosphere centered around the synagogues and reputable schools in the area to the predominant encroachment of cluster developments.

So says Howard Hoff, Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who adds: “The credit crunch never really affected the market as demand has always exceeded supply in this sought-after suburb where property owners generally live in their homes for between 15 and 25 years.”

In Fairmount spacious family homes on generous stands still dominate the property landscape and there are only a couple of apartment and town house complexes.

“Property prices here are also still accessible and cater to most budgets,” says Hoff, “ranging between R1.6 million for an unrenovated house if you are lucky enough to find one, and R6.6m for a luxurious modern home with all the bells and whistles”.

“The most popular properties are four bedroom houses under R3m and three bedroom cluster homes for under R2.4m and we field several inquiries every week for the latter.”

Hoff says that property values have remained steady over the past decade with average house prices nudging up yearly.

“However, the average price of a house in Fairmount only breached the R2m mark at the end of 2013 when the market surged and the average sale price reached R2.49m in 2014, growing further with 2015 ending on R2.84m.”

The only notable change experienced in the suburb over the last two decades was the Genesis on Fairmount development which encompasses a modern shopping mall, apartments and conference centre and its launch caused s spike in the slow growth of the sectional title market.

Hoff says: “Usually only between three and six sectional title properties change hands a year in Fairmount, however, after the launch of Genesis on Fairmount, the Deeds Office registered 67 sectional title sales in 2014″.

“The apartment market immediately stabilized again thereafter and in 2015 only five sectional title sales were registered.”

He adds: “This could be about to change in the near future as there is a large stand of more than 10 000m² that is awaiting city council approval for a new development which is still under wraps, although it’s very likely that sectional title residential units will be a significant feature.”

According to Hoff this could also spur the slow rental and investment markets in the area which aren’t very active due to the fact that most investors buy property to live in Fairmount.

According to Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen International Realty, another aspect that has remained constant is the buyer and resident demographic in the area.

“Fairmount is still a predominately Jewish community with young Jewish families having made up the majority of new buyers for the past 40 years. The synagogues and learning centers as well as other educational facilities are the main draw-cards in the area.”

Geffen adds other strong appeal factors include variety of retail options and sporting facilities within close proximity as well the convenience of having ample excellent parks and recreational facilities scattered within the suburb.

“Huddle Park Golf & Recreation, Houghton Golf Club, Observatory Golf Club, Bruma Lake and Gilloolys are all within four kilometres and the trendy suburb of Norwood, with its pavement-style restaurants and cafes and vibrant local culture is also only a short drive away.”

Residents also enjoy the suburbs convenient location which offers easy access to many popular nodes.

“Fairmount is snugly bound by Athol Street, George Avenue and Louis Botha Avenue and lies just east of the M1 which makes commuting around the busy city relatively easy.”

Geffen concludes: “The current economic slump has been felt with house sales having slowed marginally, but the general forecast for the area remains very positive as demand is still strong and renovations remain a common feature.”

http://propertywheel.co.za/2016/05/fairmonts-property-remains-in-demand/

Home Buyers Flocking to KZN South Coast

Rapid residential, commercial and infrastructure development in Fourways in recent years has not only seen the suburb emerge as a significant and vibrant hub of Johannesburg, it has also significantly boosted the residential property market to its current highly sought-after and “demand-driven” state.

This is according to James Christelis, Northern Suburbs Director and Area Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, who says: “Residential property in Fourways has always been popular as it has generally offered great value compared to most of its upmarket neighbours, but the dramatic expansion and growth of the past decade has notably strengthened the market, with buyers increasingly confident of a solid long term return on investment.

“The sectional title market in Fourways has also grown considerably and, with prices ranging between an affordable R700 000 and around R2.5m, the suburb has become very popular with first time buyers looking to get their foot in the northern suburbs market and live in close proximity to good schools.

“With security now foremost on people’s minds, secure cluster developments and gated estates have also mushroomed in the area and are generally well-priced, ranging between R1.3m and R4m, depending on location, unit size and the facilities offered.”

An emergent trend in the area is the appearance of modern mixed-use developments such as the new Steyn City Parkland Residence, which offers a choice of accommodation from clusters and townhouses to compact apartments and retirement homes set on over 800 hectares with designated green spaces and parks for families.

However, one feature on the property landscape which hasn’t changed is the generous plot size of the original freestanding homes in Fourways, most of which were built on stands of up to 1 500m².

Says Christelis: “The zoning laws in Fourways prohibit subdivision in most pre-existing residential areas and, with houses priced between R1.8m and R4m depending on condition, size and location, investors get a lot more house for their money than in neighbouring suburbs like Rivonia and Bryanston where freestanding homes start at around R4m.”

Lew Geffen, Chairman of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty, says that the burgeoning demand for residential property in Fourways is also being driven by several other key factors.

“In addition to accessible prices and a wide variety of property options, Fourways also affords residents the luxury of living, working and playing within one area, which is extremely desirable in a city known for its traffic congestion and long daily commutes.

“There are now a number of thriving office parks in the area with more commercial projects in the pipeline in addition to the ongoing retail development. Fourways is also home to two top-class medical centres and boasts myriad entertainment facilities, which means that residents have virtually everything they need on their doorsteps.”

Geffen adds that the suburb’s conveniently central positioning is another reason for its popularity, as residents can hop onto three major thoroughfares and enjoy easy access to Pretoria, the city centre and neighbouring nodes like Sandton City as well as nearby Lanseria Airport.

According to Christelis, the most buoyant market segment is the mid-level price band of R2m to R2.5m, with growing demand now resulting in stock shortages.

“Sectional title properties and homes in secure developments are especially sought-after for a number of reasons, the primary one obviously being security.

“However, an increasing number of buyers are opting for the convenience of a lock-up-and-go lifestyle where Sundays aren’t spent mowing the lawn or fixing gutters. Maintenance costs are also usually significantly lower than for freestanding homes.”

Geffen says that the sectional title sector also has a more active rental market and attributes this to three main reasons.

“Young professionals are drawn by the convenience of sectional title properties, and security is an important factor across all demographics. But availability also plays a role as many of the investors who buy freestanding family homes usually do so to accommodate their growing families and raise their children near their school of choice.

“The subdued economy, further dampened by interest rate hikes, a spike in the cost of living and banks’ reluctance to lend money, is also driving the rental market.”

He adds this is attracting an increasing number of savvy investment buyers who are realising the potential short and long-term returns of sectional title properties in Fourways.

“The ongoing investment and development in the area, along with the anticipated growth that this will generate have inspired investor confidence and Fourways is now considered to be one of the most promising areas for buying property in Johannesburg.”

http://www.cyberprop.com/cyber1_12052016_8.crw

The Homeowners Guide to saving money, the planet and increasing the value of their property

TEMPERATURE CONTROL: Double glazing on windows helps to regulate the indoor temperature in winter and summer, especially in homes built to maximise views and natural light like this house in Bantry Bay.

As South Africans dust off their heaters ahead of winter with the knowledge that Eskom has inflicted yet another above-inflation price hike (9.4 percent) for electricity this year, cash-strapped consumers feeling the pinch of the gloomy national economy will increasingly be looking at ways to lower household running costs.

That’s the word from Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty Atlantic Seaboard chief executive, Brendan Miller, who says properties already fitted with energy-saving devices are increasingly attractive to prospective buyers when they start compiling their dream home wish list.

“At the turn of the century barring the odd ardent environmentalist, things like solar energy didn’t even register on buyers’ radars, but they’re most definitely there now.

“Municipal services have become prohibitively expensive and as the country’s infrastructure deteriorates the cost to consumers will increase. It therefore makes sense to become as green-powered and self-sufficient as possible; not only from an environmental perspective, but from a financial one as well.”

Lew Geffen Sotheby’s international director, Sandy Geffen, believes it is scandalous that the government, through the Department of Energy, last year chose to end the programme of rebates to incentivise home owners to install solar geysers. The programme was previously administered by Eskom, but was shut down almost immediately after being transferred to the Department of Energy in March 2015.

“An average family comprises three to four members, each bathing or showering once a day. Considering that heating a geyser accounts for 40 percent or more of a household’s monthly electricity usage, just getting everybody clean can rack up a large bill before you even start adding other power guzzlers like stoves.

“I believe it’s morally wrong on numerous levels, not least of global climate change. But closer to home with the rebates gone installing solar geysers is now out of the question for most SA families who are already battling interest rate hikes, fuel price increases and surging food costs as a result of the drought and other factors.

“As a rule the only way most homeowners who have to cut down on their bills manage to fund the R15 000 to R30 000 required for the parts and installation – depending on the size of the geyser – is to dip into their mortgages or fall further into financial difficulty by taking out bank loans. Both scenarios are bad news for debt-ridden consumers, and in some cases their efforts to do the right thing ultimately see them go belly-up.”

Geffen says the only correct way to fund an installation is for home owners to save until they have enough in the bank to pay cash for the solar geyser.

“You’ll recoup the initial investment in less than four years, after which it’s pure electricity bill savings, and if you choose to sell your house you’ve added significantly to the value of the property if it already has a medium to large solar water heater installed.”

Miller says particularly in relation to larger properties, buyers are increasingly asking agents to source homes that have existing solar water heaters, solar panels, grey water irrigation systems, rain water tanks, comprehensive insulation or even double-glazing, which helps with climate control and dampening external noise.

“There’s no question that energy-saving home alterations and additions raise the value and desirability of homes that are put on the market, because buyers are increasingly asking questions like whether a property has one or two geysers, and whether irrigation systems are grey water or mains water.

“Fitting these systems will reward home owners with a significant return on investment in the short term in the form of savings on household running costs, as well as adding value to their properties in the long term.”

According to Geffen it’s possible to reduce a household’s energy expenditure by up to 70 percent using passive solar design.

“We’ve consulted with specialist architects and here’s how to do it with the implementation of simple design principles to reduce lighting, heating and cooling needs that can make a big difference to your monthly energy bill,” says Geffen.

Tips include the following:

Replace a tin roof if you can, but if the budget is tight, simply insulate it and paint it white.

Natural materials such as stone, timber, thatch and clay are better at regulating temperature than most man-made substances.

Rooftop solar panels provide electricity to run low-consumption appliances such as televisions, radios and lights. A big enough spread of solar panels will even see your electricity meter running backwards for much of the day when it’s sunny, feeding power into the grid. You don’t get paid for this, but your electricity bill plummets.

Although not a cheap initial investment, solar geysers will more than pay for themselves.

Home owners with gardens can reduce water usage by as much as 50 percent with a grey water irrigation system.

Install energy efficient light bulbs such as LEDs or CFLs, which have a much longer life-span and use far less electricity.

Install window shutters, awnings or screens. These will cool rooms by keeping direct sunlight out of the home in summer.

http://www.sapropertynews.com/the-homeowners-guide-to-saving-money-the-planet-and-increasing-the-value-of-their-property/

Here’s why attractive outdoor spaces draw in buyers

PATIO.resize

KISS your garden before thinking of selling. This is what Sandy Geffen, director at Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty recommends. According to Geffen, if two similar homes are on the market in the same area the only real differentiator is the garden. The majority of potential buyers will go back to the property with an attractive outdoor space for a second viewing. Thus, it is important to KISS your garden, Keep It Sleek and Simple, no matter the size of your outdoor space. As cities densify and space becomes scarce, the importance of creating an outdoor space with dual purpose as an additional living space increases. “The catch-phrase that you see all over when desirable properties are put on the market is ‘indoor-outdoor flow’, because functionality-wise gardens nowadays have to service many more needs than a patch of grass to kick a football and a place to park a car,” says Geffen.

It’s a buyer’s game

Green Point Village

This Green Point, Cape Town, house shows how old and new can be combined in a compact space to make a stunning additional family living area.

Prospective buyers still prefer minimalistic gardens designed with clean lines, cautions Geffen, so it is important to keep this in mind when designing your outdoor living space. Hot international trends to consider implementing in your own garden are miniature landscapes in pots and vertical gardens that make the most of our smaller outdoor spaces. Potted vegetable and herb gardens are also very much on trend. South Africa is a water scarce country so indigenous plants are definitely the way to go – bonus being that these plants will keep your outdoor space attractive year-round.


How to make a garden in a jar


Geffen says to achieve that desired indoor-outdoor flow invest in extended patios with room to entertain. From a design perspective, local buyers are attracted to international trends – weathered multi-level decking with built-in planters and anything made out of sustainable materials.

Hard structural changes to a home must be carefully weighed up however, cautions Geffen, “The danger here is over-capitalisation.” The substantial investment of creating a dreamy outdoor, extended living space must be weighed up against the potential increased return on investment when the property is eventually sold.

Light the wayModern house garden lights

According to Geffen, a relatively inexpensive upgrade to modernise your garden is well-designed outdoor mood lighting. Geffen says that this aspect is often forgotten by sellers and can make or break the atmosphere of open-air entertainment areas. “Gone are the days when a single lamp over the front door comprised the only lighting in your garden,” explains Geffen. “Outdoor lighting is now very much a feature rather than a necessary evil and should be worked into a garden’s overall design plan.”

Geffen’s final tips for creating a great outdoor space with minimal effort? “Don’t pave over the whole garden, don’t let it become totally overgrown, try your best not to remove mature trees, and add interesting visuals such as pots and feature walls that capture the imagination and make people want to spend time there.”

http://hometimes.co.za/2016/05/heres-why-attractive-outdoor-spaces-draw-buyers-in/