Battery powered homes might soon be the norm.

Sustainable solutions for homes are being developed at a rapid rate. Green homes are fast becoming the norm as opposed to the exception. We’ve seen the rise of water efficient homes dramatically rise in water scarce regions over the past few years. So, to a concerted effort is being made to ensure properties are energy efficient as well.

Maximising a home’s ability to save on resources can often be an expensive investment. However, the long-term pros continue to be an attractive choice for home owners. One of the areas where international green agents are investing a lot of research and development into is the addition of battery operated alternatives. We’ve seen organisations like Tesla make major advancements in the field of battery storage options.

For those of you thinking these are relatively new energy solutions to the real estate market you’d be forgiven. In fact in markets like the US battery powered homes have been in development and implementation phases for quite some time now.

Although the average home owner might not be able to afford battery packs that can drastically reduce grid usage there seems to be great interest in the developments and commercial markets. As in the case where US real estate developer Mandalay announced they plan to build 4000 ultra-energy-efficient homes which will feature 8 kilowatt-hour batteries from German manufacturer Sonnen.

There is no doubt that as South Africans continue to ride the unpredictable economic wave that more alternatives are going to be explored. Not only from the point of view to make a contribution to more sustainable solutions but also in an effort to become more independent and to ensure cost saving over the long term.

Statement by

Richard Gray
Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

Harcourts South Africa 2018 Budget Reaction

Topics: 2018 budgetCyril Ramaphosaeconomical news

coins-948603_960_720Overall it was a far more balanced budget speech than initially expected, with a focus on rebuilding, which is in line with the newly elected President Cyril Ramaphosa’s messaging. However, Finance Minister Gigaba’s announcement that there will be an increase in VAT from 14% to 15%, the first time VAT has been increased since 1993, will undoubtedly have a direct impact on the property market. VAT is payable on the transaction of a home purchase and in some cases included in the price of the home. Although one percent seems like a very slight increase, transactions like high value commercial properties or development investments might feel the increase far more than that of the middle to lower end of the market.

There is no doubt Government is experiencing shortfalls in their budget and lending might tighten up, therefore accumulation of funds has to originate from taxes. South Africans experiencing a price pinch with rising food costs, fuel costs and tax hikes might continue to be under financial pressure as more increases can be expected. This was noted in the speech as a 22c/litre increase in the general fuel levy, and a 30c/litre rise in the Road Accident Fund (RAF) levy was announced. South Africans will also be paying 52 cents more per litre for fuel from April 4. The effect of these tax hikes impacts the man on the street in a direct manner, and this might have an effect on the rental market on the lower end.

Statement by

Richard Gray

Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

Sellers, Choose Your Transferring Attorney

It is usually the right of the seller to nominate the attorney who will handle the transfer of their property and all the associated legal matters – and for good reason.  Of course, that doesn’t make it illegal for the purchaser to nominate the attorney.  However, the seller does expose himself to significant risk should he allow anyone other than his nominated attorney to effect the transfer.

In some cases, a purchaser may insist that his attorney be appointed.  This is usually motivated based on the fact that their attorney had agreed a lower fee to handle the transfer.  In other instances, there may be a linked sale – where the purchaser has a property that is being sold – and it is suggested that it’s easier for one attorney to deal with both matters.

Should a seller consider allowing the purchaser’s attorney to handle the transfer? In our experience, a seller should avoid this if at all possible.

When the seller appoints the attorney, then the conveyancer acts for the seller to ensure the contract is adhered to.  Both seller and buyer have obligations in a contract of sale – and the attorney needs to ensure that all parties fulfil these obligations.

When the attorney is appointed by the purchaser, and there is a dispute or non-performance by the purchaser, it becomes very difficult for the attorney to act against their client.  We’ve often been told that, in such a situation, they have a conflict of interest.

In reality what this means for the seller is that he has to then consult his own attorney and incur costs in doing so.  To further complicate matters, if the deposit is held by the transferring attorney who acts for the purchaser, the seller will have difficulty claiming damages against the deposit.  In such a case the transferring attorney will hold the deposit pending the result of a court case or settlement.

The situation gets even worse for a seller when the purchaser takes occupation prior to transfer.  We’ve often seen purchasers move into a property and then claim the seller has concealed defects.  They insist they are rectified at the sellers’ cost – even when the seller is not at fault.

In such a situation the seller is left with the option of either complying with the purchaser’s demands or taking legal steps to ensure the purchaser performs.   This results in delays and additional costs for the seller.

There is a counter-argument that the buyer has little protection in the event that the sellers’ conveyancer is used.  However, the conveyancer has a legal obligation to ensure the seller also complies with the contract.  In the event that the seller fails to do so, and the purchaser can prove such, the conveyancer has to protect the purchasers’ legal rights.

In our experience, where the estate agent has ensured the seller discloses relevant defects, and the contract is clear on the obligations or all parties, the potential for disputes can be minimized.

 

Steve Caradoc-Davies

What does 2018 hold for the property market?

Many of us closed off the year anxiously monitoring the ruling party’s executive committee election. For the large part it’s important for us to show an active interest in the direction our country is moving in, in the other sense we desire a Government that is transparent and has the best interests of its people at heart. The economy certainly experienced quite a number of dramatic shifts during 2017 and some markets were effected, be it positively or negatively. Harcourts for one experienced defiant growth, showing that many South Africans remain active in an uncertain economy.

What does 2018 hold? It is always difficult making predictions, as there are an enormous amount of factors to take into consideration. With both external and internal elements influencing the markets, forecasting cycles is purely based on interpretation of data.

Taking the trends we’re already moving toward into consideration – digital and technological evolution is a major focus point of the property market. We’ve seen the portals incorporate virtual reality, video functionality and drone capabilities to ensure more detailed data for clients, at Harcourts we’re equally dedicated to the advancement of more accurate visual representation of homes. We’ve also monitored how digital marketing has majorly influenced client and agent interaction, and this is certainly going to intensify during this year. Another technological point being incorporated into the property market internationally and locally is digital funding models – like cryptocurrencies and crowdfunding real estate. This will surely be hot topics throughout the year.

Another point to take note of are the knock on affects of the political climate in South Africa. Often the negative reactions to short term economic changes are only felt the following year. On this point I am very hopeful that there will be more stability in the political messaging from Government, as well as less major ministerial suprises, however this is difficult to predict. Consumers might be in a price pinch for a little while longer, but the market already seems to be gaining momentum. Property outweighs a lot of the immediate reactions due to its long term nature, however the commercial and rental markets might react more sharply to any more surprises.

An element of change in markets across the board which Harcourts is very excited by and spent a lot of time developing and improving is the corporate shift of focus back to client service. The internet has spun the wheel of change into the favour of the client, where it should be, and the prominence of consumer ratings platforms has forced corporate entities to be held accountable for their actions. It is shift that has had to happen. When services are dedicated to impeccable client experiences the bar gets raised and the dynamic in the relationship is strengthened. This is where Harcourts lives.

These are only a few interests I touched on, and there are many other market elements going to progress throughout the year. All in all, we’re focused on continuing our incredible growth cycle and maintaining our rapid evolution and client focus.

Statement by

Richard Gray

Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

Job creation, not increased taxes

The news that President Zuma has instructed the Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, to trim expenses and increase revenue in order to find a solution to the R40 billion gap identified in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement is of major concern.

The statement released by the Presidency on Monday identifying the steps being taken to address economic problems after Standard & Poor lowered South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings by one notch each to ‘BB’ and ‘BB+’ on Friday, might put cash strapped consumers under even more pressure.

Reports explain that the split will equate to cuts in expenditure amounting to about R25 billion and “revenue-enhancing” measures of about R15 billion.

Despite the obvious concerns of less money being spent in crucial areas like RDP housing, social assistance and other key economic and social focuses, I don’t believe South Africans can be squeezed for more taxes. We are in a price pinch as it is, with rising costs, increased taxes, heightened unemployment and economic instability. To further aggravate the situation by trying to recover the shortfall by extracting more taxes from citizens, Government is counteracting growth.

Instead, Government should be developing plans that combat economic stagnation. They should be tougher on corruption and mismanaged funds, so that the money that is available in the fiscal reaches its intended target.

An environment not conducive to job creation and economic growth is what is propelling our economic vulnerability. Businesses, entrepreneurs and everyday citizens should have access to funding models, advisory boards, mentors, technology etc. that boost commercial activity in the areas where we need it most. There should be a push to gain access to markets through programmes that aim to transfer skills and development.

Hasty plans with concrete solutions are desperately needed to penetrate problem areas, and a fresh approach to accessing funds needs to occur instead of looking to citizens for money they don’t have.

Statement by

Richard Gray

Harcourts Africa Chief Executive Officer

Competition Time

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AIREDALE TERRIER

FACT FILE:

Group: Terrier

Origin: Yorkshire, UK

Job today: Companion

Life expectancy: 13 years

Weight: 20-23kg

Height: 58-61cm

Known as the king of terriers, the Airedale’s roots lie in Yorkshire where he was bred to catch rats or for otter hunting.  The Airedale is an active and cobby dog with a playful dignity. Coat colours are black and tan or grizzle and tan.

Temperament:  A typical terrier, the Airedale has a keen expression and alert carriage of the tail and ears.  He is affectionate, spirited and intelligent dog, making a fun companion for family or child.  Airedales are adaptable and trainable but can be assertive.  They have many talents and are naturally alert, making them excellent watchdogs.  A loyal, brave and hardy breed.

Lifestyle: Needs an outdoor area for exercise.  He may chase small animals, but will get on with a cat if he is introduced as a puppy. He isn’t overly aggressive, but will stand his ground if challenged.

Exercise: Airedales love activity and need a good amount of exercise to work off energy or they may develop behavioural problems.  Energy is best channelled into dog sports and obedience training.

 

QUESTION:

Is the Airedale a good companion for family and children?

Email you answer to Lindsay.whitehead@harcourts.co.za

American Staffordshire Terrier (Competition)

Despite its name, the Staffordshire Terrier’s  ancestor (Bull and Terrier) was first bred in the nineteenth century in Birmingham, West Midlands, rather than in the English county of Staffordshire where it was then later bred. The early ancestors of this breed came from England where, until the first part of the 19th century, the Bulldog was bred. Bulldogs pictured as late as 1870 resemble contemporary American Staffordshire Terriers to a greater degree than present-day Bulldogs. Some writers contend it was the White English TerrierFox Terrier, or the Black and Tan Terrier that was crossed with the Bulldog to develop the Staffordshire Bull Terrier; all three breeds shared many traits, the greatest differences being in colour, and spirit. The cross of Bulldog and Terrier was called by several names, including Bull-and-Terrier Dog, “Pit Bull Terrier”(Bull terrier used to fight on pit), or Half and Half. Later, it assumed the name of Staffordshire Bull Terrier in England. These dogs began to find their way into America as early as 1850. Became a new breed and was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 10 February, 1898, with the name American pit bull terrier. In 1936 some pit bulls were accepted for registration in the American Kennel Club (AKC) Stud Book as Staffordshire Terriers with a new standard and purpose, belonging to the terrier and molosser groups. The name of the breed was revised January 1, 1969 to American Staffordshire Terrier, breeders in the United States had developed a variety which was heavier in weight than the Staffordshire Bull Terrier of England. The name change was to distinguish them as separate breeds.

Question:

Where was the Staffordshire Terrier first bred in the nineteenth century?

Email your answer to Lindsay.whitehead@harcourts.co.za

Humerail (Competition)

Humerail

Close to the beaches of Port Elizabeth, and touted as the latest ‘designer suburb’, Humerail – with homes that are worth well into the double digit millions because of the incredible views they offer over Algoa Bay – lies just off the beachfront, close to golf courses and downtown.

Add to this already attractive part of town the development of a 1000-seater international conference centre that is set to change the face of Port Elizabeth, and particularly areas such as Humerail, and you can understand why staying in this highly desirable part of town becomes more than an option. The city centre, undergoing a complete revitalisation, is moments away and your access to the wonderfully relaxing beaches of Port Elizabeth is excellent.

The Humerail Waterfront Shopping Centre, with some incredible restaurant options, a conveniently placed internet café and a gym for the diehards, is at hand and a new shopping centre and boutique hotel, due to open soon, have been approved for the beachfront.

The Spoornet Great Train Race, postponed after a rather sticky situation that led to the race being declared illegal but hopefully to be reinstated, is an exciting race that sees over 600 teams of 10 runners each compete against the famous narrow-gauge Apple Express Steam train to see who can reach Loerie, over 72 kilometres away, first.

QUESTION :

What was the name of the train that used to race teams of runners to Loerie?

The Horse Memorial (Competition)

The Horse Memorial, located on the corner of Russell and Cape Roads, was erected and dedicated to the horses killed during the South African War (1899-1902).It is an outstanding and famous piece of sculpture. The inscription on the memorial reads “The greatness of a nation consists not so much in the number of its people or the extent of its territory as in the extent and justice of its compassion.”

A drinking trough for horses and cattle form part of the memorial and was added to provide water to the animals but the water was never connected due to various reasons such as water consumption and cleanliness.

The Horse memorial was unveiled on Saturday afternoon, February 11, 1905, with the Mayor at the time, Mr A Fettes, performing the ceremony.

The statue was originally situated close to the junction of Park Drive and Rink Street, next to St George’s Park, but was moved to its present position in Cape Road in the 1950s as it was believed to be a traffic hindrance.

Question:

What was the name of the Mayor who unveiled the Horse Memorial?

The Horse Memorial

 

Tips and tricks for removing oil stains from your driveway

No matter how hard you try, avoiding driveway oil spills is nearly impossible. If you have an unsightly oil stain on your paved driveway, start by soaking up any excess oil and move on to using an agent that will help lift the stain.

Start off by soaking up any excess oil, then completely cover the stain in kitty litter. To help absorb the grease, stomp on the kitty litter and leave it over night to do its work.

Remove the kitty litter in the morning, and toss it out. Kitty litter works well on newly formed oil stains.

Baking soda

If you’ve recently spilled oil onto your driveway, baking soda is the go-to remedy for this. In such a situation, the baking soda will absorb the excess oil.

Sprinkle a lavish amount of baking soda over the greasy patch of driveway, and dampen it a bit.

Using a circular motion and a brush with stiff bristles, clean the stain by rubbing in the baking soda, and then wash away the baking soda with clean water.

Depending on how deep the stain has penetrated, repeat the process until you’re satisfied.

Dish washing liquid

Grab a bottle of dish washing liquid and squirt a generous amount onto the oil stain. Using a bristle brush or broom, scour the driveway until you see the stain lifting.

Rinse away the foam using hot water and repeat the process until the stain vanishes.

Laundry detergent

To get rid of oil stains using a powder detergent, completely cover the stain in laundry detergent. Slightly moisten the powder soap with water and let it sit for a while. Scrub the detergent into the stain, then let it sit for an hour. This gives the soap enough time to penetrate through and lift the stain. Once the hour is up, rinse the driveway surface using hot water and repeat the process as often as possible to completely remove the stain.

WD-40

Spray a liberal amount of WD-40 over the affected area and let it sit for 30 minutes or so.

Using a hard brush, scrub the stain and rinse before repeating.

Top tip

Never use a metal brush to clean your driveway as this will damage the surface, and always try to remove oil stains as soon as possible to prevent them from penetrating even deeper.

( this article was sourced from the Property 24 website posted on 25 October 2016)