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Be nice to your estate agent

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Generally, managing agents offer a great service at a very moderate cost to the owners in sectional title buildings.

Like any business, they have regular office hours which would usually extend from around 8:00 in the morning to 4:30 in the afternoon. 

It seems to me that Cape Town is the exception where Friday afternoon tends to be the time for partying!

Unlike many banks and insurance companies, they undertake a lot of after-hours work for their clients, especially general and trustee meetings that start around 5pm and cannot infrequently go on for more than an hour.

They normally have an after-hours service in the case of emergencies.

But it is amazing how many people feel that they offer a 24-hour general service.

They often get calls for electricity that has run out after 10pm, weekends and public holidays are not infrequent.

Noise complaints, lost keys, gates that won’t open and tripped electricity are some of the common reasons for people to call.

It is also amazing how many times calls come through late at night from people looking for rental properties.

It is not uncommon for those people on after-hours duty to be called for insignificant items like dripping geysers at 2am in the morning.

For busy companies, waking up several times at night for unnecessary calls is not an uncommon occurrence.

So, be nice to your managing agent – they are human too!

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia.

Property

Bigger can be best

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MAJOR UPGRADE NEEDED . . . Many of the original sectional title schemes were existing buildings that were converted

I want to be very brief in this article so that those interested may have more time to think about my discussion point.

We have previously discussed shortcomings with the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act (STSMA), which are many.

I want to focus on just two of them today.

The STSMA was signed into law and became effective on October 7, 2016.

Ideally, the STSMA was introduced in order to provide for the establishment of bodies corporate to manage and regulate sections and common property in sectional title schemes.

Its main purpose is to apply rules applicable to such schemes – establish a sectional title schemes management advisory council and to provide for any related matters.

The two biggest problems have been, firstly, the age of buildings that were converted to sectional title schemes and the size of many of the early schemes.

Buildings have a practical lifespan.

Many of the original sectional title schemes were existing buildings that were converted.

Some of these buildings are now approaching 80 years and need major upgrading – particularly piping and wiring – and modernisation and owners just don’t or have not made provision for these upgrades, especially in less affluent areas.

The second problem is that these schemes have a small number of units and are uneconomical for a managing agent to administer.

The reality is that the larger the scheme, the easier it can be managed.

I wonder if it would be worthwhile to have two schemes combining for admin purposes.

Food for thought . . .

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia. You can contact him via email: mike@platinumglobal.co.za

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Property

Fix and protect your building from rain damage now

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FIX ROOF LEAKS . . . Protect your building from rain damage

Last year saw some very good rains but this year has been exceptionally wet.

At regular times more than 50mm of rain was received in a single day.

We have just had some rains in Bloemfontein and the surrounding areas which have left the ground thoroughly soaked with open water lying around.

Lawns remain verdant green!

If your building was going to have any roof leak problems, I would suggest that it be fixed by now, though it is possible that there could still be damp problems.

Of course, the rainy season is well behind us now but we could still experience occasional rains during the rainy season.

I would really recommend that now is the right time to do a full building inspection.

Many of you will know of my dread of overgrown trees.

Well, this year they have grown like weeds – my pecan nut tree in the garden has grown its branches by nearly two metres this year!

Trustees could do well to investigate the entire property for overgrown trees that need to be trimmed and to make sure that none are leaning against buildings or walls.

Trees in gardens belonging to individual units should be attended to by those owners – after all they planted these trees or left them to grow.

It might be a good idea to have one contractor remove/trim the problem trees and share the cost if owners don’t have the time to do it for themselves.

But do it they must.

The cost of removing whole trees can be expensive but trimming must be seen as maintenance.

Also, check for damp in walls caused by overgrown flower beds – the best way is to ask owners and tenants to report any serious damp problems.

It’s also advisable to buy a set of drain rods and clear your drains, especially stormwater drains that can easily be blocked with soil or sand.

Check for water leaks as these could have been hidden by the wet conditions that we have experienced.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia.

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Property

Banks now hesitant to lend to property buyers

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BOND RISK . . . It has now become near impossible from a cost and time point of view for banks to sell a property in execution

Banks make most of their money when they lend to customers and charge interest.

That is essentially how they get money to run their businesses and generate profit.

In other words, no lending, no profit.

When a bank lends you money to buy property, it allows you to purchase a property that otherwise you would never have the money to buy.

It is the best investment you will ever make.

Over time, property values rise and you get the benefit, as banks don’t participate in your profit.

It used to be that banks lent 70-80 percent of the price of the property and you had to find the cash for the balance.

You also had to find the bond and transfer costs.

That means the banks risk was about 75percent.

So, if you defaulted and the banks sold the property as their security on the bond.

If they achieved 75 percent or more of the current market price of the property, they would get their money back.

But times have changed.

The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and a whole raft of other “consumer-based” legislation have changed the situation.

While the CPA was introduced in a bid to “promote a fair, accessible and sustainable marketplace for consumer products and services and for that purpose to establish national norms and standards relating to consumer protection, to provide for improved standards of consumer information, to prohibit certain unfair marketing and business practices, to promote responsible consumer behaviour”, among others, it has brought with it some challenges.

It has now become near impossible from a cost and time point of view for banks to sell a property in execution – ie when a client fails to service their bond.

Just getting a magistrate to agree to the sale, despite the lender being years in arrears, is a nightmare and the costs involved are horrendous.

Further, bonds are mainly 100 percent nowadays, so banks are unlikely to recover the outstanding bond and interest.

Arrear levies and rates need to be paid by the buyer so the price achieved is often half of the real value of the property.

If it was my money, the last place that I would lend it would be as a 100 percent loan for somebody to buy a home.

Times need to change.

  • Mike Spencer is the founder and owner of Platinum Global. He is also a professional associated property valuer and consultant with work across the country as well as Eastern Europe and Australia. You can contact him via email: mike@platinumglobal.co.za

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