Local real estate agency Devler Estates (trading as Chas Everitt in the False Bay and Southern Suburbs) is the first real estate business in South Africa to announce that it will accept comission payments in the digital currency Bitcoin as from 1st June 2016.
“Bitcoin is gaining momentum all over the world and with the Rand being so volatile it is likely to attract increasing attention in South Africa. This will be yet another example of Bitcoin increasingly becoming a real alternative currency and going mainstream in South Africa. ” said Managing Principal Andre de Villiers.
While we can usually be guided by professional agents about the property itself what about the actual security of the home in respect of the neighbourhood? What are the security expectations you have for yourself, your loved ones and your possessions in the home that you are planning to buy?
There is no getting away from the issue that as the country with the greatest income disparity in the world we are also facing a crime wave that seemingly has no end. Many will point to demographics and stats and argue convincingly that to even begin to expect a drop in crime is an unrealistic expectation.
It is not easy to source reliable data on crime in South Africa. Police statistics are treated with great suspicion as politicians place pressure on improved statistics for their own ends. In the end local security services together with the neighbourhood watch, may be your best bet to gauge security issues in the area you wish to buy in. No matter what the statistics are we know they are very troubling and vary from bad to worse from one area to another.
We cannot all live in security estates and neither do we all want to, but we can buy with security in mind so here are a few ideas to consider;
· * A double storey property with bedrooms upstairs can be is a fantastic advantage. Security experts agree that a physical barrier is critical to put off an intruder or buy you time if you have a robbery or home invasion. A security gate that cuts off the downstairs living area from the upstairs bedrooms allows you to get a good night’s sleep and not having to respond to every creek and rustle. (Make sure your cellphone and car keys etc are all with you upstairs at night and not hanging on the key rack at the front door!)
· * Obvious escape routes for thieves play a major role in choosing properties to rob. Does the location of the property allow an intruder to melt away quickly and easily into a surrounding area? Thieves do not want to worry with a high risk ‘problematic’ property and will basically choose an easier victim down the road!
I have wanted to write this article for a while! It’s a topic few agents want to discuss with clients but it’s a discussion that every seller and his agent should have. By doing so everyone will be better off and it will raise professional standards of practice and I believe this discussion will be in the interests of professional agents.
South Africans clearly prefer to use estate agents as a proven and effective way to sell their property. Paying a commission for such real estate services is widely accepted. Alternative structures that offer sellers a ‘DIY option’ come and go. In fact the only consistent thing about fee based alternatives to commission is that they fail to meet most sellers’ needs, result in a lot of frustration and usually an agent has to step in and get the house sold in any event! If the ‘sell yourself’ options were good idea in practice, as opposed to theory, at least some of them would have survived the usual fanfare launch and made a national impact in the 28 years I have been in property and none have!
So based on the logical assumption then that South Africans are happy to pay commission based fees to get their house sold, the real issue I want to ‘drag out the closet’ is what an appropriate commission would be and how it should be determined.
While I am reluctant to quote any US figures (*which is all I can find) there is a prevailing and logical opinion that ‘staging’ a home will not only increase its chances of selling, but will get a significantly improved price. However my experience has been that most South African sellers are really not that interested in using professional home staging services.
My sales team and I have a new approach, providing the seller with some work sheets and a DIY DVD as we are convinced that a small effort with regard to home presentation does produce excellent returns.
We are encouraging sellers to follow a few golden rules;
It is more than annoying to professional estate agents that many people choose their agent for the totally wrong reason. This could be because it is a friend or family member or because the decision based on other emotional decisions like an unsubstantiated valuation designed to appeal to the owner’s ego rather than the reality of the current market.
Let’s look at the real reasons why a property sells. To make my point I will divide these reasons into three groups:
Over the years I have heard many ideas about how a buyer could protect his interests when purchasing a property. These ideas vary considerably in their practicality.
Of course prevention is better than cure, so a thorough inspection of the property is the first and somewhat obvious recommendation. More often than not however due to the emotion of the purchase process, and the fear of loss by the buyer who wants a quick decision to his offer being accepted, a thorough inspection is NOT actually done. This is the case more often than one may rationally assume.
If it was not totally impractical the ideal would be to 'try before you buy' but sellers are seldom looking for tenants so this is not going to be an acceptable proposal in 99% of cases, if not more. I certainly would not even think of recommending such a request to a seller, but there are a number of other more practical solutions that can be considered and that a professional agent could facilitate.
The recommended course of action would depend on the particular property and the circumstances, so I have four scenarios to which I propose four different solutions;
With nearly 30 years in real estate if anyone asks me what the most irritating aspect of a sales is, I have no hesitation in answering that it is getting the various Certificates of Compliance for 'amenities health and safety' that are required.
In 1984 when I started as a rookie agent the only required inspection was for notifiable beetle (which by the way was at that time just two specific little creatures) but then these reports started to be expanded to include another insect or two until it was recommended that the wording in the contract all types of wood destroying 'goggas', many of which didn't even live in the Cape. Then of course came the 'bright spark,' to add electrical compliance certificates and now we have every trade jumping on the bandwagon so we have the need for the seller to also provide plumbing certificates, gas inspection reports and electrical fencing inspections. In South Africa we have as much certification requirements as Switzerland yet the majority of the country lives in shacks – but be that as it may – that's South Africa. Of course I appreciate that the buyer of a property has a right to know what they are buying, however when you are buying a second hand home (yes we don't like to call it that but this is what it is), in many instances is a "mature property" and the buyer in making an offer needs to accept that in his offer price. I not only have my doubts about how reasonable such requirements are, I also have over the years seen far too many things that make me very skeptical about the real value of these reports let alone the ethical behaviour surrounding them. And these reports are not over yet! There are moves afoot to have Energy Performance Certificates apply to resale properties and not only new homes.
– Andre de Villiers
Cape Town Real Estate – Chas Everitt Cape Town (South) Franchisee
Agent, Broker, Blogger and Property Personality since 1983
Usually we can be well guided by professional agents about the property itself and the buyer is reasonably protected by legislation, but what about the actual security of the home and the neighbourhood? What are the security expectations you have for yourself, your loved ones and your possessions in the home that you are planning to buy?
Security has become a major consideration in buying a property and the reason why many people are inclined to invest a premium on one property in an area over another or to buy a home in a gated estate. This can however be little more than an illusion of safety and security if you have neglected to do a little detective work of your own.