Doucal Properties

Friday, December 1, 2017

Is your home summer-ready?

Is your home summer-ready?

With the mercury hitting 30 degrees and more across most of South Africa these days, it’s official: summer is finally here! This year, instead of just packing away those winter woollies and calling it quits, why not give your home some summer loving as well?

Debbie shares her top do’s for a summer ready home

Send winter packing

“Those cosy cushion covers and layered throws are all wonderfully warming in winter, but can make interiors feel overly cluttered and stuffy in the heat,” says Reabow. “If you can’t see yourself snuggling into that pile of velvety cushions or tucking that faux fur rug over your knees, it’s time to pack them away where they’ll stay clean and fresh for next season.”

Top tip: Soft furnishings aren’t the only things we tend to collect during winter, either – decorative knick-knacks have a habit of building up as well. Try to clear out as much unnecessary clutter as possible to get that easy, breezy summer vibe. You don’t want a totally blank canvass, but you do want some room to breathe.

Colour it casual

When it comes to making a space feel lighter and brighter, there’s nothing more powerful than colour.

Summer is all about fresh, juicy hues, so replace winter’s intense tones with cool, ice-cream pastels or palettes inspired by fruity sorbets or tropical prints. Nautical blues and whites are also timeless choices that pair particularly well with natural materials like wood, linen, cotton and cane.

Get personal with prints

“This season has some incredible textile prints to choose from,” says Reabow, “and they make amazing accents to add personality to any summer space. Choose from bold tropicals, delicate florals, exotic geometrics and more.”

Don’t be scared to mix and match for a more eclectic feel – summer is the perfect time for light-hearted fun, so get playful with your choices.

Bring the outdoors in

Indoor plants are making a huge comeback at the moment, and Reabow says they are a perfect way to introduce a touch of summer into your home.

Tropical-styled delicious monsters (monstera deliciosa) are the most gorgeous choices for a pop of lush green, but simple succulents and air plants are also extremely trendy and attractive. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you also get some miniature fruit tree varietals that thrive indoors in the right light conditions, and produce scented blossoms and fruit as well.

If you don’t have green thumb, don’t worry – plants aren’t the only way to embrace the outdoors. Try introducing natural materials like raw wood, sandstone, seagrass and loose-weave linens to bring nature into your home.

Take the indoors out

There’s nothing better than alfresco entertaining on a balmy summer’s day, and Reabow highly recommends giving your outdoor areas a little love to make this as enjoyable as possible.

Outdoor entertainment areas are extremely popular with property buyers, so don’t be afraid to invest a little money in this area – it’ll pay off down the line. If you have the space, a covered patio with a built-in braai is a fantastic option, but a neatly paved area with a few outdoor couches or a dining table and a big umbrella can be just as nice.

When planning an outdoor space, Reabow reminds homeowners not to overlook lighting.

Top tip: The right lights are essential from an ambiance perspective as well as a functional one. There are a lot of solar options available these days that are great for areas where it’s difficult to get power. Candles, lanterns and torches can be very romantic additions as well.

No matter how you choose to embrace the summer season, fun should always be the focus. Your home is your playground, and should always reflect the uniqueness of you. Don’t get too caught up in what’s trendy and forget about the things that make you and your loved ones smile.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The Ombud for community housing schemes has cleared up the confusion regarding letting sectional title units.

Until recently, there were two schools of thought about whether it is permissible to let sectional title units via Airbnb in terms of the Sectional Title Schemes Management Act (STSMA), but their differences appear to be have been resolved for now by the Ombud for community housing schemes.
“Some people argued that Airbnb letting amounted to running a business, which you are not allowed to do in residential sectional title (ST) schemes,” says Andrew Schaefer, MD of national property management company Trafalgar, “while others said Airbnb letting was actually no different to regular letting – or to having a friend come and stay in your spare room for a while - as the purpose of use would still be residential.
“However, there is no doubt that Airbnb letting does pose a potential security risk, especially where many owners in a complex are not living there themselves, but just letting out their units and giving keys, remotes and security codes to one set of visitors after another.”
In addition, he says, various companies that provide insurance to ST schemes were starting to express misgivings about Airbnb letting, especially in complexes where this was widespread. “They reported that Airbnb letting was regarded by SASRIA as being a commercial activity similar to running an ordinary B&B or an hotel, and that this would mean they would have to apply a commercial rate of insurance to any scheme where there was even one Airbnb unit.
“A ‘real time’ example given by one broker was where an insurance premium for a building rated residential was R3000, it would change to R14 000 if the building was rated commercial. In such instances, the body corporate might be able to apply annually for an exemption, but would have to keep a register of all the Airbnb units or rooms in the complex.”
One suggestion for ST schemes that wished to avoid the Airbnb problem, says Schaefer, was to add a Conduct Rule forbidding short-term or holiday letting of any kind, but legal opinion appeared to be divided on that too – not to mention the fact that ST owners who are letting their units via Airbnb are hardly like to vote in favour of a rule that stops them from doing so.
“Consequently, Trafalgar* decided to seek guidance from the Ombud, and the answer is that ST schemes may indeed make a rule that no short-term letting (of less than a month, for example) is allowed. However, the trustees will need to ensure that the rule is properly approved by owners in the scheme and registered with the Ombud.
“In addition, the Ombud says the rule should provide for trustees not to be unreasonable in its application.”

Friday, September 1, 2017

What security features do buyers and tenants value most?

Security is a top priority for most home buyers as well as prospective tenants. So what should sellers and landlords be doing to make their properties more appealing?
The sophisticated security systems used by big corporates are now also available for private residential clients. You shouldn’t rush into a decision, but rather do your homework and make sure the system you choose will offer the kind of protection you need.
Spoke person for International Realty , says the security measures prospective buyers and tenants most commonly enquire about are alarms, beams, security gates, electric fencing and secure parking.
An alarm, in particular, is an essential if you are selling your home or want to find a good tenant.The best crime deterrents would vary according to the family’s lifestyle, but a layered security system would be most effective in preventing criminals from gaining access to a property. This could include perimeter electric fencing, security beams in the garden, passive sensors on exterior doors and windows, security doors on sliding doors and burglar bars on windows. A good security system begins beyond the property wall, and there are a number of factors contributing to the safety and security of a suburb, such as neighbourliness and reporting any suspicious events or people in the area.
It’s important to take an interest in what goes on in your neighbourhood, and if you will be away for some time, tell your neighbours so they can keep an eye out for anything untoward.
In certain suburbs a licence plate recognition system has been installed and this is proving very effective. Local armed response companies have a strong presence in the area, which also helps to make residents and visitors feel more secure. Neighbourhood watches are also installing camera networks as part of the security systems they put in place, which have proven to be hugely successful.
Fidelity Security’s district manager, agrees that the best security solution is an integrated system, and says it should be one that can be phased in over time and one which creates a single seat control environment.
More people are using technological safety systems such as CCTV cameras, remote surveillance, and other perimeter security systems such as infrared sensors. But this doesn’t mean you should become careless and leave your doors unlocked says the security experts.
Neighbourhood watches are also installing camera networks as part of the security systems they put in place, which have proven to be hugely successful. The advantages of camera systems are their ability to provide views of areas where one cannot be present, and supply crucial evidence that could be used in the apprehension of criminals.
CCTV systems and networks allow security service providers and law enforcement agencies to respond faster when crimes take place, and to deploy their limited manpower and other physical resources more effectively.
Home automation systems can also enable you to monitor your property remotely and respond to alerts in case of an emergency.
The advantages of camera systems are their ability to provide views of areas where one cannot be present, and supply crucial evidence that could be used in the apprehension of criminals.
The sophisticated security systems used by big corporates are now also available for private residential clients and you shouldn’t rush into a decision, but rather do your homework and make sure the system you choose will offer the kind of protection you need.
Some insight on factors to consider before choosing a security system:
1.      The system you choose should be able to integrate with any upgrades or expansions you may install in future.
2.      Whatever system you install should always be in proper working condition and must be regularly serviced.
3.      Test the security system regularly to ensure it is working and that the alarm and panic signals are transmitted properly to monitoring centres.
4.      Teach family members how to use the system so they can call for help in case of an emergency.
5.      Always arm your security system - even if you are at home - to provide an extra level of protection.
Home automation systems can also enable you to monitor your property remotely and respond to alerts in case of an emergency.
When it comes to insurance, security gates and burglar bars are essential to prevent or limit smaller losses. And burglar alarms can deter criminals from gaining access at all, especially when they are linked to an armed reaction service.
Home automation systems can also enable you to monitor your property remotely and respond to alerts in case of an emergency.
Electric fences are valuable, but burglar bars and security gates are definitely considered to be the most important security features for insurance cover. In most areas, burglar bars on all opening windows are the minimum requirement, as well as security gates on all external doors. Some suburbs may also require a monitored alarm to gain insurance cover.
“Basic security is a requirement for an insurer to accept risk, so there is no guarantee you could get a discount on premiums. In suburbs that are considered to be safer, however, insurers may offer a slight discount, but this will have very little impact on the cost of the premium.”
One factor that could help lower premiums is whether your car is locked behind security gates or in a garage when parked at home, rather than on the street. But again, this will depend on the area in which you live.
Homeowners living in security estates or apartment buildings, the area and the security on site will govern whether insurers consider better rates. Some factors that could influence premiums would be high walls, 24-hour security guards and certain access measures such as visitors signing in, for example, as well as electric fencing and other features that could increase security.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that any security features noted in your insurance policy need to be in good working order and in use at all times to avoid claims being repudiated.
It is a good idea for new buyers and tenants in an area to join their local neighbourhood watch.

Membership is not compulsory, but there is strength in numbers and joining the neighbourhood watch will help you to become part of the community as well as have an influence on limiting crime in your area.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


Decluttering always seems such an ominous task, and it is only when you are about to sell your home that it really becomes important. It is amazing how you can always find a spot for something, step around it, or accept it.  However, the moment you want to sell your house, you really have to view clutter in a very different light.

Your home may be in good condition and well built, yet clutter will create the perception of chaos, confusion and disorder. When buyers see clutter, they assume that the home has been neglected, with more to fix than meets the eye. This perception may undermine your home's market value.

Remember that a purchase decision is an emotional and intellectual response based on what you see.

Before putting your home on the market, decluttering is an essential part of your preparation, and is virtually cost-free. It is an activity that goes hand in hand with moving. Prepare yourself for throwing away, boxing to keep and maybe having a garage sale or giving to charity. Your move will be easier and you will create an open, spacious, simplified look that buyers will love.

Some of the areas to look at:

1) Front Garden
*Make sure the garden is mowed and edged, and remove toys, junk piles, etc.
*An evenly cut lawn is pleasing to the eye. Fertilise the grass a month or two ahead.
*Trim or remove overgrown, woody shrubs that give a tired look to the area.
*Trim shrubs and creepers that cover windows. They block light to the interior and give an appearance of crowding on the exterior.
*Coil hoses and place any tools inside the garage.
*Find a place to store extra cars or boats.
*Declutter flowerbeds. Mulch is inexpensive and does wonders to simplify garden beds, especially in winter when plants are thin. Add flowers on the patio or in beds if weather permits.
*Too many flowerpots are distracting - use a few large pots with healthy plants. Remove empty pots and dead plants.

2) Entrance - The buyer's first impression is critical and shapes their attitude throughout the showing.
*Invest in a brand new welcome mat.
*Fresh paint or varnish will make a big difference to your front door.
*Consider having your whole house power-washed to remove stains, spider webs and other clutter.
*Your entrance hall should be clear of shoes and excess items.
*Create a single focal point with an attractive table or painting.

3) Living Areas
*Rooms should be sparsely furnished to appear larger and lighter.
*The garage or an off-site storage room is a great place to hold extra pieces of furniture.
*Move large pieces of equipment - drums, telescopes, exercise equipment - to the garage or off-site.
*Do not allow furniture to block windows, doorways, or traffic patterns through rooms.
*Do not allow wires to cross traffic patterns.
*Choose one or two elements as the main points of interest in a room - wooden floors, a view, a table or piece of furniture, a nicely made bed, etc.
*Large plants often take up too much space. Allow only a few healthy plants in the house.
*Bookshelves add a warm touch to a room but do not overload them. Place books so that the backs are even. Lay some books horizontally, and leave open spaces for art objects.
*Open blinds and leave a few lamps on for pleasant lighting.

4) Kitchen - 
The kitchen is the heart of the home and plays an important part in attracting the heart of a buyer. This active area usually needs special attention.
*New cabinet handles are inexpensive and can help tie the room together in terms of colour and finish.
*Remove purely functional items such as baking pans, small appliances, vitamins, plastic bags, etc.
*Photos and notes on the refrigerator represent clutter, so remove.
*Clear the counters completely, and then add back a few decorative pieces that add a warm, elegant, and organised look.  Some suggestions: Flowers, fruit, cookbooks, wine, bowls, antiques, new dishtowels, small designer appliances, etc.
*Often the area under the sink needs organising and cleaning.
*See that your rubbish bin is clean and refuse bags is removed.

5) Bathroom - 
Keep in mind that you will give up some privacy during the marketing period so declutter to give a touch of elegance and romance.
*Remove unnecessary items from counters.
*Remove any toilet brushes or cleaners that are visible.
* Put items that you use daily - toothbrushes, soaps, razors - in a container, and place the container inside in a cabinet.
*Decorate with fresh soaps, flowers, bowls or designer bath items.
*Invest in new towels and fold them carefully.
*Never leave medicines on display.

6) Bedrooms - 
Bedrooms should appear restful and serene. Sparsely furnished is best.
*Use your best linen.
*Clear bedside tables and add back just a few books or nice items.
*Bedside lamps add a warm ambience for showings.
*Remove excess paintings or photos from the walls.
*Old curtains do more harm than good. Take them down and clean the windows for a fresh look.
*Children's bedrooms usually need to be simplified. Take down posters and box up toys.

7) Cupboards

*Organise your pantry with everything facing forward. Remove excess food and containers.
*The laundry often functions as a spill over room with junk on the shelves. Clear everything out, and have only necessary items visible.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sellers should be aware of the fact that the municipal valuation of their home may not be a true reflection of its value.

We recently received a call from a very irate vendor who had made up his mind to sell privately because, he said, every single estate agent he had dealt with had valued his home at far less than it was worth. He believed they had done this because ‘times are tough and the agents want a quick sale’.
On investigation it was found that he'd approached four different agents from four separate agencies. All had supplied him with a comparative market analysis (CMA) which clearly showed the average selling price in his particular area, as well as a list of homes which had been sold in the last three months. The estimated value of the home as calculated by all four agents didn't vary much and it was recommended that the seller put the property on the market for between R900 000 and R950 000.
On further investigation we established that the home was a three bedroom, two bathroom property with a swimming pool, situated in a fairly good area. It was an older home which according to the seller needed a little cosmetic work. Although we obviously couldn't do an actual valuation, the agents’ reports were consistent and it was clearly evident how they had calculated the selling price. We then asked the seller what made him think his home was worth more and had a lightbulb moment when he pointed out that his local municipality had valued his home at R1.3-million.
“This happens all the time,” says Mrs Van der Merwe, principal ABC Estates. “Some sellers, particularly those who haven't bought or sold property fairly regularly and who have lived in the same house for years assume the municipal valuation is a true reflection of what the home is actually worth. When they hear otherwise they automatically believe that the agent is trying to pull a fast one by marketing the home at a much lower price. And unfortunately, the bigger the discrepancy between the municipal valuation and what an agent believes the property will fetch, the harder it becomes to convince a seller what their home is actually worth under current market conditions.”
She notes that even buyers who understand that the municipal figure may be inflated often struggle to grasp the idea that a buyer simply won't be willing to pay that amount, particularly, it seems, when the agent’s valuation is below R1-million.
“Many sellers look at the R1-million price mark as a sort of magic number and are devastated when they learn that the more realistic selling figure is actually R100 000 or R200 000 below the municipal valuation.
“Every seller needs to remember that a selling price is determined by a number of factors which include the area in which the home is situated, overall market conditions as well as the condition of the property. Unlike a municipal valuation, estate agents don't only base their findings on the size of the property on which the house is situated and the size of the home, they take things much further by inspecting the actual property (inside and out) before determining a realistic selling price.”
It needs to be remembered that it's in municipalities’ best interest to over value properties because this will mean the owner pays higher rates. Unfortunately, homeowners who dispute the figure determined by the municipality and who manage to get the authorities to drop their estimate often find that the amended sum still remains higher than the true market value of the property.
Serious sellers understand that price is everything and even if they are selling privately will consider all the various factors before settling on a price.


Powered by Blogger

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]