GEORGE NEWS - A drive through town will show that a number of older houses are being renovated and many of them are properties owned by investors who are preparing them for the rental market or for sale.
With the increased demand for rental houses, investors are slowly shaking off their cautious approach of the past year or two and are starting once again to invest their money in real estate.
Estate agents report an increase in the number of responses to their advertisements on the internet and in the press and a significant number of queries are for older houses which can be renovated. Also in demand are houses which have garden flats to provide an additional income or for elderly parents or children who have left school and are studying or have just started working.
Many of the older houses have been altered and added to over the years. A third bedroom, a second bathroom, a braai area, a garage, a carport could all be examples of additions to the properties. And of course the garden flat.
In a number of instances the flat was originally the garage to which a bathroom and kitchen were added or a domestic worker’s bedroom and bathroom extended and a sitting room and kitchen added.
The problem is that sometimes these alterations and extensions were made without proper plans being submitted to the municipality for its approval. Now the municipality insists - and quite correctly so - that there must be approved plans for all building alterations and extensions and seller should make sure that their house plans are up to date and approved in accordance with municipal regulations.
Buyers have every right - and indeed should - ask for the plans of a house they wish to purchase and make sure that the plans of the house are accurate and bear the stamp of municipal approval.
If you own a second residential property and are uncertain whether to sell it or let it, it will be worth your while to speak to selling agents and letting agents.
Find out what the market value of the property is is and what it should sell for in the current market and also what rental you can expect for the property. Then you will have a basis on which to make your decision of whether selling or letting is best for your own particular circumstances. Only you can make this decision, but input from agents will be of considerable value and will give you an accurate reflection of the market.
If the house needs to be renovated before you sell or let it, then do so. It will be to your advantage in that you will get a better selling price or rental. When the house is ready hand it over to an estate agent who will sell it or find you a good tenant for the best possible market-related rental.
Obviously if you decide to sell the house you will want a good price and if you let it you will expect the best rental income you can get. So take time to have an objective look at your house. Would you rent it for the price you are asking. Would you buy it as it is and live in it comfortably?
Are the carpets a bit worn in places, the floor tiles cracked? Then replace them. Look at the kitchen and bathrooms. Are they clean and attractive? Would you be happy to use them as they are? Do the doors and windows close properly? Do the gutters leak? Does the house need a coat of paint?
Be honest with yourself and make the necessary improvements. This is not only a financial outlay to get a good selling price or rental income, but is also maintaining your property - keeping it in top condition so that it does not lose in value.
Remember that investors, some of whom are buying several properties, are buying because they know that the best possible long-term investments are still in real estate.
We have gone through and are still feeling the effects of a global economic crisis in which people all over the world have lost jobs, businesses, houses, money and their investments. These who have weathered the recession and still own immovable property - houses, flats, vacant land, commercial buildings, industrial sites - whether they be big or small, are among the more fortunate because their real estate investment forms the basis on which to build and recover wealth.
Contributed by Marion Abel: ERA Property Group