Advice to buyers

Relatively small sums spent on improvements over a period of years can add significantly to the value of a property - and if it is an investment property can be used to leverage increasingly higher rentals as leases expire, said Mike Greeff, Chief Executive of Greeff Properties.

“A few thousand rand spent every two years on such extras as stoves, hobs, extractor fans, carports, garden landscaping, automatic irrigation, replastering and painting, extra insulation, air conditioning, a freestanding ceramic fireplace, French doors leading to the garden, marble or granite kitchen countertops, wooden or other sophisticated blinds, tiling, down lighting or track lighting (in place of the old fashioned hanging lights), an external patio or courtyard, a braai facility and, above all, A1 security measures will add to the value of the property far more than the original outlay.

“For this reason I try to persuade those people who are earning well - usually because they are in their 40s or 50s and close to the top of the job ladder - to go for these upgrades to maximise rental returns. An investment property, in my view, should be seen as an income generator for one’s declining years, not when you are still active in a job.”

Greeff warned, as he has done previously, that it is important to use qualified artisans or handymen on any upgrade. All too often, he said, he has seen well meaning but botched DIY efforts actually detract from the value of a home.

Even if you are not increasing the capital in your property, said Greeff, you should check with your agent that you get satisfactory rent increases annually. Particularly in a rising rental market such as the current one, he said, it is possible to find that your rentals have fallen well below the norm for your area.

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