Showing posts from July, 2014

What is a billion rand between councillors?

Questions arise about the real cost of Tshwane’s new headquarters. An Artist's impression of the future Tshwane House . At a special council meeting on Wednesday, the City of Tshwane’s council approved the fast-tracking of the public private partnership (PPP) for the building of a new headquarter complex. But what this will cost ratepayers over the 25-year duration of the contract, is not at all clear. Little clarity was given during the council meeting and there was also very little discussion, apart from an exchange of insults and bartering between the ruling ANC and opposition DA. Deputy city manager Lindiwe Kwele could not on Thursday clarify the discrepancy between the mayor’s statement earlier this year putting the cost at R2 billion, the city website that put it at R3 billion and an independent expert who put it at R4.3 billion. She said the city will submit a report to National Treasury where an assessment will be done. A report from Treasury will come back to cou

Porsche buys Kyalami Race Track for record auction price

Porsche buys Kyalami Race Track for record auction price Motorsport fans can breathe easy knowing that one of the most valuable pieces of land in Gauteng will carry on as a racing facility.

Joburg architects, estate agents meet over planning delays

Joburg architects, estate agents meet over planning delays Joburg's economic development and growth is being stunted by its own development planning department which is 'imploding'. This is what architects, estate agents and agents or runners who assist by going in to submit plans, claim. They are so desperate and frustrated that they called an urgent meeting last week to discuss the way forward to get the city to speed up the approval of plans, site development plans and rezonings. About 32 people attended, representing people who had daily dealings with the planning department.

Judge slates 'arrogant' municipality over property transfer ineptitude

... 'despite the ringing phrases of the constitution and the Constitutional Court, Canton Trading's requests were met with the inscrutable face of the bureaucratic sphinx'. I like it! Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Judge slates 'arrogant' municipality over property transfer ineptitude If your municipality is messing you around, you might enjoy the comments made by a court this week when faced with evidence of outrageous bureaucratic inefficiency and arrogance. It's a case that should lead to the sacking for uselessness of certain Buffalo City officials - though you would be a fool to put money on this happening.

Landmark office building underway in Sandton

If the City of Joburg is willing to continue to approve such projects, may I make one small request ... PLEASE update the infrastructure to accommodate the development.  In particular, please indulge me for a moment while I indulge in some venting about my pet-hate ... the M1 - GRAYSTON OFFRAMP. There are awesome examples (just up the road) of how a little bit of planning (and a lot of expense) can greatly improve traffic flow.  Eliminating traffic flows in different directions having to criss-cross will alleviate a significant amount of suggestion.  The Allandale, Atterbury and Lynnwood offramps on the N1 are great examples. Does anyone know of any plans for Grayston? Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Landmark office building underway in Sandton The new 86 993 sqm corporate headquarters being built for Discovery in Sandton at a cost of more than R2.5 billion is believed to be the largest single commercial office building in Africa. The eight-st

Joburg billing crisis deepens

Joburg billing crisis deepens The billing crisis, which the City of Joburg has been claiming is largely over, is about to take a turn for the worse. In a shock announcement his weekend, we learnt that city officials have been tampering with residents' meters to inflate bills, they have been deliberately overbilling and unilaterally, with no consent, rezoning properties for additional rates.

Minister mulls end to free housing

Fair comment by the Minister BUT once you have created an expectation (by campaign promises, etc.) it is somewhat disingenuous to then criticise people's "sense of entitlement".  Is it not? Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Minister mulls end to free housing Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu is determined to eradicate the 2.3 million housing backlog before thoughts may turn to long-term considerations of a possible end to free government housing - although not state-subsidised housing. Key to getting to grips with South Africa's housing logjam is a database to get a full picture of who still required free housing 20 years into democracy and to eliminate fraud, corruption and housing waiting-list queue jumping. 'It never was the intention of this government to give free homes ad infinitum,' Sisulu told The Star yesterday. 'What makes an 18-year-old think the state owes them a house? It's a culture of entitlement...

'Great difficulty' in obtaining home-loans for affordable properties

With our client about to launch a new affordable housing development in the Mamelodi area, I am about to test the accuracy of the comments below ... FIRST HAND ... as we have been appointed to assist with bond origination. Further reports to follow! Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney 'Great difficulty' in obtaining home-loans for affordable properties There is a huge demand for affordable housing, but great difficulty in obtaining home-loans, says Shiraaz Hassan, commercial director for Asrin Property Developers. 'One out of the four major banks are active participants at present, but the others seem reluctant and their credit vetting processes are far too stringent, which effectively means we are selling one unit four times before a buyer receives a bond to buy and the deal is successful,' said Hassan.

Tshwane council official held over building plan bribe

I applaud the efforts of the city in curbing corruption.  It is unfortunately a scourge on our society and must be stamped out at all costs if our nation is to truly prosper. You will never totally eradicate corruption but the best way to do so is to ensure that the normal process is so efficient that there is no need to look for a "shortcut".  By eliminating the demand, you destroy the market. There must therefore be a two-pronged approach to fighting corruption: 1. Zero-Tolerance to offenders who must be energetically prosecuted and harshly sentenced; and 2. Eliminate demand by making services so efficient that there is seldom (if ever) a need for a shortcut. Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Tshwane council official held over building plan bribe Some of the building plans that catapulted the Tshwane metro to the status of South Africa's building capital standings may have been approved fraudulently. This is the implication of yesterday

Tshwane losing R150m a year to electricity theft

The article below from the Pretoria News was actually published about 2 weeks ago, so it's not exactly "breaking news" but I picked up on it again when the news relating to electricity theft in Joburg broke over the weekend.  According to reports, it is alleged that it is not only your typical "squatter camp type" illegal connection but apparently extends to large shopping centres, prominent hotels and the like. The names of the shopping centres, hotels, etc. were not revealed but it will certainly be extremely interesting and a enormous disappointment to those of us involved in the commercial property sector. Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Tshwane losing R150m a year to electricity theft The City of Tshwane loses electricity worth about R150 million annually through illegal connections and meter tampering. According to City of Tshwane spokeswoman Lebogang Matji, while illegal connections are most prevalent in informal settlements,

South African city sprawl continues unabated

It makes absolutely NO SENSE to continue to build outward instead of upward. By any logical stretch of the imagination, can anyone justify moving further and further away from resources, jobs, infrastructure, transport, etc., etc.? Regular readers of the Blog will by now realise that this is my personal crusade, namely to highlight that absolute waste that is created by urban sprawl. This was made even clearer to me on a trip to China a couple of years ago.  The insanely rapid expansion of Shanghai is particularly noteworthy as it serves to highlight that where there is a will there is a way. The expansion in high rise housing is astonishing.  We drove for kilometre after kilometre in a never-ending see of high rise accommodation.  Just consider the number of housing units required to accommodate the expanding population. In SA, particularly Gauteng, I sometimes hear that no matter how many houses/schools/hospitals are built, it can't cater for the rapid urbani

South African informal settlements show tremendous growth

South African informal settlements show tremendous growth The 'formalisation' of property marketing in South Africa's major informal settlements is an on-going process, the impact of which is now being felt across the country. The good news, says Tony Clarke of the Rawson Property Group, is that this is now also raising prices in these areas at an unprecedented rate and fostering a desire for home ownership among younger people. In the major Cape Town suburbs of Khayelitsha and Gugulethu, average home prices, says Clarke, have risen very significantly in the last few years.

Property development in Tshwane and Cape Town outstrips Joburg

This article from the Star newspaper is a little bit surprising, given the number of cranes that dot the skylines of Sandton and Waterfall. Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Property development in Tshwane and Cape Town outstrips Joburg Cape Town, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and eThekwini last year all approved building plans valued at more than Joburg's plans. And Tshwane and Cape Town residents completed buildings of greater total value than Joburg. While Joburg's numbers went down, the plans for Tshwane, Cape Town and eThekwini went up; Ekurhuleni's completed buildings value went down, but the value of the plans submitted went up. The City of Joburg has not responded to requests since Friday for an explanation, including queries about whether there were problems Tgetting plans passed in Joburg or about the size of the planning- approvals backlog. The figures are in Statistics SA's annual report under 'Selected building statistics

'Make greater use of paid experts in sectional title schemes'

'Make greater use of paid experts in sectional title schemes' It is sometimes said that up to 25% of South Africa's sectional title schemes are inefficiently managed and in many cases the units in these lose value year after year. This situation, says Tony Clarke, Managing Director of the Rawson Property Group, is in nine cases out of ten due to the sectional title scheme not being managed properly and having trustees who are inexperienced or lazy. "Even a rudimentary investigation of body corporates will usually show that many of the trustees ought never to have been appointed because little or nothing in their background equips them for their new task."


As we are beset by industrial action yet again, following on so closely after the disastrous strike in the platinum industry, I found myself thinking about this in more detail this morning as I listened to the news on Radio 702. I have always simply followed the logical way of thinking about wage negotiations, namely: The employees say they require X; The employers say they can only afford Y; and The two meet somewhere in the middle, let's call it Z. Firstly, there is an inherent flaw in the logic here.  If the employees really require X and they settle for Z, then their basic requirement is not being met and they are "out of pocket".  Similarly, if the employer can really only afford Y, then by paying Z they are fundamentally harming the business (perhaps fatally) to the detriment of all.  So, whilst Z may represent a compromise, it ultimately benefits neither the employer nor the employee. Logical? Secondly, I consider myself a conservative capitalist with s

Collapsed power station part of planned R1 billion property development

Cable theft is the scourge of our society (and strikes, unemployment, lack of skills, poor education, etc. etc.) ... but let me just focus on cable theft for the moment. If you read the article from the Star newspaper below, you will come across a quote that: 'To stem the rampant theft of the structural steel, the developer has had the site fenced off four times, but the fencing has consistently been stolen, including electrified fencing. The developer has made all reasonable efforts to secure the site.' Muthwa said about 25 arrests had been made over the years. When you consider the vast number of power failures that Eskom has recently blamed on cable theft, the situation is clearly untenable and something must be done. In my opinion, only a massive clamp-down on scrap metal dealers can alleviate the problem.  If there is no market to sell the cables, then there is no incentive for anyone to steal them... is there? Pleased to see our new colleague at the Gauteng P

Accolades for Pretoria as 'best in Gauteng'

TOLD YOU SO! Gareth Shepperson Commercial and Property Attorney Accolades for Pretoria as 'best in Gauteng' Pretoria is the best city in Gauteng for those looking for a place to enjoy the highest quality of life. This is in terms of the Gauteng City-Region Observatory survey which measured the quality of life in all municipalities in the province. The survey saw the capital city emerging tops against its peers such as Ekurhuleni and Joburg. Premier David Makhura congratulated the City of Tshwane for this achievement in his inaugural state of the province address at Thokoza Auditorium in Ekurhuleni yesterday. Makhura said Tshwane's achievement was a challenge for other municipalities in the province to copy what was working in the city. Mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa told the Pretoria News he was humbled by the accolades from the State of the Province address and the appreciation by Makhura of the work Tshwane was doing. 'We believe the accolades are words

Sapoa's honours spread between cities

Sapoa's honours spread between cities No 1 Silo at the V&A Waterfront was the overall winner this year at the South African Property Owners Association ( Sapoa) Innovative Excellence in Property Development Awards , during the Sapoa convention and property exhibition, which was held at the Cape Town International Convention Centre last week. No 1 Silo at the V&A Waterfront. Following a record number of entries, Sapoa announced the top performers in 10 categories and four overall awards, as well as the top overall award won by No 1 Silo. 'The winners highlight excellence in design and innovation. They meet today's challenges and tomorrow's needs, and reflect the cutting- edge of design in South Africa and globally,' said Sapoa chief executive Neil Gopal.

Sapoa worried about inconsistent property valuations

There is much talk in South Africa about creating jobs and widespread acknowledgement that the primary driver of job creation can only be small business.  The Cabinet has recently been expanded to include a Minister specifically to deal with small business. You have to create an environment where small business stands the greatest chance on thriving.  There is a lot of focus on draconian labour laws but there is so much other red tape, levies, duties, tariffs, legislation, etc. that operate as a handbrake to small business (instead of an accelerator). The other day I saw a great suggestion (I can't recall where) that basically suggested that the Rule of Parliament should be that for every one piece of legislation passed, two pieces of legislation must be repealed. The simplification of billing by Municipalities could greatly benefit everyone and maybe Municipalities should set a goal of cutting their complicated billing structure by 50% in 2 years.  ... ANY THOUGHTS? Gare

Blair Athol Golfing Estate residents win court appeal over access

Blair Athol Golfing Estate residents win court appeal over access Fuming residents of the upmarket Blair Athol Golfing Estate, who were barred from playing golf on this world-class Gary Player-designed golf course as they had not paid their property levies to their homeowners' association, urgently turned to the North Gauteng High Court. This 'golfing application', as it was referred to by Judge Neil Tuchten, is part of an ongoing battle between the residents on one hand and the Blair Athol Home Owners Association and property developer Robby Wray on the other. The estate - home to the rich - houses a gated community north of Lanseria Airport, but falls within the municipality of Tshwane.

Denny Crane

Denny Crane
It's not me ... yet. Denny Crane from the TV series Boston Legal. Click on picture if you're not sure who he is!