Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Help build awareness - The Financial Blogosphere

I came across a unique and very different site the other day! It's a Financial Blogosphere Site. The sites and the posts are hand picked and the top 10 posts from every BLOG are personally added to the sites reader.

It's relatively new so it has a couple of features that could do with some fixing up, but try it out folks, it's great, and a lovely resource for all.

Congrats guys, it's always nice to know that there are people out there, willing to help clean up the Blogosphere!

Check it out, it's definately worth it

WizardMan Out!

Monday, 22 October 2007

South African Property Neighbourhood Watch - Property Blogging

VIVA THE BOKKE & FORZA FERRARI! Sorry, I've been screaming that for the last two days so I needed to post my joy online for all to see! What a weekend for sport and nerves, in fact it was so good I've woken up happy and smiling and ready for work on a Monday. Let me tell you, that doesn't happen too often! Anyways, well done John Smit and well done Kimi Raikonnen. Two new world champions crowned in one weekend...

Moving on, I've had quite a few requests from international readers to start writing posts about the suburbs in South Africa and it's surrounding regions. People say that it's the one thing that's lacking on the web and in South African sites. I did some searching on the net and it's true, if you search for suburbs and for real estate investing in South Africa there's nothing. So how are international investors meant to know what the good area's the not so good area's and the up and coming area's in South Africa are...

Think about it, if you're relocating, what questions do you ask.
Things to do while in town!
Things to consider when moving to town!
With 50% - 60% of the market that's currently buying being Internet savvy, it's an area that's missing. So I'm going to try start and trend and hopefully all you real estate and property bloggers in South Africa will help me out!

So it's going to be the start of a new series of BLOGGING articles called "South African Property Neighbourhood Watch". Stay tuned, it's going to be a thriller!

WizardMan Out!

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

3 ways to save on agent commissions

You want more cash in your pocket at the end of the day! So where can you save money when purchasing or selling your property! Lets start with 3 methods to cut costs when using estate agents.

Gone should be days of paying 7% commission to agents. It's firstly a rip off and secondly it's costing you a fortune! Well lets show you how to save some cash.

  • Negotiating down your agent's cut

  • For Sale by Owner - Private property sales

  • Going "HANS" Solo

Negotiating down your agents fee's
Most real estate agents take a commission of roughly 2.5% to 3%. Their total cost anywhere between 6% and 8% of which the difference is paid out to the companies and parties involved in the sale. RIP OFF! However as more and more smaller agents and online businesses start coming into the fold real estate agents are becoming more and more susceptible to discount "chat". Taking reductions in their commissions. After all, we know they're earning too much money, lets take some of that cash back.

  • To get that commission reduced: Ask a couple of agents in the area for a estimate of what the current property rates are in the area

  • Chat to each agent, control the meetings you have with them as they're known for putting you on the spot even though it's your place you're trying to sell. Tell them how much you are expecting to make from the sale of the house and ask if they will lower their commission to the percentage you want. Even if it's 1% commission drop, you're saving alot of money.

Remember, if your house is in the upper end of the market, you're going to stand a better chance and you might be able to get a good 2% or 3% drop in commission rates.

For Sale by Owner - Private property sales
With sites such as Private Property and MyRoof and millions of other free list site popping up on this ever expanding WWW :) who needs to pay real estate agent commission fees?

Private Property charge a once off listing fee, and as far as I know HomeSouthAfrica and MyRoof offer free listings.

Going "HANS" Solo
Well what more can we say about going "HANS" solo. You saving R30 000 - R40 000 commissions. Remember though, that you going to need time to sell it, put it on show and remember to clean your house people... This is not always the easiest route to take but if you've got someone whose permanently at home it's easier, if not (Get your unemployed buddy to stand in and buy him a couple of beers)

That's the end of my 3 tips to saving money on agent commissions

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Could you manage an interest-only loan?

Interest Only Loans
Incredible deal isn't it?

So incredible that it's sounds like it's not real?

So great that it allows you to free up money every month. It drops your monthly installments and you can afford WHOLE lot more house.

Now interest only loans this may be the perfect investment opportunity for those that know how to handle their finances. If you're a good personal financial advisor and you don't buy more mortgage than you can handle, I say go for it.

If you're not, I say contact a mortgage broker that offer normal home loans and don't be silly.

So what's the catch and why the advice, you may ask, well, lower monthly installments, ZERO equity for years and then BAM BAM BAM, monthly instalments to floor mother Russia.

You see interest only loans allow you to pay interest only, for a period of x years depending on the lender. The problem with this is that once those x years have passed by all those monthly payments you missed out, get added to your monthly installments once the interest portion is paid off! YOU SEE! WHOPPER OF A MONTHLY INSTALLMENT THEN KICKS IN!

Here's how it might work for a 5 year interest only loan:

  • Your payments would be fixed for the first five years at a certain interest rate - lets say, 10%.

  • For the next five years, you still might pay(depending on your options) just interest on the loan, but the rate would be variable and could increase by 1 percentage point every year, up to a rate of 15%.

  • In the 11th year, the rate remains variable, but the loan requires you make both principal and interest payments.

So the interest only loan is really for the investor who's looking for a quick in quick out option and is looking to sell his place before the 11th year or before the interest + loan payment option kicks in. Just remember though, that by choosing your interest only option, you're giving up the chance to fix yourself in with a good low interest rate and you could be kicking yourself in the teeth if you're not careful.

WizardMan out!

Monday, 15 October 2007

Debt Consolidation- Online Debt Consolidation Forum

Was browsing the net this weekend looking for some good debt consolidation sites and came across a great little community. Now although it's not a South African site, debt consolidation and debt in general is a worldwide phenomena and it's always nice to read about other peoples problems that relate to yours.

It makes you realise that not only are you sharing this problem with a person, but you're sharing it with millions and millions of others...

So take a look at the Debt Consolidation Forum who specialise in Credit Card Debt Consolidation and sign up! It's a great community and well trusted amongst the Internets Debt circles.

Let me know what you think of them...

WizardMan out!

SA Homeloans - CEO - Simon Stockley - Integer

Integer Bond Originators

After a long time away from South Africa, one of the founders on mortgage origination, the first man to bring securitisation into the home loans market and the ex CEO of SA Homeloans Simon Stockley has come back with a new product on the S.A. market - INTEGER.

What is this product and is there something new that Simon Stockley is bringing into the South African mortgage market, check out the interview on MoneyWeb with Integer's CEO, Simon Stockley.

Is it the end of SA Home Loans?

Has anybody used Integer bond originators?

Friday, 12 October 2007

Home Loan Interest Rate Increase - AGAIN!

I don't like starting Friday's off with bad news, so let's start off by saying;


Unfortunately that's not the reason for my article. It's with some regret that the home loan interest rate has increased again. We now have a home loan interest rate of 14%.

This is due to the reserve bank increasing the repo rate by 50 points but it really saddens me and I'll tell you why. Food prices are going up, petrol prices are going up and the reserve bank has the cheek to say that the reason they're increasing interest rates is because they want to curb consumer spending. Well you know what, why don't they worry about curbing our damn food prices instead worrying about how much people are spending on luxury items and every day goods...

Sort out the actual problem and let our interest rates be for a while.
DO you know that the interest rate increase has jumped from 10.5% in 2005 to 14% in 2007. That's big man, and it's making it very very difficult for entry level investors and buyers to get into the property market.

On the flip side though, for those of you using your home loan access facilities as your bank account, it now means you're earning an extra 0.5% interest on your money.

Come S.A. lets tackle the actually problems at hand first before making people pay more for MAJOR EXPENSES!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Harpooned on the Whale Watch!!

So I finally went to Hermanus to see the whales!!!! Absolutely delightful and one of the 101 things to see before you die.

However, our accommodation adventure started out as a disaster but ended up brilliantly and the aftermath was a disaster again, I felt like Captain Ayob vs Fawlty Towers thanks to my adventures with Misty Beach Hotel in Hermanus.

Like most new age travellers and more senior members of the public, we use our staff to assist us in booking online for our travels and so we booked through the Internet about 3 weeks before our whale watching expedition and the pictures on the Internet were ever so sexy, luxurious and can you imagine ......

" member of the Portfolio Collection 2002-2004
Welcome The Misty Collection is a group of luxurious accommodation establishments including a Guest House and Hotel in Hermanus Western Cape, South Africa. The impressive lodgings are situated in the best land-based whale watching destination in the world - Hermanus.
Accommodation at our hotel and guest houses offers you absolute luxury, comfort and tranquility; and five star service." BOY WERE WE EXCITED

lying in your soft downy bed , sleeping late and looking at the whales humping oops jumping in the sea below these cliffs.

So we arrived having driven from the airport and on arrival were told that our room was not yet ready and please to explore the town for a while and on our return we could check in. All seemed friendly and looked fine and like great school kids, knowing we had accommodation sorted as we had paid our deposit and given an imprint of our credit card, we went to look for Moby Dick. What bliss and heaven.

Boom reality bit like a rash in wet tennis shoes,in the name of Misty
Beach On our return there was a new young lady in reception whose first response was, please sign for the balance of your stay. Being totally serened out by the whale frolicking, I half hearted mentioned that my reservation stated somewhere that the balance was to be paid on departure in which she insisted that management required payment in full before we checked in. Zoze are ze rules!!!!!!! Hitler insisted. Well like a real pillock I signed and thought a great snooze and shower and lets get on with it.

Somewhere along the way, this beautiful boutique hotel had grown an evil brother and a small annex known as the luxury heritage suites - What a dump. Grey old sheets and pillowcases that were frayed in a rickety cheap(Antique) 4poster bed with my old grandma's furniture (I had wondered where that got to when she passed away a 100 years ago) and a a lounge that had a riempie bench on placed about a kilometer away from a TV that looked like the one that was bought from cash converters. Oh yes, there was a view of the sea as well,however you needed to look from an angle and through another house first....boy I felt like Moby Dick being harpooned just when I thought I had won the good fight.

Well, we knew they had made a mistake and, looking at the brochure (There was the same picture we had seen online) we went to rectify this obvious error. Hitler was waiting for us.

"Can't you even read whats told to you online:, she said. "You booked through the internet. Surely you knew that this was the Luxury Heritage Suite and not the Honeymoon Suite", oozed from those succulent young lips. I cannot help you(He -He, she must have thought, they have already paid in full, this aint my problemo).

We said we will not be fooled and wanted our money back and guess what she said, "I cannot help you but my manager will, but he is not here and will only be back on Monday, he will assist you" and boom that was that. WELL WE GRABBED OUR BAGS AND TOLD HER TO REFUND US AND LEFT - Thank God, what a terrible, terrible hotel room. And I still have not seen the honeymoon suite. I'm scared Hitler will force us to get remarried again, first. What an obnoxious, bad mannered receptionist. At least we weren't subject to being force fed a whale or whipped and tied to one of them!!!!!!!!!
We ended up staying at the magnificent Birkenhead Boutique Hotel and were treated like never before, as we expected to be, these guys were the best tourist friendly bunch I had ever met.

Well know one even knew we were gone, no phone call nothing and of course no refund from our Friends at Misty Waves. In fact we felt like the corpse in Fawlty towers where Basil tried to cover us up or they must have hoped due to us being a bit older, we might have died from natural causes instead. They probably have closed off the room like in Alfred Hitchcocks, Mrs Bates motel so that it gets left to cobwebs and spiders and eventually another weary traveller who unsuspectingly loves grey sheets and frayed pillow cases.

So the Manager, finally responding to my email requesting a refund has now to date given me back R 375.00 against my payment of R 1,500.00 and treats me as if I'm doff!!!! for which I should be ever so greatful, kowtow and kiss his feet and say a million hail Mary's

They will not take responsibility for any other online booking deal except if done by their hotel, yet they allow everyone to advertise for the. In fact they wont even take responsibility for their staff, so I'm not surprised. Surely we understood that the words Luxury Heritage Suites and the words Honeymoon suite did not mean the same. Even though the picture is uncapped and surely we understood that we should do as we are told and that ....blah blah blah What a bunch of unprofessional miserable people.

Who cares if there are online mistakes. Who cares about tourists that are unhappy, surely they should. That is their bread and butter. I intend going back to Hermanus every year for the whales, my children and their friends, friends and family and my overseas connections will and what do you think Ill tell them......don't get harpooned my friends - when you arrive check your rooms first, don't get Hitler'd by bossy and uncool receptionists and stay somewhere else.
Unless they upgraded you to the Honeymoon Suite- but first make sure you're married!!!!!!!!Fat chance! Thanks Misty Beach

Monday, 8 October 2007

6 Ways to Better Manage your Household Debt

Happy Monday to all... For those of you who've been watching the rugby, I hope you all feel as terrible as I do today. I think I'm officially beginning to get old! Thank goodness this rugby thing happens once every 4 years!

Anyway, I have a great little debt management tip article to post today courtesy of Absa Home Loans Department.

6 Ways to Better Manage your Household Debt
  • Draw up a monthly budget of all income and all expenses and stick to it.
  • Speak to your creditors about alternative repayment arrangements. Most will be happy to help you.
  • Always pay your essential expenses first, like electrical and water bills etc.
  • Try to settle high-interest accounts first
  • Don't make emotional, impulsive purchases - especially not on credit.
  • Shop around for bargains and cheaper prices

WizardMan out!

Monday, 1 October 2007

Credit Cards

Good afternoon to you all. It's been ages since we've written some good articles and I'll be honest with all the public holidays and long weekends, well, we've just fallen behind. No excuse though and I plan on making it up this week with a post every day! We've decided that this week we're going to have some great debt saving tips and financial advice tips from some of the leading bank and mortgage originators...

A special thanks to the Debt Doctor who's provided us with some great expert debt saving tips and techniques.

With the amount of credit cards on offer right now, it's tough trying to choose the right one. It really pays to investigate and check which credit cards offer the benefits and rewards that suit your needs.

Don't be fooled by the colour of the credit card. It's called marketing and it's a great way to sell an expensive and costly item. Think about it, GOLD associated with wealth, so lets get a gold card why don't we... Don't be fooled. All they do, is show that you don't have enough cash in your account to spend. Stop living on credit.

Get the card with the lowest annual card fee, or why not get one with no fee at all. Bank charges need to be checked and we need to watch the interest rates charged. This is the most important cost other than the annual card fee. Try get the lowest rate possible. Argue with the banks. Fight for your rate. If you get a good rate on your mortgage and overdraft facility why should you not get the same discounted rate for your credit card.

Pay the balance owing at the end of the month. Avoid getting caught in the minimum monthly payments option. This will start to climb and before you know it, you'll be stuck with massive debts.

Another thing to watch out for is the loyalty and rewards programs. Valuable, MY ASS! They're a marketing and sales gimmick and although you may get something in return, it's not going to get you out of debt when you're in the DWANG!

So keep your eye out, and watch you credit spending.

After all, all we want is a DEBT FREE SOUTH AFRICA for ALL!