Check the body corporate rules

Due to the lifestyle and security benefits they offer, sectional title units are a very popular choice among South Africa buyers, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa. 

He adds that another drawcard to these types of properties is that they are often more affordable than freehold homes, making them the ideal purchase for first-time buyers

“There are several benefits to purchasing a sectional title unit such as the fact that they offer a more communal lifestyle and generally require less maintenance on the owner’s part. This type of property has proven to be a highly sought after since its introduction and often outsells other types of properties in many regions throughout the country.  Those who purchase sectional title homes can enjoy living in a secure, communal development, without having to pay premium prices,” says Goslett.

He notes that another aspect that has attracted buyers to sectional title units is the fact that the costs of basic services such as water and electricity are shared. Goslett says that because the costs are shared, residents in sectional title homes will pay less for these services than their counterparts living in freehold homes.

According to Goslett, another significant aspect that allures buyers to sectional title homes is the lower maintenance costs because of the fact that the owner only has to maintain their unit’s interior, while exterior maintenance is carried out by the complex’s body corporate. “Additionally, any levies paid by the owners should cover any upkeep and upgrades that the complex will require in the future. This will assist to ensure that the properties within the development appreciate in value over time,” says Goslett.

There are many advantages that purchasing a sectional title unit affords the buyer, such as a secure yet reasonably-priced home purchasing option. However, challenges can arise and benefits dampened, if the homeowner is not fully aware of the rules and regulations stipulated by the body corporate before they purchase. “It is imperative that a buyer first obtain a copy of and carefully read through the rules that govern the scheme before they buy a sectional title home. This is because the body corporate rules specify what the current homeowners within the scheme deem as acceptable,” says Goslett.

He notes that the rules establish what homeowners are allowed to do or are prohibited from doing within the confines of the complex. They provide existing homeowners as well as new homeowners with guidelines and ground rules with regard to homeownership within the complex.

“While rules stipulated by other homeowners may not seem too serious, the body corporate rules are actually registered with the deeds office to guarantee that they are enforceable. This is why it is vital that buyers fully understand all the rules that they are agreeing to by purchasing the property. If there is anything that the buyer is unclear of, they should contact the trustees to get a more detailed explanation,” advises Goslett.

He notes that an issue that often comes up is around the body corporate rules regarding pet ownership. “It is generally best to get written permission from the trustees allowing your pets in the complex to avoid any backlash at a later stage,” advises Goslett. 

Another important aspect that sectional scheme buyers should pay attention to is the financial state of the scheme.  Goslett advises that potential homebuyers are within their rights to request to view the financial statements of the body corporate to ensure that the scheme is not running at a loss. “By looking at the financial statements a buyer can determine whether there is enough money to cover the operational costs of the complex, as well as any future expenses that could arise,” says Goslett. “Apart from the financial statements, the minutes of the last annual general meeting will also provide some insight regarding any proposed special levies or possible issues that the trustees have dealt with over the last year.”

Goslett advises that potential buyers also review the plans of the complex to ensure that all buildings on the premise have been approved by the required organisations and the municipality. He warns that the reason why this is important is because all current homeowners within the scheme will be liable for any cost incurred to correct the issue and re-register the scheme with the Deeds office.

“There is little doubt that sectional title properties will remain a sought-after purchasing option among buyers both young and old. This is largely due to the numerous benefits that these types of homes offer. Those who opt to buy a sectional title unit, as with all property purchases, should take the time to do their research to ensure they are making an informed decision. Reading the body corporate rules of a complex is an ideal way for purchasers to know what they are buying before they sign an offer to purchase,” Goslett concludes.

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