Avoid overcapitalising on your home with technology

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

It's far easier than ever before to overcapitalise on your home, thanks to the rapid changes in technology.

It wasn't that long ago when you were really up there if you had surround sound in your lounge and Wi-Fi throughout your home. Only the mega rich had CCTV cameras monitoring their properties and if you wanted to turn on a light, you either had to flip a switch or if you were very fancy, clap your hands.

We’ve come a long way since dial up modems, and the Internet and smartphones haven’t only made our working lives easier, they have transformed the way we operate in the home. You can now unlock doors and switch the kettle on from your cell phone. You can also turn on the lights and the air conditioning and of course, you can keep an eye on the goings on in and around your property via CCTV - all on your phone.

Basically it's never been easier to transform your house into a smart home. However, those who are hoping to capitalise on their investment shouldn't go overboard in the hope that the latest technology will convince buyers to pay more. Unfortunately what's hot and in now can quickly turn into cold and out in a technological world that is changing at an incredible rate of knots.

According to Ronald Ennik, principal Ennik Estates, there has been an unprecedented pace of change in automation technology, style and design in recent years. So much so that the shelf life of new fixtures and fittings has never been shorter.

“In the past, if you overcapitalised on a house, you generally wouldn’t have to wait more than five years for value to catch up. Furthermore, it took up to 10 years before homes began to become technologically outmoded.

In today’s ultra high-tech and gizmo-driven market environment, however, it can take just two years for contemporary technology features and design elements to lose their appeal to buyers

he says.

It’s easier than you think to overcapitalise on your home. It's a complicated issue and much depends on where the home is situated as well as on the value of other properties in the area. To give an example – you own a three bedroom home in a good area where the average selling price is R900 000 and decide to put in a swimming pool. The pool will probably add value to the home and you will be able to recoup at least some of your costs when you eventually sell the home. Now do the same exercise with a home in an area where house prices are much lower and the average selling price is around R500 000. You may be the only person in your street with this feature, but this doesn't mean you will be able to recoup the costs of installing the pool when it comes time to sell because it may just push the ultimate selling price over the limit that average buyer in the area can afford. Indeed while the pool may seem like an attractive option, not everyone can afford the luxury.

South Africans are very aware of crime and a home offering good security will sell faster than one that doesn't offer enough security features. But - and this is a big but – paying a small fortune for the latest and greatest system in the hope that it will add value to the property could backfire horribly because the technology could be regarded as outdated by the time the property goes on the market.

The other problem with the latest technology is the price. Do you remember when a desktop computer cost the earth and laptops, because of the price, were basically reserved for CEOs and other high-end managers? Or when only the well-off could afford a cell phone? These days just about everyone owns a cell phone and computers in general have become far more affordable. It's the same with gadgets in the home and the price paid for the latest technology quickly falls as newer and better technology becomes available. In other words, that R100 000 security system you installed five years ago may be completely obsolete once you decide to sell.

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