Marius Crook, Western Cape regional sales manager at ooba, South Africa’s biggest bond originator, advises that all home owners consider the following five points:
1._Bank your bonus:_ If you are fortunate enough to get a 13th cheque, use it to get rid of debt rather than overspending on the holidays. Simply by putting half of your bonus cheque into your bond you can dramatically reduce the nature of your debt.
“Let’s say a home owner paying off a bond of R500 000 with an interest rate of 8.5% over 20 years gets a bonus of R17 000 after tax. Paying half of the bonus, that is R8 500, into the mortgage could reduce the term of the loan by up to ten months. That’s a saving of roughly R45 000 in instalments,” explains Crook.
The long-term rewards are significant and very worthwhile and fiscal responsibility will make you feel surprisingly good about yourself.
2._Stay secure:_ The last thing you want while relaxing on that sun lounger in Camps Bay is a call from the security company back home to let you know that your house has been burgled. To avoid this, service and invest in your security system before you go away.
“Get a trusted security provider to ensure that your alarm system is up to date and fully operational as, if there is a problem with the system, this can often lead to difficulties in insurance claims,” says Crook.
He also advises making friends with your neighbours. In the fight against crime this is the first line of defence. They are the people most likely to hear your alarm and investigate, and often they will be around when you are not. Let them know your movements so they can notice if anything odd is happening.
3._Keep your electricity costs down:_ If you are going away and no one is looking after your house, remember to turn off the geyser. This can save you a lot of cash and is good for the environment. You can even empty the fridge and turn that off too.
“Don’t forget to turn them back on the moment you get home, though, or you won’t be having that relaxing hot bath and cold beer in a couple of hours,” says Crook.
You can also install a geyser timer to keep your electricity costs down throughout the year.
4._Update your insurance:_ Go through your insurance to make sure that it is up to date and that you have adequate cover for your house in case of any emergency. If your geyser bursts or rain floods your lounge while you are away, you want to be sure that you are covered. And make sure that your household security matches the provisions in your policy.
5._Do a little maintenance and upkeep:_ Your idea of a holiday might be weeks on the sofa with a good book but in reality this free time can be very useful for doing all the odd jobs around the house that you don’t get around to in the year. And if you live in an area without summer rainfall, check whether it’s time to repaint the roof and repair any leaks.
“Fix any small niggles with the plumbing or electrics, paint a room and do some gardening,” says Crook. “This will help you to enter the new year with a home that’s ship-shape.”