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Home Improvements

Home improvement projects are on the increase fuelled by a stagnant housing market which has seen people stay put in their existing homes instead of moving up the property ladder and by the huge tax incentives that have been put in place as the government seeks to get the economy moving. Traditionally, for many homeowners and real estate professionals it has been a difficult task to establish what home improvements will actually increase the value of the property more then they cost to undertake. Indeed, some home improvement projects will actually detract from the value of your home and this is especially true of work carried out to a poor standard. To reap the benefits of any home improvement, both in terms of your enjoyment and the enhanced value of your home, it is imperative that a professional finish is achieved and this means engaging professionals to carry out the work and wherever possible, obtain guarantees for the workmanship.

Now more than ever, home improvement projects can be seen as generating a significant increase in the value of your home compared to the cost of completing the project. The reasoning is simple - house prices and home improvement project prices have significantly dropped as the recession has bitten deep into the pockets of the country. Demand has dropped significantly and suppliers of home improvement expertise, products and labor have had to respond by slashing prices. Now the economy is returning to better times with the recession starting to fade. Prices will start to rise again as first time buyers return to the market and people look to trade their homes up. The pricing for labor and materials will also start to rise generally as people get put back to work and have more money to spend on their homes and lifestyles.

Right now, existing homeowners have a unique opportunity to get home improvement projects finished at rock-bottom prices and subsidized in many instances, by very large tax breaks courtesy of the government. This will be a relatively very low cost to the individual home owner compared to pricing in say a year's time when tax breaks will no longer be available and prices have started to return to pre-recession levels. Home improvement projects which are likely to add more value than they cost include window replacements, installing low-maintenance siding, recreational facilities such as a swimming pool or sunroom and decking. By carefully researching what your home would benefit the most from having done, you have an excellent window of opportunity to significantly increase the enjoyment you derive from your property while seeing the value increase way beyond the government-subsidized cost to you.

On the other hand, homeowners stand to benefit from the reversal of house price declines and start to experience general increases in their property valuations as the real estate market becomes more active and people start to buy and sell homes again. By improving your existing home now, you are taking advantage of extremely low pricing while standing to benefit from the increase in property values as a result of the economic recovery and by improving your home.When it comes to improving your home and the market value of your home these 3 tips or reasons will show you why adding some siding to your exterior can really help. Whether it is vinyl, wooden, aluminum or another material you can be sure your houses curb appeal and value will increase.

1. Getting your home sided can add instant curb appeal to your house. What does that mean to you as a homeowner? Well for one, bragging rights, but the main reason is that if you were ever to want to sell your house it would be much easier if your home exterior looked clean and in pristine condition right? With all the technology and materials out there today you can find a type to suit your needs.

2. Once again touching on technology and modern siding materials and products it is well known that you can increase the energy efficiency of your home tremendously by adding foam-backed siding. This isn't available with all companies yet but it is very popular so just give a quick call to your local home improvement center to see if they carry this.

3. Improving your home also means improving what type of maintenance you have to put into it right? Of course the easier it is to maintain the better so why not think about vinyl material? Vinyl is one of the most durable and most convenient materials to wash and you won't ever have to worry about painting and repainting ever again!

These 3 tips, when applied and thought about, can help you decide on whether or not getting your home sided is the right choice for you at this point. Whether you decide to start this project or not it is definitely one of the best home improvements you can complete to increase the value of your house.

Renovation of your home needs to be taken care of with suitable importance. You must not ignore taking care of issues that may appear trivial today; they may prove to be bothersome in the long run. You may soon find your home ceasing to be the wonderful place it used to be.

Plan your renovation well. Do not start blindly, but plan out your renovation. This will help you take control of the budget as well as to do tasks in a hassle-free manner. You can schedule your tasks. Thus, you can prioritise the tasks to concentrate on an as and when it happens basis.

Take care of the safety aspect. Any carelessness in safety measures can lead to bigger accidents and spoil the joy you are trying to achieve through the renovation. If you are painting your home, try avoiding lead based paints. Wear safety shoes if you are working with nails and hammers. If you are handling sharp objects, like a saw, take care that you do not get your fingers harmed. If you are placing a ladder against the wall, make sure that the surface is not slippery.

Do not try 'do-it-yourself' for everything. Owning your own place is a dream for almost every couple. But once you get there, you realize what the real fun part is - turning your house into a home! Home improvements can range from little things like a lick of paint or a tasteful ornament here and there, right through to major renovations like knocking down walls or adding rooms. In this article we will take a look at some ideas that can help you customize your house and make it your own.One of the easiest options to effect a noticeable change is to change your upholstery, curtains, and other trim. This will simultaneously improve the appearance of your furniture and create a unified color scheme in your home. Choose the colors for your new fabric carefully, and later on you can repaint in a complementary color. Mirrors are one of the best ways of adding something to a room, in terms of bang for buck. Mirrors create an illusion of space, and can be used to make a small room seem larger as well as their more practical uses.

A new coat of paint can change the look of your home dramatically. Don't limit yourself to boring cream, show your personality with striking colors in different rooms of your house, or choose tints carefully to suit the use of every room. Your lighting choices also make a big difference to how a room appears. An uncovered overhead bulb will cast harsh shadows and be too bright to look at comfortably. This is fine if you're going for a 'crack den' kind of vibe, but you can achieve a more relaxing look with a lampshade to diffuse your lights. If you can pay a little more, having an electrician fit wall lights is a great way to create even more ambiance. Accessorizing with trinkets and art is one of the cheapest ways to add a touch of your personality to your home. Throw rugs, sculpture, or even an indoor pot plant are a nice way to make your home seem a little more lived in.


Mortgage Market News:
Standard Bank Home loans

Standard Bank’s property book for the first eight months of 2009 showed an average monthly decline of 3.9% in the median house price. More disconcerting is the fact that monthly declines have been reported in 15 consecutive months and that there is no sign yet that the bottom has been reached.

The August smoothed data yielded a rate of contraction of 5.2% y/y - the deepest decline yet in the current downward phase of the house price cycle - compared to -1.1% y/y in August 2008. In real terms, using our estimate of the CPI in August to deflate nominal house prices, the decline in real house prices comes to approximately 11.5%. The smoothed growth rate for August shows that the value of the median residential properties financed by Standard Bank was R521 000.

Important drivers of overall growth in the economy, such as the level of household income and debt, as well as the medium-term economic and financial outlook, are such that a quick turnaround in the housing market is unlikely. The best that we can hope for is for price declines to stabilise towards the end of the year as the recent interest rate cuts work their way through the economy and overall consumer and business sentiment improves.

The potent mix of industry-wide loan-to-value restrictions, negative income growth and concerns about job security will without doubt weigh on the property market. Furthermore, in the short-term, any easing in credit granting criteria will be mild, as upside risks regarding uncertainty in job security and income growth continue.

An uncertain macroeconomic backdrop. According to the World Bank the global economy is expected to contract by 2.9% in 2009, placing further strain on the South African economic outlook. Consensus seems to suggest that, at best, only the second half of next year may see a meaningful improvement in global conditions.

GDP contracted by 3.0% q/q seasonally adjusted and annualised in Q2 from -6.4% q/q in the first quarter. From an annual perspective, the quarterly contraction sets the economy back by 2.8% y/y in Q2, more than twice weaker than the -1.2% y/y in Q1. For the first half of the year, the economy declined by 2% y/y, increasing the downside risks on our forecasts of -1.3% y/y for 2009.

Notwithstanding the generally poor economic growth, we are of the opinion that the domestic recession is reaching an advanced phase, albeit lagging the global cycle. Clearly, the full impact of the recent monetary policy relaxation will start to emerge in the first half of next year.

This by no means suggests that a rapid upturn is on the cards – the recovery is likely to be slow and protracted. Employment losses will continue to increase as cost rationalisation remains the order of the day, but the pace of such declines is expected to slow in coming quarters. However, the intensity of the slowdown should remain concentrated in interest rate-sensitive sectors of the economy in the interim. Vitally, though, the current stage of household debt deleveraging is an important precursor to a recovery in demand. Indeed, household credit fell by R1.5bn (non-seasonally adjusted) when compared to Q1, which marked the first contraction since 2002 Q3.

This compares meagrely with an average quarterly increase in credit of R19.7bn since 2000. However, a more severe retraction in corporate credit occurred in Q2, as total private sector credit (excluding households) fell by a whopping R21.5bn relative to Q1.

These trends are not entirely ascribed to tight credit conditions, but confirm that uncertainty and a loss in debt appetite have taken their toll. With the pace of credit impairments likely to start moderating in the second half of the year, we anticipate the weakness in the broader financial sector to disperse.

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