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Due to the lifestyle and security benefits they offer, sectional title units are a very popular choice in South Africa, often outselling other types of properties in many regions throughout the country. The benefits, along with the fact that the are often more affordable than freehold homes, make them the ideal purchase for first-time buyers. 

An aspect that makes sectional title property more affordable is that the costs of basic services such as water and electricity are shared. Because of this, residents in sectional title homes will pay less for these services than their counterparts living in freehold homes.

There is also the matter of maintenance. A sectional title owner only has to maintain the interior of their unit, while exterior maintenance is carried out by the complex’s body corporate. Additionally, any levies paid by owners should cover any upkeep and upgrades that the complex will require in the future, which assists in ensuring that the properties within the development appreciate in value over time.

While there are many advantages to purchasing a sectional title unit, challenges can arise, and benefits dampened if you are not fully aware of the rules and regulations stipulated by the body corporate before you buy. It is imperative first to obtain a copy of and carefully read through the rules that govern the scheme before buying a sectional title home because they specify what the current homeowners within the scheme deem as acceptable.

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 about homeownership within the complex.

While rules stipulated by other homeowners may not seem too serious, the body corporate rules are registered with the deeds office to guarantee that they are enforceable. This is why it is vital that you fully understand all the rules that you agree to by purchasing the property. If there is anything that is unclear, it should be clarified with the trustees before signing on the dotted line.

An issue that often comes up is the body corporate rules regarding pet ownership. It is best to get written permission from the trustees allowing your pets in the complex to avoid any backlash at a later stage. 

Another important aspect that sectional scheme buyers should pay attention to is the financial state of the scheme.  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, you can determine whether there is enough money to cover the operational costs of the complex, as well as any future expenses that could arise. 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.

Also, review the plans to ensure that all buildings on the premises are approved by the required organisations and the municipality. The reason why this is important is that 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. 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 you to know what you are buying before signing an offer to purchase.

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