Sectional title properties have become increasingly popular in South Africa, with many first-time homebuyers preferring this type of property over freestanding houses.
If you’re still deciding whether to buy a freestanding or sectional title property, we’re here to share a few of the benefits of buying a sectional title property. Because, while a freestanding house does give you more space and freedom, buying a unit in a good complex or estate comes with many benefits. Some you probably hadn’t even realised.
We’ll start by answering the most common question, “what is a sectional title property?’
What is a sectional title property?
As popular as it may be, sectional title ownership remains highly misunderstood in terms of ownership responsibilities and legalities.
“Sectional title dwellings comprise of mini subtype houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses, flats or apartments, and duet houses,” according to Private Property. So basically, from units within a block of flats through to complexes and lifestyle estates.
Things to know before buying a sectional title property
One thing to note about becoming a sectional title owner is that you will automatically become part of the body corporate of the property as part of your sectional title ownership. The body corporate comprises all the owners of the sectional title property scheme.
This ownership means that you’ll have a chance to speak up at the AGM, but you will also have to abide by the sectional title rules as laid out by the body corporate.
The body corporate is responsible for electing members from within to become trustees, who are responsible for many of the daily operations of the scheme. They are also involved in budgeting, property management, dealing with grievances and organising any maintenance that needs to happen around the property.
Also, sectional title owners will need to pay property levies. These are usually set according to the size of their units. Those with smaller units typically pay lower levies. Additionally, property levies are calculated according to the scheme’s budget, which is prepared annually by the trustees (and discussed at the AGM).
Don’t worry, there’s people that help manage all of this. They’re called managing agents.
A managing agent is often appointed to take care of the duties of a body corporate. This includes collecting monthly levies, paying the scheme’s insurance premiums, arranging meetings, ensuring compliance with the Sectional Titles Act, and ensuring that the owners and tenants comply with the body corporate rules.
To help make their lives easier, we’ve developed a cloud-based property management software that makes the days of endless back-and-forth between trustees, owners and managing agents a thing of the past.
Benefits of buying a sectional title property
Buying a sectional title comes with a host of benefits!
1. Improved security
Most sectional titles have impressive security within the building and at the entrance. Sectional title properties are usually access controlled in a few ways, such as a disk or keycard system and cameras throughout the building/complex.
These increased security measures will provide the owners with a greater sense of sanctuary and security – which is, unfortunately, something we need in South Africa.
Plus, it gives you the ability to lock-up and go whenever you please.
2. Shared liabilities
Sectional title property owners enjoy shared costs for issues of maintenance, such as upkeep and gardening, refuse, and insurance. All of these costs are split amongst the body corporate, which is less stressful and costly when compared to a freestanding property.
While sectional title owners need to respect common property, they are not individually liable for the costs of maintaining the complex as a whole.
3. Fixed monthly costs
Owners of freestanding homes may find that they receive unexpected maintenance costs throughout the year. However, sectional title unit owners will pay a fixed monthly price.
This cost is a levy that covers the costs of insurance premiums, common property maintenance, and the wages and salaries of cleaners, security, and other personnel involved in maintaining the common property within the scheme.
Additionally, property taxes on sectional title schemes may be lower when compared to those of freehold homes.
4. Communal living
One of the most significant advantages of sectional title ownership is that you are surrounded by a community of people within your property scheme. You will get to enjoy the companionship of your neighbours, as well as a community-oriented lifestyle that focuses on social communication and gathering.
Your sectional title scheme may enjoy a variety of community-oriented sports and leisure facilities that you can enjoy with your family and neighbours, subject to individual sectional title rules.
If you love friendly neighbour chats, easy access to eggs when you run out mid baking or just the comfort in knowing that other people are close by – sectional title living is for you (we just hope you get good neighbours!)
5. Lower cost price
Generally, sectional title properties will cost less than a freestanding property. You will need to factor in the fact that you are paying less in terms of levies and upkeep than you would with a freehold home.
However, much of the cost of a sectional title property is determined by the size, condition, and location of the property relative to demand and current market conditions. This cost is something you’ll need to consider as you may be able to live in your dream suburb for a lower price than a freehold property.
Ready to join the sectional title lifestyle?
Heightened security, affordability and a more communal way of life are just a few of the benefits of buying a sectional title property. Sure, there are rules to follow, and we understand that this lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But, if you find the right sectional title scheme with a good community, it’s a great way of living in South Africa.
And if you’d like to discuss how to manage your sectional title more effectively, get in touch with Unity today.