RELATIONAL AFFINITY

The news of Pravin, made me think that it’s time to write about something different.

The other day, we walked past our neighbour who had just pulled into her driveway. She had a passenger [Sue, for sake of this blog] with her who climbed out the car and proceeded to greet us, “Hello, I know your Aunt Joan [for sake of this blog] who lived in Barberton.” We chatted, got friendly, proceeded to go out on the Friday night Art Walk – we do this on the first Friday of every month in Hermanus J – , enjoyed a super supper afterwards and then visited twice in the remaining long weekend. And now, we’re well acquainted and my wife stays in touch with Sue.

What happened? A casual encounter with a stranger turns into multiple visits and maybe a good friendship. Why would a stranger become such a quick, close acquaintance?

Sue happens to have a great personality so that could explain something. Joan happens to be a favourite Aunt of mine. My father spent a lot of time in Barberton in his youth so I’ve heard lots of stories and been there often. So could it be that a relationship triangle was forged and forged immediately. Given that it was weekend, we had the time to further the link and from that came a pleasant interaction and friendship.

Interesting that you could probably think of many similar examples in your own experience. So let’s have a look at the subject of this blog: Relational Affinity. Affinity simply means “a natural liking for someone or something”. Relational means “the way in which two or more people or things are connected”. So Relational Affinity means “a natural liking for someone with whom you are connected”. Sounds so simple that it begs a, “So what”!

But let’s dig a little deeper………

When last did you do a deal with someone and the deal just seemed to flow? Was this perhaps a combination of obvious things like Cash, Intent etc or, could it also have been that you liked the person and they liked you. Every day we meet with people but don’t actually sense Relational Affinity so what is different or, how do we bring it about? Here are some pointers:

BE YOURSELF: There is nothing more false than a false person. Glamour, chic, and accentuation, whatever – if it’s false, it’s recognised almost immediately. You have been born and, like the rest of us, you have become a product of Nature and Nurture. Nature, the DNA of your parents. Sorry for you, you gain weight like your Mom and have your Dad’s eyes. If not, you have your Aunt Agatha’s hair. You simply can’t ignore your genes in who you are. Nurture is different. It is the foundation of what you have been shown, taught and have experienced over the years. Even to the point, that the way you have thought about yourself has moulded you into what you are. Some would say you are the sum total of the all the thoughts you have had and all the choices you have made. So being “Yourself” is quite a complex thing to be. But without it, falsehood can creep into the way you relate. Think about it, reflect and then, almost on a daily basis, decide to be self-aware (and include the impact you have on others), as you step out into the day.

SEEK COMMONALITY: Did you know that finger prints are copied exactly but compared using spot checks? When finger prints are taken, your digit is pressed into ink and then pressed carefully onto paper from which a digital record is taken, a foto or a scan. However, when someone is trying to identify you, they don’t scan every crevasse and ridge of your finger print, but rather seek about 60 points from the fingerprint you have and the one they seek. The same happens in your brain when you recognise someone’s face. You do not memorise every feature and, in any case, features change over time so remembering all of them would be futile. All your memory does is remember key points (dots in the “fingerprint”) and then join the dots. That’s why you will say, “She looks like so and so”. Some of the dots align but it’s not the same person.

So what are the dots you can join for Relational Affinity to occur? Dots of age, profession, family, sports, friendships – all of these to find the affinity between you and another person which is common and which could spark a relationship to mutual benefit. We talk about the “common touch” when we refer to someone who relates well to people. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt, the US President during WW2, knew the names and family details of every 168 staffers in the White House. Indeed, like common sense, “common touch” may not be so common. But it can be acquired.

ASK QUESTIONS, THEN LISTEN: If you read the famous book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he writes about the power of questions. In all the types of Coaching, powerful questions come to the fore. The effort is not to know it all and tell the client your best advice, but rather to allow them to think through the issues under discussion. Open and closed questions, probing and clarifying questions and the great one, reflective questions, are all powerful means to unlock possibility thinking, problem-solving creativity and solution-orientated action in and for a client. Carnegie’s aspersion is that questions show interest and spark conversation. Ever sat and listened to someone tell you about themselves the whole night? Have you “done it” to someone? – I have, unfortunately! The antidote for self-absorption is questions. “How are you?”, “Where did you go to school?”, “What are you looking for in a house?” and FNB”s “How may we help you?” are all probing questions that can unlock the client’s meaning and needs and create Relational Affinity. Answered as “That’s a good idea”, “I like that as well”, “Oh, I also went to school in the Eastern Cape” are the kinds of responses that create Commonality.

Ah, then the power of LISTENING! Your Mom tell you that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you want to create Relational Affinity as opposed to a Sounding Board (which we all need at times), then listen. Not just with your ears but with your whole body and especially your head, your eyes, your torso, and your hands. Your head nods in affirmation, your eyes are the windows to your soul, your torso (read: “upper body”) moves forward when interested and sits back when you’re reflecting and, finally, your hands embrace, agree, and even reject. Together with your ears, the rest of your body language, as we like to call it, listens more than any attention you can ever pay. Make them all come together to mirror powerful Relational Affinity with your client.

INTERPERSONAL SKILL: How often do you reflect on your impact on other people? I’m selling a flat at the moment and I deal with a number of estate agents. Two come to mind. The one is a person I have known since 2002 and he is really a great guy – mannerly, knowledgeable, professional, and polite. I would love him to sell the unit. The other, I don’t know from a bar of soap. She works for a major group, she has the OTP but she’s direct, abrasive, officious and abrupt. She annoys me when I speak to her. She has never asked me one Relational Affinity question. Her conversation is about my flat and the OTP I have to sign. She’s in it for the money and from her own mouth “Will you sign this today. You know I’m relying on this sale this month.” What is my stance? – With an attitude like that, I’m hopeful the cash sale will go through quickly so that only the conveyancers need exchange communications as soon as possible. So, you say,”Who cares, she’s got the sale hasn’t she?”. “Sure”, is my answer, “But what happens when I want to invest again; would call her or the other guy?” And what about what we all know about, the cost of acquiring new business versus repeat business from existing clients? It’s really hard to be in the property business no matter what your discipline – selling, bonds, renting, maintenance – and always have to prospect new clients because your sales are transactional and not relational. And, finally, what would my lasting impression be of the major brand? Has she been an ambassador or a destroyer of value?

As sales people, our interpersonal skills are vital to our long-term success. Many of you reading this blog have built relationships over decades and they are flippin’ hard to break if I’m a new entrant. Think of this, the value of your personal brand, You Inc, is probably the sum total of your revenue generating capacity over the next 5 years. That’s right! – it’s measurable; all you need to decide on is what period you can still be economically active. And more importantly, you leave a mark on people. Your integrity, your smile, touch and gestures all add to your value of personal goodwill – not as a bank account, but as a person. I meet old Nedbankers in the Hermanus market that have added value to my life over many years and when I see them, I recognise that immediately. Another example, I’ve just had a dear friend stay with us for a break, and he reminded me of all the good times we have spent together in the trenches of Sales. That’s Relational Affinity of a very high order.

Reflect upon your impact on others. Practice your inter-personal skills.

There is so much more to say and I know the bookshelves are full of appropriate self-help books on similar topics. But think about it, recognise the way you build relationships that last and grow.

In closing, Relational Affinity means “a natural liking for someone with whom you are connected”. Just to say this, Homeloan Junctionappreciates you and holds your business close to its heart. That’s why we keep coming back with a smile and a desire to make your property experiences enjoyable.

 

Yours in Property

RENOVATE OR MOVE?

Are you faced with the difficult choice of whether to renovate your existing home or to move into a new one? Here are some pointers to help you come to the best decision.

Not enough space?

There comes a time in a home when you start to notice you are running out of space.  You could be falling over clutter.  Your cupboards may be full to overflowing.  Maybe there is another child on the way, or a parent is moving in.  The teenagers could need a living room of their own; or more accurately you need a space to contain the mess the teenagers make!

Not the right space?

Perhaps the opposite is true.  Your children are moving out of the house and you no longer need as many bedrooms.  It would be lovely to make some of the rooms bigger or create a guest suite.  Perhaps now is the time to start an B&B venture and generate some income.

There are many reasons why you could be faced with this choice.  Whatever the reasons, there is much to take into consideration to arrive at a decision.

But I love my home!

For many the decision to move or renovate becomes an emotional decision. Despite it being one of the most important financial decisions one needs to make, the heart can rule the head.  The home you are in may have deep sentimental value for you.  You may want to avoid moving at all costs.

It can be helpful to place your emotions aside for a moment, and to consider all aspects before taking a leap of faith.

Determine the costs

A good place to start is to determine the current value of your property.   Take into consideration your bond amount, the area you are living in, the current trends.  You can compare your property to others in the area, or get an opinion from an estate agent.  There are many free calculators available online to assist the South African homeowner to determine the value of their property.

Now consider the costs of renovation.  This should include the materials and labour that will be needed as well as the fee for the building contractor.  Consider if you will use a designer or an architect, and make provision for the cost of drawing up plans and the approval of plans.  Once you have arrived at a figure, add on a further 10% as a contingency, standard practice for building projects.  A further loan may be the best way of financing this initiative.

The next step is to compare this cost with the cost of buying a new house.  Search the Internet, visit properties in areas you like, meet a few agents; establish how much you will need to pay for a new home. Take into account the costs involved such as transfer fees, deposit amounts, municipal rates and taxes, and the cost of moving.

Is the decision clearer?

Now that you have all the costs involved, you should be in a better position to make a decision.  Will the cost of your renovation mean that you over-capitalise on your current property?  If your home is already one of the nicest in the area, your future loan money may never be recouped.  If your home is in the lower bracket of properties in your area, renovation could make financial sense, and a further loan would be money well spent.

Still can’t decide?

It is not only finances that will determine whether you should move or renovate.  Now is the time to take other things into consideration.  You can do this by weighing up the pros of each option.  Something like this:

Pros of renovating:

  •       You love the neighbourhood
  • You are close to good schools
  • You would love to put your personal stamp on your property
  • You have a trustworthy contractor

Pros of moving:

  • You want to change location
  • You want to move to a different school catchment area
  • Renovation will overcapitalise on your house
  • Moving is less disruptive than living in a building site

On balance, for you, which of the two lists is more convincing?  You should now be in a good position to make a decision.

Can a further loan finance your renovation?

If you have decided that renovation is the way you want to go, you can finance your renovation through a further loan.  This will provide you with the capital you need to implement your changes.

Do what is right for you!

Choose the right option for you and your family.  It does not matter which choice you make; it must be the right choice for you.  And once you have made a choice, implement it.

Your home is your sanctuary.  Take a leap!

MUNEXIT?

Never heard the word?

Well, BREXIT stands for: Will Britain exit the European Union? MUNEXIT stands for: Will the ANC exit the municipalities of Tshwane, Joburg and Port Elizabeth? One, or two, or all three and/or in any significant proportions?

The lovely thing about democracy is that you don’t know. Many polls have seen the DA and the ANC neck-and-neck but, like the polls that had the world on a high 48 hours before BREXIT, they could be wrong. Then, of course, even before the result, we have the political commentators talking about who would be good bedfellows – the ANC and the EFF, the EFF and the DA or the DA and other smaller parties etc, etc. Finally, there is the talk of the smaller parties falling away from the South African political landscape as the larger parties warn voters that a vote for “small party” means they could not have enough to get into Council but the ANC could have one more proportional vote for their candidates.

Politics is not boring and one thing we know, this is the most important election since 1994 and probably the forerunner of a few “most important elections” to come. The reason? The ANC is fractured and caught between reason and the President – it’s centre, so critical to political power in any party, is cracking. No attempt to heal the rift has been successful and they are now dependent on a massive show of support in Gauteng even as I write.

On 31 December last year, Clem Sunter gave us 10 Flags to watch this year. A number have been playing out in global economics and politics. Very interesting that BREXIT wasn’t mentioned but SA Elections 2016 was. Here are the Flags and I’m sure, in no particular order of importance:

  1. The oil price [into the $30’s, back to $50 and now early $40’s [and I read to day the mega-oil companies are making mega-losses whilst the over-supply continues]
  2. Global temperatures, floods and droughts [we have not been left unscathed]
  3. The US Federal Reserve Bank [read: “US interest rates”]
  4. The Chinese economy [who could ever forget those January collapses in the Chinese stock market where falls were faster that the “close the market” stop-losses could trigger in?
  5. The war in Syria [Europe has changed for many, for ever]
  6. Vladimir Putin [“Mr Putin is a strong leader who wants to restore the superpower status”]
  7. The American presidential election [Donald is chosen but Ted Cruz won’t even endorse him and Hilary may be sanctioned before she even has a chance to run – amazing]
  8. A global pandemic [the Vika virus hasn’t just concerned the Pro golfers and antibiotics failed to heal a person in the USA this year – all’s gone very quiet]
  9. The municipal elections in South Africa [THE FULL STORY IS RETAINED, FYI]

“The results of these elections will indicate to what extent all the controversies of 2015 have affected the popularity of the ruling party and its leadership. The flag is not just about the percentage of the votes that each party receives, but the total turn-out too in terms of judging the outcome of the next general election. Meanwhile, the Rand/Dollar exchange rate remains the best indicator of the world’s take on developments in South Africa: whether we are consolidating our position in the Premier League of nations or meandering downhill into the Second Division.”

So there you have it, little ol’ SA gets into the List of 10 once again. We certainly do always box above our weight!

The one thing we cannot do is debate the stats when it comes to well-run municipalities. The DA runs the greater majority of them in the Top 10. More importantly for this blog, is what happens in well-run municipalities is that property prices rise. In fact, I would stick my neck out and say they rise at a level greater than the national rate over the long-term – that’s a dead cert in Cape Town. Probably the reason is simply that people want to live there and are prepared to “pay up” to do that.

That said, the most recent [June 2016] House Price Indices of the banks have been an interesting read:

  • According to ABSA, the Middle segment has shown the most resilient growth dropping from 6% in February to 4.9% in June 2016. Overall house price growth so far this year has been 5.7% and points to a negative growth of between 2 and 2.5% in Real house price growth for the year.
  • FNB remains quite positive. “…….little cause for concern at levels of financial stress” is the way John Loos expresses his introductory remarks in his Mortgage Barometer of 19 July 2016. However, he goes on to say that their Household Debt Service Ratio is “under pressure”.
  • Standard Bank is somewhat of an outlier but one needs to bear in mind the different ways banks measure house prices. They record house price increases at 7.3% due to the fact that credit extension by the banks remained robust for longer than expected.

A recent report from Homeloan Junction shows that volumes of Applications for bonds have remained resilient and even better than last year. That’s an excellent statistic and well done to the Team! 

 

So, why the interlude around the house market and its prices? People like to live in safe, clean environments. They like their kids to go to school in well-run establishments and when sick, to be cared for in sanitized, proficient hospitals. Doesn’t that sound like you and I? It’s true as well that the only way we can influence the current status of these facilities, is by using our vote. Never mind the conjecture about the ANC, the DA, the EFF and the Small parties, all we can do is put our “X” where our conscience leads us. What an act of utter individualism, what personal power with responsibility. Once every 4-5 years, we get to change the world; well, at least the one in which we live. How fascinating the process and how knife-edge it has become for some leaders!

May 3 August 2016 ushers in the local government we deserve as citizens of this beautiful, tortured country. May White and Black, Coloured and Indian, every valid citizen, go to the Polls en masse and vote with reason and conviction. No greater truth exists than that property is more valuable in well-managed municipalities. And the choice of who manages our towns and our Provinces is solelydriven by our vote.

As for the process and the outcome, we will know by next weekend how things have gone. What then follows is anybody’s guess. But, to return to Clem’s 10 Flags blog, a closing thought for you, our friends in property:

“If you are a pocket of excellence, you will thrive irrespective of how 2016 pans out and which scenario is in play. Foxes adapt and win!”

Yours in Property.

Jack