Personal Effectiveness [Part 2]

My customary property comment before continuing with the blog…

I woke up this morning thinking about the Western Cape drought. The Cape property prices have bucked the trend, in my summary opinion, because “people want to live here”. However, if that is true, will people want to live here if we have no water? Cape Town City has been lax in the way they have handled this impending crisis. They have ignored pleas for water restrictions from the time they seemed irrational [“because we’re a Winter rainfall area and things will be okay”] to a few months ago when they were only beginning to fight abusers who were using up to 300000 litres a month. Now the City is on Stage 4 [100 litres a day per person and only for washing, cooking and drinking] but finally acknowledging that even if the “as yet unlikely” rains come in time, they will be too little to fill the reservoirs. There is, apart from a miracle rainfall, little doubt that taps will run dry in the next year [and longer, even with average Winter rainfall]. So, what does this do to tourism and residential investment and semigration? Will the current overdue water-sourcing initiatives actually keep the taps flowing or will it be impossible to stay and farm here for the next few years and therefore property prices will perforce, subdue? Remember, as I have reminded many people in the dark, old days before Brain Molefe [ah, but now he’s back!!], electricity is not a Constitutional right but Water is. What a pressure our government is under to supply it to the Western Cape population at this stage!

In my last blog, I expressed Personal Effectiveness “as an equation: input vs output; that we challenge our efforts to ensure they are exactly what we need to achieve what we desire.” In doing so, I raised the fact that our bodies are the earthly vessels in which we carry out this effectiveness in our personal lives. EDES – Eating, Drinking, Exercising, Sleep – are core to that body doing its job well for short sprints of exertion and in the long-run. Some would say, “Your health is your Wealth’, and the sick would say, “Absolutely!”. But now, with this matter dealt, albeit simply, I wish to move on to issues of the mind and/or soul, whichever is your bent………

Altitude and Attitude

I know you have heard of this before. Sometimes the topic would be Altitude vs Attitude, or Attitude vs Altitude. I trust you will find the expression I have used really informative after this read……

Altitude speaks to height and height speaks to view. Both, speak to Perspective. I remember when the saying, “How can I fly like an eagle, when I work with turkeys like these?” was on posters everywhere. Apart from its possible humor, I remember thinking how arrogant the saying was. Are you telling me I’m a turkey – groveling, short-sighted and being prepared for the feast? Or, are you saying you’re the only eagle around here – soaring, aware, informed and capable? Either way, I struggled with the notion but did find one thing obvious in it – PERSPECTIVE. Many years ago I ran a series of lectures on the concept of Worldview. In the beginning, I asked what people thought of Yassar Arafat [make that Donald Trump, Putin or Nelson Mandela these days], and then, without mentioning your view, think about how people in Palestine think about him. Radically different views for most people but the one thing in common is your worldview. Like or dislike him [them] – it’s all up to you. The way you see the world sums up your opinion of many, many things.

As a consequence, your opinion may be your truth. So you end up being right while in fact, you may prove wrong. On the other hand, you may be wrong when you end up being right. I know I’m being painful but think about it. “The country is going to the dogs” – heard that one, or any derivative of it, recently? Have you heard that before – 1987 after the Rubicon speech by PW Botha? 1992 after Chris Hani was assassinated? During the TRC when Tutu was in tears and the truth, we hope, was being told? In 1994 when we went to the polls and half the country had baked beans stored? December 2015 when Nene was fired and the Rand shot through R18/$? 2 months ago when Pravin was fired and the Rand went to….well it has surprised everybody!!….and at R13.10 we would have taken it if we were told that’s where it would be after two Agencies downgraded us to Junk status. We [especially those of us who were at the HLJ/ooba conference early in may] know there is a special set of circumstances in the Investment world at the moment that is helping us and Trump’s allegations are not helping the Dollar, but let’s see what Moody’s does by end-May. The point though is that the worst case scenario of our catastrophization often is ill-timed or simply wrong and this applies to everything in life, not just to South African politics. The further point is that our Perspective rules our worldview in many cases. This thought always leaves me humble in my views. I am not wishy-washy and can be dogged when I believe I am right, but I do always try to leave a fringe of tolerance and acceptance just so that my perspective can be challenged. That way I find I am flexible enough not to be dogmatic.

This whole saga has been beautifully portrayed in a book called The Book of Joy, written by Douglas Abrams. It is the record of a week’s discussion and displays of friendship involving two famous men of religion – Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama. Two men who could have a very negative and cynical worldview but who both seem to have replaced that possibility with Joy. My narrow Christian view of Joy and how you cultivate and keep it was stretched as I read and learned of a template of elements of not just how to have Joy but how to sustain it and live it out under any circumstances. That’s always the trick, isn’t it – “any circumstances”? Here’s the template of 8 elements:

From the mind:

Perspective

Humility

Humour

Acceptance

 

From the heart:

Forgiveness

Gratitude

Compassion

Generosity.

Isn’t it amazing! Two men who have endured, and seen the people they are supposed to serve and lead to practical truth in the most dire, unfair circumstances, both start their Joy journey by agreeing PERSPECTIVE as the genesis of their Joy. To quote: “A healthy perspective really is the foundation of Joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world”. In a sense they’re saying you can’t ever have Joy if your perspective is warped by negative emotions.

Altitude or Perspective, call it what you like. It is a prerequisite for success in anything, material or immaterial. A positive self-expectancy may not always work but, I can tell you, a negative self-expectancy, driven by limiting self-beliefs, works every time. Or, you’re one of those people who simply “got lucky” and there my patience ends as I just don’t believe in the stuff.

Attitude needs less explanation, I think. Deep inside of us we have an approach to the world, her creatures, and her circumstances. Norman Vincent Peale, famous for his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, says it this way, “Change your thoughts and you change your world”. So we speak from our mother’s mouth when we say we have a positive attitude. I often say a positive attitude is 50% of the task done. It drives your activity and raises your spirit. It puts a smile on your face when your head or heart is hurting. It lifts others who have no need to see the “sweat” on your brow. It gives us the expectancy of finding good in others and often confirms itself accordingly.

Your attitude can take you forward or your attitude can take you down. The choice is always yours!

Catherine Pulsifer

 A positive attitude enables us to learn. A negative attitude teaches us nothing. And with the following thoughts, I end this blog……..

Think about it this way, we role model much of our behaviour. It is the substance of “nurture” that we learn from others, not everything but much; teachers, parents, sportsmen, and women, friends etc. Positivity opens the mind and allows thoughts to nest and form understanding. Positivity is the bedrock of learning – just think how you became an homeloan originator or estate agent over years of positive attitude and learning.

However, negative attitude cripples learning and let me demonstrate how this happens. I see a senior person always comes late for a meeting; every time. Resentment rises as they “are disrespectful”. Others in the meeting mumble under their breath “he is wasting my time”, openly discussing the person and their “attitude”, even finding other faults to criticize. The person effectively becomes “an idiot” or even worse. In fact, I posit that the “worse” your negative attitude of any person or circumstance, the less you learn. A negative attitude smashes the ability to learn, creativity and problem-solving ability.

This is therefore my closing message, that a real Positive Attitude is one that can learn from the positive AND the negative. In the case of the senior person above [who I happened to role model diligently in many of his other characteristics], I learned not to be late for meetings – rather early than late – and especially now we have phones in our hands to apologize if we’re going to be over time. What is the negative thing that you “hate”, “dislike” or find intolerable? – that is the thing to which you need to reverse your negative attitude into self-development. In short, you must learn to learn from the positive and the negative in order to mature over the years. The retirement villages are full of miserable people who have enjoyed the positive and seldom been able to see anything good in the negative. Let us guard ourselves.

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

The above is not easy. Homeloan Junction faces harsh situations many times. To remain creative and solution-orientated is our commitment to you. We will strive to always be positive in every negative circumstance and the question that will pursue our heads and lips as much as possible will be, “What can we do about it?” Our perspective will be dynamic, hopeful, and upward thinking.

Yours in Property

 

Personal Effectiveness [Part 1]

Before we get into the purpose of this blog, a quick word on the property market.

Given the economic turmoil through which we have gone and which has been brought on by nothing less than Politics, the property market has been surprisingly resilient. Prices are subdued in the country other than Cape Town. This is simply a factor of the Cape’s prices being inflated by a perceived quality of life. Magnus Heystek anecdotally says that 45000 families a year are semigrating here. Not sure they can last, the price increases and the semigration, as it is simply a reflection of the unpleasantness of life in other major cities. We trust that things will turn economically, crime and grime will decrease and these demographics return to a more normal state over time. [Right now there is just not enough water in the Cape dams to go around!]. In short, we can expect a deterioration of house price increases this year owing to our poor economy. However, though we probably will no longer have an interest rate decrease, we surely should have stable interest rates even if Moody’s downgrade us by 2 notches. Finally, to that point, hopefully they just do one notch. How different the narrative would have been if not for one arrogant man.

Let’s turn our minds to the subject of this blog and be challenged to be better than we currently are. Personal effectiveness, if you Google it, is actually a branch of positive psychology, and is contained in the works of that, management, leadership and positive thinking. I found that interesting and to be honest, never thought of it in such illustrious terms. With that in mind, I would like to express personal effectiveness in the simple equation of input vs output. Effectiveness is often expressed in terms of doing the right thing vs doing things right. That doesn’t mean we can shortcut many things, but just rather that we challenge our efforts to ensure they are exactly what we need to achieve what we desire. In presenting this series of blogs, I pass no judgement on your effectiveness nor do I stand as the rolemodel. But what I do intend to do is challenge each of us to be better than we have been especially if I hit a nerve that requires your personal development.

Everything has a genesis. Personal effectiveness starts with our bodies. I heard of someone who is “cracking up” recently. Not unusual at my age, but if you want to win the Formula 1, the car needs to be in pristine condition. How much more the race of Life! Key to this is EDES – Eat, Drink, Exercise, Sleep.

Eating and Drinking: I can almost hear the “here we go again” sigh. But these two aspects really affect our personal efficiency and they are probably the ticket to the game. I was talking to a guy the other day and he mentioned a shredded lettuce and kale, carrot, cinnamon and water-based tuna salad. Just before I began my bad thoughts, he said the obvious, “you won’t believe how good you feel 30 minutes later”. Hard on the ears but nonetheless, a hard fact. Rathan Tata has this to say: “ If your food is not your medicine, then medicine will be your food.” And a quote that I received today by Maimonides says, “No disease that can be treated by diet, should be treated with any other means.” He died in 1204 – a seriously long time ago and before Type 2 Diabetes was even known. Unfortunately, and me included, we cannot duck the fact that our food and what we drink has a major impact on how effective we are as human beings and multivitamins and Essentiale don’t do much to help if the fundamentals are not in place. In turn, please don’t diet; just divide your plate into quarters and eat one protein, one starch and two portions of vegetables. Simple advice at which I could come from many angles, but if you want to cut out anything, then cut out the starch. You may not have a “kale and tuna” experience immediately but you will feel better for it.

Exercise: There is no doubt in my mind that exercise covers many areas. Discipline, first of all, especially the one prefixed by “Self-“. Self-Anything is a powerful effectiveness tool – self-control, discipline, development, motivation – when it comes from within, they’re powerful. That feeling that you get when you have woken up, gone for exercise and showered, cannot be beaten. And it’s not important what you do but that you do it. Exercise de-stresses. Not sure about you but I endure stress and I can literally feel the hormonal effects of that. Exercise releases powerful substances, like dopamine, that elevate you. And the good news is that you want more as dopamine is habitual. Crazy but true, that exercise and sleep spur creativity. That thought that you get on a spinning bike could be the breakthrough of the day. And then of course, exercise is good for your heart and bloodflow. Pulsing through you and causing sweat on your skin, blood flow cleans and heals while your muscles strengthen. Make room for this daily spurt of natural substances and you will raise your effectiveness to new levels. It doesn’t take that long but it does take that spoonful of discipline to get it down. Have a Nike moment: Just Do It!

Sleep: Introducing her book, The Sleep Revolution, Ariannna Huffington of Huffington Post fame, says: “We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis and this has profound consequences on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep, can we take back control of our lives.” I quote her because she is one unbelievable lady and no doubt has experienced both insomnia and the peaceful regeneration, of sleep. So why sleep? Well, it is the place where we fully relax and where even our brain replenishes itself. Having a good sleep naturally also says volumes about our state of mind when we’re awake. Work pressures, relationship issues, overeating and drinking, too little or too much exercise, negative cashflows [need I mention more before I get your issue?] are all the demons of our daily lives. Nothing is perfect, but if these things stop our sleep, they worsen. Ever laid there and wished the sun would rise so you can reaffirm your perspective? I have – and how horrible that worry becomes as it persists in destroying your sleep patterns. Irritable, demotivated, emotionally drained, catastrophizing and just a pain in the backside is what we become to ourselves and those around us. Stop it! Go back to a sound perspective. Reinvent your sleep and cherish it again. Try this for a thought from Karen Salmansohn: “Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” Shew, if only I had mentalized that when I was younger! All the cold sweats, panic, sleepless nights, pent up anxiousness….WORRY that stole away my SLEEP. [Don’t you also just love that word “Breathe”?].

Initially, we have covered EDES. Each of us has a story to tell in some or all of these areas. Be careful of reasons and excuses and while you’re there, be careful of Guilt. Like it cousin, Fear, guilt is only a short-term motivator. Sustainable self-motivation, call it Change if you like, does not come from knee jerk reactions. A sense of dignity, coupled with a few habits changing continuously over time, leads to progressive self-growth and sustainable improvement in self-worth. But begin the journey in your area of self-development and allow fun and desire to be bedfellows. There was such a lovely saying when I was young, “Be patient with me, God ain’t finished with me yet.” So begin the journey of a thousand miles with that first step.

In summary, personal effectiveness starts with the human vessel in which resides your being. All the technology in the world cannot do what your body does. It is not the sine qua non of human effectiveness but it is a grand and grandly designed gift to each of us. Look after it and it will no doubt look after you for as long as it is able.

Property is not an easy game. Having the right tools to play is a prerequisite to play.

Yours in Property.

The Truth about Student Housing

Just when you thought that getting up for a ‘dawnie’ after a digs party was an existential problem, spare a thought for all those students that don’t have it that easy. Many students have to get up at 4:00 in the morning just to catch a taxi to get to lectures on time and end up studying for exams by candlelight in appalling living conditions. This is hardly conducive to getting good grades. The truth is that student housing in South Africa is in a crisis.

There just is not enough housing to accommodate all the students who want to study. Combine that with the fact that a huge percentage of South Africa’s population is of school going age and might just want decent access to student accommodation in a few years’ time, and it looks like the problem is only going to get worse!

The stats on student housing

A 2015 survey by The Times of nine tertiary institutions in South Africa revealed that of the one million students registered at private and public universities countrywide, there were only 68 419 spaces for the 140 000 residence applications. An example of this is the University of Cape Town which received 21 469 applications for student accommodation, yet was only able to accommodate 6 600 students. Similarly, Wits received 34 000 applications and was only able to accommodate 6 000 students.

The student housing crisis

The downside of this is that a large majority of students are then forced to commute long distances just to get to lectures and often have to make do with unsanitary and unsafe living conditions. Often students are also charged exorbitant rentals by exploitative landlords for what boils down to sub-standard accommodation.

According to the Department of Education, this crisis in accommodation is a primary cause of the high dropout rate at universities and poor academic performances, something which the country can ill afford at this stage. Universities have to deal with cutbacks from national government, budget constraints and as a result prioritise academic and teaching facilities, ahead of tackling accommodation issues head-on. Add to this the perennial problems of ageing residences and the fact that many universities do not have sufficient space around them for building development, and it’s easy to see why some institutions have resorted to outsourcing their accommodation needs to private developers and building managers.

Investment opportunities

That said, with the demand for student accommodation being so high, there are excellent investment opportunities available for the discerning buyer. For a relatively small capital outlay there are excellent buy-to-let options, as many parents of current or future students are willing to pay competitive rentals for residences which meet their criteria.

However, would-be investors must be willing to take several key factors into consideration. Chief amongst these is the location of the student residence. It should be easily accessible from the campus, i.e. within walking distance as many students don’t have vehicles yet, or should have close access to public transport routes that students could use. Also, residences that are sought after for student tenants are those that have security features installed so that parents can be assured of a safe environment for their children.

Characteristics of the student housing market

Many parents wanting more of a return on their money prefer not to rent but to buy a sectional title either for their own children to use while they study or to let out to other students. They then sell their property when the last child has completed their studies as there is a constant stream of buyers anxious to get their children into secure lodgings. This constant buying and selling of sectional titles adds to the volatility of the market and this continuous capital growth is characteristic of the student housing market. Many parents who sell their properties after their children have finished, experience a higher than average return on investment, some selling their properties at almost double the price they paid. Another feature of student accommodation is annual increases in rent as university fees are expensive and go up every year.

Many people with the ability to look long term are seeing these growth nodes in the student housing market for what they are – as golden opportunities for investment. If you are keen to explore these opportunities, contact the right team to help you access buy-to-let home loans.

5 Truths about getting a Homeloan

For many South Africans, applying for a home loan can be a stressful procedure. This is perhaps the biggest financial investment you will ever make. There is much that South African buyers don’t know about the process of applying for, and the responsibilities that come with a home loan.  As a first-time buyer, do you know what questions to ask?

Is it difficult to apply for a home loan?

First-time buyers find the challenges of meeting the criteria daunting with what seems like endless paperwork, red tape and rising property costs. However, once you have all the information about the home buying process at your fingertips, you will discover that the process is relatively straightforward and simple.

Whether you are a first-time buyer or you are seeking to purchase a second property as an investment, Homeloan Junction can help you by putting our wealth of resources at your disposal. Here are 5 home truths about getting a home loan that will get you well on your way to finding that dream family home.

  1. Create a good credit record

Firstly, it is important to have a good credit record before applying for your home loan. The banks are unlikely to approve a loan for first-time applicants if there is no credit record or history of being able to pay consistently. Even if you have saved for a deposit, your application may not be approved simply because you have no other loans. So, before putting in your application for a home loan, spend some months creating a good credit history by paying smaller loans at the right time, like your cell phone or clothing accounts. Obtain a free credit report online and check whether you have used enough credit products and whether you have been a reliable borrower. If there are any errors in the report, request to have them fixed so that you can improve your chances of obtaining a loan.

  1. Decrease your monthly disposable income

Banks are also not willing to offer loans to high risk debtors. Decreasing your monthly disposable income by reducing non-essential debt and where possible paying off accounts will help your chances of home finance approval. The most important thing is for you to pay your accounts and outstanding credit card balances reliably and on time. Do not close accounts which you have just repaid, keep them open and use them.

  1. Deposit preparation

A home buyer is expected to contribute to the purchase of the property by paying a deposit. It determines the loan-to-value ratio, which expresses the loan amount as a percentage of the property’s sale price. The larger the deposit is the lower this ratio is and the less you will have to borrow.  This will increase your chances of home loan approval and help you save on interest payments as banks can then offer a lower interest rate. That is why it makes sense for you to save for a deposit to use towards the purchase of a house. Use our savings calculator to work out how much you need to save and for how long, to save for a deposit for your home loan.

  1. Work within a budget

It is best to consider a property that is within your budget and that you will be able to repay. While your first home may not be the mansion of your dreams, it is important to ensure that it meets all your current and medium-term needs. In this way you will be able to afford your family home without getting into serious debt. At Homeloan Junction, we provide services and online tools that can help you plan ahead of time. Use our home loan calculator to decide on total costs and assess affordability and whether you as a first-time applicant qualify for a home loan. We also offer innovative alternatives to traditional bonds which could see you paying far less in the long term and paying off your loan over a shorter period of time.

  1. Make a formal enquiry with Homeloan Junction

At Homeloan Junction we make it our business to keep the home loan application process as simple and straightforward as possible. Talk to us today about how you can successfully secure your loan. We can help you with all the documentation needed to make a formal application at a bank. For more information on whether you meet all the criteria and what you can do to make sure you qualify, contact Homeloan Junction today.