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by Cashe Kidd

Flip It

Make the Good Life Great

The emphasis is on green for 2016 and that goes beyond just eco-friendly furnishings
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Since 1971, the Bakos Brothers have been the beacon for family values and service excellence within the furniture game.  The idea that a house needs to be a home was taken a step further when the Bakos Brothers expanded their already blossoming business and started a new chapter for the Bakos family in architecture.  For over 40-years, the Bakos family has built an impressive legacy of creating warmth and comfort for all of their clients, so it is hardly surprising that the business of family is still booming. 

The Bakos Brother’s motto is a simple one; Make the Good Life Great – and it couldn’t be more fitting for what this iconic, South African/Lebanese family is about.   Building a legacy that will be carried for generations to come, the Bakos Brothers seem to have the secret formula to success – Property Development.

We touched base with architect and property developer, Sheldon Bakos, to get the run down on property in South Africa in 2015.  And what we can look forward to for the trends to come in 2016.

Can you share a bit about the work you do as a major property developer. 

Bakos Brothers property development is involved in both residential as well as commercial property development.  With an impressive portfolio of homes that litter affluent suburbs in Johannesburg, to revolutionary retail spaces that stand tall in Parkhurst.  

As a business, Bakos Brothers is found along the length of the cycle of exclusive home ownership - from the property development, architecture to the furniture that will be in the home – was this the initial objective of the company? 

It was a passion for elegant living along with unmatched teamwork that started the furniture business, which grew steadily for the Bakos Brothers throughout the 1970’s.  Seeing that growth led to the company’s diversification and establishment of the property development division of the family business.   Along with being the first company to bring television to South African’s, Bakos Brothers were also the first property developers to bring shopping to Nelspruit.  The first project that the property development division worked on was a 53-store retail centre, which is still the town’s central business hub.

How has the business evolved in the past 40 years? 

Bakos Brothers was started by Bernard, Norman, Tyrone and the late Dennis and Don Bakos in the early 1970’s.  Setting up the first Bakos Brothers furniture store in Rissik Street, the brand has expanded and grown from strength to strength.  It wasn’t until the early 1990’s when we decided to expand our family business by including Property Development and Architecture.  We now continue to grow this chapter of the Bakos legacy by buying property to have rezoned, refurbished and developed into the iconic properties that we have under our name.

Of the eight residential properties you have developed which one stands out for you and why? 

Each of these properties are unique in their own right.  A lot of time, energy and dedication went into the development of each of them, and so picking out just one is a hard task.  We are exceptionally proud of each of the residential properties that bear the name Bakos, because it is more than just a project for us, we have created a family home.

What exactly is house flipping and how does it work?

House flipping is quickly becoming a popular trend within the rich and famous, with even Ellen DeGeneres getting in on the actions.  In a nutshell, house flipping is when you buy an old house, sub-divide the property and build on the new portion of property.  Another more commonly known house flipping method is to buy an old home, renovate or refurbish the property and sell it for a profit. 

What are the factors that you consider when choosing a house to flip – is there an art or formula to it? 

Location.  Location.  Location. 

Location is the key when searching for a house to flip.  Finding a great home in a great location that can be renovated and sold for a profit is obviously the winning formula, and that takes a keen eye to find. 

What are the hidden challenges one must look out for?

Old houses come with a lot of different challenges that can catch a property developer by surprise.  I remember working on a project that challenged me a while back.  The house was built in the 1940’s and still had the original cast iron piping in the walls.  Needless to say, the electrical system was a nightmare and had to be replaced entirely.  These are things we only know once we’re inside the house and tearing down walls during renovation stage.  These challenges come out of nowhere and can end up costing a developer a lot of money in the long run. 

What are the realistic returns (percentage wise) one can make from flipping houses? 

This varies from property to property because of a number of factors.  Location for one is a big part of what return you can expect to get for a property, but you also need to consider what renovations were done. 

What types of renovations add the most value? 

Kitchens and bathrooms sell a home.   A beautiful, welcoming kitchen is where family congregates to share a meal and a laugh, while the bathroom is where you can hide away and relax.  These renovations are the most important to adding value to a home, followed closely by an airy patio and garden that flows effortlessly, creating light and space in a home. 

What advice can you give someone looking to get into the property game?

I always tell my clients not to buy a property without me seeing it first.  As an architect I can immediately see if a property is a good one and can easily and cheaply be renovated into something great.

What trends can we look forward to in architecture and furniture for 2016?

The emphasis is on green for 2016 and that goes beyond just eco-friendly furnishings!  Ten years ago, solar panels were a luxury item for the ultra-rich, but it has now become cost effective and essential for an eco-friendly home.  Water purification systems are more accessible than ever and being conscious of your carbon footprint is becoming the norm.    Off-the-grid living is another trend worth looking into over the coming years, and it is clear that green is the new chic for 2016.

What does the future hold for Bakos Brothers?

Bakos Brothers as a brand is growing from strength to strength.  We are an innovative company with so many exciting projects in the works.  With an expanding portfolio and deep seated, family values, Bakos Brothers is in for great things in 2016.

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