Press ReleaseProject FinanceZDFin News


Media Release
August 2020


It is a massive market in South Africa and it is ridiculously underserviced, but it is also highly complicated. It is the business of bodies corporate and community schemes and Michael Schaefer has just launched ZDFin, a specialist property finance business, to service this market.

Schaefer brings a wealth of experience to a space where few specialists play. The space was made by recently enacted legislation that, though well intentioned, is difficult to navigate.

Schaefer, founder and CEO of ZDFin, is a former director and shareholder of the country’s biggest residential property administration company, Trafalgar.

He recently left the business his father started over 50 years ago, to set up ZDFin.

Aimed at an area he considers grossly underserviced – residential juristic entities, mainly sectional title bodies corporate, homeowners associations and share block companies.

He saw a gap in the market to cater for schemes that need bridging finance and smart financial solutions, that could in the long-term, lead to financial savings, whilst ensuring maximum value and enjoyment of one’s property.

“It is estimated there are 65 000 sectional title schemes in South Africa with the minority of these being serviced by recognised property management companies,” notes Schaefer.

“When the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act was signed into law in October 2016, it turned the lives of body corporate members upside down. Regulations in the new legislation make it mandatory for every scheme to have a 10-year maintenance plan. This must be approved by the owners at the annual general meeting (AGM). It must also detail projected works and provide the computation for levies.

The challenge is that definitive plans are often not practically affordable.

The upshot of the Act is that sectional title schemes have to reassess levy contributions and critically, build up separate funds for reserve spend –  on top of day-to-day expenses.  This has created a nightmare for many trustees / members who have little or no experience in 10-year maintenance plans and how to finance them.”

Schaefer estimates the body corporate business, currently a fragmented market, to be a

R1 trillion industry in South Africa.

With the combined specialist knowledge and experience of property law, finance and building engineering, the team at ZFin is able to bridge the gap for community schemes. It provides finance, expert guidance and action plans to address maintenance challenges whilst meeting legal obligations.

There is no guarantee that trustees, many of whom are well-meaning volunteers, either have the skill or will get the support and advice to make the best financial decisions for the property.

Schaefer says there is seldom any argument among trustees (now more accountable as a result of the legislation), that money has to be spent on long-term maintenance, but the burning question is what to prioritise and how to fund this.

“The legislation is good. Sound-building management is at the bedrock of our democracy. If buildings aren’t managed properly they can deteriorate very quickly. Sectional title owners have to be guided through the legislation and separate short-term and long-term expenditure priorities, but often they struggle to accurately assess these and aren’t able to finance the budgets sustainably. The financing of long-term maintenance will increasingly impact property prices.”

“From my years in property management, I believe that members deserve effective management, including professional maintenance, not driven by penny-wise and pound-foolish decision-making. This is the space where ZDfin hopes to make its mark.”




Joanne Hayes, Tumbleweed Communications

Tel:  +27 (0) 83 627 7249                                  e-mail:  tigerjo@iafrica.com


ABOUT ZDFIN – https://zdfin.co.za/

ZDFin is a specialist finance company providing smart solutions for Sectional Title Bodies Corporate, Home Owners’ Associations, and Share Block companies.  We service all residential Community Schemes affected by the Community Ombud Service Act, including non-profit companies and voluntary associations governed by a constitution. ZDFin has a wealth of practical experience in property and financial management. We understand these challenges and our range of targeted financial products can be tailored to meet the specific needs of each individual scheme.