Finweek English Edition - - Property -

WHILE ANEC­DO­TAL EV­I­DENCE sug­gests res­i­den­tial prop­erty sales and mort­gage lend­ing have all but dried up, lat­est fig­ures from the Deeds Of­fice and the SA Re­serve Bank paint a far less som­bre pic­ture. The South African Prop­erty Trans­fer Guide (SAPTG), which sources hous­ing data from the Deeds Of­fice, re­ports the to­tal num­ber of hous­ing sales recorded coun­try­wide dropped by 36% in 2008 year-on-year. That’s nowhere near some es­ti­mates of sales de­clin­ing by at least 60% last year.

SAPTG’s fig­ures show that around 169 720 sec­tional and full ti­tle res­i­den­tial prop­er­ties (priced be­tween R100 000 and R19m) were sold in SA last year with a to­tal value of R137,3bn. That’s down from around 266 920 prop­er­ties sold in 2007, val­ued at R207,9bn. The na­tional av­er­age house price, as recorded by SAPTG, was there­fore still up 3,9% last year: from R779 224 in 2007 to R809 380 in 2008.

In ad­di­tion, the lat­est lend­ing fig­ures from the SA Re­serve Bank show banks still ap­proved new mortgages and re-ad­vances to the value of R270bn in 2008, down 26% on the R365bn granted in 2007.

Al­though no­body’s deny­ing the hous­ing mar­ket is go­ing through a ma­jor down­turn, those fig­ures clearly re­fute any talk of a mar­ket col­lapse. As SAPTG data spe­cial­ist Di­eter Dep­pisch puts it: “What the SA hous­ing mar­ket has ex­pe­ri­enced over the past two years has been part of a nor­mal cycli­cal eco­nomic trend and a nec­es­sary, if painful, cor­rec­tion.”

Al­though most in­dus­try play­ers don’t ex­pect sales ac­tiv­ity to re­turn to 2007 lev­els be­fore 2011, Pam Gold­ing Prop­er­ties CE An­drew Gold­ing says trans­ac­tion vol­umes should in­crease by around 15% this year on the back of lower in­ter­est rates and im­proved in­vestor sen­ti­ment.

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