Land re­form panic un­nec­es­sary

George Herald - Private Property - - Property News -

There is no doubt that there is great con­cern about land re­form amongst or­di­nary South Africans and es­pe­cially prop­erty own­ers and buy­ers. At the same time, there is a huge amount of noise in the me­dia and pub­lic dis­course around this, of­ten send­ing mixed mes­sages. In light of this, the Se­eff Prop­erty Group has wel­comed the clar­ity pro­vided by Pres­i­dent Ramaphosa in var­i­ous me­dia re­ports and in a re­cent par­lia­men­tary sit­ting that there will be no wide-scale land grabs of any kind.

He made it clear that there will be no na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and that prop­erty rights will be pro­tected, and that il­le­gal land grabs will not be tol­er­ated.

The pres­i­dent re­it­er­ated that ex­pro­pri­a­tion will be done in a planned man­ner in pur­suance of eco­nomic growth. This was also again echoed in the very im­por­tant re­cent meet­ing be­tween the pres­i­dent and UK Prime

Min­is­ter Theresa May, as well as dur­ing his visit to China.

SA learnt from other coun­tires Stu­art Man­ning, CEO for the Se­eff Group, says that there is no need for con­sumers to fear that their houses will be taken, or think that it is point­less to in­vest in prop­erty - far from it. The pres­i­dent has been very clear that South Africa has learnt from the ex­pe­ri­ences of other coun­tries (in­clud­ing Zim­babwe), in terms of what has worked and what has not, and will not make the same mis­takes.

The pres­i­dent has also given the as­sur­ance that the gov­ern­ing party does not in­tend to erode prop­erty rights, but rather to en­sure that the prop­erty rights of all South Africans are strength­ened. Man­ning says fur­ther it should be noted that rat­ings agen­cies and other international com­men­ta­tors, in­clud­ing the IMF, have all urged clar­ity on land re­form, which is seen as a vi­tal step to fu­ture pros­per­ity and sta­bil­ity.

Or­di­nary res­i­den­tial prop­erty Fol­low­ing US pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's tweet re­gard­ing land ex­pro­pri­a­tion, the Se­eff Group is urg­ing buy­ers and in­vestors to be wary of the noise, mis­in­ter­pre­ta­tion and mis­in­for­ma­tion. This is caus­ing un­war­ranted and un­nec­es­sary fear and con­cerns among con­sumers about whether they should be in­vest­ing in prop­erty when in fact, it is an ex­cel­lent time to buy, says Man­ning.

There has been no in­di­ca­tion that ex­pro­pri­a­tion will af­fect or­di­nary res­i­den­tial prop­erty, far from it, says Man­ning. Ramaphosa has stated that the in­ten­tion is to un­lock the eco­nomic po­ten­tial by look­ing at un­used land, derelict build­ings, purely spec­u­la­tive land hold­ings, or cir­cum­stances where oc­cu­piers have strong his­tor­i­cal rights and ti­tle hold­ers do not oc­cupy or use their land, such as labour ten­ancy, in­for­mal set­tle­ments and aban­doned in­ner-city build­ings.

Agri­cul­tural land

While agri­cul­tural land is a stated tar­get for ex­pro­pri­a­tion, Man­ning has wel­comed the re­cent de­vel­op­ments, pledges of co­op­er­a­tion and un­der­tak­ings fol­low­ing high-level meet­ings with var­i­ous agri­cul­tural bod­ies and stake­hold­ers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, says Man­ning, South Africans and for­eign­ers should rest as­sured that South Africa's in­ter­ested par­ties are keep­ing an eye on de­vel­op­ments and are set­ting up high­level meet­ings and mak­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions as needed, all in the in­ter­est of the coun­try, the peo­ple and prop­erty. This in­cludes the Bank­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of South Africa (Basa), whose man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Cas Coova­dia, con­firmed that the banks con­tinue grant­ing prop­erty loans, in­clud­ing in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor, and say­ing that the bank­ing sec­tor is also com­mit­ted to land re­form.

South Africa stronger

While by no means down­play­ing the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter, Man­ning says South Africans need to be re­minded that South Africa is in a much stronger po­si­tion than Zim­babwe was. We have a strong con­sti­tu­tion and Chap­ter Nine in­sti­tu­tions and civil rights or­gan­i­sa­tions. South Africa is also a party to international treaties that re­quire the pro­tec­tion of prop­erty rights. We should take en­cour­age­ment from all of these fac­tors.

Still plenty of ac­tiv­ity

Man­ning says fur­ther that, while the eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal chal­lenges re­main an ob­sta­cle for the prop­erty mar­ket, it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that there is still plenty of ac­tiv­ity. Re­gard­less of the state of the econ­omy and mar­ket, there will al­ways be peo­ple who need to buy and sell for a range of rea­sons. Deeds of­fice data shows that thou­sands of sales trans­ac­tions are still con­cluded each month and it is im­por­tant to fil­ter out the neg­a­tive noise.

The im­por­tant take-out is that, while there are chal­lenges, there are op­por­tu­ni­ties aplenty. Tim­ing the mar­ket is im­pos­si­ble, so it is best to work with what we know. There is very lit­tle to in­di­cate that there will be any dra­matic up­ward shift in the econ­omy and prop­erty mar­ket this year, but for as long as peo­ple need a roof over their heads, there will be buy­ers, and with that, op­por­tu­ni­ties to sell. We cer­tainly would urge buy­ers not to waste time wait­ing for a bet­ter time to buy.

(Is­sued by Se­eff Prop­er­ties)

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