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FNB Home Buying Estate Agent Survey - First Quarter 2011
FNB - South Africa
The evidence that we have of stronger supply is perhaps not yet solid, but there are signs. For one, our FNB Valuers as a group have on average been giving stronger supply ratings in their valuation reports in recent months. As for the estate agents, after an increase in the percentage of survey respondents reporting "stock issues" (constraints) from late-2009 and through the winter of 2010, that percentage declined noticeably in the summer 2010/11 quarters, i.e. the 4th quarter of 2010 and the 1st quarter of 2011.

In addition, when examining the various reasons for selling, we sense that there is evidence of improved supply of stock coming to the market too. The evidence lies in the fact that agents have reported an increase in the percentage of what we call "selling for non-negative reasons". These reasons are "selling in order to downscale due to life stage (e.g. retirement or kids leaving home), selling in order to upgrade, selling in order to re-locate to elsewhere in SA (mostly for better job opportunities), and selling in order to move closer to work or amenities. We believe that a greater portion of such categories of sellers are not in a rush to sell, compared to those selling in order to downscale due to financial pressure for instance, and thus are possibly more willing to bide their time, coming out of the woodwork in larger numbers when they perceive it to be a relatively good time to sell.

Recently, a significant increase in sellers selling for "non-negative" reasons suggests to us that there has perhaps been an improvement in the confidence that sellers have in their ability to get their price, bringing an increased number of aspirant sellers out of their hiding places. This apparent development on the supply side is all part of the long residential market healing process. One should expect that, after an improvement in demand there should at some stage be an improvement in seller confidence as well. However, this event would also serve to slow the pace of return to a better market balance, with a better market balance ultimately being reflected in a significantly shorter average time of properties on the market along with a smaller percentage of sellers having to drop their asking price. It would also be likely to delay the return of respectable growth to house prices. Such is the long slow nature of the residential property market recoveries - patience required.
FNB Home Buying Estate Agent Survey

FNB Interprovincial Homebuyer Migration Monitor - March 2011
FNB - South Africa

We believe that repeat home buyer interprovincial migration estimates are a good indication of a region's economic competitiveness, and that the Western Cape comes out very much on top in this regard. The Western Cape's 2010 net migration performance is "more of the same", having had the best net inward migration for the past decade as a whole. This should be a key source of long term support to its economy, providing it with the potential to have superior long term economic growth to other regions. According to Globalinsight estimates, for the decade 2000-2009 the Western Cape had the best provincial annual economic growth rate of 4.4%, followed closely by Gauteng with 4.3%. The apparent "two horse race" for skills indeed appears to have gone hand in hand with the country's 2 major regions having the best economic growth.
FNB Interprovincial Homebuyer Migration Monitor

Unscrupulous estate agents beware
RealEstateWeb - South Africa
The Consumer Protection Act is on your doorstep.

JOHANNESBURG - The Consumer Protection Act (CPA) becomes effective on April 1 2011, and those who are affected, especially suppliers, have been urged to familiarise themselves with the legislation, or face stiff penalties.

The Act is particularly relevant to practising estate agents, especially those who unscrupulously sell defective properties to unsuspecting investors or prospective homeowners. This is particularly relevant when it comes to developers selling property off plan. Marketing companies, who often undertake the promotion of such developments at exorbitant fees, are often known for using the rather intimidating "hard sell" tactic. This method will, once the Act comes into effect, be closely monitored and the understanding is that if the developer and the marketer fail to deliver on promises made, they can and will be taken to task.

Deneys Reitz associate, Rosalind Lake, says real estate is only one of many areas targeted by the Department of Trade and Industry due to the number of people who lose large amounts of money after being misled into buying less than satisfactory property or developments. Estate agent principals will have to be particularly vigilant in that that their agents are not making misrepresentations to prospective buyers. Also, consumers will have a five-day cooling off period after entering into a transaction. This will include buyers who feel they have been short-changed.
RealEstate Web

FNB - New mortgage loans and the SARB leading indicator
FNB - South Africa
Growth in new mortgage loans granted picked up in December, but Leading Indicator suggests this may be temporary in nature 23 March 2011
Today saw the release of the Reserve Bank's (SARB) Leading Business Cycle Indicator for January. The Leading Indicator has had a very good correlation with trends in demand for new mortgage loans, as reflected in the SARB's data for the value of new residential mortgage loans granted.

The SARB resumed interest rate cuts in the spring of 2010, cutting its repo rate by a further 50 basis points in September, and again in November of last year. It is believed that this additional stimulus should have provided residential property demand with a slight short term boost, and this may well have been reflected in the December 2010 year-on-year growth rate in the value of new residential loans granted, which increased from 5.4% in November to 16%.

While one month's worth of new mortgage data can be volatile, this would appear in line with what our Estate Agent Survey says, i.e. that there was a noticeable increase in residential demand in the 4th quarter of 2010, as well as being in line with the Leading Indicator, which showed a slight increase in year-on-year growth in December, from 8.25% in November to 8.9%.

However, the January Leading Indicator resumed its declining trend in year-on-year growth, declining to a rate of 5.5%, suggesting that the increase in year-on-year growth in new residential mortgage loans in December may have been short-lived.
FNB New mortgage loans and the SARB leading indicator

Greedy solicitor gets four years for laundering drugs money
Wales Online - Wales
A SOLICITOR was yesterday jailed for four years and eight months for money laundering on behalf of a drug dealer, and selling his Lamborghini without a court's permission.

Benjamin Cornelius, 37, acted as a conveyancing solicitor in the purchase of properties on behalf of his friend, David Carl Richards.

He committed more than £650,000 worth of fraudulent mortgage transactions. Cornelius denied fraud, money laundering and perverting the course of justice but was convicted after a trial at Cardiff Crown Court.
Greedy solicitor

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