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FNB Property Barometer - Home Buying Estate Agent Survey  - 4th Quarter 2011
FNB - South Africa
In summary - a still unbalanced and fragile residential market will be hoping for no nasty surprises from the SARB this week

In the past week, there has been some discussion about whether the current time is the time to buy property, on the back of some assertions that residential property market “equilibrium” has been reached. Although it is challenging to ascertain when a market has reached equilibrium, the price level where demand matches supply, especially as equilibrium levels fluctuate over time, we are of the opinion that the FNB Estate Agent Survey does not suggest that market equilibrium (or balance) has yet been reached.
Although admittedly subjective, we believe that at 17 weeks and 6 days, the average time of properties on the market continues to be inappropriately long, pointing to a market still unrealistically priced given the currently mediocre
demand conditions which agents perceive to be weakening mildly. In addition, still 90% of sellers are required to drop their asking price to make the sale, which we would suggest is a rather high number.
We are thus of the opinion that further real house price (house prices adjusted for consumer price inflation) decline is required in the near term in order to shift the residential property market towards a balance between demand and supply or, otherwise put, equilibrium.
Therefore, at this stage, the residential property sector would be sensitive to any unwanted surprises in the form of an interest rate hike at this week’s MPC meeting of the Reserve Bank. Fortunately, at this stage such an event
seems unlikely, with the expectation that CPI inflation is nearing its peak, after which it is expected to decline back into the target range of 3%-6% without requiring help from interest rates at this stage.
New valuations could involve rates shock
Fin24 - South Africa
Pretoria – Municipalities countrywide are making preparations for the next large-scale property valuation, which could impact property owners' pockets.

This is according to Ben Espach, valuations director at Rates Watch.  The lifespan of the initial valuation rolls in terms of the Municipal Property Rates Act is nearing a close. The rolls have to be adjusted every five years, which can be extended by one year.

Espach explained that although the act came into force in 2006, most municipalities drew up their valuation rolls between 2007 and 2009.  This was the first time that both land and improvements were taken into account and farm land was included on a broad scale, ignoring the former sliding scale.

Cape Town is already using a second roll, but most other municipalities, including Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Mangaung will only compile a new one next year. eThekwini is starting to use a new roll this year. 

Borrowers in the pound seats as bank battle restarts 
Sotheby's International Realty  - South Africa
There are strong indications that after a three-year lull, the Battle of the Banks for home loan market share is about to heat up again – to the benefit of homebuyers and the property market in general.

“This month’s decision by major lender Absa to once again start accepting applications for 100% loans from mortgage originators is, we believe, just the first salvo in the renewed battle,” says Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA.

“The move will no doubt prompt counter-measures from the other banks anxious to retain and gain top quality clients, and shrewd consumers will be the real winners.”
Borrowers in Pound seats

Boomers worth their weight in gold
Moneyweb - South Africa
Downsizing boomers could bring about a resurgence in the property market.

Although it is the Generation X population, which consists of adults between the ages of 31 and 45, that are leading the property market recovery,  baby boomers are making their presence felt in the market, says Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

Goslett says that as more and more South African consumers reach retirement age, downsizing boomers aged between 47 and 65 years old could bring about further resurgence in the property market. “With many of these homeowners having built equity in their homes over the years, as well as other investments, boomers may be the first demographic to move in the emerging market when other ages groups are still struggling to meet the stringent lending criteria required by banks,” he says.

Goslett notes that because their children have moved out of home, the boomer generation is expected to trade their suburban homes for lifestyle options that meet their current needs. This, coupled with that fact that many boomers are looking to buy additional property as an investment to supplement their retirement income, or are assisting their children in making property purchases, makes them a valuable asset to the economy. “Many of the real estate agents have baby boomer clients who already own property and are looking to purchase an investment or retirement property. A number of these buyers are purchasing property that they can rent out to generate an income or to move into once they reach the age where they wish to retire,” says Goslett.

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