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House price indices - April 2014
Absa - South Africa
House price growth remains resilient in challenging market conditions

The first quarter of 2014 saw nominal year-on-year growth in the average value of homes in the middle segment of the South African housing market remaining in single digits, with price growth accelerating in two categories of housing. Base effects are a prominent factor in the latest trends in price growth. House price movements in real terms, i.e. after adjustment for the effect of consumer price inflation, varied between some deflation and some positive growth in the segments in the early months of the year compared with a year ago. These house price trends are according to the Absa house price indices, which are based on applications for mortgage finance received and approved by the bank in respect of middle-segment small, medium-sized and large homes (see explanatory notes).

The above mentioned trends in and prospects for the economy and the household sector are expected to impact the property market, with single-digit nominal house price growth forecast for the rest of 2014. Virtually no real house price growth is projected for this year, based on the combined effect of expected trends in nominal price growth and inflation.
Absa HPI Mar 2014

City trumps province on municipal zoning decisions
IolProperty - South Africa
The Constitutional Court has curbed the power of provinces to overturn municipal land zoning decisions, declaring a loophole which had allowed developers to appeal to the province against municipal decisions to be 'unconstitutional and invalid'.

This means municipalities - such as the City of Cape Town - have the final say on how land inside their boundaries is developed. In delivering its judgment on Friday, the country's highest court upheld an earlier decision by the Western Cape High Court.

The High Court had ruled last year against the Western Cape government in two cases - including the planned development of the historic 18th-century Lutheran Church complex in the city centre - after it had overridden decisions by the City of Cape Town.

Section 44 of the apartheid-era Land Use Planning Ordinance had given the Western Cape provincial government in the form of the MEC of local government, environmental affairs and development planning, the power to hear appeals against municipalities' planning decisions and to replace those decisions with its own. It had used this power several times.

But the court found this 'usurps the power of local authorities to manage 'municipal planning'' and declared it unconstitutional.

Low emigration levels boosting the SA house market
But are not yet complemented by increased foreign buying in SA
Rawson - South Africa
One of the most heartening aspects of the South African property market in recent months, says Mike van Alphen, National Manager of Rawson Finance, has been the decline in the number of people selling to emigrate.

Quoting figures from the latest FNB Property Barometer, van Alphen said that 2008 saw emigration from South Africa reaching a peak: in the second quarter of that year, just on 20% of home sellers were emigrating.

Today, says van Alphen, the FNB figures indicate that only 2.7% of home sellers are leaving South Africa. This figure, calculated on the first quarter of this year, is 0.6% down on the previous quarter (the last quarter of 2012), when it was 3.3%. Right now, there are a fair number of South Africans who are still considering emigration, however, they are deterred by the low growth and employment prospects in many of the popular destinations. Nevertheless, he says, it also seems clear, from recent figures, that South Africans still living here are more resilient to economic uncertainties and less perturbed by such factors as crime, corruption and unsatisfactory growth rates.

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