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The latest FNB House Price Indices for the country’s major regions, reveals slowing price growth in the country’s recent star performing region, the Western Cape.
While the 4th quarter 2016 year-on-year average house price growth of 8% for the Western Cape remains a strong one, and is still far above the other major regions, it has slowed for three consecutive quarters from a 10-year high of 10.6% reached in the 1st quarter of 2016.
“It is likely that, after a recent period of very strong house price growth in the Western Cape, a mounting affordability challenge in the region, especially for aspirant 1st time buyers, has started to put some brakes on demand growth,” said household and property sector strategist at FNB Home Loans, John Loos.
FNB pointed out that since the beginning of 2010 (the start of the post-2008/9 recession recovery), the average house price for the Western Cape has risen cumulatively by 76.6%.
By comparison, the next strongest growth was in KZN, with a far more moderate 45.3% and Gauteng with 41.3% over the same period.
The property analyst noted that the Western Cape has benefited from a period of strong confidence in the region’s long term economic prospects, and has attracted a very strong net inward migration of repeat home buyers from other provinces on recent years.
“However, ultimately affordability has to play a role, and perhaps this is becoming evident when we examine our FNB Estate Agent Survey results to observe a low level of 1st time buying in the region,” Loos said.
Using the average for the final two quarterly surveys of 2016, estate agents in the City of Cape Town estimate 1st time buyers to make up a mere 10% of total home buyers.
By comparison, all other major metro regions have higher percentages, with Tshwane and Greater Joburg Metro Regions registering a far higher 22% and 28% respectively, FNB said.
The Western Cape is the most expensive major region by far, with an average estimated house price of R1.411 million, the next most expensive region being Gauteng with an average price of R1.042 million.
At the other end of the average house price growth scale, the Eastern Cape is the weakest with year-on-year decline of -2.9% as at the 4th quarter of 2016, while KZN and Gauteng registered low positive growth of 1% and 1.2% respectively.
The FNB House Price Index for the five smaller provinces, too, showed only 1.2% year-on-year growth in the 4th quarter of 2016.
Loos said that it is possible that a very weak period for the Manufacturing Sector in recent years – key drivers of the Ethekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay economies – may have impacted more significantly on these regions than in the case of the stronger services-driven economies of Gauteng and especially the Western Cape.
FNB also plotted a chart showing the average time homes are on the market for across the country’s five major metros:
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Despite an overall modest slowdown in house price growth in South Africa’s residential property market, with house price inflation averaging at 4.88% in 2016, the three coastal metropolitan markets of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban continue to outperform the interior metro markets.
Dr Andrew Golding, chief executive of the Pam Golding Property group, pointed out that while Cape Town remains by far the strongest metro housing market, Port Elizabeth and Durban also showed increasing growth in 2016.
According to the latest data available from Lightstone, house price inflation in the Cape metro averaged 11.5 percent last year (2016), while Port Elizabeth and Durban’s house price inflation remains above the national average at 7.2% and 6.8% respectively.
“We believe that market growth will become increasingly concentrated in hotspots which continue to experience high demand for a variety of factors, including convenient access to the metros or economic hubs, value for money, and as desirable and secure lifestyle locations,” Golding said.
“Apart from the ongoing activity along the Cape coast, the Garden Route areas from Mossel Bay through to Knysna and Plettenberg Bay are experiencing heightened demand for homes, mainly among domestic buyers making a lifestyle choice to relocate.”
Sandra Gordon, Pam Golding Properties senior research analyst, said the Eastern Cape region is an area to watch, attracting buyers who want a coastal lifestyle combined with good governance and value for money homes.
“With considerable investment in Coega and new nodes springing up, we may see this region developing and playing catch-up with the Western Cape and KZN North Coast areas.”
Golding said that Port Elizabeth is increasingly coming into its own on the back of ongoing investment in the city’s western areas and development around Coega IDZ, with residential property prices set for significant growth, particularly as people look to move from other provinces and cities to nodes or areas they perceive as well managed, safe havens.
In KwaZulu-Natal the strongest activity remains along the highly sought after North Coast strip from Durban through to Ballito which is popular among investors and end-users alike. Upmarket areas such as uMhlanga and Sibaya will continue to be high growth areas, he said.
Carol Reynolds, Pam Golding Properties area principal for Durban Coastal, said the quantum of developments in these areas is enormous, and this is a strong indicator of confidence in these suburbs.
“We foresee house prices increasing year-on-year in both uMhlanga and Sibaya and while some have cautioned against over-supply, the range of products is diverse, appealing to a spectrum of buyers from investors to retirees, executives and families.
“Durban’s North and South Beach areas, including The Point have increased in popularity, firstly as a result of the general upgrade to the Promenade and again due to their huge value for money, particularly when compared to other prime beachfront locations nationally and globally. Investors are starting to snap up the well-positioned units and renovating them with the expectation that the area is going to become highly sought after in the next few years,” Reynolds said.
The property expert said that a factor which is evident is that property is increasingly being seen as a secure investment in uncertain times. Those who cannot afford to buy will exert pressure on the existing strong demand for homes to rent. A further positive is the focus among developers on mixed-use developments, including residential apartments as well as hotels with appeal for the foreign tourists. “This new type of living provides opportunities for a new market with room to grow,” Reynolds said.