Steady sales despite flat trading conditions

RE/MAX of Southern Africa has reported a 24% growth in sales figures in the first two quarters of the 2015 year. Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, noted that the group’s sales from January to May 2015 are up 24% on the same period last year.
“Considering that the property market trading conditions this year have been fairly flat, this kind of growth is really encouraging to see,” said Goslett. He attributes this success to the fact that the group’s agent numbers have increased significantly. “RE/MAX of Southern Africa currently has more agents than it did at the height of the boom. Added to that, these agents are each averaging more transactions than they did during the boom years.”
The buyer profile hasn’t changed much over the last year or so, according to the BetterLife Home Loans statistics for the RE/MAX group.  Looking at a breakdown of the sales that RE/MAX of Southern Africa agents have concluded in the first five months of the year, according to these statistics, Goslett points out that first time buyers accounted for 22% of the buyer pool. “The average deposit a RE/MAX first-time buyer paid was around 12%, compared to other buyer categories which were closer to the 20% mark.”
The statistics revealed that RE/MAX first time buyers were also purchasing slightly more expensive properties, with the average purchase price increasing from R771 295 during the last five months of 2014 to R815 037 during the first five months of 2015, even though the average income of a RE/MAX first time buyer had not seen much growth.
“Taking a holistic view over all RE/MAX bond applications, the average approved bond size increased slightly during the first five months of this year, in line with a marginal increase in the average salary of applicants. The average purchase price of a home sold by RE/MAX during the first five months of 2015 was R1,17million.”
The age gap between first time buyers and the general buying public has remained fairly narrow, according to the most recent BetterLife Home Loans statistics. Goslett says that the average age of a RE/MAX first time buyers hovered around the 33 years old mark over the past 12 months, while the general pool of RE/MAX buyers over the same period have been an average age of 37 years old.
“This is not surprising as affordability levels haven’t really changed in recent months – in fact, things have actually become a lot tougher for the average consumer with the cost of living continuing to increase at an alarming rate. This small gap in age groups between first time buyers and the general buying public is definitely influenced by the fact that more and more buyers are finding themselves in a financial position where they have to rent for a while before they can afford to purchase their own property.”
Statistics show that around 50% of home sales concluded by RE/MAX were in the Gauteng region, with the Western Cape following closely behind.
Goslett doesn’t expect to see any major deviations in the current buying patterns in the months ahead, and believes that some potential buyers may be adopting a wait and see approach with interest rate hikes on the horizon, as well as likely increases in the cost of electricity, food, fuel and the like.
“Even though the cost of living is increasing which places financial pressure on many consumers, owning a property can still become a reality for those buyers who work towards their homeownership goals by budgeting carefully, paying down debt and saving as much as possible,” Goslett concludes.

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