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To build or buy?

Jaccques du Toit, property analyst of ABSA Home Loans, stated that the gap between buying and building is unlikely to decrease soon; he further added that if it does it is wouldn’t drop beyond 25%. The gap reached a high point in the fourth quarter of 2010 at 34%



In mid-2007 the prices of existing and new houses met, but since then existing house prices dipped slightly in 2009 and started moving steadily upward. New house prices, however, continued moving upward from 2007 with building costs dipping slightly in 2010, peaking around 2011 and then moving sidewards.

A report on building costs released in Q4 2011, forecasts that tender prices are likely to increase by 12.1% this year and a further 16.3% in 2013.

To read the full report click here

Contractors calculate their prices by taking in account the materials, labour, factory costs and overheads and includes their profits.

The report expected an increase in building costs of 4.5% in 2011. It states that a weaker rand exchange rate implies higher local input costs of materials and construction plant prices.



Builders have little option but to pass these increases on in the form of higher tender prices. Snyman says tender prices rose by more than 14% in 2008, dropped by -0.9% in 2009 and declined by a further -0.2% in 2010.

Snyman says potential home builders would therefore do good to proceed this year rather than leave it until 2013.

Du Toit agrees that prices are likely to climb due to hikes in among others, building materials, transport and labour costs and equipment.

He says potential homeowners tend to focus on existing properties as they can pick them up at a relatively good price in the current climate and sellers are also more open to negotiation. Du Toit says this is very seldom the case with a new home or development as the developer brings the property to market at a certain price, having factored in his or her costs and profits.

FNB’s household and property sector strategist, John Loos, is of the view that building costs will not accelerate much this year and will continue to remain under pressure. FNB calculates what it terms a full title property replacement cost gap.

The gap measures the percentage by which the replacement price exceeds the average price. “What it would cost if you had to demolish, take away that structure and rebuild from scratch,” Loos explains.

He says that gap has widened and he doesn’t foresee much building cost growth this year. “We’re going into a slow economic period. As it is the existing market is over supplied and the replacement cost gap has widened to 20% which is quite significant in weak times like this.”



He adds he cannot see any significant recovery in building activity and therefore the pricing power of the building materials sector is going to be under pressure. “Whatever the building cost increase was last year, I don’t expect it to be much different this year,” Loos said.


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