Get cracking if you want to get into the market

Prospective homebuyers should accelerate their plans now if they still want to benefit from the “double positive” of low interest rates and low property prices.

“Home values have begun to rise in many parts of the country - and even though the average rate of growth will probably be below the rate of inflation for the next couple of years, this is really of little relevance to first-time buyers,” says Berry Everitt, MD of the Chas Everitt International property group,

“What counts for them is that whichever home they want to buy already costs more than it did last year, and will cost even more next year. The longer they wait, the more difficult it is going to be to get on to that first rung of the property ladder.”

For one thing, he says, every increase in property prices means that the prospective buyer has either to earn more or increase the size of his deposit to qualify for a home loan, even if interest rates stay the same.

“For example, if a home now priced at R500 000 were to increase in value this year by just 5%, the amount needed for a 10% deposit would rise from R50 000 to R55 000. At the same time, the size of the 90% home loan required would rise from R450 000 to R495 000 and the prospective buyer would have to earn about R1500 more a month to qualify.

Writing in the Property Signposts newsletter, Everitt says that while this is a simple example, the principles hold true right across the price spectrum.

“Then there‘s the question of interest rates. If imported inflation due to the economic troubles in Europe and the rising oil price causes the Reserve Bank to raise the repo rate, banks will most likely raise their mortgage rates as well, and once again buyers will have to earn more to qualify for loans.

“If the base home loan rate were to rise just one percentage point from 9% to 10%, for example, the buyer of the R500 000 home in our example would immediately need to earn R1000 a month more to qualify. What is more, the monthly repayment on the loan would rise by around R300, so there would be an ongoing long-term effect on the family’s finances.

In short, he says, if you are an aspirant homeowner, the sooner you put your plans into action, the better.

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