Middle-aged buyers are most active in the market

RE/MAX survey results highlight that affordability still plays a strong role in the ability of consumers to acquire property

Almost half of all buyers of residential property between 1 January 2012 and 1 March 2012 handled by RE/MAX of Southern Africa agents, have, on average, been aged between 35 and 50 years old. This is one of the key findings of the inaugural RE/MAX survey conducted in March among the country’s leading RE/MAX offices.

These figures support the prediction that Generation X, which refers to adults between the ages of 31 and 45, will lead the local property market to recovery.  Peter Gilmour, Chairman of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says that it is clear that a more positive sentiment has returned to the market, especially among professionals who can afford to take advantage of the current market conditions.

“People who fall into the Generation X population category are generally well established in their careers, and are at a financial stage in their lives where they are looking to build up their investment portfolio,” says Gilmour.  He says that these potential property buyers are most likely to decide that now is a good time to purchase a property, given their level of affordability and the current favourable market conditions for buyers.

It is interesting to note however, that a significant number of younger people are also purchasing property, with 24,2% of buyers falling into the 20-35 year old age category, according to respondents to the RE/MAX survey.

First time buyers

Survey respondents indicated that first time buyers made up an average of 20% of all property transactions in the first two months of the year. Gilmour says that there is definitely a more positive sentiment in the market with more first-time buyers purchasing property due to more affordable pricing as well as the relaxation of lending criteria by many of the banks.

The role of technology in real estate is growing

Another clear indicator from the survey is that while the internet is playing an increasing role in connecting serious buyers to serious sellers, relationships between buyers and sellers and their agents remain paramount. Survey respondents said that around 40% of buyers came to them through online listings or the internet, while around 25% came from referrals.  “As more and more people gain access to internet facilities, online property listings will play an increasingly bigger role in the property sale process. These statistics also show that while technology undoubtedly plays an important role in the business of buying and selling property, personal interaction remains a vital element as referrals are the second largest method of attracting buyers and sellers,” says Gilmour.

Show days

Show days continue to be an important part of the property sale process in that they provide potential buyers with an opportunity to get a good sense and feel of a property they may be interested in and compare similar properties. Of the RE/MAX offices surveyed, 61% say that attendance at any given show day held between 1 January and 1 March 2012 averaged 5 or less visitors, while 34% indicated that show days attracted an average of between 5 and 10 visitors.

Overall the findings of the survey indicate that affordability is still playing a key role in the sale of residential real estate. “The ratio of household debt to disposable income has proved to be the biggest stumbling block facing those who are trying to raise finance for a property,” says Gilmour. “Those who have money set aside for a deposit and who can show the affordability required by financial institutions in order to qualify for a bond are finding it easier to buy the house of their choice and are taking advantage of the good deals currently available.”

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