Tolls set to cause mass tenant migration

The introduction of e-tolling is set to cause a major upheaval in the Gauteng property market, and especially in the rental sector.
“The toll fees are going to place an additional strain on household budgets and many people who currently use the freeways to commute long distances to work will want to relocate to avoid them,” says Jan Davel, MD of the RealNet estate agency group.
“This is obviously going to be easier for tenants than homeowners, and the immediate result is likely to be a spike in demand for flats and other rental properties close to the decentralised office and industrial nodes, and in the CBDs of Johannesburg, Pretoria and other large centres in Gauteng.”
Rental demand is also likely to strengthen, he says, in the increasingly popular areas close to public transport access points like Rea Vaya, Gautrain or Metro stations, as more people try to avoid commuting by car.
Subsequently, says Davel, rentals can be expected to rise in these high demand areas – and possibly to drop or at least remain static in outlying areas – which will be something for buy-to-let investors to bear in mind when weighing up unit prices and potential returns.
Switching on the tolls could also cause quite a few first-time buyers to rethink their plans, but on a positive note, it is likely to speed up the rejuvenation of many inner city areas and central suburbs by attracting new permanent residents to these areas, he says.
“Lots of young people who work in central Johannesburg or Pretoria are already embracing a lifestyle familiar in cities like London and New York and deciding to live in the city as well, so that just about everything they need is within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport, and they don’t need a car.
“And not having the expense of running a car can make all the difference for such residents between being able to buy homes of their own and having to carry on renting.”
As for those who already own homes in locations far from their workplaces, Davel says some will sell up and move, some will try to work more from home and travel to their offices only once or twice a week and some will resign their jobs and try to find new ones closer to home.
“Most, however, will just have to try to cut other costs and spending in order to accommodate the toll fees, and that is going to have a significant effect on the retail sector and indeed the whole of Gauteng’s economy.”

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