South African property market measures up to Australian market

One of the aspects of the current Australian property market that most impressed him on his recent visit there, says Bill Rawson, Chairman of the Rawson Property Group, was the Australian property market’s ability to attract foreign property buyers, particularly those from China - and Asia in general.

“The influx and influence of these buyers, especially in the residential property sector,” says Rawson, “has been marked. It has raised prices of prime urban properties in all the major centres: Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Brisbane. In one case that I came across, Chinese buyers had paid 20% above the market value for a Aus $40 million development in Sydney.”

One of the main factors fuelling confidence in the Australian property market, says Rawson, is the accuracy, detail and comprehensiveness of the statistics available to buyers and indeed to the public as a whole.

“In South Africa we are, I believe, rightly proud of our data compilation and analysis services, especially those put out by the banks and certain of the independent bodies like Lightstone,” says Rawson, “but nevertheless it became clear that by Australian standards we are very far behind.”

Any person wanting information on Australian property, says Rawson, can find the recent prices and the number of properties that sold not only this year but in previous years on all properties in all Australian suburbs. They can also, at the press of a button, pull up the growth figures for the last year and the last three, five and ten years as well as detailed information on the rents being obtained and how these, too, have grown.

The tragedy of South Africa’s current situation, adds Rawson, is that we, too, could and should be attracting a similar influx of property investors from overseas because at today’s exchange rate all South African prices are genuine bargains for the overseas investor and our returns and capital appreciation are, in fact, often better than those of Australia. However, our current political situation appears to be proving a major deterrent.

“Regrettably,” says Rawson, “I have to report that time and again I heard the comment that, while our market is considered sophisticated and definitely worth investigation, poor political leadership, failure to develop our resources optimally, corruption and crime as well as general political uncertainty are severe deterrents to foreign buyers. We can all do our bit to counter these negative perceptions, which in my view are often exaggerated, and I believe those of us responsible for South African property should be doing more to attract big international investors. If two or three big names were to come in this year, I am inclined to think that many others would follow. Someone, however, should be liaising with foreign investors to start the trend.”

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