The upper end of the property market is enjoying a sales surge as buyers who
have been hanging back for several months re-enter the market.
"In Johannesburg," says Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby's International
Realty South Africa, "there has been a definite shift recently in buyer
perceptions as sellers have become more willing to negotiate, and activity
at the top end of the market has picked up sharply as a result.
"Indeed, 45 percent of our turnover in August came from big-ticket sales of
more than R5m each, compared to a distinct dearth of such sales in June and
Buyers at this level, he notes, are much less sensitive to small changes in
interest rates such as those implemented this year than to market entiment
- and their own assessment of value.
"Consequently, when they perceive properties to be overpriced and sellers to
be intransigent, they simply withdraw from the market. But by the same
token, when they see things changing, they are quick to jump back in and buy
what they want, almost irrespective of the interest rate at the time."
In addition, Geffen notes, buyers are increasingly not only aware of the
value that upmarket SA property offers in global terms, but also convinced
that it will show excellent growth as the country grows in world stature.
Most at this time, however, are not foreign investors but South African
"It is also interesting that most of our big-ticket buyers now are
purchasing existing properties in well-established areas with a view to
renovating or upgrading these homes as long-term residences.
"This is an encouraging trend in that it signals a growing commitment to SA
and hopefully, a slowdown in the high rate of emigration at the upper levels