In the three month period December 2007 to February 2008 the real estate industry saw a 7% rise over the same period of the previous year in the number of Cape Peninsula homes exposed on show days.
Homes totalling 12 960 were opened for show days – and an estimated 20% more visitors came to them, according to a media release from local real estate group Anne Porter Knight Frank (APKF).
“Contrary to popular belief, there has,” says Lanice Steward, MD of APKF commenting on the data, “been a great deal of activity in the market, particularly in the upper middle and upper brackets. Stock numbers have risen significantly, but so has the number of would-be buyers. This has enabled us to increase our year on year first quarter turnover by 14% with March increasing by well over 60%.”
Asked the reason for the increased activity, Steward said there is a “fruit salad” of interlinked causes, including the traditional ones: promotion, transfer, divorce, retirement and financial problems. The last, she said, now very definitely plays a bigger role than in 2007.
“Many people are feeling the crunch and are scaling down to cope with job losses, higher interest rates and stricter credit restrictions.”
Far more people, Steward believes, are now facing up to the reality that they will need additional security in their retirement and a move to a retirement village will be essential even though it may be the last thing that they want.
Those facing bond repayment problems, said Steward, should take note that banks do not like repossessing homes – they almost always lose money in the process and it detracts from their primary activities.
“We have found time and again that although people are struggling financially they are scared to confide in their banks. When they do, however, they often find that the bank is far more helpful than they had anticipated. It is frequently possible to negotiate a 30-year repayment period, to skip a few months’ payments and even to alter the interest rate. Banks do try to help in this matter.”
In a separate statement last week Steward said that although South African expatriates, especially those living in the UK, were keen buyers of South African property, the market was not much influenced by non-South African overseas buyers.
“Those who propound the doom and gloom scenario for Cape property,” said Steward, “might find it very difficult to explain why it is that the number of genuine would-be buyers has risen so much. The market has retained its confidence and is still, both locally and from the SA expatriate community in the UK, very much alive.”