For those consumers keen to buy their first home, there couldn’t be a better time to take the plunge.
So says Rudi Botha, CEO of BetterBond, which as SA’s biggest mortgage originator assists thousands of buyers a month to obtain home loans. He notes that the residential property market has reached a stage that occurs only very rarely, in which several major factors are all aligned in favour of first-time buyers.
And, he says, this is clearly evident in BetterBond’s latest statistics, which represent 25% of all residential mortgage bonds being registered in the Deeds Office and include applications to, and bond grants from, all the major lending banks in SA.
“For a start, despite the fact that the average home purchase price among first-time buyers has climbed steadily in the past four months from R582 000 to R621 000, and is currently also 5% higher than at this time last year – home ownership has actually become more affordable, thanks to the easing of credit restrictions and of course, an interest rate cut.”
At the moment, about four out of every 10 home loans approved are 100% loans and most of these are going to first-time buyers, including those in the affordable sector.
“In addition,” says Botha, “the average percentage deposit required by first-time buyers who don’t manage to secure a 100% loan has declined from 11,5% of the purchase price to 9%. So effectively, the average deposit amount for such buyers has fallen to around R56 000, compared to R71 000 earlier this year – even though home prices are higher.”
And this relief is now combined with lower home loan interest rates since the Reserve Bank cut the repo rate by 0,5 percentage points in July, further increasing affordability levels for first-time buyers.
“For example, at the current ‘standard’ home loan interest rate of 8,5%, the minimum monthly repayment on a bond of R621 000 (assuming a 100% loan) is R5389, compared to R5587 at an interest rate of 9%. And lower rates do of course make it easier for prospective buyers to qualify for loans in the first place.”
As it is, he says, these developments are already gaining the attention of prospective buyers eager to enter the property market. “First-time buyers accounted for 42% of all bond applications in July, compared to 37% four months ago, and the percentage of loans being granted to first-time buyers has at the same time risen from 35% to 39%.”