At the half-year mark, property buyers are firmly back in the market – and getting great deals.
“Indeed, this is set to be a winter of content for us,” says Lew Geffen, chairman of Sotheby’s International Realty in SA, “because we are selling more properties and selling them faster. “Sales volumes in our offices are up 30% for the second quarter over the same period of 2009, and our strike rate has risen from less than 10% during the depths of the recession to around 20%, which means that each week we are selling one-fifth of the properties we advertise.
“This has taken the average listing time down to around four months compared to six months last year, and we are seeing the emergence of big ticket property sales again. The chief reason for this, he says, is that buyers are getting really good deals. “Our average sale price has actually come down from R2,4m at this time last year to R2m, and there is a clear perception among buyers that now is the best time to get value for their money. In fact, the abundance of attractive deals across every price range is starting to drive the market to the point where it is just not prudent to ignore the opportunities, and our brand positions most of our clientele in the professional market, where bonds are not a problem.”
Low interest rates and declining inflation are of course also playing a part in the market revival, but the other really major factor, Geffen believes, “is a new spirit of optimism about the economy and the country as a whole that emerged even before the start of the Soccer World Cup”. This is evident, he says, from the fact that the economy grew by 4,6% in the first quarter, which was well ahead of all the experts’ expectations, and significant increases in the demand for cars and other durable goods as well as homes. Retail sales also turned positive in March for the first time in a year. “Clearly, people want to be over the recession now. They are tired of austerity and want to move on and get on with their lives, and in doing so they are themselves generating the energy that fuels a positive cycle of growth, employment and progress.”