It's All in the Stats

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

In the first week of November 2011, Columinate and Private Property asked 400 ordinary South Africans of all races, income and age groups for their perceptions on various aspects of residential property.

Over the next few weeks, we will present you with our findings, some of which are rather surprising. One very positive aspect that quickly emerged, was that 93 percent of those polled would prefer to own their own property rather than rent, regardless of the economic climate. This sentiment should be excellent news for everyone involved in the residential property market. Aside from the hurdles of obtaining finance and sellers over-pricing their properties, the figures indicate that there is certainly no lack of willing buyers.

The criteria for inclusion in the survey was that respondents had previously owned a property, currently own a property, or are interested in owning a property. The survey was kept generic and respondents were not provided any information about the sponsor of the research, Private Property. The largest number of those questioned were English speaking and the majority, 44 percent, were from Gauteng. The second largest group came from the Western Cape.

We asked the respondents about various other matters, such as how they prefer searching for property, their views on whether property is a good investment, the most stressful aspects of buying or renting property, their perception of estate agents, how they felt about joint ownership with a spouse or partner and their feelings about neighbours.

This wide-ranging survey, which was conducted online by the Columinate Online Research Panel provides an invaluable insight into the perceptions and thinking of a broad spectrum of potential South African homeowners.

With regard to demographics, those earning between R7000 to R9 999 made up 15 percent of the respondents with 14 percent earning between R14 000 and R17 999. Education was also taken into consideration and 26 percent had completed high school, while 14 percent held a post-graduate university degree.

A total of 39 percent of the people polled owned their own property and 42 percent were renting. However, a large majority of those renting indicated that they would invest in property once they had the financial means to do so.

A second aspect of the survey that may give rise to some concern is that estate agents are perceived negatively, with only 5 percent of respondents indicating that they trust estate agents. We will delve into the reasons for this in a future article.

The respondents were also quizzed about how best to market their properties and interestingly, 48 percent believed that is was more viable to allow more than one agent to market the home than mandating a single agent with the task. A significant proportion of this group believed that sole mandates limited the number of buyers viewing the property, while 16 percent thought that marketing a home via this medium would not ensure that the seller received the best price for the property.

A full 33 percent of respondents were more likely to search for property online compared to other avenues like approaching in estate agency or responding to newspaper adverts. This too has certain ramifications for the industry, which we will discuss in due course.

The proximity of a property to family and amenities like schools churches in hospitals was, surprisingly, not a major factor for most respondents who were in fact more concerned with the crime rate and security presence in an area.

The need to educate South Africans about property issues was also highlighted in the survey. Overall, very few respondents regarded themselves as knowledgeable about property, indicating that there is a great opportunity to play a supportive and advisory role for those involved in the industry.

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